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County Executive Budish & the Department of Consumer Affairs Combat Impostor Scams with New Gift Card Scam Initiative

8/18/2016
Media contact:
Donisha Greene: (216) 443-7075 or dgreene@cuyahogacounty.us

Consumer Alert
Click here to see if you may be the target of a scam.

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs are partnering with stores to share important alerts about pervasive scams that can cost victims thousands of dollars apiece.

Impostor scams are the fastest-growing scams in the country and continue to create significant losses for victims. Scammers frighten victims by pretending to be IRS agents, debt collectors or even a victim’s grandchild who needs money for bail after an accident. Increasingly, scammers are turning to iTunes gift cards as their preferred form of payment, because the cards are easy to resell for most of their face value.

To help warn consumers, stores including Giant Eagle and Dave's Markets are putting signs with a consumer alert on gift card display racks.

“In Cuyahoga County, people have lost thousands of dollars to these frightening scams”, said County Executive Budish. “That’s why we’re proud to announce that stores that sell gift cards have partnered with us to fight this type of fraud. I want to thank Dave’s Market and Giant Eagle for placing warning signs on their displays so that people see an alert about these scams right when they most need it.”

Since the IRS began nationally tracking tax impostor scams in October 2013, nearly 6,000 victims of this scam alone have lost a total of more than $31 million – about $5,370 apiece. Cuyahoga County residents have lost as much $12,000 apiece to impostor scams in which they believed they were helping a grandchild post bail.

The program was designed to warn potential victims of the three most common variations of the scam: bogus requests for bail for a relative, fictitious debt collection calls and phony IRS calls. The Department of Consumer Affairs encourages all stores that sell iTunes gift cards to join the pilot program and display consumer alerts.

By displaying the county’s public service message on gift card displays, stores can:

Stores who want to partner in the program and consumers who want to report scams can contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at (216) 443-7035, or visit http://consumeraffairs.cuyahogacounty.us/en-us/Fighting-Scams.aspx for more information.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.