CONSUMER ALERT: NEW YORK DIVISION OF CONSUMER PROTECTION ALERTS CONSUMERS ABOUT LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Loyalty Programs Can Offer Benefits, But Are Not Always What You Bargain For
Consumers Can Always Opt Out of Loyalty Programs
The Division of Consumer Protection reminds consumers of their rights when engaging in the many loyalty programs available in the marketplace. When consumers sign up for loyalty programs, their information is captured and used by the company to contact the consumer – how and when the company wants. Consumers should know they have options to limit or stop any unwanted emails, texts and phone calls.
“Consumers complain about phone calls from companies and sometimes these calls are legal – because the consumer ‘signed up’ when they started a loyalty program,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection’s Do Not Call program. “Consumers need to know the law empowers them to stop these unwanted communications.”
Loyalty programs come in a variety of packages, including points (credit cards), rewards for purchases (clothing and other retail stores), tiered based on use (airlines), paid program (Amazon Prime and other subscription memberships), value-based (marketing), and partner programs (fly with us and get deals with other companies). Businesses across the marketplace use loyalty programs to market their products. Benefits include “free” products, services and sometimes cash, but the programs are not without cost. Companies gain your permission to reach out with email, social media, texts and phone calls, whenever and however they want. This is true, for example, even if your phone number is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Below are key tips consumers should keep in mind when signing up for loyalty programs:
If a consumer has opted out of communications and continues to receive unwanted communication from a company, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection.The New York State Division of Consumer Protection enforces Do Not Call violations and provides voluntary mediation between a consumer and a business. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.