From credit cards and refinancing to purchasing a car or paying your phone bill, there are many ways consumers can be taken advantage of. Using e-mail, websites and internet ads, unscrupulous individuals have a variety of methods to trick people into scams. Fortunately, consumers have access to the information needed to avoid scammer tricks.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s website is full of useful resources to help us decide what is safe to use on the internet. Minnesota’s Attorney General, Lori Swanson, is the chief legal officer for the state. Along with representing Minnesota in state and federal court and providing legal advice for our state agencies, the Attorney General is the chief policy maker and law enforcer in consumer protection.
Take a moment and visit the Attorney General’s website (http://www.ag.state.mn.us/) to learn about the various consumer protection services they provide and look at the variety of publications they offer.
Online shoppers are encouraged to:
• Use Secure Websites,
• Don’t Use a Debit Card or Personal Check,
• Check For Reliability and Shop With Companies That You Know,
• Keep Records, and
• Keep Passwords Private
To avoid identity theft, the Attorney General’s Office suggests to:
• Review statements – Carefully review all bank and credit card statements, canceled checks, and phone and utility bills. Report any discrepancies.
• Check your credit report – You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once each year.
• Know the MN ID Theft Freeze Law – The law empowers any consumer to freeze his or her credit report by simply contacting a consumer reporting agency and requesting a credit report freeze.
The best way to combat scammers is to stay informed. Visit the Attorney General’s website and review all the information you need to be a confident consumer. You can also help others by reporting problems. The website contains a link on the front page called, “Complaint Form.” Use that form to help the Attorney General’s Office identify potential violations.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.