National Consumer Protection Week 2015

Don’t Get Scammed!

The key to avoiding scams and consumer fraud is to recognize the warning signs and always be suspicious of any unsolicited offer or reward.

When dealing with these types of offers, remember this simple acronym;

S. I. R. (Stop – Investigate – Report)

Stop    Don’t take any action, give any money, offer any information or sign any contract.

Most internet scams want you to react quickly, either out of fear like “Warning your account access has been locked” or excitement like “Congratulations, you’ve just won our Grand Prize. Click here to claim your prize”.  Telephone, conventional mail, and in-person scams work the same way. Oh and let’s not forget the ad on Craigslist or EBay that offers an expensive item for sale at a fraction of its value due to hardship or an out of area seller.

If you’re speaking with someone on the phone, get their name, company name and telephone number and then tell them you’ll let them know. If they won’t provide any or all of that information, simply hang up.

If it’s an in person sales pitch, don’t sign anything, give anyone money, or agree to have work performed until you have a chance to check out both the person and the company making the offer.

Bottom line is that scammers use tempting offers and fear to motivate victims into giving away their money or personal information.

Investigate  Use the internet and our office to learn more about the offer.

Often a “Google” (or other search engine) check of the sending email, telephone number or portions of the text describing the offer will produce other people’s experiences, good or bad.

You can get detailed educational information on how to avoid scams and fraud by visiting the National Consumer Protection Week website resource page here: http://www.ncpw.gov/resource-topics/scam-alert

 

Report          Report what you know and get help.

By taking the first two steps you’ll usually avoid becoming a victim and frustrate the scammer.

But we’re all human and sometimes we make mistakes. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid you’ll be considered “stupid” for becoming a victim. We want to help you and stop the scammers from victimizing others.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud or scam we encourage you to call local law enforcement or visit our website (http://www.sa18.state.fl.us/page/consumer-information.html) where you can find additional resources to help you report consumer fraud and links to the government and private sector companies that can help you.

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