Xcel Energy cautions La Crosse customers about recent scam activity

Xcel Energy is warning customers about a recent increase in reported scam activity.

The company said the most recent incidents have been reported in La Crosse and Hudson.

The scams typically involve attempts to illegally obtain payments for fictitious utility bills. Xcel Energy said scammers have targeted all classes of customers, but tend to focus on small businesses, like salons, restaurants and automotive repair shops.

Xcel Energy said the callers have been known to:

Tell intended victims their account is past due and threaten to turn off their power if they do not make a payment right away.
Require victims to pay using a pre-paid debit card. Manipulate caller ID to make it look like they are calling from Xcel Energy.

If you doubt the authenticity of someone claiming to be from Xcel Energy and asking for payments, hang up and call Xcel Energy Customer Service anytime at 1-800-895-4999 or the Business Solutions Center at 1-800-481-4700.

Here are some tips from Xcel Energy to avoid being scammed:

Never give out personal information, credit card numbers or wire money as a result of an unexpected or unsolicited call if you cannot validate the caller’s authenticity.
Xcel Energy provides many options for payment; be suspicious if the caller is requiring the use of a prepaid debit card. Be aware that Xcel Energy will contact customers first by U.S. mail about past due bills – not over the phone. You will be sent a disconnection notice in writing before your power is actually turned off.