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Utility bills scam hitting customers who might be behind on paymentsSubmitted: 04/16/2013
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Utility bills scam hitting customers who might be behind on payments
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: 12/12/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting today about possible changes to a major Rhinelander intersection. We'll preview the meeting and bring you coverage tonight on Newswatch 12 at 10.

We talk to a fisherman and a DNR conservation warden about how safe or unsafe the Northwoods lakes are for ice fishermen.

And a historic Wabeno bed and breakfast is in a building that used to be the mansion of a lumber baron. We'll show you the place where the owners are offering tours for a good cause.

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

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ELCHO - An Elcho couple's Christmas tradition now serves as a tradition for many others in the Northwoods.

Carl and Lissa Bloechl spent only a week setting up thanks to the stretch of warm weather early in the season.

It's common for the couple to drop everything to take an emergency EMT call which adds time to decorating.
 
They say they can't stop the display though!

"We get people from Rhinelander or Antigo or people that we know, even from outlying areas! They'll say 'Do you have the lights up yet, we want to see them!" Then we have to scramble and beat the weather," says Carl Bloechl.

The couple spends about $300 adding new items to their display every year, such as the new nativity scene Carl built.

This is the fifth year the couple has decorated their apartment complex.


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RHINELANDER - An orthodontic office in Rhinelander wants you to add one more person to your holiday card mailing list.

Dr. Joshua Bruce of Schmidt and Bruce Orthodontics is organizing this year's "Hope and Healing" thank-you card program for wounded veterans.

Dr. Darrell Schmidt first collected the cards for injured service members around Christmas last year.

Bruce says helping veterans is something he cares deeply about.

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MERRILL -
A Tomahawk man charged with 12 felonies from a string of burglaries will spend the better part of the next decade in prison.

Jon Schenk, 45, was sentenced to seven years in prison in Lincoln County Court Monday morning. Schenk chose not to say much during his hearing, but judge Robert Russell had plenty to tell him.

"Here we are again," Russell said to Schenk.

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ANTIGO - Getting your family a new dog or cat for Christmas can be more troublesome than thoughtful.

Shelter animals tend to be extra sensitive when they come to a new home.

With visitors coming and going, the holiday season often creates an even more stressful environment.  

Those Christmas decorations can also frighten a new pet.

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RHINELANDER - A new state law could help northern Wisconsin open a mine in the next three to five years, if Sen. Tom Tiffany's predictions are correct.

Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wrote the bill repealing a Wisconsin law often called the "mining moratorium," and Gov. Scott Walker signed it in Rhinelander on Monday.

Walker said the new law, branded the Mining for America Act, "might as well be called the 'Keep Our Kids in Wisconsin' bill."

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RHINELANDER - Monday night the Rhinelander City Council made a big decision it hopes will bring more success to the Northwood Golf Course.

The Council voted seven to one to end its restaurant lease with Dave O'Melia, and to let golf pro Dan Buckley go. The council will begin looking for an outside management company to handle the course.

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