Xcel Energy Warns About ‘Distraction Scam’ Involving Fake Workers

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Xcel Energy is warning residents of a door-to-door scam in Denver and Arapahoe counties.

At least 16 reports of an outlet scam have come in to local law enforcement agencies within the last few days, according to Mark Stutz, spokesperson for Xcel Energy.

Stutz said that two men posing as power company workers had been asking residents to let them inside to check the voltage on power outlets.

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(credit: CBS4)

“Fortunately in all these cases, no one let the perpetrators in,” Stutz said.

When residents refuse to let them in, the scammers have reportedly become agitated and threatened to press charges.

Julie Brooks, a spokesperson for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, said that it’s been the latest “distraction scam” in which swindlers are looking to steal people’s property, or worse.

“Either to case it for a later event all the way up to a potential home invasion and robbery,” Stutz added. “Once (they) get access in the home, there’s so many different things (they) could do.”

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with some Xcel customers who were feeling alarmed by the sneaky criminal tactics.

“It’s terrifying,” said one Xcel customer. “You know, they’re working on the basis of trust. Everyone here has Xcel energy.”

“It’s an invasion of privacy to know that someone is coming to your own home and trying to take advantage of you,” said another.

“It’s just scary to think that people actually do this, you know, and you can’t trust everybody who comes to your door,” another customer chimed in.

According to Stutz, there are very few reasons that legitimate Xcel workers would come to customers’ doors. Checking outlets is not one of those reasons. Legitimate examples include checking on natural gas or servicing an appliance at the request of the customer, or reading an inside meter.

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(credit: CBS4)

Stutz advised customers to always ask for identification, which Xcel workers carry.

“We’re not going to show up unannounced,” Stutz said. “And if you’re uncomfortable with the situation, you can end it right there, and call us to find out what’s going on.”

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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