U.S. Attorney highlights consumer protections against scams

Mar 2, 2015

Consumers across the western New York region are encouraged to protect their rights and watch for scams. 

Money pile.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Monday marks the start of National Consumer Protection Awareness Week. U.S. Attorney William Hochul gathered with representatives from the U.S. Postal Service and Better Business Bureau  to discuss the latest consumer scam at a news conference Monday in downtown Buffalo.

An Olean woman appeared to tell her story. She lost thousands of dollars in a lottery scheme.

Hochul said consumers should never respond to these phone lotteries and many are foreign lotteries.

"She was targeted over the telephone, told she was the recipient of some sort of grant.  It was accompanied by threats from people pretending they were form law enforcement agents.  It is stories like that we felt were very important to share," said Hochul.

Consumers are reminded never to send money to someone you do not know.

"We have seen cases that are sometimes originating from other countries," said Hochul.  "Instead you get repeatedly harassed unless you send more money," stated Hochul.

Consumers are also warned never too pay fees for a promised pay-offs and you should not reply to messages that ask for personal or financial information. 

"If somebody simply calls and says they are from a police department, hang up and look up the number for the police department and speak to verify it is not fact," said Hochul. "All to try to get you to give up, in some cases your entire lifesavings or force you to take loans out," noted Hochul. 

The following tips were released by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York:

10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

What to Do

  • Know who you’re dealing with.
  • Know that wiring money is like sending cash.
  • Read your monthly statements.
  • After a disaster, give only to established charities.
  • Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
  • Never pay fees first for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called prize.
  • Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.
  • Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information.
  • Don’t play a foreign lottery.