Attorney General Jackley Warns of Deceptive Tobacco Settlement Advertising

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PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Marty Jackley warns South Dakota citizens of recent deceptive advertisements related to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. These advertisements mislead consumers into believing they are eligible to receive tobacco settlement money.

"The settlement monies obtained through the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement are not available to individuals," said Jackley. "Do not provide credit card numbers or any personal identifying information to unsolicited emails or advertisements."

The online advertisements lead consumers to believe that they can claim thousands of dollars per month from the tobacco settlement through a special program. The advertisement, which promises a tax-free portion of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, misleads consumers into believing they are eligible for guaranteed money backed by the government. The advertisements emphasize claiming and receiving these funds, when in reality, at the end of the advertisement, consumers are prompted to purchase a subscription in order to learn more about how to receive these funds. Once a subscription is paid for by credit card, it may be difficult to cancel.

In 1998, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was signed by the four largest U.S. tobacco companies, 46 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. The settlement resolved several lawsuits against the tobacco industry for tobacco-related health care costs. In 2002, the State securitized the settlement funds.

Anyone with questions should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-300-1986 or via email at consumerhelp@state.sd.us.