By Shereen Siewert

Police have received multiple reports Thursday of callers pretending to be Wisconsin Public Service collection agents who are trying to defraud unsuspecting residents of money.

In these cases, the caller informs the resident that he or she owes Wisconsin Public Service a past due amount on a bill and claims that service will be cut off if the money is not paid within an hour.

Lt. Grant Peterson of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is urging readers to share this caution with friends on social media as well as friends and family, especially the elderly. Older residents are often targeted by these types of scammers, Peterson said.

“As in any case if anyone calls you demanding money for any reason, use caution, ask questions, don’t rush into offering any personal information or giving any money,” Peterson said. “Also never hesitate to call someone you trust or your local law enforcement agency to help you determine if this is a real call or not.”

Peterson said the Wisconsin Public Service Winter Protection Plan protects both seniors and low-income customers from service disconnection and high energy bill payments during the winter months.

You qualify for the plan if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Receive Department of Health and Human Services cash or food assistance, or Medicaid
  • Have a household income at or below 150 percent of federal poverty level guidelines

Eligible seniors participating in WPP are not required to make specific payments during the heating season.

Eligible low-income customers who participate in WPP need to make monthly payments equal to 7 percent of their estimated annual bill, November through March, to avoid service disconnection during that time.

At the end of the protection period, both low-income and seniors must pay off any money owed in installments between April and November.

For more information, call WPS at 800-450-7260.