COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — March 5-11 is National Consumer Protection Week, a collaborative effort between local, state and national agencies designed to help you understand your rights as consumers.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is one of those agencies, working to teach well-informed decisions about personal security, and how to protect from scams and identity theft.

“It’s an arms race,” Ohio Attorney General David Yost said. “The bad guys are constantly thinking up new things to do.”

Through the week, organizations like the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office are ramping up efforts to make sure consumers are aware of the ever-evolving tactics scammers and identity thieves use, to try to get their hands on your money and personal information.

“Whether it’s by phone or on the internet or the mail, the common denominator of all the scams we see is the abuse of trust,” Yost said.

In 2022, the Attorney General’s Office received several reports of romance scams, grandparent scams, and heartstring scams, meant to prey on people’s emotions.

“They’re looking for a point of vulnerability,” Yost said. “They want to exploit it.” He said that’s why the consumer should know how to spot a scam, to put a stop to it.

Always be wary of “too good to be true” deals. If you can’t believe it, you probably shouldn’t. And don’t underestimate the power of a quick online search, especially if a person or company contacts you first. Look them up, check out reviews, then initiate contact yourself.

“If somebody does call you and you really are interested, tell them you’ll call them back,” Yost said.

And if you make a payment to an unknown company or website, always use a credit card.

“Don’t use a debit card. Don’t use a gift card,” Yost said. “Your credit card has extra legal protections, and if it turns out that you did get taken advantage of, you have a better chance of being able to get your money back.”

If you’re targeted by a scammer, report it to law enforcement or a consumer agency so they can make others aware and put a stop to it.