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Consumers warned to look out for scams

By Amanda Butterfield | Posted - Mar. 9, 2010 at 6:32 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, the Postal Service and the Utah Department of Commerce shared a warning on Tuesday with Utahns about scams to look out for.

This year's theme is "Dollars and Sense, Rated A for all Ages." The Commerce Department and post office wants everyone -- from young kids learning to use the computer to the elderly -- to be smart with their money.


Two out of three adults say they receive at least one potential scam contact per week. -Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness

After hearing ads on radio and TV about land for sale in Duchesne County, Vickie Adamson and her husband checked it out and were sold.

"Our plans were, we would sell our home and built a nice place up there and live up there," Adamson said.

She said after handing over thousands in cash, it took a year to realize they were duped -- the property was never theirs and their money was gone.

"Here we are in our 60s and we got taken really bad," she said. "$34,950, and then we had to take a second mortgage out on our home."

Utah Consumer reported 8,168 complaints to federal agency

RankTop CategoriesComplaintsPercentage
1Third party & creditor debt collection85510%
2Internet services6898%
3Foreign money offers/fake check schemes5467%
4Shop-at-home and catalog sales5407%
5Prizes, sweepstakes & lotteries4385%
6Internet auctions3674%
7Credit cards3354%
8Health care3094%
9Telecom equipment2813%
10Advance-fee loans & credit protection/repair2773%
Federal Trade Commission's state-by-state Consumer Sentinel report

Vickie told her story during a press conference hosted by the Utah Department of Commerce and the U.S. Postal Inspector.

Francine A. Giani of the Utah Department of Commerce said, "People tend to be trusting. It's important for people to take the time to do their homework, get the information in advance."

Giani said right now the department is seeing people fall for Internet scams the most. "Really those of us on the Internet are more susceptible, and if we don't have filters on our Internet that stuff is going to come to us even more."

She added parents should talk to kids about Internet scams and keep computers in family areas of the home. "That's when kids get in trouble, when not being supervised by adults," she said.

Another family member you should talk with: the elderly.


18% percent of adults say they or a family member has fallen for one of these scams. -Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness

"In their day, people could be trusted," Giani said. "Today we have people who really spend a good deal of their time trying to take from our seniors."

Like the people who took Vickie's retirement money.

Vickie has accumulated even more debt now in attorney fees, and she has no idea if she will ever get her money back from the land sale. "We are really going downhill," she said.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield

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