They're at it again, and this time they're very sophisticated.
Wisconsin Public Service is reminding businesses and customers about a sharp surge in fake phone calls. The callers demand money or power will be disconnected in an hour. Wisconsin Public Service spokesperson Matt Cullen...
"....since Tuesday afternoon, we've had about 175 phone scam attempts reported to WPS, claiming to be WPS employees trying to fraudulently obtain money. The scammers are being very aggressive. They're calling customers and saying they're past due on their bills. Then they're threatening them with disconnection if they don't make a payment...."
Cullen says Wisconsin Public Service does not do business in this manner. He says the scammers ask victims to make a payment with a pre-paid card which he says is another red flag. Cullen says they will never ask a customer to pay bills in this manner. Cullen says if you get a call, simply hang up and call Wisconsin Public Service and report the call. Cullen says never provide banking or other personal financial information to people on the telephone. He says these scammers use authentic-looking caller ID information and also play a recording of the WPS company greeting.
Monday we'll have a story of a Rhinelander business owner who was taken in by this latest round of scams.
Here's the full Wisconsin Public Service press release....
"Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) is strongly urging businesses and residents to be mindful of a sharp surge in scam phone calls. In the past 24 hours, more than 100 phone scam attempts have been made by people impersonating WPS employees in order to fraudulently obtain money.
The scammers have targeted a variety of businesses throughout our service area, with the majority of calls being placed to customers in Green Bay. In one case, a business fell victim to the scam and paid hundreds of dollars. In some instances, scammers have managed to disguise their calls by getting authentic company numbers to appear on caller ID or by playing a recording of our company greeting. Similar to other scam attempts, callers have contacted WPS customers claiming they need to make payments or their power will be disconnected in as soon as an hour.
The scammers also have told some customers to make fraudulent payments using a prepaid card (e.g., MoneyPak or Green Dot cards). WPS strongly emphasizes that its employees never require customers to pay utility bills with prepaid cards. WPS also will not solicit payment from a customer in a threatening manner. Customers are reminded to never provide any banking, account or private information if they receive a suspicious call.
Customers who receive suspicious calls are urged to contact the WPS 24-hour customer service line immediately at 800-450-7260. WPS employees will verify if a customer has received a legitimate call from the energy company, and also can verify a customer’s account status."