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Scam targeting utility customers


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Scammers are continuing to prey upon utility customers, and they’re counting on their victims to be afraid of having their power shut off.

Wisconsin Public Service spokesperson Kelly Zagrzebski says they have received calls from customers who have been contacted by email, demanding payment for their electric and gas service immediately with untraceable forms of payment. “A number of utilities are reporting that customers are receiving emails about disconnection of power, and then they are asking for folks to go and get these special types of green-dot prepaid credit cards to help insure their power won’t be cut off within, in some cases, they’re saying forty-five minutes to an hour.”

Zagrzebski says Wisconsin Public Service will never ask customers to pay for their utility service with a prepaid credit card, gift card, or a green dot card. There’s another important fact for customers to remember: It’s winter time, and the utilities cannot shut off your power right now for non-payment. “We follow the rules of the Public Service Commission and we do not cut customers off in the winter. The utilities in the State of Wisconsin do not have permission to cut power to their customers.”

Scammers have also asked customers to meet them at different locations to collect payment. Zagrzebski says customers behind on their payments get a couple of letters and a different color bill., and the utilities cannot and will not try collecting money in person or with prepaid cards.

She encourages people to be very careful, and NOT open the emails claiming to be about their WPS account. Instead, Zagrzebski says forward the e-mail to DATCPHOTLINE@WI.Gov and then call WPS at 800-450-7255 and your local law enforcement agency. Customers should also call the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at 1-800 or 422-7128 to report the scam. “We really appreciate our customers notifying us and letting us know if this is affecting them. It helps us to be a better company. We know what’s going on and we want to make sure that our customers are not taken advantage of.”

(Our interview with Kelly Zagrzebski can be heard on our website, here.)