Student video contest, hacking demo highlight National Consumer Protection Week in Cleveland

Next week's schedule, packed with a video contest, a hacking demo and a web chat, will give college students information they need to avoid identity theft, jobs scams and money mistakes.

Here's the lineup:

Consumer video contest

Groups that make up the Cleveland Consumer Action Network will announce a video contest for students enrolled at Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western Reserve, Cleveland State, Cuyahoga County Community College, John Carroll or Notre Dame College.

Students can fly solo or work as a team. The 60-second videos must deal with the topics of identity theft, cybersecurity, responsible borrowing (including limiting student loan debt) or scams affecting college students.

Rules and resources will be released Thursday, March 5, when the contest opens. You'll be able to find them at and at

The deadline for entries is July 5. A panel of CCAN judges will determine 10 finalists, whose videos will be put up for vote on the Cleveland Better Business Bureau's Facebook page.

From there, it's a popularity contest, with likes and shares determining the top three winners. Winners will be announced in early October.

Not an aspiring film maker? There are plenty of other events next week to protect you from rip-offs, regardless of your age: 

Consumer web chat

Consumer experts from law enforcement agencies and local organizations will be online at to answer your consumer questions from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 3.

Get answers and advice from representatives from CCAN members including the Federal Trade Commission, the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Cuyahoga County Consumer Affairs Office, the Greater Cleveland Better Business Bureau and Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland's Consumer Law Center.

To participate the web chat sponsored by the Plain Dealer and hosted by, visit during the hour-long chat and look for the "web chat today" post at the top of the page:

  • You can read along in the comments section of that post as experts field questions from others.
  • Or jump in with a question of your own by logging into your user account and posting a question in the comments. (Don't have a user account? Scroll down to the comment section under any story on, click the "sign in" hyperlink and create an account.)

I'll create a roundup of select chat questions and answers in a Plain Dealing column later in the week. 

Hacking seminar and resource fair

Local IT firm SecureState will give a free presentation "You've Been Hacked!" The live demonstration will show how easily mobile devices can be hacked, and share tips for how people can protect their devices. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at Cleveland State University's Main Classroom Building, Room 201, 2121 Euclid Ave., Room 201.

Students also can stop by the Student Center Atrium anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to ask consumer experts questions and pick up take-home consumer materials. The resource fair runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the atrium at 2121 Euclid Ave.

Phone banks

Consumer agencies will staff consumer phone banks hosted by two local TV stations. Numbers will be announced on air during Channel 5's Monday 5 p.m. news broadcast and during Channel 3's Thursday news broadcast at 6 p.m.

Consumer law advice clinic

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland hosts a brief advice clinic on Saturday, March 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Cleveland Public Library's Hough Branch, 1566 Crawford Road, Cleveland. Attorneys will be on hand to give one-on-one advice about consumer and civil matters. Lawyers at this event cannot assist people involved in criminal cases. The event is first come, first served.

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