RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — It’s National Consumer Protection week and Mark Herring is urging all Virginians to protect themselves and their hard earned money.
According to a news release from Herring Friday, scammers took more than $16 billion from Americans in 2017 through fraud and identity theft crimes.
And research shows, they’re equal opportunity thieves — stealing from young and old alike.
Herring’s office says there are a few scams out there that remain popular: The puppy scam, the grandparent scam, and tax related scams.
The puppy scam is when people buy a “puppy” from an alleged breeder, only to find out later there was no dog.
The iTunes gift card scam when scammers pretend to be utility companies, the IRS or law enforcement. They demand payment via an iTunes gift card or other prepaid card.
Third, the grandparent or relative scam involves when scammers call or email the victim posing as a relative. They say the relative is distressed or in trouble and needs payment for bail money or other bills.
There are also government or utility imposter, lottery and sweepstakes and IRS scams.
The bottom line: Be careful with calls from anyone asking you to wire money – or send gift cards as payment.
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, the release said.
“The oldest advice is still the best – if it seems too good to be true it probably is. I want to encourage all Virginians to be extremely cautious with any calls, emails or contacts where someone promises money or goods for almost nothing in return and be especially suspicious of scams that require you to send money or pay anything up front,” said Attorney General Herring. “Scammers and con artists are always coming up with creative new ways to take money from hardworking Virginians by using technology or social media to make themselves seem legitimate. If you have any questions about whether an offer is real or not, do not hesitate to reach out to my Consumer Protection Section.”
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, you can contact the attorney general’s office.