Consumer Protection

Consumer ProtectionWhat is Consumer Protection?  Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade and the flow of information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraudulent activity to gain an advantage over their competitors. Consumer protection aims to protect the rights of consumers as every year millions of people become victims of consumer fraud and each year billions of dollars are lost. To avoid these cons, consumers need to spot the warning signs of a scam. The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection constantly issues alerts to keep consumers informed of scams and other kinds of consumer fraud.

What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Scam

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal or financial information and uses it to purchases merchandise or other services. Identity theft can not only ruin your credit, but it will cost your time and money to repair the damage.

If you are a victim of a scam it is important to act immediately and place a security freeze or fraud alert on your files at the credit reporting agencies. Be sure to contact the Division of Consumer Protection, the Attorney General’s Office and your local consumer protection agency so other people can be warned about the scam.

Tips to Avoid Being Affected By Fraudulent Debt Collection

The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection warns consumers to be alert of scam artists posing as debt collectors. Sometimes consumers receive harassing phone calls from fake debt collectors threatening legal action in an attempt to collect money that is not actually owed. The fake collectors often lead the consumers to believe they are affiliated with a law firm. Consumers are usually frightened by this and feel obligated to give information. However, under no circumstances should a consumer provide or confirm any personal or financial information over the phone. If you receive a call from a debt collector seeking payment for a debt you are not aware of, do not agree to pay it. Do your own research and find out if you have outstanding debts. Don’t be afraid to interrogate the potential fake debt collector by asking for their name, the company’s name, the address and telephone number. Use this information to confirm whether or not the collection agency is real.

Protect Yourself

It is important that you never carry your social security card with you. Your social security card should be kept in a safe place in your home. It is a good idea to request and review your credit report to check for any suspicious activity. It is imperative not to give any personal information to anyone on the phone, through the mail or Internet unless you initiated contact with them. When sending out checks to pay bills, put them in a U.S. Post Office mailbox to prevent anyone from stealing them and obtaining your checking account number.

There are several different types of scams such as credit card scams, airline tickets scams and identity theft scams. We as consumers must be a step ahead and be aware of these scams and take extra precautions.

For more information about Consumer Protection, visit the Resource page.