MILWAUKEE - This fall, hundreds of people have fallen victim to scammers posing as We Energies employees.
It happens every year. Fall and winter arrive, and scammers start searching for victims.
"We're seeing an increase in the number of people being targeted by these criminals," said Amy Jahns, We Energies spokeswoman.
As the coronavirus pandemic has forced more people into a vulnerable state, scammers are quick to prey on them.
"They're calling people who are already in a vulnerable state of mind with the pandemic, and we want to make sure that they understand that it is not us calling them," said Jahns. "It's scammers."
That's why We Energies is trying to get ahead of things -- putting an alert out to their customers.
"What scammers do is they make it sound urgent -- that you will not have power within 30 minutes if you do not give these criminals money," said Jahns. "We are not threatening to come to your house to turn off your power or your gas, and I think that's the most important thing. They make you feel threatened, and that there is an urgent need for you to give them your hard-earned dollars."
However, to make identifying a scammer as simple as possible, keep this in mind.
"We're not disconnecting any residential customers right now during this health pandemic, so we are not going to be coming to your home and turning off your heat or your electric," said Jahns.
Additionally, We Energies has a company policy -- the winter moratorium. Through the months of October to April, the power to residential property cannot be shut off.
"If it sounds suspicious, hang-up," said Jahns. "It's not rude. It's safe."
Company representatives say this scam also comes in the form of crooks asking to swap out meters. So remember, when in doubt, tell them no, and call the energy company.