Don't fall for impostors' scams
The Wisconsin Restaurant Association has recently been informed about a scam impacting both restaurants and the general public.
Fraudulent calls are made by imposters claiming to work for the local electric company or water utility. These “customer service representatives” then attempt to collect payment for alleged “past due statements.” Typically they instruct targeted victims to either wire money, load money onto a prepaid debit card or provide credit card information over the phone immediately to avoid having their power or water shut off.
If you explain you have been paying your bills on time, they often will respond that your meter is malfunctioning and you must pay for a new one.
Also, be aware that these scammers can “spoof” a caller ID system, making it read whatever they would like. The Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) has heard from consumers who have had their utility company’s name pop up on their caller ID when they were contacted in this scam.
DATCP has the following suggestions if you are contacted by someone saying you owe money to your utility company:
- Hang up the phone.
- Call your utility company using the number listed on your monthly statement to verify your account balance.
- Report any fraudulent bill collection calls to your utility company.
- File a report with your local police.
- Call DATCP’s Consumer Information Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.
- Reputable businesses do not require payments through prepaid cards or wire transfers. They will give you multiple options to pay.
- NEVER give your debit or prepaid reloadable card PIN number to ANYONE, individual or business.
- The PIN number must always remain secret, no matter what anyone tells you.
- NEVER send a wire transfer to someone you haven’t met in person.
WRA was recently contacted by Madison Gas & Electric which offered a document including more helpful tips related to this scam.
Download the document
For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.