The Federal Trade Commission reported 20,588 Mississippians fell victim to some type of consumer fraud in 2016. Another 2,378 were victims of identity theft.
Susan Cosgrove, family resource management area agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Newton County, said Mississippians’ trusting nature is partly to blame for the number of fraud victims.
“A lot of people committing scams target the elderly, knowing they probably have assets they have accumulated and regular income, and knowing they are trusting and polite,” Cosgrove said. “Mississippi is known as the hospitality state, but we have to learn that we can’t be so nice all the time, especially when it comes to our finances and personal security.”
Cosgrove said many of the people abusing others financially today are family members, caregivers, friends or neighbors.
“It’s hard to determine who you can trust if the people closest to you are committing fraud,” she said.
Many instances of fraud still begin with a phone call. A modern twist is that scammers find ways to make their telephone numbers appear to be local. They also claim to represent a business with which the victim is likely to be interacting.
Cosgrove’s advice is to just hang up.
The FTC reported that debt collection scams were the most prevalent in Mississippi last year, accounting for more than one-third of those reported.
Report suspected fraud to the Mississippi Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at 800-281-4418. A wealth of information is available online to help consumers battle fraud. Be sure to use reputable sources, including the MSU Extension Service and government entities.
Information provided by
By Ms. Bonnie A. Coblentz
MSU Extension Service
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