The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jul. 14, 2024

State: beware of common financial scams

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Office of Consumer Affairs within the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Financial Services is warning Ohioans to be on the lookout for a variety of common financial scams impacting consumers. Last year, these scams cost Ohioans more than $150 million in losses according to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission.

The primary types of predatory schemes impacting Ohio consumers fall into three categories: identity theft, imposter fraud and online shopping scams. Because many of these scams increasingly use social media platforms to identify, target and engage victims, younger Ohioans are considered to be most at risk due to their usage of, and trust in, these sites. Ohio seniors also are particularly vulnerable since they may be targeted due to their more substantial financial holdings.

Identity theft

The FTC report ranked Ohio 12th in the nation in 2023 for instances of identity theft, which frequently occurs when someone uses personal information to impersonate a victim in order to steal from them or someone else. Identify theft can be difficult to recognize since scammers can steal one’s identity in person, online or even via phone.

Imposter fraud

Imposter scams occur when fraudsters pose as trusted officials or loved ones of a victim, then solicit money and personal information from them.

Online shopping

The convenience of online shopping has been utilized by scam artists to exploit consumer trust through the creation of fake websites or social media accounts in order to steal consumers’ payment information.

“Understanding these fraudulent schemes is the first step toward safeguarding yourself and your finances,” said Viktoria Jurkovic, Program Administrator for the Office of Consumer Affairs. “We urge everyone to exercise caution when sharing personal information, whether it’s online or over the phone. Always make sure to verify if an entity is legitimate before proceeding with any transaction.”

Steps consumers can take to protect themselves

Ohioans are urged to protect themselves by regularly reviewing financial statements and credit reports for any unauthorized transactions or unrecognized accounts, which could indicate identity theft. A free weekly credit report can be obtained through AnnualCreditReport.com. In addition, consumers may want to consider freezing their credit reports at all three major credit reporting bureaus, which could prevent prospective creditors from accessing your credit file without you knowing.

It’s always important to protect documents containing personal information by blacking them out or shredding them prior to throwing them away. Consumers also should be sure to use complex and unique passwords for each online account and to change them regularly.

Finally, Ohioans should always be skeptical of unsolicited communication that requests personal or financial information, and should be sure to verify the legitimacy of such requests through official channels before engaging them further.

POSTED: 03/31/24 at 9:05 pm. FILED UNDER: News