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Scam Artists Targeting Salons

December 10, 2012, 6:30 AM by Don Jorgensen

Scam Artists Targeting Salons
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

There are all kinds of scams out there. Thieves constantly look to steal your identity to get at your money. A Sioux Falls businesswoman found that out the hard way when she tried paying her electric bill.

At Quality Nails in Sioux Falls, manicurist Kim Nguyen sometimes applies fake nails to her customers.  But last month, she was the one who was faked out.  

She took a phone call from someone claiming to be from Xcel Energy wanting her to pay her electric bill.

"They say, I send my bill in, but forgot to sign, so they can't cash the check," Nguyen said.

Nguyen believed the person because she had her exact bill amount and her last four of her social security number.

"I asked them can you send it back, I send you a new one and they say 'No because by that time they would interrupt my business service here,' so they want me to pay by debit card or credit card and I did," Nguyen said.

That's where she went wrong. 

In the following days, her bank statements showed someone had been using her business credit card in Missouri, racking up close to $1,100 in charges, some of which had gone to an inmate in prison.

Nguyen believes the thieves are targeting small business owners wanting them to pay their electric, phone or cable bills.

"All my friends in town they all get caught, my friend got caught last year, I got caught this year and I have a friend who has a salon in St. Cloud, Minnesota who got caught too, they say they're late on phone bill and they pay and they get caught," Nguyen said.

But Nguyen says she won't get caught again, because she's a little more polished now recognizing a potential scam over the phone.

"Sometimes I get upset and I say you sure you're not trying to scam me and if you are don't call because I learned a lot now," Nguyen said.

Nguyen says she filed a police report and her bank is going to credit her account.

Xcel Energy says they are aware of what happened, but say it's an isolated incident.

The company says if it gets any checks that are unsigned, they'll mail the check back to you. Also, Xcel Energy says it will never call you and ask you for your debit card information over the phone. 

The best thing to do if you get a call like that, hang up and call Xcel Energy yourself.

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