Scammers target local, state residentsPhone scams aimed at businesses and individuals across the state are on the rise.
By: Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
Phone scams aimed at businesses and individuals across the state are on the rise.
A scam targeting local businesses resurfaced in Superior this week. The phone scam involves someone calling from the Wisconsin Energy Disconnection Service threatening to cut off the victim’s utilities unless they pay a deposit with a credit card or money order.
Mark Snow, owner of Campus Barber Shop, was right in the middle of a haircut when he got the call Monday afternoon.
“He never got to the point where he asked me for money,” Snow said. “It smelled of fish four different ways.”
The Superior businessman told the caller that if there was a problem, he’d contact Superior Water, Light & Power directly.
A few minutes later, the same man called back, making Snow believe he was using some sort of automatic dialer to find targets.
The utility scam hit Superior about a month ago. Superior Water, Light & Power issued an alert to Chamber members on July 24 and one was posted on the Superior Police Department’s Facebook site.
The calls subsided for a while, but appear to have started up again this week, according to Bill Fennessey, manager of customer service and electric operations for SWL&P. He stressed that the utility company does not call customers regarding their accounts after business hours. If customers receive a suspicious call, they can call SWL&P directly at 715-394-2200 to see if it’s legitimate.
Anyone who has been targeted by the scam should call 911 to report the incident, said Superior Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste.
Illegal debt collection calls
Phone calls from unscrupulous debt collectors appear to be on the rise statewide. The caller states he is attempting to serve a summons and if the consumer does not “act immediately,” he or she will be arrested. The callers do not represent law enforcement and any threats of arrest or jail are bogus, according to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
The department’s bureau of consumer affairs has been receiving several phone calls a day regarding these debt collection calls, and has fielded more than 100 written complaints on them since Jan. 1.
Paul Egide, the department’s director of the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, said many of the consumers targeted may have applied for or obtained loans on the internet or entered personal information into an internet application. In other cases, companies may have a legitimate right to collect a debt but may be using illegal collection practices.
The department encouraged anyone who receives these calls to ask for verification that they owe the debt; do not provide the caller with any personal identification or payment information; do not purchase money cards or money orders to pay the alleged debt.
If people feel they have received one of these calls, they can report it to DFI at 800-452-3328 or online at www.wdifi.org, or to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.