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Utility bills scam hitting customers who might be behind on paymentsSubmitted: 04/16/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - A seemingly endless winter made for a tough year on utility bills. Some people are behind on payments and that could mean your provider shuts off services starting this week.

The latest scam is taking advantage of customers who find themselves stuck in that position.

Wisconsin Public Service customers say someone will call claiming to be from the company. They'll request money for unpaid accounts, claiming services will be shut down if you don't pay.

The scammer will suggest you buy a prepaid debit card or arrange for a cash pickup. WPS Community Relations Leader Leah Van Zile says those should be warning signs.

"They would not be offended at all if somebody says, 'You know, I'm not sure about this, I'm going to call back in,'" Van Zile said. "It's just a part of safety nowadays in the world that we operate."

What about if you actually are behind on your bill? Van Zile says there are still options to keep your lights and heat going.

All it takes is a phone call or a click.

"There may still be some dollars available for energy assistance, so if some of those folks haven't taken advantage of that program and they are income eligible, we really encourage them to contact the social services office for their county and see if there's some crisis dollars available," Van Zile said.

If you do think a scammer has called you, make sure to write down as much information about the caller as possible.

That includes the date and time, phone number and any description of the caller you can gather.

We have a link to the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program below.

Related Weblinks:
Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/31/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We will take you to Tomahawk where the Harley Davidson plant announced it will lay off 39 workers.

Renovations have begun at the Antigo Public Library. We'll give you details on what to expect when the project is finished.

And preparations are underway for this weekend's Mud Run in Manitowish Waters. Will show you some of the obstacles runners will encounter.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ANTIGO - A fire left some minor damage to a business in Antigo earlier today.

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TOMAHAWK - It doesn't look like the candidates for northern Wisconsin's seat in Congress can agree on a debate schedule just yet. 

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Weston) said earlier this week he wants two debates, one in Superior and one in Wausau.

But that's apparently not enough for his democratic challenger. Mary Hoeft said she wants six debates.
Originally Hoeft said she wanted a debate in all 26 counties in the district.

"But people said to me, Mary, when you make this request to the Duffy campaign, make it reasonable," Hoeft said. "So alright I went in my head from 26 down to six." 

Hoeft said more debates would help voters make a more informed decision when they go to the polls. 

"But I'm happier than if he had said zero," Hoeft said. "But I'm not going to stop, though. I'm going to ask the people of the 7th Congressional District, if you want more forums, make sure that your voice is heard."

Hoeft hosted a meet and greet in Tomahawk Wednesday morning. She addressed a group of about 20 people. 

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People die from heroin overdoses every day throughout the U.S., and it's a problem we see here in the Northwoods as well. 

That's why Lac Du Flambeau hosted it's first Overdose Awareness Day to help people learn more about drug addiction.

"Having lost my sister last year, and other families that lost loved ones like that, an awareness and education needs to be done in Indian Communities," said organizer Jeanne Wolfe. 
 
A special agent gave a presentation about heroin.

Afterwards the people at the event could talk about ways to prevent drug use in the community.

The event was also a way to deal with grief.

"Nothing has really been done to recognize or talk about our sorrow and the loss a person goes through when somebody dies unexpectedly like that," Wolfe said. 

Wolfe hopes to host the event again next year.


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RHINELANDER - It all started with an idea.

 After visiting a church in Whitewater, Rhinelander's Barbra Thompson came back with an idea for her own community.

Thompson realized her community was missing something. 

The Table event started providing free meals to the people of Rhinelander 20 years ago. 

"A great, great opportunity to serve those in need, and I think our community in Rhinelander appreciates it," said a volunteer from St. Mary's Hospital.

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ANTIGO - People hoping to use the Antigo library will need to find a different location for the next month.

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MOSINEE - After looking for several hours, searchers recovered a man's body after an apparent drowning near Mosinee.

About 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the Marathon County Sheriffs Office got word of a possible drowning near Beans Eddy Boat Landing.

The Sheriffs Dive team and fire personnel searched the scene.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Department, the man's body was found shortly before midnight.

He had apparently fallen into the water when he was pushing his pontoon boat off a sand bar.

The man's name has not be released.

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