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Tips and advice to protect yourself from scams, other consumer issues

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Posted at 1:42 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 19:10:49-05

News 5 hosted a Consumer Call Center Wednesday evening to hear your consumer concerns, questions, and comments and get them addressed by experts from the Better Business Bureau, postal inspectors, Legal Aid Society, and many more.

This is all part of Consumer Protection Week, where there’s a special focus on you and the problems you might have faced when buying a product, dealing with a charity or bad contractor, and various other consumer scenarios.

The Federal Trade Commission keeps track of scams and complaints throughout the year. The number one topic in Ohio is imposter scams where people pretend to be someone who they are not, like a sales rep, business owner, or maybe a love interest.

“The scam is huge and evolving,” said Larissa Bungo from the FTC Cleveland Office. “And the best thing that we can do is try to prevent ourselves before it happens in the first place. Prevent the scam from reoccurring and help our loved ones to watch out for it.” If a scam happens, you can report it to the FTC.

Ericka Dilworth from the Cleveland BBB told us its Scam Tracker website gets a lot of people writing in about online scams.

“Whether they’re on Facebook or ordering things online, you have to be so incredibly careful who you are doing business with…who are you giving your information to,” Dilworth said.

She said you have to do your homework on the company or individual before you hand over your hard-earned cash. And be especially aware of how the other person is wanting your money.

“If they’re asking you to just wire them money, or they’re asking you to pay with gift cards, oh my gosh! Those should be red flags right from the start,” Dilworth said.

Dilworth recommended using a credit card when possible because you have at least some protections if the deal goes bad. And always be careful.

“Even Venmo or places like that. They’re good for your girlfriend who you want to give some money to, but they’re not good for strangers,” Dilworth said.

She said there are a lot of tools you can use online, like, which can tell you when a site was established. If it was just a few days ago, you might want to stay away.

Be aware of photos on a listing. Puppy scams often take advantage of cute pictures.

“People post pictures, but you can do a reverse image search and see if that puppy is posted on 14 other different sites…well then, it’s not really the puppy that you’re going to get,” Dilworth said.

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