This week is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). More than 60 nonprofit organizations and federal, state, and local agencies are participating this year all with the intention of bringing a larger awareness to consumer rights. For the past 15 years, the week has brought together a broad coalition to share tips and information about privacy protection, money and debt management, and recognizing identity theft, frauds and scams.
Whether we know it or not, we make consumer decisions every day. We are consumers when we make big decisions like buying a car or choosing a home contractor. But we are also consumers when we make day-to-day decisions like which gas station to fill up at or where to eat for lunch.
Underneath all these decisions, we process information on the reliability, prices, safety, and many other factors of the goods and services we consume. No matter how large or small the decision, our office aims to provide consumers with the knowledge to make informed choices 365 days a year. We truly believe in our motto “Better Business, Smarter Consumers.”
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and its five agencies work with two goals in mind: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. Our office works to make sure that the consumers of Massachusetts are protected from unfair business practices and empowered when making decisions. During this year’s National Consumer Protection Week, we’ll be highlighting our own consumer resources, and holding our annual Top 5 press conference where we’ll highlight our and other consumer agencies’ top 5 most asked about consumer issues of the past year.
The spotlight that we put on consumer protection doesn’t fade when National Consumer Protection Week ends. We hope that Massachusetts consumers are always aware of their rights no matter what week it is. Visit our website regularly, and make sure to follow our blog, Facebook, and Twitter @Mass_Consumer for consumer tips and advisories throughout the year.
Justin Bensan is a student at Northeastern University and is the communications co-op at the Office of Consumer Affairs.
How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25
Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.
Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22
The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.
Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities posted on Jul 20
The Massachusetts Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to stop receiving certain telephone solicitations simply by signing-up and providing their telephone number. Established in 2003, the law requires telephone solicitors, list-brokers, and telemarketers to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, subscribe to the Do-Not-Call Registry, and remove registered telephone numbers of consumers from their call lists.