Internet fraud again heads list of consumer crimes

Consumer Protection Day was marked at the Capitol on Thursday with the shredding of tons of documents and the release of the attorney general's top 10 list of consumer crimes.

Members of the public joined state employees in having their personal financial papers shredded in a truck set up outside the Capitol.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson also announced that Sean Voskuhl of AARP Oklahoma had won the first annual Brad Edwards Consumer Champion Award, named for the late KFOR-TV reporter known for his "In Your Corner" segment.

Internet fraud again headed Edmondson's list of top consumer crimes. He said online fraud involves everything from auctions, to crooked service providers and phony retail sales.

Various forms of credit scams was No. 2 on his list and problems with the sale, rental and repair of automobiles was Nov. 3.

Rounding out the top 10 were problems with health care products and services, home repair, telephone and cable television scams, the sale of items ranging from pets to jewelry, services ranging from entertainment to moving and storage, lending services and promotions such as sweepstakes.

"It's important to be aware of the scams that are out there in order to avoid becoming a victim. We hope Oklahomans will be on the lookout for these and other scams," Edmondson said.

The AARP joined Edmondson's office in sponsoring pro-consumer activities. Other state agencies and several law enforcement entities took part and Shred It, an Oklahoma City-based company, provided free document shredding.

Emily Lang, spokesman for Edmondson, said almost 9 tons of papers were collected and shredded.

AARP official Craig Davis said consumer protection is one of the bedrock issues for the organization since elderly citizens are often prey to fraud artists.

Davis urged Oklahomans to contact their House or Senate members and urge them to support Rep. Terry Ingmire's bill to require businesses to notify their customers if a security breach occurs involving computerized records.

Ingmire points to a recent high-profile case involving a security breach that caused mass identity theft for customers of stores owned by TIX Cos., including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

Oklahoma ranked 23rd nationally two years ago in identity theft.

Voskuhl was honored for lobbying successfully for consumer protection legislation and spearheading outreach programs to educate seniors of various scams.