Utility scams can ramp up anytime throughout the year, but during extreme weather, they’re especially common.

Who Is It Targeting:  Utility customers of Alliant Energy

What Is It:  A cold call scam extorting money from customers

What Are They After: While this scam has been happening in Wisconsin, reports of similar scams crop up all over the country, especially during times of expected bad weather. A caller dials phone numbers at random and claims to be a customer service rep from the utility company. He explains that your account is past due and your electricity, gas, phone, or another service will be cut off unless you make an immediate payment over the phone.

This kind of scam is especially prevalent when very cold or very hot temps are expected because there’s an added sense of panic at the thought of losing electricity in such situations. Faced with having no heat during a winter storm or having your food spoil in the fridge during a heat wave can make otherwise sensible people fall for it.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • While some companies do offer the convenience of over-the-phone payments, you will never be threatened with losing your service the first time you’re contacted about an account issue.
  • Utility companies do not require immediate phone payments if your account is past due; you are still able to send a check, use your online bill pay service, or even bring payment to their offices.
  • If you receive a call like this and are concerned it might be genuine, hang up and call the company directly using a verified number, NOT a phone number the caller provided.

For full details of this scam check out this article from Sheboygan Press.


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