The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) and the Connecticut Better Business Bureau are encouraging Connecticut consumers to participate in National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), from March 4th through March 10th. The week is dedicated to educating consumers about steps they can take to avoid becoming victims of fraud, identity theft and other types of consumer crime, many of which have evolved over the past several years. “Consumer Protection Week is a great opportunity for consumers to get organized, and make plans that will allow them to be successful in today’s marketplace,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “While this week serves as a reminder, we encourage consumers to create a system that allows them to stay on top of their finances all year long. The changing economy has left us with a lot to pay attention to, and we hope that at DCP, we’re able to continue to support consumers as they go through that process.” DCP and the Connecticut Better Business Bureau will use social media during NCPW to showcase methods used by scammers and criminals to get consumers to give up their money and personal information, and more importantly, give consumers an opportunity to be educated about the many ways they can protect themselves. Spokesman for Connecticut Better Business Bureau, Howard Schwartz, says education is one of the most potent tools available to empower consumers to protect themselves and their rights.“Consumers may sometimes feel as if they are involved in a hopeless battle, however, they are fighting back to maintain control over their private information and finances. National Consumer Protection Week is devoted to showing Connecticut residents the issues involved, and hopefully, they will share whatever they learn with their families, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Ultimately, consumer education helps make us all safer.” Based on what’s happened in the last year, here’s what we’re asking consumers to take a few minutes to do this week:Make a Plan for Smart Giving: The past year has seen hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters that have left friends and family in the United States and around the world needing support. Connecticut families have volunteered, donated, and offered other generous assistance to assure that survivors of these terrible disasters get help. Unfortunately, it has also been an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of people’s good intentions. That’s why we’re encouraging consumers to research charities they would like to give to and make a charity donation budget. That way, consumers can save money, and give to charities they know will do the right thing. Check Your Credit Report: It’s become an increasing challenge to feel like we’re safe from data breaches. Technology is changing quickly, security systems are getting updated more frequently, and hackers are learning fast. They seem to always be one step ahead of consumers, regulators and law enforcement.Last year’s Equifax data breach, in which at least half of all Americans’ personal information was stolen, was frightening for many of us. It served as a huge reminder that we need to keep a constant eye on our finances and protect our personal information. One great way to do that is to get your free annual credit report by visiting the government-sanctioned website www.annualcreditreport.com, or by calling (877) 322-8228. Consumers can learn more about how they can participate in Consumer Protection Week by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website.