HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – A reminder to be careful before you buy.

Jason Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia, said his office has received 5,000 consumer complaints in the last year, a large part of them from fraudulent internet sales.

“More and more people weren’t going to retail shops traditional brick and mortars,” Miyares said. “They were shopping online. It meant more opportunities for bad actions to take advantage of consumers.”

He is trying to put a stop to the scams.

“We are the people’s protectors,” Miyares said.

The Attorney General’s Office can help Virginians resolve consumer issues through the Consumer Complaint Hotline.

One of its units can be the middleman between you and the retailer instead of turning to a lawyer.

“Lawyers aren’t cheap. I think if there is a way for us to provide the service to taxpayers of saying you don’t have to hire private counsel,” Miyares said.

Last year, the unit alone resolved more than 3,000 consumer complaints and recovers $420,000.

“We will continue to protect consumers,” he said.

Miyares said it’s harder these days with the increase in online sales.

“Be very, very wary of places (where) the only address they have is a P.O. box somewhere because it makes it really, really difficult sometimes to get in contact with the retail owner,” he said.

Miyares said people are going to spend more money in 2023, which means more scammers will pop up.

“Unfortunately, there are bad actors who seek to take advantage of Virginians through a variety of sophisticated scams and fraudulent behaviors,” Miyares said. This hurts both consumers and the overwhelming amount of Virginia businesses who play by the rules.”