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For Immediate Release:
February 13, 2012
Contact: 518-486-9846
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Riverdale - Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales today announced a statewide partnership with AARP, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York State Office for the Aging (SOFA) and the Free Community Papers of New York (FCPNY) to launch two major consumer initiatives: The Senior Consumer Information Hotline, a 24 hour toll-free recording providing seniors with timely consumer information, and The Informed Consumer, a consumer advice column published in the free community papers across the state.

“Consumer education is crucial in the fight against fraud and misleading business practices preying on vulnerable New York residents and our senior communities. The creation of these consumer outreach mediums will provide consumers with the tools they need to protect their interests and make wise decisions in the marketplace. This collaboration with our partners is part of an ongoing effort by the Department of State to promote consumer awareness and provide New York State residents with valuable resources,” stated Secretary Perales.

Every month, seniors will be able to dial-in to the toll-free number provided by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale and listen to English and Spanish recordings about issues of relevance to their community. Topics will include scam prevention, protecting your personally identifiable information, important state programs and resources, estate planning and many others. AARP, SOFA and FCPNY will promote the Line throughout the state and provide additional content. At the end of each message, seniors will be provided with the number to the Division of Consumer Protection’s Consumer Assistance Hotline which they may call for additional assistance or to file a consumer complaint.

"This combination of a new hotline and the state-wide use of community newspapers is an outstanding example of a powerful partnership between government and private organizations. The Weinberg Center of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale is very happy to play a key role in providing much-needed consumer information to protect our senior citizens against economic abuse," said Daniel Reingold, President, & CEO of the Hebrew Home.

“Older New Yorkers are in need of a trusted resource of unbiased information about the programs and resources available to help them live their best lives,” said Beth Finkel, Sr. Manager of Programs and Services, AARP New York. “AARP is very proud to be a partner in this initiative. We look forward to promoting this Hotline to our members and contributing information that will help all New Yorkers protect themselves, save money, and live safely and independently in their communities for as long as possible.”

In addition to the Senior Consumer Information Hotline, the monthly consumer news article, The Informed Consumer, will be published in free community newspapers across the state. Reaching nearly 6 million New York homes, these articles will provide valuable content and tips on a variety of topics including internet safety, debt collection practices, credit repair and credit building.

“Our association, comprised of more than 440 community publications throughout the state, is proud to be a part of this collaborative effort", Dan Holmes, executive director of the Free Community Papers of New York said. "We are pleased to share consumer information through this partnership with our 10.4 million weekly readers.”

Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging said, “Older adults are often the target of scams and fraudulent activities that prey on them and have as a result negative emotional and financial consequences that are difficult to recover from. I look forward to working with our partners in these initiatives to help bring useful information and assistance to older New Yorkers and helping them to avoid or resolve consumer- related problems.”

The Senior Consumer Information Line can be accessed by calling 1(800) 503-9000 or by visiting the Department of State’s website. This month’s topic is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA): Providing Free Tax Preparation for Low to Moderate Income Families and Individuals.