The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ranks Tennessee as the fifth-leading state for fraud and scam complaints with over $18 million lost last year.
Crossville Police Captain Brian Eckelson said the report comes as no surprise.
“Honestly it’s no surprise with the amount of reports we get,” Eckelson said. “Attempts and actual scams that go through and cost people money, it’s really not a surprise.”
Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Spokesman Kevin Walters said the complaints should move officials to better anti-scam education.
“The fact that scam artists are taking peoples hard earned money and leaving them holding the bag should make Tennesseans angry,” Walters said. “This should be a wake-up call for Tennessee.”
Crossville Police Department partnered with Cumberland County Sheriff’s department to create a No Scam Zone Initiative in February.
Eckelson said the FTC supports the new initiative.
“It basically just tells us that the scammers are still out there. They are still doing the same things they have been doing for years and it’s only getting worse,” Eckelson said. “So with our No Scam Zone, we are hoping to get to the merchant.”
According to the report, the top three complaint areas- debt collection, imposter scams, and identity theft- remained unchanged since 2017.
Walters said he believed scammers only invent new ideas when the old techniques no longer work.
“I think it is because scammers have found something that works. They have found something that is successful and they are going to continue to do it,” Walters said. “They have found success in Tennessee unfortunately and they are going to keep showing up until Tennessee says, ‘We have had enough.'”
Walters said Tennesseans generally trust others, but some should not be trusted.
“Unfortunately the reality is that people are being taken advantage of by scammers. People are trusting, they expect the best of people,” Walters said. “And unfortunately, scammers know that and they use that against consumers.”
The No Scam Zone Initiative focuses on educating employers on identifying scam victims.
“It is going pretty good, we have already presented training to 59 people, separate individuals working with businesses here in and around Cumberland County,” Eckelson said. “I have spoken with the Dollar General Corporation, who is going to try to help us get this put into their training possibly nationwide.”
To participate in free scam training, contact the Crossville City Police Department to schedule a time.