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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING RECOGNIZES NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK
~ March 2-8 will see national campaign to educate consumers on rights and risks ~
Richmond--Attorney General Mark R. Herring is pleased to join with state and federal government agencies, consumer advocacy organizations and private sector groups nationwide to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week. This coordinated, consumer-education campaign encourages consumers to take advantage of their consumer rights and educate themselves on how to be better protected in the marketplace.
"National Consumer Protection Week is a great time to remind Virginians to be vigilant in their consumer transactions and savvy about interactions with those who may be out to defraud them," said Attorney General Herring. "My Consumer Protection section will aggressively investigate claims of fraud or abuse, but with scams and other crimes against consumers unfortunately on the rise, it is more important than ever to take advantage of the many helpful resources available to consumers."
The Attorney General advises consumers to keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim of consumer fraud:
- Know who you are dealing with. Technology has made it easy for scammers to disguise or spoof their telephone number or create a website that looks very legitimate. Do an online search for the company name and website and look for consumer reviews. If you cannot find a seller's physical address (not a P.O. Box) and phone number it should be a red flag. It is best to do business with websites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.
- Watch out for phishing scams and be wary of online offers. It does not matter whether you receive an unsolicited message by email, phone, text message or an advertisement. Do not click on links or call phone numbers included in the message. The scammers behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive personal information such as social security, bank account or credit card numbers. If you get a message like this and are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card or your bank statement to check on it.
- Never send money to anyone whose identity you cannot confirm. Be suspicious of anyone who says you have won a lottery or big prize - you will never see any winnings. And if the mailing includes a realistic-looking check, ask yourself why anybody would be sending you money. The check is not legitimate.
- Do not be rushed into sending money or agreeing to make a purchase or contribution. If the offer is legitimate, you will not be pressured into making a snap decision you likely will later regret.
- Know that wiring or transferring money is just like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it is nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Never wire money to strangers or to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment. Also be wary of anyone claiming to be a relative in need of money for an emergency.
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section helps educate Virginians about fraud and investigates and acts on consumer complaints regarding things like telemarketers and phone scams, mortgage and bank fraud, bad checks, Ponzi and bait and switch schemes, and predatory loans. In 2013, the Consumer Protection Section processed 3,994 written complaints, provided information to 28,276 callers to its Consumer Hotline and recovered $695,829 for consumers through its dispute resolution efforts. The Consumer Protection Section also provides consumer education through the issuance of consumer alerts and resource materials as well as through outreach in the form of speeches, workshops and community events.
Always check on a business before you buy. You may contact our office to get more information on a company or to file a complaint. Visit our website: www.ag.virginia.gov or call 1-800-552-9963 in Virginia or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area. You may also check with the Better Business Bureau. Their web site is www.bbb.org. To learn about other resources, you may visit the National Consumer Protection Week website: ncpw.govfor free educational resources, and to read blog posts from national consumer protection experts.