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Phone scams targeting utility customers statewide


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - Wisconsin Public Service officials say some of their customers are being targeted by scammers.

The criminals are calling up homes and businesses claiming to be from the utility, and tell the victim that if they don't pay their bill immediately with a prepaid credit card, their service will be disconnected. Spokeswoman Kelly Zagrzebski says this is not the process that a legitimate utility will take when you're headed for disconnection. "WPS and many of the other utilities will not take prepaid credit cards. You want to call your utility and make sure you really are up for disconnection."

The prefered card for the scammers is the Green Dot MoneyPak card which is available from most drug or convenience stores. Those cards can be loaded up with money, but just as easily emptied, and once that money's gone, it can't be retrieved. Zagrzebski says they don't handle payments that way. "We will work with on going in to payment locations, they'll tell you where to send a payment, but we will not request you to get a prepaid credit card."

Zagrzebski says scammers are not targeting just one utility. "We've been getting numerous reports of these scams going on throughout our service area, and we just want to make sure no one is being taken advantage of." Callers are using technology to impersonate different utilities using Caller ID spoofing and other methods.

If you do get a call like this, hang up and call your utility on the phone number on your bill or other documents.