Scams come in all forms. Just when you think you’ve heard every scam possible, someone will come up with a new one. Just ask Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini.
“It seems like once a month or so the sheriff’s office becomes inundated with telephone calls where residents are complaining about receiving a telephone call where someone on the other end was wanting their credit card information,” Donini said. “It’s never one call we get, when that first call comes into the office we just get prepared for about seven or eight additional calls.”
On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the launch of a new multi-media outreach initiative – ‘Ohio Protects’ – to increase Ohioans’ awareness of scams, fraud, and identity theft and how they can protect themselves.
“Ohio consumers are targeted by scammers every day,” DeWine said. “We want to help Ohioans be more aware of how scams are often not all that obvious at first, and to give them tools to find out more information about how the Ohio Attorney General’s Office can help.”
Donini said he believes the program is needed.
“I think the ‘Ohio Protects’ Multi-Media Outreach Initiative will help bring an awareness to the public and hopefully educate and prevent those from becoming victims,” Donini said.
Andrew E. Doehrel, president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and Roger Geiger, vice president/executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio (NFIB/Ohio), issued a statement that said in part – “Ohio’s businessmen and women work hard every day to serve their customers. When scammers and con artists prey on Ohioans, they not only take advantage of consumers, they also harm legitimate businesses who play by the rules. We are pleased to support the Ohio Protects initiative, which will give Ohioans more information about recognizing scams and fraudulent activities.”
Donini said he is encouraged that many people are catching onto scams before they fall victim to them.
“Our community has been bombarded by these telephone scammers,” Donini said. “In some ways I’m impressed because we are beginning to receive more telephone calls where ‘our callers’ are acknowledging they didn’t fall for the scam and just wanted to call the sheriff’s office so we could inform the public.”
Donini praised his office staff for being the front line in dealing with scam victims.
“When the calls come in they spend countless minutes talking to the multiple potential victims re-assuring them all will be OK as long as they didn’t provide the callers with personal or financial information,” Donini said.
In the past year alone, one-quarter of Ohioans 18 and older have had their personal information exposed to identity theft and fraud. The latest research shows that older Americans are scammed out of about $3 billion every single year. Making sure that all Ohioans are not only aware of the latest fraud schemes, but are also armed with the tools and resources to prevent and recover from fraud is the goal of the AARP Fraud Watch Network and Tamara James, Interim State Director for AARP Ohio, says the Ohio Protects initiative is significantly furthering that focus. “When it comes to spotting and avoiding fraud, information is critical. The more people know about available resources, the better,” James said.
The “Ohio Protects” campaign will feature a dedicated microsite, www.OhioProtects.org, which will help educate consumers on a variety of consumer protection topics, and also direct them to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for additional help.
In addition, the “Ohio Protects” campaign will include three, 30-second videos that use humor to help convey messages about scams and fraud. Using the tag, “It’s never this obvious,” the videos highlight some of the more common scams and frauds targeting Ohioans including: contractor fraud, computer repair scams, and IRS scams. They also alert Ohioans about how their personal information can be compromised, underscoring the importance of identity theft protection.
The videos can be viewed on the Ohio Protects microsite at http://www.OhioProtects.org/videos/. Closed captioning is available in English and in Spanish.
Advertising buys will occur from June 6, 2016, through the end of the year in all of Ohio’s media markets, and will be seen on a variety of platforms. In addition, Internet banner ads featuring the same messaging will also be a feature of the campaign.
The $2 million dollar effort is being funded by money secured through consumer protection settlements, not by taxpayer dollars.