By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud
On Saturday, March 7, the annual observance of National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) will come to a close. News articles have been written about it and a presidential proclamation has been issued. The National Consumers League has been proud to again be a member of the national steering committee for NCPW.
But NCPW does not HAVE to end at midnight Saturday night. In the current economic environment, the opportunities for scammers to bilk desperate consumers out of their depleted wealth have rarely been greater. Now, more than ever, it is important that consumers take the lessons of NCPW to heart to help avoid becoming another number in the billion-dollar fraud statistics.
The theme of this year’s NCPW is “Nuts & Bolts: Tools for Today’s Economy.” Given the immense resources available to help consumers protect themselves and become more informed, this theme is especially apt. The Federal Trade Commission’s NCPW website provides a wealth of governmental resources that consumers can use to get educated about a variety of consumer topics. In addition, there is a great outreach toolkit so consumers can talk to their local media, government officials, bloggers, and friends to spread the work about NCPW.
Con-artists have found out that the Internet is an enormously powerful tool for reaching victims. However, the power is not just in the scammers’ hands. Thanks to tools like the ones detailed on the NCPW site, NCL’s own Fraud.org, and in literally hundreds of others a quick Google search away, consumers can turn the table on the scammers and use the power of the Internet to get informed and stay one step ahead of the fraudsters.