When you think of all that is out there that can possibly
hurt you, steal your identity or scam you it can be daunting, frightening and
honestly very overwhelming. But know that there are lots of services, and
people that are here to protect and help you navigate through all those
problems that could be lurking around the preverbal corner. I was asked to
present and participate in the 2019 Consumer Forum at the Regulatory Commission
of Alaska this week and here is what I found:
Protecting Alaskans from unfair, deceptive and fraudulent
business practices was part of the panel that I was on. I shared the stage with
two other professionals who provide critical information and services in the
arena of protecting consumers and putting the bad guys away.
Charles A. Harwood, Regional Director with the Federal Trade
Commission teed up the discussion with an in-depth look at the top scams
hitting Alaska this past year. The FTC
is a bi-partisan federal agency that enforces consumer protection and antitrust
laws. The top three scams costing Alaskans were imposter scams, identity theft,
and sweepstakes, prizes, and lottery scams.
As the Better Business Bureau Marketplace Manager, I took on
the three faces of “ishing”. That would be phishing, vishing and smishing. Phishing is when a scammer dupes someone
into revealing personal or confidential information via email. Vishing targets mobile phones, for instance
cloning an area code to make the call appear local. Smishing utilizes text messaging with
scammers sending information with links to fake websites or phone numbers in
order to get personal information.
Cynthia Franklin, Assistant Attorney General, wrapped it all
up talking about how her office investigates these types of criminals, and the
laws that enable her and her team the ability to prosecute them. As a former prosecutor, Franklin has tried
white collar criminals as well as the other kind of criminals.
There were also people there from the Ombudsman’s office, Certified Counselor’s from the Medicare office, Investigators from the Human Rights Commission and the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. BBB is a non-profit organization that champions the cause of consumers and hold businesses accountable to the highest standards of honesty in their advertising and selling. All these people make up an army to combat against fraud, scams and illegal practices from would-be criminals and they are here to protect and serve the community. Knowing I play a small part in being one of these, often unsung, crusaders, makes it a little easier to sleep at night.
For more on consumer protection visit, BBB.org/consumerprotection