Elena Huizar

State Attorney General Consumer Protection Supervisor Elena Huizar shared some of the warning signs leading to cases of fraud with Sunnyside Lions Feb. 27 “The best protection is to hang up the phone, say no and report the incident.”

SUNNYSIDE — Be on the look-out scams. “Beware of anyone who want to be paid up front or won’t give you a written estimate or contract or the offers ‘special today only price’,” says State Attorney General Consumer Protection Supervisor Elena Huizar.

“We can help you identify behaviors and practices that will assist you in recognizing the red flags to safeguard yourself against the fraud,” she told Sunnyside Lions Thursday, Feb. 27.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true when it comes to scammers,” Huizar stressed.

She warned some consumer fraud scams look a lot like real businesses however, there are always red flags to warn consumers. Aggressive and persistence behavior on the phone or in-person is a big warning signs, she noted.

Scams are costly. Last year, scams costs consumers upward of $17 million. Huizar said her office received 20,000 phone calls and more than 18,000 written complaints in 2018.

“The good news is that the Attorney General’s consumer fraud investigations department has been able to return upwards of $8.9 million to consumers who filed complaints” she commented.

Huizar travels around the state outlining the top 10 scams to which consumers succumb.

“I always have to read a disclaimer because a lot of scams are based on actual services offered by legitimate businesses,” she explained.

Popular scams include home repair, property/reverse mortgages, sweepstake lotteries, tech support, anti-aging fads, funeral/cemetery scams, not to mention medical/health insurance scams and fake prescription drugs.

Huizar’s least favorite scam is the one seeking help for a needy family which play on emotion and willingness to help others.

“Don’t fall for the ask, hang up, check it out and never wire or send money to strangers,” Huizar pleaded.

- If there is a flashing message on your computer – don’t click on it. “That is not real computer tech help,” she cautions. People have lost all their money to scammers seeking victims’ personal information.

- Be really careful of anti-aging fads, medicine and Medicare insurance fraud. Always check and call your providers for details.

- Always ask for written information before buying subscription to door-to-door or phone sales and be especially wary of anyone offering free prizes.

“There is no free stuff and those scams always lead to trouble for you the consumer,” Huizar warned.

When in doubt, she urges consumers to call her office at 1-800-551-4636.

It’s better to ask first, she advises.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at jhart@sunnysidesun.com

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