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Arm Yourself with Energy Scam Knowledge During Consumer Protection Week

Resources for Crow Wing County residents



BRAINERD, Minn. – Spring might be around the corner, but the cold is far from over. Low income families in Crow Wing County are still at risk of Energy Assistance Program phishing scams.

To promote awareness of scams like this, the Federal Trade Commission declared the week of March 4 National Consumer Protection Week. As the Energy Assistance provider for Crow Wing County, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is sharing some advice for local consumers who might be seeking energy assistance this winter.

Scammers are increasingly attempting to pose as representatives of utilities or government programs to acquire consumers’ personal information or money, according to the Minnesota Commerce Department. LSS is encouraging consumers to understand how to recognize legitimate digital contact from an Energy Assistance provider from a scammer posing as one.

According to the Minnesota Commerce Department, the following scam email was sent to an Energy Assistance consumer in September of 2017:

email scam

This email came from a yahoo.com email address. Judy Steinke, Senior Program Manager for the LSS Energy Assistance Program suggests caution when receiving an unsolicited email, especially from an unfamiliar email address. “We never seek eligibility or private information via email,” said Steinke. “All communications from the Crow Wing County Energy Assistance will come from an official LSS email address.

Steinke encourages any interested in energy assistance to work directly with LSS, an official service provider for Crow Wing County.

Although scams occur, consumers should be aware that digital communication can be valid. Beginning in January 2019, the Minnesota Commerce Department will launch a new digital system for energy assistance. To prevent scammers from obtaining your personal information through bogus emails, also known as phishing, arm yourself with good information. Here are a few tips:

  • Never give out personal information via email, such as credit card numbers or bank account information.
  • Avoid opening emails that you don’t recognize.
  • Check your personal and online accounts regularly to ensure no one has tampered with them.
  • Keep up on current phishing scams.

  If you are uncertain whether or not an energy assistance email is valid, please contact LSS at 1.800.829.5902. 

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) is available for residents of Crow Wing County. To get started, call LSS at 1.800.829.5902 or visit our office at 716 E Street in Brainerd. To determine Energy Assistance eligibility, visit www.lssmn.org/energyassistance

 

Minnesota residents outside of Crow Wing County can find their energy assistance provider on the Department Of Commerce website: https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/