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Consumer Affairs says 'don't get scammed in 2012'

Across the United States, there is a barrage of scams of all types that prey on innocent and unsuspecting people of all ages and from all walks of life. Tennessee’s Division of Consumer Affairs is constantly on the watch to keep the public aware of the many new and creative schemes that threaten Tennesseans on a continual basis. The agency falls under the Department of Commerce.
According to Gary Cordell, the director of Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, the office has partnered with sheriffs’ departments across the state to help educate citizens against the many scams that surface on an on-going basis. The agency, similar to the Better Business Bureau, is designed to not only receive complaints, but to filter the information to the correct agency. “We work hand in hand with the attorney general’s office,” Cordell said.
Tennessee’s Division of Consumer Affairs has put out an information booklet entitled “Don’t Get Scammed” that is full of warnings on a host of scams and frauds. The department warns bidders participating in online auctions should review the seller’s feedback rating, to be cautious about dealing with people outside of the country and to inquire about the shipping charges before you bid. Alarms should start to ring if the seller will only accept wire transfers or cash. Be wary of any cashier’s checks received from someone you do not personally know. Contact the bank the check was drawn on to determine if it is actually a legitimate check. When using a credit card online, make sure the site is secure before you provide your credit card information. Look over your statements carefully to determine if there are any charges you do not recall authorizing. If you receive an offer regarding debt elimination, contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company is actually legitimate. Their website is www.betterbusinessbureau.org.
According to Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece, there is quite a bit of debit card theft in the county. Both Cordell and Reece recommended victims contact their bank and the sheriff’s department to file a written report. To protect your own identify, never give a credit card number or social security number out over the phone unless you have made the call. Check your monthly statements, and if there are any fraudulent charges, contact the financial institution immediately. Remember if the offer is too good to be true, it’s more than likely a scam. Cordell also recommends taking advantage of the free credit reports that are available at www.annualcreditreport.com up to three times a year to make sure you are not a victim of identify theft. This site will never ask you for a credit card.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.