Home Local News Xcel warns scammers are still in action

Xcel warns scammers are still in action

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Don’t be the scammer’s next victim.

Xcel Energy’s media relations representative Wes Reeves warned the scammers are still out there, pretending to be Xcel employees and demanding money — or else.

A Hobbs News-Sun reader reported Wednesday she just avoided being a victim. Identifying herself only as Veronica, the Hobbs resident said it all sounded professional and legitimate at first.

The person who called her claimed the company was replacing electric meters throughout her neighborhood and he needed a “refundable deposit” to ensure the power is restored at her house after being disconnected.

Contacted by the News-Sun for comment, Reeves checked with an area supervisor who said there was no Xcel work being performed in Veronica’s neighborhood. The Xcel supervisor told Reeves he believes the event was a scam.

The company offers advice on its website and legitimate telephone numbers to call to verify account status — 800-895-4999 for residential customers or 800-481-4700 for businesses.

“Scammers claiming to be from Xcel Energy are contacting our customers by phone, email, and in person,” the company’s website reports. “They are attempting to trick our customers into paying money with the threat of consequences (such as their power being turned off) if they do not comply.”

Xcel recommends customers receiving such a call, even if the caller provides what he says is your account number or a 1-800 number for “verification,” both of which happened to Veronica, you should hang up and do your own checking.

Finally, it was when the fake Xcel employee demanded payment of a “deposit” that Veronica determined he was a scammer. She said she came “that close” to giving him a credit card number, but caught herself just in time.

The Xcel scam website says, “If you have any doubt about the authenticity of someone claiming to be with Xcel Energy and asking for payment, we recommend that you hang up and check your account status using My Account or our mobile app, or call Xcel Energy Customer Service at (the numbers above).

“By calling us at these numbers, you can always count on a legitimate representative helping you with your billing and payment questions,” the website encourages.

Xcel lists four different types of scams — employment scams, phone scams, email scams and in-person scams.

Employment scams — The employment scams involve scammers claiming to be from Xcel Energy contacting potential job applicants with employment offers. The goal is to trick job applicants into divulging personal information on a fraudulent job application.

Xcel Energy only accepts job applications through the website jobs.xcelenergy.com and encourages applicants to contact the recruiting department at recruiting@xcelenergy.com if any doubt exists.

Phone scams — Additional advice to avoid phone scams, offered by Xcel, includes:

• Never give out personal information, debit/credit card numbers, or wire money as a result of an unexpected or unsolicited call if you cannot validate the caller’s authenticity.

• Xcel Energy customers will initially be contacted by U.S. mail about past due bills, not over the phone. You will also be sent a disconnection notice in writing before your power is actually turned off.

• Xcel Energy provides many options for payment; be suspicious if the caller is requiring the use of a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot Prepaid Card.

• Ask the caller for details about his or her name, phone number, company, etc. Your questions may scare them away. If not, document what they tell you, including the date and time you speak with them, caller ID number and anything else that may aid in a possible criminal investigation.

• Beware if a caller exhibits irritation, unease, or anger when you question their authority. Notice if their emotion intensifies when you ask to speak with their manager, for their phone number, or to call back later.

Email scams — While Xcel Energy acknowledges the company uses email to communicate with customers about their accounts, inform them about available Xcel Energy programs and provide newsletters, the company will never ask for your Social Security Number, driver’s license number, passwords or financial information by email, according to the website.

In-person scams — Finally, in the case of “in-person” scams, Xcel advises, “All Xcel Energy employees and most contractors who perform work for us carry company ID cards. Ask to see a company ID if someone on your property claims to be working for Xcel Energy, regardless of the work being performed. If the person cannot show you an ID, ask him or her to leave and return only with proper identification.”

Victims of a scam or an attempted scam are asked to contact the Xcel Energy Customer Service number to report the experience. The information provided will be shared with federal investigators to aid in a possible criminal investigation. Xcel also suggests contacting local authorities to file a criminal complaint.

For more details on avoiding scams, visit xcelenergy.com/scams.

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