DENVER — As we get closer to the holidays, police say scammers become more and more active. They're looking for any window of opportunity to steal your hard-earned money.
The latest is a scam involving your utility bills.
"It was last Friday at about 3:30 in the afternoon," said Jean, who requested Denver7 not use her last name. “When I answered the call, it sounded very official."
Then came the scam from the caller on the other end of the line claiming to be Xcel Energy.
"He said he was calling to let me know that my account was past due and that I would need to make a payment within the hour or my service would be cut off," Jean said. “Right away, I'm sort of panicking because it's Friday afternoon, and I’m trying to figure out what happened because we're on automatic billing."
The scammer insisted Jean send money via Zelle right away for payment on her two properties.
“It came to $600,” Jean said. “He was forceful in that this needed to be taken care of now, through him. And he just kept pushing the Zelle account and I don't use Zelle."
This is just the latest scam involving impostors claiming to be Xcel by using fear to get your money.
Xcel says if you're ever contacted by someone claiming to be the utility company hang up, delete the email or shut the door. Xcel will never threaten you with a single notification an hour or less before disconnection.
Also, Xcel suggests you call them back yourself at 1-800-895-4999. They also suggest you call police if you ever feel threatened. And finally, be aware of scammers trying to get you to buy prepaid cards which are widely available at retail stores and work like cash.
“They’re already putting signage in the stores actually asking, 'are you being forced to purchase a gift card to make a payment?'" said Jamie Sorrells, the director of Consumer Fraud Protection for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
In Jean's case, experts say she did everything right, even calling Xcel back herself while the scammer was still on the other line.
"The one thing Ann told me from Xcel is they do not send anyone out to turn off service on Friday," Jean said. “And she told me my account was in good standing.”
Jean wanted to get the word out, so no one falls victim to this.
“It's very disturbing,” Jean said. “I don't know how they sleep at night."