FTC Targets At-Home Shopping During National Consumer Protection Week

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The Federal Trade Commission will focus on at-home shopping and how some fraudulent marketers prey on consumers during next month's second annual National Consumer Protection Week.

From Feb. 14-20, the FTC and other federal agencies, national, state and local law enforcement organizations, advocacy groups and private sector companies will join forces to highlight consumer protection and education efforts to help protect consumers when they shop at home. The goal of the Armchair Armor: Shopping Safely From Home campaign is to ensure that consumers understand the risks involved when ordering from a telemarketer, a direct mail advertiser, a television-shopping program , an Internet-based company or a door-to-door salesperson.

"Marketing and telecommunications advances in the Information Age have given everyone -- even con artists -- the power to boost the sophistication and reach of a sales pitch," said FTC spokeswoman Claudia Farrell. "Fraud promoters now masquerade as national firms, using telemarketing, direct mail, television and the Internet to reach consumers … and pose a significant threat to consumers and to the economy."

The FTC is sending materials, including tips to help consumers safely armor themselves when they shop from their armchairs, to dozens of organizations and the media to raise awareness. To promote at-home shopping safety, it suggests that organizations:

* Establish a local committee or group to sponsor seminars, conferences, community fairs and other events about shopping safely from home.

* Give information about shopping safely from home to corporations and businesses in communities.

* Take actions within your own company, agency or organization to implement or reinforce the messages about shopping safely from home.

Other organizations involved in this year's program include the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, American Association of Retired Persons, National Consumers League and the U.S. Postal Service.

Last year, the FTC focused on credit card fraud.

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