It’s a utility scam that could happen to any small business owner or employee: someone claiming to be with Xcel Energy calls and threatens to disconnect service unless you pay an “overdue” utility bill immediately. The person on the phone might also demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card, which can be hard or impossible to track, and might even sound like he knows your business’s account balance or other details. He might even give you a number to call, where you’ll hear what sounds like the usual Xcel Energy automated voice response.
In a variation of this utility scam, someone might call and tell you that you’ve overpaid a recent bill and are due for a refund. Of course, you’ll be asked to provide your bank account information so the refund can be processed.
From January to November of 2015, commercial customers of Xcel Energy reported more than 2,000 utility scam attempts, including the ones detailed above. Few of those customers fell victim to scammers, but the ones who did lost more than $70,000 in those ten months.
How can your business avoid falling victim? Remember—and make sure others know—that Xcel Energy will always notify you by mail if a bill is overdue. We will also work with you to pay the balance and will never disconnect service without notice. Lastly, there are many ways to pay your bill. We never require you to pay using a specific prepaid debit card or any other single method.
You should never provide financial information to unknown callers, even if they’re promising good news. If you do overpay an energy bill, we will apply the credit to your account balance to cover future bills. If a refund is issued, we will mail a check to your business.
What should you do if you suspect you’re being scammed? If it’s over the phone, hang up immediately and call us at 1-800-895-4999. If you think the person at the door might be an imposter hoping to gain access to restricted areas of your business, ask to see his Xcel Energy identification card. If he does not have one, don’t allow him in. If you’re still unsure, call us. We can verify if the person is an Xcel Energy employee or contractor and tell you why he is at your business.