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Xcel Energy Customers Receive Scam Phone Calls Threatening To Turn Off Power

La Crosse Residents, Businesses Report Scammers Phishing For Financial Information

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Nest thermostat
Eric Risberg/AP Photo

A western Wisconsin utility is warning La Crosse-area residents about scam phone calls threatening to turn off their power if they don’t hand over financial information.

Xcel Energy spokeswoman Chris Ouellette said their company was notified about the scam Wednesday morning. Several Xcel customers had received phone calls from people posing as Xcel Energy and claiming they were behind on their utility bills.

“They basically tell people that you owe money on your utility bill and if you do not pay it immediately, you will be disconnected,” Ouellette said. “Even if it was a situation where somebody was behind on their bills, we cannot disconnect during this time period.”

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Wisconsin law prohibits utility providers from disconnecting customers from Nov. 1 to April 15. Each county in the state also has assistance programs to help people pay their utility bills or restock their supply of heating fuel during winter months.

“It’s really an unfortunate situation that these scammers are taking advantage of situations like we are currently experiencing with this severe weather,” Ouellette said. “Obviously, it can make (customers) quite nervous if they think they’re going to be losing their power and it’s 30 degrees below zero outside.”

Ouellette said this isn’t the first time scammers have posed as Xcel. She said the utility doesn’t know how many people have received calls, but she said both residential and business customers in the La Crosse area have been affected.

If someone receives a call from a person claiming to be from Xcel, Ouellette said the best thing to do is just hang up the phone.

“We will never, nor do we ever, call our customers and threaten them with disconnection or even call our customers demanding that they pay on their bills. All of that is done through the mail,” Ouellette said.

She said customers who are behind on their bill and worried the call is real should hang up and call Xcel directly.

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