MINNEAPOLIS — Xcel Energy always encourages customers to be cautious and take steps to avoid scams.

According to a press release from Xcel Energy, the company said it recently became aware of a potential scam in which people looking to complete common transactions, including starting new utility service, may find a phone number online that connects them to scammers.

When customers call the fraudulent number, they are asked to pay money up front to complete their transaction and may also collect customer information including Social Security numbers and credit card numbers, Xcel Energy said.

Customers may not initially notice they have been scammed because in some cases the scammers also contact Xcel Energy and pose as the customer, using the customer’s information to start the new service.

Xcel Energy does not charge customers upfront to complete transactions; any fees associated with transactions like starting service will appear on a customer’s next bill, press release said.

If you are asked to pay up front to complete a transaction, hang up and contact Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-4999 to let them know about the scam and to let them help complete your request.

Xcel Energy’s website has much more information to help people avoid phone, email, in person and employment scams.