NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S DIVISION OF CONSUMER PROTECTION TO EDUCATE NEW YORKERS AND HELP THEM AVOID SCAMS IN COMMEMORATION OF NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK
Also Launches Identity Theft Awareness Ad Campaign and Announces “Top 10” Consumer Queries for ‘14
In commemoration of National Consumer Protection Week, which New York State will acknowledge all month long, New York State’s Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) today announced the launch of educational presentations to keep consumers informed and help them avoid potential scams. Find the list of scheduled presentations here: http://on.ny.gov/1EN0Hlb
“As we commemorate Consumer Protection Week, we remind New Yorkers of the importance of being smart, informed consumers,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “New York State continues to use every tool at its disposal to educate consumers and provide them with assistance and the resources to help them avoid deceitful business practices.”
The Division also announced the launch of an advertising campaign reminding New Yorkers about the persistent dangers of identity theft, a growing problem throughout the State and country that can affect anyone, even young children. The campaign is being featured in daily print publications throughout the Empire State. View the ad here: http://on.ny.gov/1A4j3c5
Additionally, DCP today unveiled its Top 10 Consumer Inquiries of 2014. Close to 20,000 consumers contacted the Division last year to obtain assistance with issues ranging from store refunds to debt collection to home improvement scams. It is projected that the Division’s mitigation activities saved New York State consumers more than $650,000 in 2014.
“We urge consumers to remain vigilant when conducting their business transactions and to contact the Division of Consumer Protection for any consumer issues or concerns,” stated Aiesha Battle, Director of the New York State Division of Consumer Protection. “It is through consumer feedback that the Division is able to identify violators and recognize scams as they develop.”
The Division offers the Top 10 Consumer Inquiries of 2014 with tips on how to navigate through them:
1. Refunds/Story Policy
It is important that consumers are aware of New York’s Refund Law:
2. Defective Merchandise
When purchasing an item, make sure to get specific return and repair information from the store or installer. Whenever possible, get that information in writing.
3. Professionals – Quality/Billing
Before hiring someone to perform a service, review their prior work by speaking with former clients and seeing the work first hand, where possible. Do not rely on photos alone.
4. Debt Collection
There are specific laws that dictate how and when a collection company may contact you. Know your rights. Refer to our website here, http://on.ny.gov/1Bmt0aC , for more information.
5. Mail Order/Phone Order
When you do not receive an ordered item; it is of poor quality; or you receive unauthorized items, such as magazines you did not order, make sure to contact the business immediately. If your issue is unresolved, DCP can contact the business on your behalf to mitigate your complaint.
6. Home Improvement
Do not pay in cash, use checks, money orders or credit cards to create a paper trail of payments. Also, create and sign a written contract that specifies payment through ongoing installments when certain thresholds are met, as opposed to all at once.
7. Gasoline Pricing (Cash Vs. Credit)
In New York State, it is legal for gas stations to charge consumers using a credit card a higher price per gallon than those paying with cash. Nonetheless, gas stations must advertise such prices and not use a lower cash price on a roadside sign to serve as a “bait and switch” for the credit card consumer to learn of the higher price when they arrive at the pump.
8. Internet/On-line Services
When making a purchase online, make sure that you are using a secure website (https as opposed to http – the “s” stands for secure and a picture of a closed lock on the end of the address bar). Only purchase from reputable and well-known companies or persons. If you are using a lesser known retailer, it is always good practice to run an informal search online prior to making a purchase.
9. Do Not Call Law
Register your home and mobile phone with the Do-Not-Call registry 888- 382-1222 or visit our website for more information here: http://on.ny.gov/1FU13b6 . Once you are registered, you may file a complaint with the DCP or with the Federal Trade Commission using the same phone number and website.
10. Automobile Used
To avoid any confusion or deceit related to the condition of a used vehicle at point of sale, request and retain a report related to previous accidents, body or under hood work, etc. such as a “Carfax” report.
Consumers who suspect any other form of marketplace abuse or need consumer information may contact the New York State Division of Consumer Protection by visiting http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/ or by calling (800) 697-1220 or (518) 474-8583. Follow the New York State Division of Consumer Protection on Twitter at @NYSConsumer and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.