The Norfolk District Attorney's Office offers a free informal mediation service aimed at resolving disputes between consumers and merchants outside of court. This office works in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office on consumer issues, education and complaints.
Mediation helps you and the other party try to resolve the problem through facilitated dialogue. Although we cannot compel a business to take part in this voluntary mediation service, many businesses do.
When appropriate, the Consumer Protection Division will refer parties to face-to-face mediation programs, provide small claims assistance and/or refer to a private attorney.
The Consumer Protection Division does not provide legal advice or opinions.
If you need assistance before you make a purchase or after unsuccessfully trying to resolve the problem on your own, please call the Consumer Protection Division at 781-830-4800 ext. 279.
Norfolk County Prevention Coalition
Consumer Protection Tips
IRS IMPOSTER SCAM
Tax identity theft is the theme of the week, but it’s not the only tax scam we’re talking about.
Complaints to the FTC about IRS imposter scams have shot up over the last year — by almost 50,000 complaints.
Here’s what happens: You get a call from a scammer pretending to be with the IRS, saying you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay taxes you owe right now. You’re told to wire it or put it on a prepaid debit card. They might threaten to deport you or say you’ll lose your driver’s license. Some even know your Social Security number, and they fake caller ID so you think it really is the IRS calling.
CLICK HERE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
IRS (Internal Revenue Service) Tax Phone Scam
With tax season upon us, a warning to taxpayers to beware of a phone call from an individual claiming to represent the IRS claiming that you didn’t pay or that you filed your state or federal taxes wrong:
Taxpayers are advised that the IRS or Department of Revenue will never ask for a credit card number over the phone or request a
pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
To learn more and identify the warning signs visit these sites:
Attorney General's Office Alerts Consumers to Tax Phone Scam
IRS “Imposters” Aggressively Target Taxpayers
by Phone in Nationwide Scam
Treasury INspector General for Tax Administration
IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting
Fake checks: The nanny or caregiver scam
Do you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver? You may have used websites that can match you up with potential clients – sites like Care.com or Sittercity.com. These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business. But scammers may misuse these sites. FTC staff has seen hundreds of complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party.
For additiional information, visit FTC's Division of Consumer
and Business Education website:
Government Grant Scam
The call came from a local South Shore consumer where she received a call from #206-317-1464 claiming to be Peter Watson with the “U.S. Government in Washington, D.C., Grant Department”. The scammer knew the consumers name, address, D.O.B and Social Security number. She was eligible for a $7,000.00 Federal Grant for her own personal use and that it didn’t have to be paid back.
The scammer when on to say that she was chosen because of her good credit and lack of criminal history. He told her that she to provide them with the correct numbers to either her bank account, a Greendot card or debit card and the money would then be deposited within ½ an hour.
Federal Grants are not issued for personal use, but are intended
for institutions and non-profits to carry out projects with a public purpose.
If you think someone has fraudulently represented Grant.Gov contact the hotline at 800-447-8477 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
Savvy Seniors | How to avoid financial fraud
The Savvy Seniors Guide features the most common scams targeting elders. Scams can materialize in many different ways and this guide provides the most popular scams, warnings signs to look out for, what to do should you become a victim, as well as a number of other useful resources throughout the state and country. To view and print this guide, click here:
Protecting your personal information
Many sites offer access to provide a free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only official site directed by Federal Law to provide them. Get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the credit reporting agencies.f th Visit Annual Credit Report today!
Don’t Get Scammed
How to spot and stay ahead of the latest scams with tips from the Federal Trade Commission.
“We’re with Windows” Scam
The Federal Trade Commission warns of a scam that tricked tens
of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem. Click here to learn more
Utility Company shut-off or pay up with Green Dot Cards Scam
Scammers call you pretending to be with your local Utility Company saying they are going to immediately shut off your electricity unless you pay up with Green Dot Cards. Click here to learn more.
Ring, Ring, Robocall Scam
As part of its ongoing effort to end illegal robocalls, the FTC announced settlements with two more unscrupulous companies that made prerecorded calls to trick consumers into paying for deceptive credit card interest rate reduction plans.
Here’s what to do when you get an unsolicited robocall:
- Don’t respond, just hang up. If you get a call, don't press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other number to be removed from the list. If you respond in any way, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
- Contact your phone provider. Ask your phone provider if they charge for a service that blocks that particular number. Remember that telemarketers change the numbers they call from easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will almost always change.
- Put your phone number on the Do Not Call registry.Access the registry online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
- File a complaint with the FTC. Report the experience online or by calling 1-877-382-4357.
Storm-Damaged Vehicles Scam
If you’re shopping for a new vehicle, steer clear of flood-damaged cars in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Click here to learn more.
Veterans Resource Guide | Click here
If you are a Veteran or are currently serving in the United States Military, including the National Guard or Reserves, there are laws designed to protect you against discrimination in employment, help you avoid credit or foreclosure problems, and maximize your healthcare, disability, and education benefits. This guide is designed to help inform you of your rights, and the benefits and protections available.
Thank you for the service and sacrifices that you and your families have made to serve our country and Massachusetts.
Consumer Protection QUIZ | click HERE
ANSWERS TO CONSUMER PROTECTION QUIZ
Insurance, telephone/cable and home improvement top the list of consumer issues for 2014
Below are a few issues affecting Massachusetts residents today For additional information, click on each link:
Massachusetts Division of Insurance
Health Insurance and Home Insurance
Questions about claims, adjusters or denial of claims
Mortgages, Loan Modifications and Forclosures
Attorney General's Office
For those facing foreclosure or seeking support with borrowing
Foreign Lottery Scams
U.S. Postal Service | Consumer Fraud Unit
Issues that may require reporting: telemarketing from a Jamaican location, foreign lottery winning, work at home schemes, check deposit/money wiring, reporting or to
check for the frauds or scams
Protecting Your Personal Information
Massachusetts Division of Banks
This site provides all the steps you should follow if you are a victim of identity theft. : Check your credit report and your rights available to you if you suspect someone could be using your identity, taken out a credit card in your name, or if your personal information was stolen thru computer hacking or thief of your home or pocketbook www.mass.gov/dob
1-877-IDTHEFT to report suspicious activity
Home Improvement Contractors
Items to be aware of before and after you hire a contractor; i.e. license, registration referrals:
Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and
Check to see if the contractor has a license:
Check to see if the contract is registered: www.mass.gov/ocabr/consumer-rights-and-resources/home-improvement-contract/hic-registration/
Annual Credit Report
This site allows you to request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consult the FTC for information regarding scams on the internet, advertising practices and consumer education.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Bureau allows you to file a complaint, check out a business or charity before working with them or to keep up on the latest consumer issue or scam.
National Do Not Call 888.382.1222
(and cell phone)
Massachusetts Do Not Call 866.231.2255
(does not apply to cell phones)
Consumers should put landlines on both the national and the state DNC registries. Cell phones can only be put on the national list. The DNC registry is updated quarterly, so it may take up to three months for consumers to see the effects. You have to put your number back on the list every seven years. The DNC registries do not apply to business lines.
Credit Card offers Opt-Out 888.5.OPTOUT
This is to opt out of credit card offers that come in the mail saying that you are pre-qualified for a card you did to want or sign up for.