The Consumer Protection Unit is one of the local consumer programs throughout the Commonwealth working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
Consumer Protection staff are trained to mediate complaints through an informal process involving letters and telephone calls from the consumer and the business, in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. If Consumer Protection staff are unable to resolve your complaint, staff members will discuss the option of redress through small claims court, face-to-face mediation or a private attorney.
CONSUMER PROTECTION COMPLAINT FORM
Should you have a complaint, please fill out an e-complaint by clicking HERE to reach the Massachusetts Attorney General's website. The NWDA will receive your complaint from the AGO and contact you to discuss it further. The Consumer Protection Unit does not provide legal advice or opinions.
Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips
What to Know Before Shopping Online This Holiday Season
The internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.
1. Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.
2. Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.
3. It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.
4. Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.
5. Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can't be given away as gifts if they've been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to "gift an item" but it varies depending on the provider.
For more advice on safe online shopping and being a savvy consumer this holiday season and all year long, check out the Consumer Action Handbook–the free government guide to protecting your money.
TIPS FROM THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ON HOW TO HELP VICTIMS OF TYPHOON HAIYAN IN THE PHILIPPINES:
BY Colleen Tressler/Consumer Education Specialist
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has left many people asking how they can help.
If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised — and as you intend.
Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren't entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.
If you’re asked to make a charitable donation to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, consider these tips:
· Donate to charities you know and trust. You want to find a charity with a proven track record with dealing with these disasters.
· Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, orGuideStar.
· Designate the disaster. Charities may give the option to designate your giving to a specific disaster. That way, you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
· Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
· Beware of offers of prizes. If an organization offers the promise of a guaranteed win of a sweepstakes, it's very possible you could be dealing with a scam. Donating to a charitable cause is never a prerequisite to winning a sweepstakes prize.
· Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
· Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
· Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
For more on the questions to ask and for a list of groups that can help you research a charity, go to Charity Scams.