Attorney General's "Ohio Protects" Outreach Initiative Warns Ohioans to Watch Out for Scams

Date: August 01, 2016 Last Edit: August 02, 2016

Helping consumers avoid scams, cons, rip-offs, bad business practices and identity theft is one significant way that my office works to protect Ohio families.

Here’s why we’re serious about keeping consumers safe: In the past year alone, the personal information of one-quarter of Ohioans 18 and older has been exposed to identity theft and fraud.  And, according to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, older Americans are scammed out of nearly $3 billion every year.

When scammers and con artists prey on Ohioans, consumers aren’t the only victims.  Legitimate businesses that play by the rules, strive to give good service to their customers and pay their taxes are harmed as well.  For example, storm-chasing opportunists who go door-to-door in the wake of weather-related damage, promise repairs they never perform, and leave town with their victims’ money deprive established local contractors of potential work.  Plus, the itinerant fast-talkers who bait prospects with lowball estimates, collect advance payments, deliver nothing, and then vanish with no trail also reduce the number of dollars that stay and recirculate among a community’s businesses and taxing agencies.

Last year our Consumer Protection Section fielded some 27,000 complaints, opened more than 240 investigations, filed over three dozen lawsuits and obtained close to 60 judgments and compliance agreements.  And, since we created our Economic Crimes Unit in 2011, our investigations helped county prosecutors and local law enforcement with 134 indictments and 111 convictions.

We’re busy and we never slow down.  That’s because those who scheme and try to scam, con, and rip off Ohio consumers also stay busy.  And they, too, never slow down.

As a result, we’re escalating our efforts to help Ohioans recognize scams, cons, fraud, and identity theft and give them the tools to protect themselves.  Knowing how to avoid falling for a fake offer makes consumers less vulnerable and enables honest enterprises to compete fairly for their business.

We recently launched a
new multi-media campaign called “Ohio Protects.”  This initiative will help Ohioans be more
aware of how scams may not be obvious at first and show them how the Ohio
Attorney General’s Office can assist them. 
Fahlgren Mortine, an Ohio-based advertising firm, was chosen through a
competitive process to create the campaign.

The “Ohio Protects”
initiative builds on what my office already does.  Many consumers who contact us to report scams
also ask us to keep exposing and cautioning against those who would deceive and
defraud the public.  Others confess that
they never thought they or a relative or friend would get scammed.  It’s easy to let your guard down – that’s
what con artists count on – but knowledge and vigilance can help stop scammers
in their tracks.  The “Ohio Protects”
initiative promotes both.

To help spread our
message, the “Ohio Protects” initiative uses $2 million in funding we’ve
secured through consumer protection settlements.  No taxpayer dollars are being spent on the
“Ohio Protects” initiative.

The “Ohio Protects”
campaign features:

  • A
    dedicated microsite
    – which will educate the public about a variety of consumer protection topics
    and also direct them to our office for additional help;
  • Three
    second videos (available for viewing at that
    use humor to highlight some of the common scams and frauds targeting Ohioans
    such as contractor fraud, computer repair scams, and IRS scams; and
  • A
    paid media strategy
    that includes broadcast and cable
    television, radio, cinema, social media, and online video and banner placements
    – all platforms that will reach Ohio consumers throughout the course of their
    daily activities.  The advertising buys
    began in June and will run through the end of the year in all of Ohio’s media
    markets.  They are also available with
    closed captioning in both English and Spanish.

I’m pleased that
organizations like the National Federation of Independent Businesses support our
“Ohio Protects” initiative.  

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