Effective March 31, 2011 the administration of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the merger of the Consumer Protection Board into the Department of State. Enacted in 1970, the Consumer Protection Board has served as the state's top watchdog and think tank on a wide range of consumer issues from questionable business practices and scams, to product recalls, and mitigating the consequences of identity theft.
Acting Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the first Secretary of the Department of State to oversee the new Division of Consumer Protection calls Governor Cuomo's decision a great move for all New Yorkers. "The Governor's action clearly demonstrates the administration's commitment to better serve the people by streamlining state resources and increasing efficiency, while providing consumers with a wider array of services," said Perales.
By merging with the Department of State, the Division of Consumer Protection will be better equipped to ensure that the products and services relied upon by New Yorkers are safe and reliable. Staff offers both consumer guidance and resources to help the public navigate a vast marketplace and make informed purchasing decisions. It handles an average of 40,000 consumer cases each year, many related to credit card disputes, the Do Not Call Registry, and concerns about the way businesses conduct their operations or interact with customers. It also represents the interests of consumers before public utilities and other state and federal agencies.
"Over the past three years, Consumer Protection has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of refunds, credits, and utility rate reductions," said Acting Secretary of State Perales. "Whether advocating for stronger consumer protection laws, or alerting people to the dangers of a recalled product, the Department of State is committed to putting government to work for all New Yorkers."
The new division will inform consumers through the media, live outreach presentations, and a variety of educational materials, including public service announcements, videos, and social media.