Criminals are using new tactics in attempts to obtain money from customers, according to the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials on Friday shared this alert:

Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) is urging residential and business customers to be aware of a surge in scam attempts this week, with many including a new intimidating tactic. Since Monday, approximately 60 scam phone calls have been reported by business customers and churches across northeast and north central Wisconsin, with most calls being made to customers in the Sheboygan, Green Bay and Marinette areas.

Different than past schemes, recent calls have featured scammers claiming a crew needs to exchange or remove a customer’s natural gas or electric meter. In some cases, scammers have told customers a reimbursable payment is needed to exchange the meter, while others have threatened to remove the meter and disconnect the customer. In one case, a customer did fall victim to the scam and lost hundreds of dollars. WPS strongly emphasizes its employees do not conduct business this way.

Scammers also continue to try to disguise their scheme by getting WPS phone numbers to appear on caller ID or by playing a recording of the company’s customer service greeting on a number given to customers. Some customers also have been told to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card to make a payment. WPS reminds customers its employees will not require a payment using these cards.

Customers who receive a threatening or suspicious call should hang up and report the call to WPS at 800-450-7260, where a representative can confirm the status of a customer’s account. Personal, banking or account information should never be provided if a customer cannot verify the authenticity of a call.