Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection has released a new resource designed to protect consumers and business owners from financial scams. “Gone Phishing — Identifying and Avoiding Consumer Scams” is the latest in a series of “Downeaster” guides issued by the Bureau to help the public make informed decisions about personal finance issues. Like all publications in the Downeaster series, Gone Phishing, is offered free of charge to Mainers.
Gone Phishing’s co-author, Bureau Principal Examiner David Leach, explained that Maine people turn to state consumer protection experts on a daily basis to request assistance in understanding if an offer or solicitation is legitimate.
“Maine consumers contact the Bureau and other state agencies each day to tell us they’ve received offers that seem too good to be true,” Leach said. “Frequently, they have already been victimized. This new booklet can help by providing the warning signs of scams and offering suggestions on how to promptly end questionable solicitations.”
Co-author Steve Lemieux noted that the guide should also be useful for organizations that regularly interact with consumers, particularly those serving the elderly.
“We hope this booklet proves to be a resource for law enforcement agencies, consumer protection offices and senior advocacy groups.”
Leach and Lemieux outlined some of the important topics addressed in the guide, including: identity theft; government grant scams and phony government requests; investment and banking scams; foreign lottery scams; phony debt collectors; utility scammers; online dating scams; Canadian and oversees advance fee loan scams; tech support scams; and imposter grandchild scams.
Bureau Superintendent William Lund emphasized that “the first and best line of defense against any type of financial scam is a knowledgeable, informed consumer. This booklet will allow Mainers to avoid scams directed at them by phone, e-mail, direct mail or in-person.”
Gone Phishing can be ordered by calling the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine). It is also available on the Bureau’s website under “Publications” at www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit/publications.htm. Other “Downeaster” guides available online or by calling cover various topics including home-buying, financing a college education, and understanding debt collection.
Maine citizens are encouraged to report suspicious activity involving potential financial scams to the Bureau before disclosing personal information, such as a Social Security number, date of birth, home address or bank account numbers. Additional information about the services offered by the Bureau is available at www.credit.maine.gov.