BBB Teams Up with Local Agencies to Educate Consumers
DUPONT — Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is partnering with agencies across the state to support National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11. The annual campaign, celebrating 19 years, educates the public about their consumer rights and gives them access to free consumer-related resources to help them use their money wisely.
To coincide with NCPW, BBB released the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report revealing consumers 18 – 24 are the most likely to lose money to a scam. More information on the report can be found at bbb.org/RiskReport.
BBB is teaming up with the Attorney General’s Office, Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Secretary of State, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, and Utilities and Transportation Commission to help provide consumers with the most effective resources. All of these agencies are committed to protecting the public from scams and raising awareness of consumer rights.
Washington state and federal agencies are asking for the public’s help in cracking down on liars, cheats and scammers.
“Our number one mission is to protect consumers,” said Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “If you suspect insurance fraud, I encourage you to call us at 1-800-562-6900 or go online to file a complaint.” Kreidler’s office investigates criminal insurance fraud, in addition to helping Washington consumers resolve insurance disputes.
The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), Department of Revenue (DOR) and Employment Security Department (ESD) operate the suspectfraud.wa.gov website to provide resources to avoid scams and an easy way to report suspected fraud.
ESD works to prevent people from fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits and certain employers from skipping out on paying taxes. In 2016, ESD’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) investigated almost 20,000 cases of possible fraud. Through that work, OSI prevented the loss of $7.4 million in unemployment insurance benefits, and an additional $13.5 million was turned over to the agency's collections division for recovery.
BBB and the partnered agencies advise consumers to follow these tips and tools to make well-informed decisions:
- Research. Before purchasing something or donating money, thoroughly research the business or organization. Start at bbb.org/search.
- Update Software. Keep antivirus software up-to-date and use caution when browsing the Internet.
- Shred documents. BBB invites everyone to free, reliable on-site document shredding and electronic recycling to keep personal information private on Secure Your ID Day in DuPont, April 15. Visit BBB Secure Your ID Day for more information.
- Do not give out personal information. Social Security numbers and bank account numbers should be kept private from strangers who make contact through the phone, Internet or mail.
- Don’t fall prey to scammers. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To get involved in National Consumer Protection Week, check out the resources at ncpw.gov, visit BBB’s Facebook page for Facebook Live interviews with the partnered agencies or use #ConsumerProtection and #NCPW17 on Twitter.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.