Michigan’s attorney general has launched a new consumer protection website ahead of the holidays as purchasing and opportunities for fraud ramp up.
The website, which can be found here, allows Michigan residents to submit a complaint, receive consumer alerts and read information about common scams and how to avoid them. The page also includes a directory of valid Michigan charities and resources for renters entering lease agreements.
Attorney General Dana Nessel promoted a holiday video issuing warnings for common scams preying on online shoppers as buying picks up. She encouraged consumers to watch for misleading tactics that can get them to spend more money than expected, like false sale countdown timers.
Nessel said consumers should only shop on reliable and secure websites, while also working to protect their sensitive personal information.
“My Consumer Protection Team stands ready to assist Michiganders who may have fallen victim to a scam, but our ultimate goal is to educate consumers and prevent it from happening in the first place,” Nessel said in a statement. “By focusing on the user experience, we made the Consumer Protection site more accessible, simpler to navigate, and easier to read. We hope residents will bookmark the page on both their computers and phones so that the information they need to stay armed against bad actors is always right at their fingertips.”
Complaints can be filed with Michigan’s Consumer Protection Team at 517-335-7599, the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or a local law enforcement agency. Consumers can also file a complaint online and find more resources here.
According to recent data from the University of Michigan, 31% of Michigan residents age 50-80 reported experiencing some type of fraud in the last two years. Instances of fraud included the compromising of a credit card or bank account, identity theft, or another loss of money.
Nearly 7 in 10 older Michigan adults said they encountered a scam attempt in the last two years.
Nationally, over 80% of respondents said they wanted ton know more about how to protect themselves from scams, while 97% of respondents said that policymakers should do more to protect people from scams.
The poll also found that health plays a significant role in susceptibility to scams — about 50% of scam victims self-reported fair or poor physical or mental health.
Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs for the AARP, said that scams can come for anyone.
“Fraud criminals are master manipulators of emotion, and anyone can experience a scam regardless of age, education, or income,” she said. “When it comes to fraud susceptibility it’s less about who you are and more about how you are when you are targeted.”
Respondents with an annual income lower than $60,000 also reported falling victim to scams more often than those with higher incomes.