Energy bill scam targeting panhandle residents - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Energy bill scam targeting panhandle residents

AMARILLO, TX- A new scam circulating across the nation has begun targeting residents here in the panhandle.

Unlike the traditional overseas Nigerian email scams, this one appears to be a bit more believable by using your energy company to lure you in.

Calls, tweets, and emails are reporting that President Obama has a new assistance program for residents who need help paying for their electricity bill.

"It's a shame that this happens and it's sad people fall into that trap," Wes Reeves with Xcel Energy said.

It's a growing scam that's now using all social platforms including Facebook and Twitter to gain access to your information.

"You get a call or possibility a tweet or text saying that there is a federal program using President Obama's name that will help pay utility bills," Reeves said.

The scammer will ask you for your name and social security number. In return, you are given a phony banking routing and account number to pay your utility bill.

We're told the payment will process and everything will appear on track until your service provider calls you back a few days later to notify you your payment bounced. By this time, the con artist already has your information.

"They are taking advantage of folks who are burdened by high bills," Reeves said. "These scammers are pretty sophisticated."

Xcel Energy began hearing about the problem Thursday.

Unlike scams that request banking information, con artists involved with this scam are only asking for your social security number. However, that alone can ruin your credit and lead to identity theft issues in the future.

If you ever have a question concerning a billing program with Xcel Energy, you can call their customer support line at 1-800-895-4999.

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