Scammers using Vail Valley utility companies as cover
Latest scam claims your gas, electricity will be disconnected if you don’t pay immediately
- If someone threatens to disconnect your gas or electricity, hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with past due accounts will receive an advance disconnection notification by mail. Utility companies never send a single notification an hour or less before disconnection.
- You will never be instructed to purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection. 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 your utility company: Holy Cross Energy at 970-945-5471 or Xcel at 1-800-895-4999. Do not call a different number provided by scammers.
- You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission on its website.
EAGLE — In the latest scam impacting Eagle County residents, callers insist they’re from a utility company such as Holy Cross Energy or Xcel. They’re not, both utility companies say.
The scammers will demand immediate payment — sometimes a credit card over the phone, or that you buy a cash card right away. You’ll likely be told that if you do not pay immediately — usually several hundred dollars — your gas or electricity will be turned off.
To add to the purported urgency, the scammer will insist that there is a “technician” in the area who will be at your house shortly.
The alleged scammers will often provide a 1-800 number. When you call, you’ll get what seems like a legitimate response.
Don’t give them any information or money, says Jenna Weatherred with Holy Cross Energy. Instead, call your utility company and the local police to report it.
Xcel Energy said it would only contact residential customers during weekday working hours.
Also, a legitimate utility company will never threaten to disconnect service immediately without making a payment on the spot, Xcel said.
“Xcel Energy is working diligently to help protect our customers from scams. We want customers to be aware and check their online account or use the mobile app to review their bill,” said Chris Cardenas, vice president of Customer Care at Xcel Energy. “Calls from Xcel Energy about past due bills will never include threats or demands for payment within the hour.”
If you think the call is legitimate, check it. You’ll be able to reach the utility companies during regular business hours, Weatherred said.
A spike in utility scams spurred 140 U.S. and Canadian utility companies to form Utilities United Against Scams. Since 2015, UUAS has shut down almost 5,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers, Xcel Energy said.