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NEWS STORIES

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


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: 07/07/2015

- The Wisconsin State Senate has passed two measures raising state trooper wages and compensation for state workers. The chamber will address the budget this afternoon. We'll have the latest and tell you what the budget could mean for you tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Plus, well take a look at the impact of the early crowd at the Hodag Country Festival.

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

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Musical Festival kicks off on Thursday.

But there are already plenty of people camping out for the big event in the Northwoods.

Those campers benefit businesses in the Northwoods both new and old.

Johnny Nickolaou, who opened his liquor store in Sugar Camp around Thanksgiving, understands the importance of tourism.

"Huge, you know you depend on locals year round and they are great, but if it weren't for them I could never afford to be open," said Nickalaou. "But it's really nice getting this push to hopefully get us through the winter months."

Nickolaou set up a deal in preparation of Hodag Country Festival. He discounted around 10 large orders.

"15 case orders, most of them which is quite a bit I thought," said Nickalaou.


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LINCOLN COUNTY - A Tomahawk homeowner was able to scare off burglars back in March, even after being hit in the face with the hatchet. Now, a Merrill man will need to find 25 dollars in cash to get out of jail.

28-year-old Chad Staehle was charged with four felonies for breaking into a home in Tomahawk. Police believe he and three other men broke into the home with a hatchet and crowbar.

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SUGAR CAMP - There could soon be new regulations for unarmed combat sports. The proposed changes would impact the number of competitors here in the Northwoods.

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Water Shows team could add some new tricks to its performances. The team is currently working on its barefoot skills with one of the world's best barefoot skiers.

"It's a little more high pace, a little more intense, but it's a lot of fun," says Ben Groen of the World Barefoot Center.

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MADISON - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says Gov. Scott Walker's office had a hand in crafting a budget amendment scaling back the state's open records law.

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MADISON - The state Senate has approved a raise for state troopers and a new compensation plan for other state workers but has delayed debate on the state budget.

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