Consumer protection website helps educate Nebraskans about scams

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Thousands of Nebraskans report scams to the state every year, and experts say when people fall victim to them, many people feel lonely and ashamed. But it is worth reporting what happened to the authorities and there is also help there.

This year alone, more than 4,300 scams have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission of Nebraska, and $12 million has reportedly been lost. FTC data shows that the number of scams reported and the amount of money lost each year is steadily increasing, leaving everyone vulnerable.

“The scammers are experts in their craft, they are trained,” said Ryan Tobias, of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Response Team. “They come to you as a friend, as a friend of a friend.”

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office not only works to educate the community and prosecute scammers, but it also provides a listening ear and aftercare. This is where Shelia Cole comes in. She is part of the consumer intervention team.

“There’s a lot of value in letting us know first so the consumer can express what happened and prevent what you mentioned earlier,” Cole said. “They think how could I have fallen in love with this, how could I have not paid attention to it. It happens. The scammers are professionals, they will lead you to conversations where you will think you are safe, but you are not.

In addition to providing this assurance, Cole or another team member will explain the steps to follow as outlined on the consumer protection website.

“You’ll find identity theft or how to recognize a scam,” Cole said. “If you are on our call, we will stay on the phone, take them to the site and explain how to find resources, file a complaint or make a report. We are as available as possible because it can be traumatic.

Their biggest goal is for the victim to hang up and feel calm. That they are heading in the right direction and encouraging anyone to call, because help is there.

“You are not alone,” Cole said.

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