The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is warning business owners to be aware of a telephone scam involving fake utility bills.

Callers claim they are phoning from the local utility and telling business owners that they’re past due on their bills. Unless they pay immediately, businesses are in danger of having their utilities cut off, the caller says.

“If you receive a similar threatening call about your home or business utility account, hang up and do not engage the caller. Contact your local utility provider to inquire about the status of your account and to report the call,” the DATCP advises.

Most of the complaints the department has received are located in Eastern Wisconsin, but phone calls can originate from anywhere and scammers can target anyone.

Business owners are reminded:

  • Utility companies contact customers by mail if accounts are overdue, but customers might receive a phone call if services are going to be cut off soon. Utilities will not demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • Any demands for payment over the phone through a prepaid card or wire transfer mean the call is a scam.
  • Scammers can use technology to make caller ID look like calls are coming from the utility.
  • If business owners have any questions about their utility account(s), they should call the customer service numbers listed on gas, electric and/or water bills.

Any complaints about scam utility calls can be directed to the Consumer Protection Bureau at http://datcp.wisconsin.gov, via e-mail at datcphotline@wisconsin.gov, or to call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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