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Consumer Protection Week: What you need to know about the latest scams officials are tracking

Phishing Scams
Posted at 7:17 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 07:32:38-05

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s officially consumer protection week and officials are working to educate the community about the latest scams and how to protect themselves from fraudsters.

“We want to take the opportunity to educate people about what they can do, what their rights are as consumers,” said Eric Olsen, Manager of Consumer Protection Services for Hillsborough County.

Scammers are targeting people everywhere.

“We want people to be aware that identity theft is going on,” said Olsen.

The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2021, older millennials, ages 30-39, reported the most identify theft among all age groups.

“There are impostor scams going on,” said Olsen.

Those types of scams are what officials are seeing the most, when a fraudster pretends to be someone else to steal money and personal information, many times using phishing schemes.

Consumer experts said scammers are doing this through emails, text messages, and phone calls. They’re also exploiting crises in the world like the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine.

“if they’re not aware of it they just need to check in their email because chances are they’ve got some spam, they’ve got some emails, telephone messages that people try to contact them about some scam. It’s going on all the time,” said Olsen.

While the best way to avoid phishing schemes is to not click on any links and delete messages, if someone does accidentally click on something, officials said they need to act fast.

“You might need to get your device, your computer looked at by a technician who can help if there’s a virus on it. That can happen. Malicious programs can be installed on a computer,” said Olsen.

Law enforcement agencies are also seeing a rise in scammers using social media to steal information and money.

The Romance Scam is one of the main tactics. That’s when criminals use a fake online identity to gain someone’s affection and trust.

“Usually the red flags are that they need money or help in some way and once that starts happening, if you pay them, if you feed into it then they will keep you hooked like a fish on the line and keep getting money from you maybe until your account is drained. We’ve seen some really serious situations where people have lost a lot of money,” said Olsen.

That’s why officials are reminding the community to verify who they’re talking to for whatever reasons before sharing any personal information.

“We really want to encourage people to be very careful,” said Olsen.