The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs highlights the importance of consumer education and protection each day during National Consumer Protection Week (March 3 – March 9, 2019).
The Division of Consumer Affairs, which is the clearinghouse for consumer complaints about unfair or deceptive acts or practices conducted within Tennessee, reminds Tennesseans that learning to spot the red flags that may signal a scammer’s activity can help consumers avoid falling prey to their swindles. In Tennessee, the number of consumer complaints rose slightly in 2018 to 3,750 complaints compared to 3,599 in 2017. (The No. 1 complaint area tracked was timeshares/vacation clubs.) Last year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said that Tennessee now has the 10th highest rate per capita in the U.S. for reports of fraud as well as other complaints.
“National Consumer Protection Week is the perfect time for consumers to take a quick refresher on ways they can quickly and easily avoid becoming a scammer’s target,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “I urge Tennesseans to use this week to focus on educating themselves and their families on how to make themselves safer from scammers’ swindles and snares.”
To assist consumers, TDCI created daily consumer protection reminders for each day of the week.
Sunday – Set Strong Passwords. Incorporate phrases, numbers and special characters to create a more secure password. Always use separate passwords for every account.
Monday – Make Sure You Know Who’s Calling. No government agency will ever demand payment in the form of a reloadable gift card. Not sure who’s calling? Don’t answer. A legitimate business will leave a message and phone number for a return call.
Tuesday – Technology Makes It Easy For Scammers To Hide. ID ‘Spoofing’ allows scammers to use technology to hide their identities. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine. Don’t answer the phone if your number shows up on your phone’s Caller ID. Don’t attempt to call the number back, and do not press any buttons if prompted.
Wednesday – Watch Out For Scammers’ Warning Signs. Is a salesperson pressuring you to make a decision? Does the company that contacted you have an actual physical address? Is the company requesting a large, upfront deposit? Consumer beware.
Thursday – Take A Minute. Slow Down. Breathe. Scammers want to push you into action on an issue before you have time to think or to discuss it with family, friends, or a financial advisor. Do your research before committing funds or providing personal information.”
Friday – File a complaint. Do you know about unlicensed activity or were you the victim of deceptive trade practices? Don’t be silent. Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s department, especially if you lost money, property or your identity was compromised.
Saturday – Sound Too Good To Be True? It probably is. Beware of salespersons who claim it is possible to make extremely high or even guaranteed profits without any risk of loss.
To access more consumer protection information, or to file a consumer complaint, visit the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs at www.tn.gov/consumer.
About the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance: TDCI protects the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Regulatory Boards, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and TennCare Oversight.
To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to http://verify.tn.gov/.