Howard County, MD launches Scam Alert!

In response to the growing number of scams confronting residents, the Howard County, MD,  Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) has launched a new “Scam Alert!” website, where residents can learn about the latest and most common scams, how to identify them, and how to report them.

This year alone, OCA has received reports about the following:

  • “IRS scam” in which con artists, posing as tax agents, told unsuspecting residents that they owed money for back taxes and would be arrested if they did not pay immediately.
  • “Microsoft scam” in which callers claiming to be from the company’s tech support claimed a routine scan of the resident’s computer revealed a security glitch. Residents were told that if they did not give the caller remote access to their computer, they were vulnerable to hackers.
  • Home improvement contractors who offered to make repairs at a fraction of what others charge, only to demand more money when the substandard job was complete.  

Most scams are variations on age-old frauds that have been updated to take advantage of news events or changes in technology. So, the Scam Alert! site also provides visitors with warning signs to help them detect whether a phone call, e-mail or door-to-door sales offer is nothing more than a con.

“We’re telling residents who believe they may have been contacted by a potential con artist to report the incident to the Office of Consumer Affairs using the Scam Alert! website. The Office uses these reports to alert others to the scam and forwards them on to federal enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute the worst offenders.

For more information on avoiding scams, identify theft and other deceptive practices, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at 410-313-6420 or by e-mail at consumer@howardcountymd.gov.

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