Police: Sioux Falls victim lost $800 in Xcel Energy scam

Scammers Target Sioux Falls Residents
Scammers Target Sioux Falls Residents(Source: WDAM)
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 11:20 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sioux Falls police say they have been notified of a scam circulating in the area, in which scammers claim to be with Xcel Energy.

Officer Sam Clemens said in one incident, the caller said the victim was past-due on payment and gave the victim instructions to put $800 on a reloadable credit card. The victim followed the scammer’s directions only to realize it was a scam sometime later and called the police. In the second incident, the scammer said they needed to swap out the electrical meter. The scammer said they could do it without interrupting their power supply if the victim paid a fee. The woman decided to call a local phone number to verify the information, discovered it was a scam, and reported it to the police.

Officer Clemens said, “If they get a call from some business or organization and they think it’s legitimate, get some contact information, use your own resources. Google the business, find a different number, and call that to verify that.”

Usually, scammers ask for prepaid cards or gift cards, sometimes cryptocurrency, and act with a sense of urgency.

Xcel Energy does not charge customers upfront

In a report from Xcel Energy, representatives say the company does not charge customers upfront to complete transactions; any fees associated with transactions like starting service will appear on a customer’s next bill. If you are asked to pay upfront to complete a transaction, hang up and contact Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-4999 to let us know about the scam and to let us help complete your request.

Xcel Energy’s tips on how to avoid scams

Xcel Energy always encourages customers to be cautious and take steps to avoid scams. Often, scammers will call customers and ask for payments. Customers with any doubt about the authenticity of someone claiming to be from Xcel Energy and asking for payment should hang up immediately.

Customers can also access their current account information online through our My Account service. Customers should then call Xcel Energy Customer Service at 1-800-895-4999 or our Business Solutions Center at 1-800-481-4700 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) to report the experience. By calling these numbers, customers can count on the help of a legitimate representative. Information provided will be shared with investigators to aid in possible criminal investigation. Affected customers should also contact local authorities to file a criminal complaint.

Even when a caller sounds legitimate, here are some quick warning signs for customers:
  • Customers should be very suspicious if a caller requires a single form of payment, such as requiring the use of a prepaid debit card. Xcel Energy offers many options for payment and will never ask or require a customer with a past-due account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
  • 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.
  • Customers should never wire money or provide bank card numbers and social security numbers to an unverified source.

Xcel Energy’s website has more information to help people avoid phone, email, in-person, and employment scams.