People's Energy Cooperative serves 20,000 people in in Olmsted, Dodge, Fillmore, Mower, Wabasha, and Winona Counties. Thursday afternoon, the energy cooperative issued a press release to warn area residents to be on high alert.

People's Energy reported a "significant" number of scams targeting Minnesotans here in the 507 area code. This is the type of scam that could target anyone whether they are a People's Energy Customer or not.  You can read about the scam and how to protect yourself below.

Utility Scam Targets Minnesotans in The 507 Area Code

Scammers are using "caller id spoofing" techniques to make their number show up as a 507 area code. The FCC prohibits "anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation."

People's Energy says their members received calls from these scammers and "described being told their power was going to be shut off in 30 minutes for past due payment unless payment was received immediately."

The scammers number showed up on caller ID with a 507 area code and sounded like an "automated robot call." Similar scams involving different companies have targeted people in southeast Minnesota. Below are some more tips from People's Energy.

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People’s wants to remind customers that employees will never ask for payment over the phone. They only accept payment through their secure automated phone system and their online account management system.

 Tips from People's Energy.

· Take your time: Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency, so you’ll act fast and hand over personal information, especially over the phone. Take a moment to think about the situation before acting.

· Be suspicious: Scammers typically request immediate payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. Remember, if the request seems strange and out of the ordinary, you’re likely being targeted by a scammer.

· Confirm before you act: If you’re contacted by someone claiming to represent People’s Energy or another utility but you’re unsure, just hang up the phone and call the utility directly.

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