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NorthWestern Energy Montana customers targetted by scam

May 01, 2019

Butte, Mont. – NorthWestern Energy Montana customers are being targeted by a scam threatening immediate utility shut offs.

Customers report that they receive a call and a recording plays, telling the customer to call a 1-800 number to avoid having their utility service interrupted.

Customers who called the phone number report that the person who answers the call demands immediate payment.

The scammers appear to be calling utility customers throughout Montana.

NorthWestern Energy has reported the scam and the phone number being used to authorities.

NorthWestern does not call customers and demand immediate payment of past-due bills. The utility will provide multiple past-due notices before terminating service. If you get a cancellation notification, always verify it by dialing the customer service number on your utility bill. Don’t supply any personal information unless you are sure you are indeed working with the utility. NorthWestern never asks customers to use a prepaid debit card for payment.

Signs of Potential Scam Activity:

• Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.

• Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct a customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.

• Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.

How Customers Can Protect Themselves:

• Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Northwestern Energy and other utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.

• If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive advance disconnection notification. NorthWestern Energy and other utility companies never send a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.

• If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should call NorthWestern Energy’s customer service number, 888-467-2669 in Montana and 800-245-6977. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.

Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.

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About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 726,400 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com


Media Contact:
Jo Dee Black
(866) 622-8081
Jodee.Black@northwestern.com


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