AKRON, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants consumers to be keenly aware of potential scams and fraud that may come their way this holiday season.
DeWine brought his series of Community Fraud Forums to the Akron-Summit County Public Library.
The free forum gathered law enforcement officials, consumer advocates, social workers, and interested citizens from northeast Ohio to the event, which was open to the public.
The forum addressed consumer fraud, health care fraud, charitable fraud, and also provided continuing education credit for social workers and crime prevention specialists.
Members of DeWine's fraud team stressed to consumers that they need to be especially careful during the Christmas season, a time when they will be approached by charities, and by a growing number of vendors selling on-line, or by telephone.
Ohio Attorney General Chief Investigator E.J. Early told 5 On Your Side the number of consumer complaints coming into his office continue to climb.
"There are opportunities for people to scam you like never before," said Early. "Phishing scams designed to get your personal information could be as simple as 'a package is waiting for you, contact this number to verify,' so you call back and they're asking for your name, your middle name, maybe a maiden name."
Akron BBB consumer specialist Matt Wolfe explained using your credit card instead of cash can provide some valuable fraud protection.
"We would always suggest using a credit card, as opposed to using a debit card,' said Wolfe. "This way you have some recourse and can dispute any charges to get your money back."
DeWine's forum dealt with the top five subjects that have generated the most consumer complaints to his office over the past year.
Complaints about motorized vehicles continue to top the list. Problems with collections, credit reporting, or financial services also generate many calls to DeWine's office.
Unsolicited phone calls from companies, problems with household goods or property Improvement, and Internet, phone, or TV services also make up the top issues faced by Ohio consumers.
DeWine told 5 On Your Side consumers must do thorough background checks on a company before sending any cash or signing a contract.
Information on how to check on a company, or how to report a fraud or scam, can be found on the Ohio Attorney General's website.