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Renville County Sheriff warns of telephone scam

OLIVIA — The Renville County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of telephone scam activity.

The Sheriff’s Office described in a news release what happens in the “Excel Energy” scam:

A caller identifies himself or herself as a representative of Xcel Energy attempting to collect a missed payment. The caller also provides information specific to the home or business being called.

The caller says power will be disconnected in 45 minutes unless payment is made immediately and suggests that payment be made using a Green Dot MoneyPak card, a form of pre-paid debit card. A caller will even tell people where they can obtain a card nearby and give them a telephone number to call back with the numbers off the card.

Once the caller receives the numbers, they have access to the money used to purchase the cards, and the transaction cannot be stopped.

Similar scams have been attempted by telephone or email. They may be about having power cut off. Others say the FBI or Department of Justice is on its way with an arrest warrant.

Xcel Energy does not conduct business in this way, according to the release and the company’s website.

Customers in danger of having their power turned off will receive written notice from the company.

A customer who doubts the authenticity of a call should hang up and call the company’s customer service number, 1-800-895-4999, according to the release.

The Renville County Sheriff’s Office offered these reminders:

- Typically, when a pre-paid debit card is necessary and payment is required by providing the numbers from the debit card, it’s a scam.

- Scammers often rely on fear and anxiety to accomplish their goal.

- Conduct a quick Internet search using the things the caller told you.