For Immediate Release - July 16, 2014

AG Coakley's Office Honors Military Consumer Protection Day

Office Holds Consumer Protection Informational Events Today for Veterans

BOSTON – In a nationwide effort to raise consumer education among veterans and their families with important information and resources, Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups to celebrate today’s second annual Military Consumer Protection Day.

Military Consumer Protection Day (MCPD) was created as an initiative to empower active duty and retired service members, military families, veterans and civilians in the military community with free consumer resources. The coalition shares tips and information about a range of consumer topics such as managing money, dealing with credit and debt, building savings, protecting personal information, recognizing identity theft and avoiding fraud.

“This important initiative works to increase consumer awareness nationwide around issues such as fraud, foreclosure prevention, managing finances, health care, and employment,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased to continue participating in this day dedicated to our honorable military personnel and their families to ensure access to their rights, protections, and available benefits.”

“Information is the best line of defense against those who wish to gain from the good name of our veterans and their family members,” said Coleman Nee, Massachusetts secretary of Veterans’ Services. “It is our obligation as a Commonwealth to do everything we can to protect our veterans. Military members and veterans are unfortunately more of a target for scams and fraud.  Having the right resources in place in terms of money management, information protection, and personal financial readiness is critical. Military Consumer Protection Day calls attention to the challenges our veterans face, and we encourage veterans to take a step forward by learning more about how they can protect themselves.”

The AG’s Office will make staff available to answer questions and provide helpful consumer information to veterans at five events today:

Boston
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Ashburton Café
One Ashburton Place

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
VA Boston Healthcare System Jamaica Plain Campus
150 South Huntington Avenue

Springfield
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Springfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic
25 Bond Street

Worcester
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Worcester Community Based Outpatient Clinic
605 Lincoln Street

Chelsea
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Soldiers' Home in Chelsea
91 Crest Avenue

Recognizing the unique needs of service members and veterans, AG Coakley created an office-wide Veteran’s Task Force in 2011 to help ensure that Massachusetts veterans and their families have access to the full range of benefits and services offered to them. The task force is committed to furthering AG Coakley’s role as a consumer advocate by recognizing the needs of veterans through casework, policy, community outreach, and programming. The Veteran’s Task Force has also provided resources at Yellow Ribbon events for Massachusetts soldiers across the Commonwealth.

The AG's Office also updated its Veterans’ Resource Guide to include information from the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and other state and federal agencies and organizations about resources available to veterans, military service members, and their families. The guide offers comprehensive information regarding healthcare, legal assistance, financial guidance, education, employment, and housing benefits.

In April 2013, AG Coakley launched Eliminate Deceptive Education Business Tactics (D.E.B.T.), an extensive consumer protection campaign with free educational trainings across the state and a new website offering resources for consumers, including veterans, related to for-profit schools.

In November 2013, the AG’s Office encouraged consumers to be informed donors when supporting veterans and troops after issuing a report examining paid solicitor campaigns to benefit veterans’ charities. The AG’s report showed that during 2012, only 20 percent of donations raised by professional fundraisers went to the veterans’ charities. Potential donors should be aware that many charitable solicitations are in fact conducted by for-profit solicitors, some of which retain the majority of a donation to the charity.

The AG’s first in the nation HomeCorps program provides direct services to distressed Massachusetts borrowers through loan modification advocacy, legal representation, and social services referrals. HomeCorps currently has an active military expert who acts as a liaison to loan servicers to ensure access to reference documents explaining programs specifically geared toward active military families. Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage or facing foreclosure should reach out directly to the AG’s HomeCorps hotline at 617-573-5333.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) prohibits foreclosures on service members without court orders on mortgages that were originated before military service began. Service members and their dependents who believe that their SCRA rights have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance office. Additional information about the SCRA and the other laws protecting service members is available at www.servicemembers.gov.   

For free resources, tip sheets and blog posts from national consumer protection experts, visit military.ncpw.gov. For more information on the Veterans Resource Guide, please contact the Attorney General’s Office at (617) 727-2200, or visit mass.gov/ago/veterans.

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