Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman launched the first annual Colorado Consumer Protection Month Nov. 1, in time to warn consumers about common holiday scams.

CCPM aims to educate and raise awareness about fraud, financial abuses and scams affecting Coloradans. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office is partnering with law enforcement, regulatory bodies and nonprofits on the initiative.

“We want to send a clear message that scammers and fraudsters are not welcome in Colorado,” Coffman said in a news release from the Attorney General’s office. “Colorado Consumer Protection Month is designed to help arm consumers across our state with the information and resources they need to protect themselves from bad actors, and to know how and where to report any possible fraud they may encounter.”  

The upcoming holiday season is a prime time for criminals to prey on consumers, the news release added, and the Attorney General’s Consumer Holiday Guide is one of several resources designed to help Coloradans avoid becoming victims.

Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Gina Sacripanti said BBB advises consumers to stay vigilant during the holiday season.

“More than two-thirds of North America consumers shop online on a regular basis, and Better Business Bureau handles more than 10,000 complaints each year about internet shopping,” Sacripanti said in an email. “Although you can’t beat the convenience of getting what you need at the click of a button, all too often, consumers find what they ordered is not what they get.”

Sacripanti gave details of the top five holiday scams reported to BBB:

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• Online shopping scams in which consumers find a great deal online, but never receive their merchandise.

• Holiday phishing cons in which consumers receive fake emails that appear to be from FedEx, UPS or major retailers, but actually contain malware.

• Identity theft and skimming devices designed to steal credit and debit card information at ATMs.

• Letters from Santa scams in which criminals to steal credit card details and personal information by mimicking the trusted businesses that offer personalized letters from Santa for children.

• Bogus charitable pleas where fraudsters solicit donations to line their own pockets.

BBBSC.org provides a list of legitimate Letters from Santa businesses, along with other consumer protection tips, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance provides information on charities at give.org.

Sacripanti said BBBs across the nation, along with the Attorney General, AARP Foundation Elder Watch, the Department of Regulatory Agencies and Stop Fraud Colorado, are participating in Twitter chats for businesses and consumers throughout November. The next chat is scheduled Nov. 9 at 1 p.m., and can be found at #MilChat  

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a proclamation declaring November as Colorado Consumer Protection Month.

CCPM will include an online campaign using the hashtag #CCPM2017 with fraud prevention tips, scam alerts, and Twitter chats, as well as tele-townhall calls hosted by the AARP Foundation Elderwatch Program in conjunction with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and CCPM partners.