The Recorder – Consumer Corner with Anita Wilson: Tips to spot a scam

Published: 9/22/2022 4:18:03 PM

Modified: 9/22/2022 4:17:24 PM

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit recently took a call from a consumer who reported losing money to what she later learned was a scam. Her caller identified himself as a law enforcement officer and told her she was in trouble because she had not reported for jury duty. He claimed she’d be arrested unless she paid a fine.

As instructed, she purchased gift cards and gave the numbers to the caller. And then she regretted it. She called our office to report the incident and see if there was a way to recover her money. We suggested she notify the gift card company to file a claim.

Another recent caller alerted us to a scam involving a message through Facebook giving information about a government grant program. The message promised a grant of $15,000 to anyone who applied and met the criteria. This consumer spotted the scam when the caller asked for bank account information. She took no action.

These two local examples of scams and fraud are part of a multibillion-dollar problem for consumers each year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, which tracks these reports, there have been more than 2.4 million cases reported this year alone, costing consumers $3.56 billion. Those are just the cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission by consumers and law enforcement agencies; many go unreported.

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