For Immediate Release - February 28, 2014

Consumer Education Events Scheduled Statewide

AG’s Office Participates in 16th Annual Consumer Protection Week; Provides Tips on How to Protect from Fraud, Scams and Identity Theft

BOSTON – In the ongoing effort to raise consumer awareness, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office is participating in the 16th annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) through a series of educational events happening next week and throughout the month. Staff members from the AG’s Office will be holding workshops on a number of financial literacy topics, with a focus on how consumers can best protect themselves and their wallets.

Throughout NCPW, the AG’s Office staff, including many from the Public Inquiry and Assistance Center, 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 2013, 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 15,000 cases resulting in relief of more than $8.9 million for consumers.

“During National Consumer Protection Week our office looks to emphasize the importance of consumers making informed decisions to avoid becoming victims of fraud,” AG Coakley said. “We encourage everyone to attend these free informational events and follow basic tips to avoid consumer scams, prevent mortgage and foreclosure issues, and safeguard your hard-earned finances.”

  1. Read it. Whether buying a home or a car or signing up for a gym membership, 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.
  2. 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 look for complaints about the business online. Moreover, as the saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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 3-8), staff will be available at the following informational events in their communities:

Monday, March 3

King James Court (Senior Housing)
                383 East River Street, Orange, MA 01364                
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Who: Northwestern District Attorney LCP w/ Western MA Regional AGO Staff

Saugus Senior Center
466 Central Street, Saugus, MA 01906
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Telephone scams and door to door scams
Time: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Who: AGO Staff

Tuesday, March 4

VA Hospital Brockton
940 Belmont Street, Brockton, MA 02301
Event Type: Information Table
Topic: Consumer awareness, Veterans issues, non-profit school/loans and mortgage information
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Who: AGO Staff

Greenfield Savings Bank
               400 Main Street, Greenfield, 01302                
Event Type: Information Table
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Who: Northwestern District Attorney LCP

Temple Emanuel
385 Ward Street, Newton, MA 02459
Event Type:  Presentation
Topic: Scams
Time: 1 p.m.-2 p.m.
Who: Newton-Brookline LCP

Wednesday, March 5

Springfield City Hall - Atrium
36 Court Street, Springfield, MA 01103
Event Type: Information Table
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Who: Springfield LCP

Lynn Senior Center
8 Silsbee Street, Lynn, MA  01901
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Home improvement contractors & related scams
Time: 10 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Who: AGO Staff

The Weldon (Senior Housing)
54 High Street, Greenfield, MA 01301                
Event Type: Presentation               
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Who: Northwestern District Attorney LCP

 

Thursday, March 6

Medford Senior Center
101 Riverside Avenue, Medford, MA 02155
Event Type: Information Table
Topic: Consumer Awareness; AARP (tax preparation)
Time: 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.   
Who: Medford LCP

Belchertown Senior Center
                60 State Street, Belchertown, MA 01007                
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Who: Northwestern District Attorney LCP

VA Hospital West Roxbury
1400 Veterans of Foreign Wars Parkway, West Roxbury, MA 02132
Event Type: Information Table
Topic: Consumer awareness, Veterans issues, non-profit school/loans and mortgage information
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Who: AGO Staff

Western New England College - Campus Center
1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA 01119
               Event Type: Information Table                
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Who: Springfield LCP

Friday, March 7

    Conversations for Caring, "Breakfast Group" Outreach
Nahant Village Church
27 Cliff Street, Nahant, MA 01908
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Scams
Time: 8 a.m.- 9 a.m.
Who: AGO Staff

Eastfield Mall- Center Court
1655 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01129
            Event Type: Information Table                
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Who: Springfield LCP

Practicing Good Consumer Health
Amesbury Council on Aging
68 Elm Street Amesbury, MA 01913
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Scams
Time: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Who: Office of Congressman John Tierney and AGO Staff

Saturday, March 8

Central Square Post Office
770 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Event Type: Free Public Document Shredding and Information Table
Topic: Identify Theft and Consumer Awareness
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Who: Cambridge LCP & AGO Staff

Additional NCPW Events

Wednesday, March 12
Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation’s Top 5 Consumer Complaint Press Conference (featuring AGO)
1000 Washington Street, Room E
Event Type: Press Conference
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Who: AGO Staff

Thursday, March 13
Community Builders at Leyden Woods
24 Leyden Woods Lane, Greenfield, MA 01301
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Consumer Awareness
Time: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Who: Northwestern District Attorney LCP

Wednesday, March 19
Lawrence Senior Center
155 Haverhill Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
Event Type: Presentation
Topic: Scams
Time: 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
Who: Lawrence LCP & AGO Staff

 

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