For Immediate Release - March 05, 2013

AG Coakley’s Office Celebrates 15th Annual National Consumer Protection Week

Consumer Education Events Scheduled Statewide

BOSTON – In an effort to better inform and protect consumers in today’s marketplace, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office is participating in the 15th annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Staff members from the AG’s Office will be educating consumers on a number of financial literacy topics, with a focus on how they can best protect themselves and their wallets.

Throughout NCPW, the AG’s Office staff will offer a series of presentations, workshops and informational tables across the state to help consumers make more informed financial decisions. The AG’s Office fields thousands of consumer complaints annually and provides voluntary mediation services to resolve disputes with businesses. In 2012, the AG’s Public Inquiry and Assistance Center, along with Local Consumer Programs and Face-to-Face mediation programs funded by the office, handled approximately 16,000 cases resulting in over $8.3 million for consumers.

“During National Consumer Protection Week, we remind people to be educated consumers,” AG Coakley said.  “We encourage consumers to follow some straight-forward tips to avoid common pitfalls, and utilize our free services available for assistance.” 

  1. Read it. Whether buying a home or a car or agreeing to a new cell phone plan, consumers will be asked to sign a contract. It is important they take the time to read the contract because they will be held to the terms of the agreement. Consumers should not sign the contract unless they fully understand it. They should make certain to get any promises or guarantees in writing.
  1. Sleep on it. Never make a significant purchase on an impulse. Consumers should ask themselves: (1) is the product or service really needed, (2) is it appropriately priced, and (3) am I buying it from a reputable merchant? Consumers should discuss the purchase with people they trust and use look for complaints about the business online. Moreover, as the saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  1. Track it. Consumers should monitor bank and credit card accounts regularly for any suspicious activity and order free credit reports annually. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228 for more information.
  1. Guard it. Wallets and purses are a treasure trove for identity thieves. Consumers should carry only those items needed to transact daily business and keep items like Social Security Cards, blank checks, passwords, and pin numbers in a secure place. Consumers should always verify that they are dealing with a reputable merchant and look for secure websites that have a URL that begins with “https://” when doing business online. 
  1. Hang it up.  Social Security numbers or bank account information should never be given out over the phone. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who are eager to scam unsuspecting consumers. Similarly, consumers should be wary of emails or messages asking for updates on personal information and they should make sure anti-virus software and spyware are up-to-date.

The AG’s Office in Boston, along with regional offices located in Springfield, Worcester and New Bedford, offer many services that can help consumers with their problems, questions, and concerns, along with materials and information available on the website about debt collection, credit reporting, credit card costs, landlord/tenant rights, retails rights, identity theft, gift certificates and consumer credit.

If you have a consumer complaint, you may contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry & Assistance Center Hotline at (617) 727-8400, or file a complaint on our website.

During National Consumer Protection Week (March 3-9), staff will be available at the following informational events in their communities:

Tuesday, March 5 at 1 p.m.
Northborough Senior Center
119 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532

Wednesday, March 6 at 1 p.m.
Brockton Council on Aging / Mary Cruise Kennedy Senior Center
10 Father Kenney Way
Brockton, MA 02301

Thursday, March 7 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Campus
940 Belmont Street
Brockton, MA 02301

Thursday, March 7 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Harvard Square Post Office
125 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Friday, March 8 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
VA Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury Campus
1400 Veterans of Foreign Wars Parkway
West Roxbury, MA 02132

Saturday, March 9 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Central Square Post Office
770 Mass Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

##########

Follow us on Twitter – View our Photos – Visit our Website