Sioux Falls business warning others about energy bill scam

Your Money Matters

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A local business is spreading awareness about an energy bill scam they avoided. Bagel Boy’s owner received a phone call this week from a man who claimed to be with Xcel Energy. The scammer wanted nearly $1,500 for a overdue energy bill or he was going to turn the company’s power off in 56 minutes.

Bagel Boy owner Brenda Dinsmore was busy serving lunch to customers this week when she received a strange phone call.

“Telling me that my electricity bill had not been paid and that my electricity would be turned off in the next 56 minutes if I didn’t pay my electricity bill,” Dinsmore said.

She immediately thought it was a scam but the person called back 20 minutes later. That’s when Dinsmore started to second guess herself.

“They come across as they are so professional. They had extension numbers and they told me to go to the credit department, extension two. It’s kind of a well-oiled machine,” Dinsmore said.

The biggest red flag came when the scammer asked her to bring $1,498 dollars to a local Dollar General or Casey’s General Store. It’s an issue the Better Business Bureau sees a lot.

Jessie Schmidt with the BBB says this a great opportunity to train your employees about these scams because a lot of the time, they happen when the owner isn’t around.

Schmidt says while Dinsmore with Bagel Boy didn’t lose money…

“There are lots of people that do. That’s why we want to caution you. Train your key employees. Stop and think,” Schmidt said.

When it comes to your energy bill, news about late payments won’t come over the phone.

“You’ve gotten lots of communication from them, typically through the mail but then maybe in an email. It doesn’t start with a phone call and they are not threatening in any way. And that’s what made this stand out,” Schmidt said.

“They took time away from my lunch hour. The frustration and the phone calls were relentless. You just have to be aware that that type of person is out there and they do try to do everything they can to get you to come out with cash and pay your electricity bill,” Dinsmore said.

Dinsmore says she checked with Xcel Energy directly regarding her bill to make sure she was up to date. Schmidt says if you put money on a prepaid card and send it to these scammers, it’s gone and you likely won’t get it back.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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