7On your side: AG Buddy Caldwell - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: AG Buddy Caldwell

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

This is the 15th annual National Consumer Protection Week -- and Louisiana's Attorney General is observing it by giving advice to citizens on how to take advantage of their consumer rights.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he wants to help consumers make better informed decisions and take advantage of their rights. AG's offices have consumer protection units and develop enforcement strategies. Caldwell says there are basic do's and don'ts that can protect consumers from getting scammed.

It happens everyday. People receive word by mail, by phone or on their computer that good fortune has come their way and they've come into some money. Caldwell says first and foremost, it never costs money to win money.

"Nothing! Nothing where it costs you money. So, if it costs you any money, one dollar, two dollars, it's not legitimate. And if you use that as a rule of thumb, then you're going to be fine," said Caldwell.

He reminds people to never give out personal information over the phone or on line.

"People from Pakistan, India that are calling, it's hard to detect where some of the scams are coming from. But the basic rule is don't give any personal information to anybody you don't know. It's not worth it and it's not going to work out for you," Caldwell said.

Caldwell says his protection division is willing to go after those who prey on consumers and they'll try to recover their money.

"We've collected over a million dollars. We have a group in my office that has collected over a million dollars in cash for people at a rate of a hundred or two hundred dollars and we just collected a couple a hundred thousand from people who were scammed for as much as $27,000 or $28,000, older people," Caldwell said.

 The AG's office recently began delivering checks totaling $184,000 to 18 victims of a driveway asphalt scam in eastern Louisiana. He says consumers are welcome to go to his office for help.

"It is a very serious issue now and the attorney general's office has a division, a whole division devoted to this called public protection," Caldwell said.

For tips from Caldwell and how to reach his office click here.

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