Scams at the top of consumer complaints in 2017
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum released the Oregon Department of Justice's annual top ten list of consumer complaints last week.
The list is topped off with imposter scam calls for the third year in a row with 5,378 complaints from Oregonians in 2017. Imposter scam calls try to impersonate a number of people, including the IRS, a police officer or a grandchild, according to a release from the DOJ.
The scammers are trying to get money, personal information or both by pretending to be someone they are not.
"Travel accommodations" was a new category of consumer complaints to hit the list last year, including complaints related to the August 2017 solar eclipse, against car rental companies and hotels.
For travel-related complaints the DOJ said it is important to remember that when one books online that website may not know if the rooms are booked. During peak season, contact the hotel directly and get confirmation, it was suggested.
The full list of 2017 complaints includes imposter scam calls, telecommunications, financial services, motor vehicle sales, fraudulent entities, investment opportunities, health related businesses, auto repair, travel accommodations and home ownership issues.
With tax season around the corner, tax scammers are also scheming new ways to steal personal information and money. One example, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is when identity thieves file a fake tax return and have the refund deposited into an individual's account. The thieves then contact that individual, often by phone, and pose as the IRS or debt collectors for the IRS and demand that you return the money. When following the instructions, the money actually goes into their account.
"It is so important for all of us to remind our neighbors, family and friends that if somebody calls you out of the blue on the phone and asks for money or a pre-paid card — just hang up. It is probably a scam, even if the person claims they are law enforcement, the IRS or anybody else," Rosenblum said.
Those seeking consumer protection education and prevention materials, or if you think you have fallen victim to a fraud or scam, may contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.OregonConsumer.gov or call its consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392.