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Caveat emptor

National Consumer Protection Week begins

Scam alert sign
Watch out: The coronavirus pandemic has created whole new avenues for con artists.

National Consumer Protection Week, seven days devoted to helping consumers steer clear of scams, begins Feb. 28 — and this year, it might be needed more than ever.

The coronavirus pandemic has created whole new avenues for con artists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 406,000 complaints in the identity theft subcategory of government documents and benefits fraud in 2020 — a nearly 20-fold increase from the roughly 23,000 cases reported during the previous year.

The FTC partners with several federal agencies for the annual observance, including the Postal Inspection Service, which will focus on educating consumers about money mules — people who receive and transfer money that has been fraudulently obtained.

“The Postal Inspection Service is proud to be part of National Consumer Protection Week. Working with our partners in the federal government, law enforcement and the business community, we look forward to educating consumers and making it more difficult for criminals to victimize the American public,” said Ariana Ramirez, the Inspection Service’s acting national public information officer.

The FTC’s website has more information about National Consumer Protection Week, including an overview of activities that will occur on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Anyone wishing to report money mule activities or other scams to the Inspection Service can do so by submitting an online report at or calling 877-876-2455.