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County office warns that scams come with arrival of spring

4/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

During the recent National Consumer Protection Week, the Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs (SCOCA) spoke before several community and senior groups on how to spot and stop scams. At each of the events, consumers shared their experiences on how con artists were trying to take their identity or money, according to Cynthia Sich, director of the SCOCA.

Sich reminds consumers to use care when they hear a knock on the door, the arrival of spring storms or a ringing telephone/smartphone. She offers the following tips:

  • Make sure to have your screen door on and locked so you have a barrier between you and the individual at the door. Most utility companies do not need to go inside your house to check meters or show up unexpectedly to repair something you did not report. Be aware there are imposters who will pose as workers from companies. Should someone show up on your doorstep out of the blue, tell that individual to wait while you verify from a trusted number. Any legitimate company and employee will allow you this time.
  • There are unscrupulous people who target homeowners anxious to get their property and lives back in order after a storm strikes and damage is done. Do not be rushed into making any decision. Contact your insurance company, take photos of the damage and let your agent know how to reach you. Before you hire any service or contractor for home repairs, including tree care, check out the company’s complaint history with the SCOCA at 330-643-2879. Regardless, you need to get everything in writing, including start and end dates, avoid huge down payments and never make cash payments until all the work is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Never respond or engage in conversation from unsolicited calls that tell you have won a lottery, sweepstake, prize or that the government will pay a bill for you. The same is true if family members or friends call to say they are in trouble and need money now — take time to verify. Just hang up on calls claiming to be from Medicare, Microsoft, Do Not Call, IRS, Affordable Health Care (pick a name or company) saying they are updating, verifying or whatever it is in order to get your bank or credit account numbers, Social Security number, date of birth, computer login/passwords or asking you to wire money or get a prepaid card. All of these are examples of schemes designed at taking your money or identity.

To report scams to the SCOCA, call 330-643-2879 or visit www.co.summit.oh.us/consumeraffairs.

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