Today, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation hosted a press conference to discuss the top five scams that confronted consumers in 2009. Along with information from our office, the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General’s Office and Federal Trade Commission shared their top five lists this morning. This was part of our effort to inform and educate the public during National Consumer Protection Week.
Topping our list of consumer issues is Home Improvement Contracting. While our office only took over regulation of contractors last July, we have already received enough complaints to make it our most prevalent consumer issue. The next two categories of complaints on our list were regarding auto insurance and health insurance; complaints usually came in the form of issues with claims and general questions about benefits. In addition, we received enough calls from consumers regarding Lemon Law and foreclosure assistance issues in 2009 to make them number four and five on our list.
The sometimes destructive results of scams hit home today when speakers who were directly affected by some of our top complaints spoke at the press conference. Raymond DiCiaccio (photo right, with a check from the Guaranty Fund), a consumer from Attleboro, spoke about his experience when he hired a contractor who left fully paid without finishing the job. After going through the Office of Consumer Affairs, Mr. DiCiaccio received $10,000 from our Guaranty Fund, helping him recover some of the money he would have lost.
Another consumer, Patricia Gordon, also spoke today about her experience with our fourth most prevalent issue, Lemon Law complaints. Ms. Gordon, after months of back-and-forth with her auto dealer, won in arbitration through our office and was eligible to receive a refund on her newly purchased used car that clearly turned out to be a “lemon.”
While our partner’s top complaints extended to issues with identity theft, new-automobile dealers, and time share resellers, there was certainly one common theme: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Our goal this morning was to educate consumers in Massachusetts and with the help of our partners who shared tips and the consumers that told their stories, I hope that throughout the state, consumers will be more aware of the issues they face daily and the vast amount of resources at their disposal.
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.