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DATE: March 29, 2004

Contact Person: Jim Mehlhaff, Consumer Affairs
Contact Phone: 605-773-3201

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Issues Consumer Advisory

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) warns South Dakota small businesses to be on the watch for suspicious telemarketing calls regarding their local telephone provider.

A telemarketer has deceptively been contacting business customers claiming to be calling on behalf of their local phone provider. Assurances are given to the consumer that the purpose of the call is to inform them of changes to how their phone bills will look due to new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates. They are told that the purpose of the call is not to change their local phone service provider. After the initial contact is made, the consumer is transferred to a third party verifier. At this stage, the third party verifier tells the consumer that they are taping the conversation and attempts to obtain legal permission from the business to change its local phone provider. If the consumer asks any questions, the process stops and the third party verifier restarts the tape to begin asking questions again to obtain the consumer's approval for changing their local provider. This process continues until a clean verification recording is obtained or until the third party verifier determines that they will not get a valid verification recording.

If you have received a call like this, please call the PUC immediately at 1-800-332-1782, or (605) 773-3201.

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