Scammers are taking advantage of the public by impersonating energy company representatives. Using a service disconnection threat, scammers try to convince the consumer to purchase prepaid debit cards and provide the card information to them.
The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau and We Energies are getting reports from businesses and customers that scammers are demanding energy payments. Latino consumers are being targeted by Spanish-speaking scammers.
How the scam works:
- Caller claims to be from We Energies. Some scammers provide a fake ID number and may use software to display We Energies’ company name on your phone. Sometimes they use a recording of the We Energies’ greeting to sound legitimate.
- Caller claims you are behind on bill payment or have a malfunctioning meter that you must replace, adding that the cost is rebated after installation.
- Caller tells you to go to a nearby store — often Walmart, Walgreens or CVS — to buy a pre-paid Visa debit card, sometimes referred to as a Green Dot card or MoneyPak card.
- Caller tells you an exact amount for the card, makes the request urgent and threatens disconnection.
- Caller provides a phone number to call with the card’s numbers. Once given, the money goes from the card to the scammer. There usually is no way for the loss to be reimbursed.
Scammers also may claim that the electric meter is not working properly and must be immediately replaced – at your expense – or the electricity will be shut off. Other scammers are using email. Watch out for emails disguised as overdue notices from your utility company. Clicking on a link or attachment will load malware on your computer.
We Energies does not solicit payment from customers in a threatening manner. If you get a call that sounds suspicious, hang up immediately and call We Energies at 800-242-9137. If you act quickly, you may be able to request a refund if the scammer has not yet cashed the pre-paid card. MoneyPak, the company that issues the Green Dot cards, has an online tool that allows you to request a refund.Did you like this story? Subscribe to NNS today.