FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 15, 2011
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327
Public Utilities Commission warns consumers of scam
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is warning consumers of a check scam that improperly uses the name of NorthWestern Energy.
The PUC heard from NorthWestern Energy officials who have been contacted by individuals from east coast states inquiring about the scam and checks with the company's name issued as part of a consumer survey effort. Recipients are given instructions on cashing $2,650 checks as a means to test consumer service. The checks and a letter instructing consumers regarding the survey are being delivered via FedEx. The letter directs consumers to deposit the funds in a personal account and wire a portion of the funds to a specific family member. The consumers are to follow up by submitting detailed information to "Marketing Alts. Inc."
"This scam is particularly unsettling because it uses the name of a South Dakota utility company," said PUC Chairman Steve Kolbeck. "Consumers are used to receiving official and legitimate communications from their utility providers. Certainly, this scam is neither. Consumers should check with the PUC or their utility company if they suspect they have received a questionable offer," he stated.
Any South Dakota consumer contacted with such an offer is cautioned not to deposit the check, but instead, report the facts to the PUC Consumer Affairs Division by calling toll-free
1-800-332-1782 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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MEDIA NOTE: Refer to NorthWestern Energy's press release on this issue at: