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South Dakota PUC reminds consumers to stay informed and exercise caution on National Utility Scam Awareness Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 19, 2019                
MEDIA CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327

South Dakota PUC reminds consumers to stay informed and exercise caution on
National Utility Scam Awareness Day

PIERRE, S.D. - November 20 is National Utility Scam Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is reminding consumers that the best way to handle scam calls is to follow the simple adage, “Don’t Know? Don’t Answer!”

Scam calls have become common. These calls are made by criminals with the purpose of tricking you into giving them money or providing personal information they can use or sell for financial gain. The best way to avoid a negative outcome from these interactions is to avoid interacting at all. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers and if you do answer a call that seems suspicious, hang up immediately.

“You are the first line of defense to stop someone from stealing your money or personal information,” said PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. “Do not let the scammers in by giving out ANY information or pressing a number on the phone or sending them Bitcoin, gift cards or money. Just hang up.”

The PUC takes their role in educating consumers about the dangers of scam calls seriously. For handling suspicious calls, the commission offers these additional tips:

  • If you answer the phone and are asked to press a button to stop receiving these calls, hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Don’t respond to the caller, even to say “yes” or “no.”
  • If you get an unexpected call from someone claiming to represent a company or government agency, hang up and call the number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company or agency’s official website to verify the authenticity of the request. Do not call the number provided to you by the caller or from the caller ID.
  • Never give out personal information including account numbers, social security numbers, mother’s maiden name, passwords, birth date or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls.
  • Be cautious when posting private information on social media. Some posts, particularly those including information about your location or upcoming plans, can make you vulnerable. For example, posting photos of your family vacation in real time can let burglars know your home is empty. It’s much safer to wait and post about your travels once you’re home.  

It’s important to remember that scammers are criminals who are skilled in deception. They often use technology to mask their location and identity, making it difficult for law enforcement and government agencies to find them and enforce the rules and regulations regarding such practices. Fortunately, progress is being made.

In recent months, some telephone companies have rolled out verification tools to reassure customers that the number showing up on their phone is the number that called, not a fraudulent “spoofed” number. This week, congressional leaders announced they have reached an agreement on an anti-robocall bill that will give government agencies more ability to go after scammers. It will also require telecom companies to verify that phone numbers are real and block numbers for free.

Find more information about avoiding telephone scams on the PUC’s website at https://puc.sd.gov/scamcalls/.