City employees with Madison's utility services are warning local municipal electric customers that criminals are targeting consumers with phone calls about bogus overdue payments related to their utility accounts.

Tess Nelson, utility services coordinator, said a local customer contacted her on Monday afternoon seeking information about an overdue payment for a utility account. The customer had received a voicemail message from a presumed scam artist who was seeking payment so the consumer could avoid an electric disconnection to their home.

Nelson sent out a text warning to Madison consumers about the scam. A warning was also placed on the city of Madison municipal utilities Facebook page.

Madison electric customers have their utility bills handled by staff managed by the Madison Finance Office. The Madison Electric Department does not work with Xcel Energy -- the utility mentioned in the voicemail message -- to supply power to the city.

\The city utility staff sent out the following message, "City of Madison customers are being targeted by scammers. Scammers claiming to be from Xcel Energy are contacting our customers by phone. They are attempting to trick our customers into paying money with the threat of consequences (such as their power being turned off) if they do not comply."

When the targeted utility customer tried to call the phone number mentioned in the voicemail message, the call was unconnected.

Utility customers are advised that if they have any doubt about the authenticity of someone contacting them about their utility bill status, city officials recommend that consumers hang up and call the Madison utility billing office at 256-7504.