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Beware of this phone scam

Douglas County residents should be aware of a phone scam demanding payment for electricity bills.

On Saturday, April 12, a rural Alexandria small business received a phone call from a scammer claiming to be from Runestone Electric Association. The scammer said the payment received a month ago was not honored by the bank and if payment was not made, someone would be out to disconnect their electricity in 30 minutes.

The caller demanded $500 in a Walmart money pack as well as $500 in cash. Even caller ID was falsified - it identified the caller as being from CenterPoint Energy.

“Under no circumstances would we call a customer and threaten to disconnect their power in this manner,” said Sue Lundeen with Runestone Electric Association. “We suspect the scammer’s tactic may be to get the customer to look for the check in question and then provide the scammer with the banking information such as the account number and routing number to prove that payment had been made.”

Thankfully, the REA member called law enforcement and the scammer did not show up to disconnect the electric meter.  Once again, this is a reminder to never give out banking information or credit card information over the phone if you are not certain of the caller.

If you are suspicious of any call threatening disconnection and demanding immediate payment, hang up immediately and contact Runestone Electric Association or your electric utility about your accounts and payments.

If you have been a victim of such a scam, report it to your local law enforcement and to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Affairs Office at 1-800-657-3782 or by email at

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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