National Consumer Protection Week Gets Brainerd Talking About Local Scams
For 20 years now, the Federal Trade Commission has declared the first week of March as National Consumer Protection Week to remind consumers to think smart before it is too late.
“There is a lot of stuff that by the time they come to me, there is not a lot that can be done,” said Laurence Chamberlain, an attorney at Legal Aid Service of Northwest Minnesota in Brainerd.
Whether it comes through the mail, a phone call or online, always do some research before responding.
“There is a ton of laws on the books that talk about consumer protection, the crimes and all sorts of stuff, but the reality is that these guys are very hard to catch,” Chamberlain said. “If you spent your money, you’re probably not going to get it back.”
Scams of all sorts, shapes and sizes are circulating in the Brainerd Lakes area, including targeting the 2400 people in Crow Wing County using or applying for energy assistance.
“They would send [an email] out saying that you have qualified for energy assistance, you just need to give us your bank account information and we will put this money into your account,” said Becky Pakarinen, Lutheran Social Service Program Director.
Also popular right now are student loan repayment scams.
“’Pay us and we will help pay off your student loans, we will get rid of them for you or completely erase your debt,’ which is not possible,” Pakarinen said.
If you are ever contacted and asked to give out personal information and something just doesn’t seem quite right, reassurance is just a phone call away.
With many of the scams being quite elaborate, they can seem all too real, so as just one last reminder…
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Chamberlain said.
If you are looking for more information on fraud or would like to report it, visit The Better Busniess Bureau, The Federal Trade Commission, The Minnesota Attorney General, Consumer Information or Lutheran Social Service. The FTC has information on what the latest scams are here.