Friday, October 31, 2014

BBB warns: Scammers have gone smishing – Don’t get hooked!

Burnsville, Minn – October 31, 2014– Ever since texting became standard practice, consumers nationwide have reported receiving unsolicited text messages. Some of these messages are nothing more than annoying spam – shady marketing ploys – but others have led to surprise charges on cellphone bills. In some cases, text messages people have received have even purported to be from their banks or credit unions. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds people to be leery of offers or informational messages received via text, as there may be a hook attached!

Smishing is when scammers attempt to obtain or steal personal information via fraudulent cellphone textcommunications. These messages are usually designed to get the recipient to follow up with personally identifiable – or sensitive financial – information. The fraudulent messages generally claim there’s a problem with the recipient’s debit cards, credit cards or bank account, and that the accounts in question have been frozen. People are then prompted to call a toll-free number, where they’re instructed to provide their personal or account information, opening the door to identity theft and/or fraud.

To avoid smishing and other text message scams, consumers are advised to:
Contact BBB at 1-800-646-6222 if you have concerns about a text message you’ve received. Trained resource specialists are on hand from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer questions from the public.
·         Never provide personal or financial information to unknown parties and don’t click on any embedded Internet links in unsolicited text messages.
·         Unless you’ve signed up for text alerts, don’t respond to text messages allegedly sent by your bank or credit union. Even if you have signed up for such alerts, it’s always a good idea to verify the information you’re given.
·         If you have concerns about your bank or credit card accounts, contact your local branch or credit card provider directly as soon as possible.
·         Stay calm. Keep in mind that if there is a problem with one of your bank or credit card accounts, it can be straightened out. Call or visit your financial institution and speak with a representative.
·         Don’t rely on your caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it appear as though their calls and texts are coming from legitimate businesses or financial institutions.
Check for grammatical errors. Smishers are getting more creative as far as how they attack their victims, but some don’t even take the time to correct simple mistakes like spelling errors.
If you receive a spam message containing a marketing offer, monitor your cellphone statement regularly to monitor for unusual charges. Contacting your cellphone carrier to block premium text messages may help prevent unauthorized charges.
Report the incident to organizations such as BBB, the FTC and local law enforcement. Spreading the word may help prevent others from falling victim to bogus text messages.
Some consumers have also reported receiving text messages saying they’ve won cash prizes or new cars. As with emailed messages of this nature or phone calls you might receive, BBB advises people to apply common sense – does it sound too good to be true? Also be on the lookout for spam text messages that give you an ‘opt-out’ option. In those situations, BBB suggests simply deleting the message, as any action you take tells the sender your number is in use and that could open the door to still more spam text messages.

For the latest fraud alerts, marketplace news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Brown’s Creek State Trail opens, capping construction season at Minnesota state parks and trails

Following the installation of a bridge over Manning Avenue in June and the recent completion of paving, Brown’s Creek State Trail is now open, the Department of Natural Resources announced today. The 6-mile trail connects Stillwater to the Gateway State Trail, which continues to St. Paul.

“With the nice weather we’ve been having, many people may still be able to get out this fall for a walk or a bike ride on Brown’s Creek State Trail,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It’s a very exciting addition to the Minnesota state parks and trails system, and the DNR is grateful to Washington County, the city of Stillwater and the Gateway-Brown’s Creek Trail Association for their support throughout the project.”

Rivers added that the DNR and representatives of these organizations look forward to celebrating the completion of the trail at a special event on Saturday, June 6, in conjunction with National Trails Day.

The trail is one of several major projects wrapping up or recently completed at Minnesota state parks and trails, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state.

“Reinvesting in Minnesota’s outdoor recreation infrastructure will help us connect more people to the great outdoors,” Rivers said. “Assistance from many local government partners and community organizations was key to completing these projects. Legacy funding also made many of them possible.”

In addition to trail, highlights of the 2014 construction season include:
An 11,000-square-foot visitor center and MnDOT safety rest area with a view of Lake Superior opened at Tettegouche State Park in June.

Four camper cabins opened in June at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota.

The 4-mile Vermilion Park Drive was paved at Lake Vermilion State Park, where work will begin next spring on a modern campground.

A restroom building and visitor plaza opened at the Ray Berglund State Wayside on the North Shore in July.

A 6-mile trail segment connecting the Paul Bunyan State Trail to Crow Wing State Park opened in July.

Scott County took the lead to pave a 4-mile segment of the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which runs parallel to state Highway 101, from Memorial Park in Shakopee to the Wilkie Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, east of Valleyfair.

Renovation of an historic camp store into a guesthouse and a new, 5-mile segment of the bike trail at Itasca State Park were completed in September.

Two historic shelters, Ladyslipper Lodge and Lakeview Lodge, were renovated at Gooseberry Falls State Park, and can now be rented by visitors.

A new trailhead—with expanded parking, a changing station and a vault toilet—is near completion at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

Seven yurts were constructed this summer—two at Afton State Park, two at Glendalough State Park and three at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area—and will open as soon as wood-burning stoves are installed and final inspections are conducted.

This is a partial list of recent projects; many more are done or underway. Most of the funding for development and rehabilitation projects comes from bonding and the Parks and Trails Fund, which receives 14.25 percent of the Legacy Amendment sales tax revenue. For fiscal year 2014 (which ended June 30), the Parks and Trails Division budgeted $4.22 million for new development projects and $3.88 million for rehabilitation projects.

Recent data suggest that Minnesotans’ investments in the outdoors are resulting in increased participation in outdoor recreation. For example, as of the end of September, year-to-date sales of daily state park vehicle permits were up 2 percent over last year, and sales of year-round permits were up 5 percent.

“While capital improvement projects and permit sales are two tangible measures of success,” Rivers said, “more important are the many positive memories families took home with them after visiting Minnesota state parks and trails throughout the summer and this amazing fall. Those memories will last a lifetime.”

For a map and more information about Brown’s Creek State Trail, visit For other information about Minnesota state parks and trails, visit or call the Information Center
651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Overnight lane closures throughout the week on I-94 in Fargo/Moorhead

FARGO, N.D. (Oct. 30, 2014) – Beginning Sunday night, November 2, and throughout the week, crews will be setting temporary overnight lane closures on Interstate 94 (I-94), as they remove the protective bridge deck canopy on the east edge of the existing 25th Street South bridge reconstruction project. The canopy was previously used to protect the traveling public as crews worked above on the roadway.

In the westbound direction, the lane closures will begin just west of 25th Street South and end shortly after traveling under the bridge. In the eastbound direction, the lane closure will being prior to the 25th Street South ramp and end west of University Drive. For the majority of this phase of construction, crews will close two lanes and sections of overnight traffic on I-94 will be merged to one open lane.

Access to 25th Street South will remain available as is currently set up. One lane of traffic remains open in each direction throughout the work zone.

Motorists can anticipate the following information regarding lane closures, weather and project needs permitting:
·         Closures will occur overnight between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
·         Closures on Westbound I-94 will occur on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evening
·         Closures on Eastbound I-94 will occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening
·         Throughout the project stretch, there will be at least one lane open for the traveling public

These lane closures are expected to reopen by the morning of November 7.

These detours are needed to ensure the safety of the traveling public and crews that work on the project as the bridge deck is directly above I-94.  The NDDOT scheduled this work to occur overnight when traffic volumes are at their lowest to help minimize impacts to the traveling public. 

The NDDOT Fargo District encourages motorists to avoid distractions, obey flaggers and signs throughout the work zone and consider alternate routes if possible.