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

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor

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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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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RICE LAKE - The Merrill football team doesn't feel it got the respect it deserved when WIAA playoff brackets came out last weekend. The Bluejays shared a Great Northern Conference championship.

But they were pinned to a number 8 seed, the lowest in the bracket, and travel to face top-seeded Rice Lake in a Division 3 Level 1 game Friday night.

Recent history doesn't favor Merrill in the playoffs. It has lost six straight playoff openers, dating to 2009.

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WAUSAU - Scott Walker faced a tough crowd at times in Iowa during his failed presidential bid. Now, an undercover video released this week may show those protesters were planted on purpose.

The Journal Sentinel reported the videos show activist Scott Foval bragging about disrupting a Walker rally in Iowa. Those videos were released by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

Foval talks about bringing people out of state into Wisconsin, but doesn't give a reason why.

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WAUSAU - People often leave unused prescriptions in their cabinets at home. But Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes you turn those prescriptions in Saturday to help solve a growing problem.

October 22 is Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said more people die from accidental drug overdoses in Wisconsin than from car crashes.

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RHINELANDER - A simple grooming process many people take for granted helps keeps John honest with himself.

"You can't think too far ahead, at least that's the situation I find myself in," John said.

Convicted of drunk driving seven times, John -- who Newswatch 12 is only identifying by his first name -- faced a harsh reality when he ended up in prison after three arrests in just 13 months.

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MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's utility regulator is planning to spend more money on energy projects in rural areas, including a plan to help underwrite the use of systems that convert cattle manure into electricity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the systems known as manure digesters also help farms manage waste, which has become an increasingly controversial issue in Wisconsin as the size of dairy farms grows.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission officials say they're considering spending $10 million to $20 million on manure digester technology.

The commission also voted Thursday to authorize at least $7.7 million in funding for rebates for solar, wind and geothermal projects around the state that would keep a rebate program in place for energy consumers.

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What We're Working On Submitted: 10/21/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Tomorrow is "Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day." The Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes that you will turn in any unused prescription medications that are in your cabinets at home to help solve a growing problem. Find out why keeping those medications in your home could be dangerous and why it's important to turn them in.

Plus, this is the first week of high school playoff football games in Wisconsin. Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you scores from all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Merrill vs. Rice Lake

Fox Valley Lutheran vs. Antigo

Colby vs. Stratford

Northern Elite vs. Rib Lake/Prentice

Auburndale vs. Marathon

Laona/Wabeno vs. Abbotsford

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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