EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -

Xcel Energy is warning its customers that people are impersonating company representatives or collection agency personnel and trying to illegally obtain payments for fictitious energy bills.

In many of the scams, the impersonator tells the customer they have an outstanding debt and is about to immediately lose service, Xcel Energy explains.

In many cases, the impersonator tells customers to buy a pre-paid cash card and provide that number over the phone. In some cases, impersonators provide a fake employee name and/or fake ID number and offer to come to the customer’s residence to pick up the payment, Xcel Energy said.

In other cases, impersonators have shown up at customer homes and told them their meter is broken and they have to pay immediately for repairs and the utility company will pay them back later. Xcel Energy said some impersonators appear on caller ID as though it’s coming from an Xcel Energy telephone number.

Xcel Energy says its customers should only use authorized methods and proven banking practices to pay their bills. If you have given your credit card information over the phone to someone you believe is posing as an Xcel Energy employee, Xcel Energy says you should call your credit company and follow the company’s recommendations.

Customers should also report incidents to Xcel Energy at (800) 895-4999. For more information on how to identify an Xcel Energy Worker or how to identify email or phone scams, visit Xcel Energy’s website: www.xcelenergy.com.