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'We Energies' phone scam one of top complaints to DATCP last month
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'We Energies' phone scam one of top complaints to DATCP last month

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Phone scam

A phone call scam has been going around lately where callers pretend to be from We Energies. The caller may say you haven't paid your bills, threaten to turn off your power or natural gas in a short amount of time and demand immediate payment.

A phone call scam has been going around lately where callers pretend to be from We Energies. They may manipulate caller ID to display “We Energies” or use a recording that sounds like it’s from the electricity and natural gas company.

The caller may say you haven’t paid your bills, threaten to turn off your power or natural gas in a short amount of time and demand immediate payment, often by prepaid debit card or another unusual payment method, such as Bitcoin.

Grace Atherton, communications director of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said this scam is “very common” and it “goes around every so often.” The issue was one of the top calls the DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline received in May, she said.

During uncertain times, scammers are likely to bank on consumer’s distraction and sense of fear in order to optimize ways to commit identity theft. Veuer’s Chloe Hurst has the story!

Atherton provided the following information via email:

Utility companies will contact you by mail if your account is overdue. They may also call you if your services are at risk of being terminated, but they will never demand immediate payment over the phone. If a caller demands a utility payment by prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, it is a scam.

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How to protect yourself:

  • Regardless of your utility provider, if you receive a threatening call about your home or business utility account, just hang up and do not engage the caller.
  • If you want to verify whether the caller is legitimate, hang up and contact the utility provider directly using information from your billing statement. You can also contact your utility provider directly to report the call.
  • Consumers can contact DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128, DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov or online at
datcp.wi.gov
  • for more consumer protection resources and tips.

We Energies says on its Scam Warnings portion of its website that if customers think scammers are targeting them, to call We Energies at 800-242-9137. If you fall victim to a scam, report the theft to the police.

We Energies will never require use of a prepaid debit card or unusual payment method. The company also says to hang up and call We Energies if you suspect the call might be illegitimate.

“If it is a real call, we won’t be offended. We can verify your payment status and check on your account anytime,” We Energies says on its website. “We typically contact you several times via mail about past-due bills before service is shut off — not by a phone call the same day.”

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