DENVER (CBS4) – A woman in Denver wants others to know about a scam targeting Xcel Energy customers. Although she didn’t fall victim, she is afraid others might.
On Saturday, Betty Gonzalez kept getting calls from the same 800 number, so she decided to pick up. On the line was a man claiming to be with Xcel Energy.
“He said, ‘You have a meter that is faulty, and it’s charging you more on your electricity than what you’re paying for,’” Gonzalez told CBS4. “’We have to replace this meter, but before we can do it, you have to give us $500 to pay for the meter.’”
Gonzalez said she lives in an apartment and told the man she would have her landlord talk to him. The man declined, saying it was her responsibility. And that if she didn’t pay, someone would be out that afternoon to shut off her power.
“’You need to go to 7-Eleven. You need to get one of those track cards or prepaid debit cards and put $500 on it,’” she said the man told her. “And I go, ‘I don’t have $500.’”
Gonzalez said then the man said she could pay $300, and Xcel Energy has a payment-like plan to help with the cost. He continued to press her for money.
“It was very upsetting,” she said. “I even started shaking and was like ‘Oh my gosh, who’s doing this?’”
When he kept lowering the amount of money required, Gonzalez felt like something was off. She called her son, and then decided to call Xcel Energy directly before she sent any money.
“He goes, ‘No we don’t have no work order,’” she said. “He goes, ‘We don’t do that stuff. He said somebody is trying to scam you out of $500,’ and I said wow!”
Gonzalez said she hung up on the scammer. She wants to share her story so others don’t fall victim, and has a message for those preying on others.
“I know you get people’s money because sometimes people are vulnerable, but that’s not nice,” she said. “It’s really not a nice thing to do.”
CBS4 talked to Xcel Energy who confirmed they have received reports of this scam in the Denver metro area. They added that in scams have increased by 400%.
Xcel Energy has some tips to avoid being scammed:
- If someone threatens you with immediate disconnection, hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with past due accounts receive an advance disconnection notification by mail. Xcel Energy never sends a single notification an hour or less before disconnection.
- Xcel Energy customers will never be instructed to purchase a prepaid card in order to avoid service disconnection. Xcel Energy and other legitimate utility companies will not specify how customers make their payments and always offer a variety of options to do so.
- If you suspect you’re being scammed, call Xcel Energy at the number on your monthly bill, go to ’My Account’ on XcelEnergy.com, or check the mobile app. Xcel Energy’s customer service number is 1-800-895-4999. Customers should not call a different number provided by scammers