WPS warns of rash of scam calls; victim loses hundreds of dollars

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Public Service is warning customers about a rash of scam calls threatening disconnection.

As of Monday afternoon, WPS had received about 40 reports from customers who have received scam calls.

Both residential and business customers in the Green Bay area have been targeted by the calls over the past two days.

One customer fell victim to the scam and lost "hundreds of dollars," according to WPS.

Here's how to identify the scam call:

The scammers give their potential victims a callback number. On callback, the customer will hear a recording of the WPS customer service greeting. The scammers threaten customers with disconnection in 45 minutes unless there's an immediate payment. Some customers have received voicemails ordering them pay via prepaid debit or credit cards.

"These calls that consumers are receiving demand that they pay by gift card, and we want all consumers to realize that gift cards are for giving, not for making payments," said Michelle Reinen, Director of Wisconsin Consumer Protection.

"WPS strongly emphasizes that its employees do not conduct business in a threatening manner and will never require customers to purchase a prepaid card to pay energy bills. Customers should never provide any banking, account or private information if they cannot verify the authenticity of a call claiming to be from WPS," reads a statement from the utility.

If you receive a similar call, hang up immediately. Contact WPS at 800-450-7260 if you are unsure if you owe money.

"Our employees can verify the status of their account and they can determine if in fact one of our employees has tried to contact that customer," said Matt Cullen, a spokesman for WPS.

Wisconsin law prohibits any utility service from disconnecting any customer during the winter months. The winter moratorium lasts from November 1 until April 15.

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