In the past year alone one-quarter of Ohioans 18 and older have had their personal information exposed to identity theft and fraud. And our latest research shows that older Americans are scammed out of about $3 billion every single year. Making sure that all Ohioans are not only aware of the latest fraud schemes, but are also armed with the tools and resources to prevent and recover from fraud is the goal of our AARP Fraud Watch Network. So I was pleased to represent AARP last week when the Ohio Attorney General’s Office held a press conference to launch “Ohio Protects”, a new multi-media outreach initiative to increase Ohioans’ awareness of the most common scams, fraud, and identity theft and how they can protect themselves.
Elements include a dedicated microsite and three video ads that use humor to educate consumers on common scams and fraud. Using the tag, “It’s never this obvious,” the videos highlight some of the more common scams and frauds we
know Ohioans are reporting: contractor fraud, computer repair scams, and IRS scams. The catchy tag and the hilarious facial expressions of the actors in the video can also help to alleviate two barriers that often prevent victims from reporting scams —a feeling of shame at becoming a victim and confusion about how to report the scam.
Reporting scams is key to prevention and making it simple to report and learn about scams in your area was a critical focus of the new Scam-Tracking Map on the AARP Fraud Watch Network. The Google Maps technology was added in May and is really easy to use. With one click you can discover the latest scam alerts posted by residents of your own community or help warn others by adding your own brief personal report of suspected or past scams.
When it comes to spotting and avoiding fraud, information is critical. The more people know about available resources, the better. I encourage you to share your thoughts on the Ohio Protects approach and the AARP Fraud Watch Network resources in our comments section. You can view the videos on the Ohio Protects microsite at http://www.OhioProtects.org/videos.