Consumer Protection

Janice Garrett - Director of Consumer Protection Unit

Caroline Smith - Consumer Protection Unit - Hampshire County


Facing Foreclosure?

Contact HAPhousing

Hampshire County Office

20 Hampton Avenue, Suite 185, Northampton, MA  01060

(413) 584-8495 • Fax: (413) 586-3571

Hours: M,T,Th,F, 9am-noon and 1-4pm; closed Wed


Daily Hamsphire Gazette: "DA's Consumer Protection Division increases efforts to help the little guy"


Consumer Protection video PSAs






(Click logos to visit CFPB and CPSC websites.)






  (Click for the latest recalls.)    





US. Government's Everyday Guide to Consumer Protection



Money wiring scams continue to hurt our consumers in Western Massachusetts. The scam shows up in many different forms, but they all have one thing in common: the consumer is asked to use a money wiring service to send cash for one reason or another.

Lottery, Sweepstakes, Job applications, Overpayment, Relationship, Mystery shopper, Online auction sales, Apartment rentals, Advance Fee loans, Family emergency or a Friend in Need

SCAMMERS may ask you to send money in order to receive a big cash prize & even give you a Cashier’s Check to cover your “taxes” and “fees."

-You might apply for a job online, and your new “employer,” who you haven’t met, sends you a check to set up your new office, asking you to deposit the money into your private account and wire money to the “main office supply company” to have your office supplies sent to you.

-Some consumers have received a frightening call in the middle of the night from someone posing as their grandchild who’s in trouble and needs money wired to them right away. 

The bottom line is once you deposit the check into your personal bank account, take cash out and wire the money to someone, somewhere-you are responsible for the cash you took out of your account, even if you fell for a scam.

SCAMMERS like to get paid using money wiring services because it’s fast; the money is usually picked up in cash and in person making it hard to recover.

The Office of the Attorney General issued the following press release on the Grandparent Scam





























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































  • Facing  


  • Facing Foreclosure?

    Contact the HomeCorps Hotline at (617) 573-5333

    For the Massachusetts Attorney General's Homecorps webpage, click HERE






Other useful links to Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General programs:

HomeCorps Borrower Representation Initiative

HomeCorps Borrower Recovery Initiative

HomeCorps Crisis Response Innovation Grants

HomeCorps Municipal and Community Restoration Grants

Western Massachusetts Foreclosure Prevention Centers

The Valley Community Development Corporation

Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority


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.


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.


Holiday Shopping Tips from the Federal Trade Commission


Visit the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) webpage HERE to read the
 recently released "Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft" report

Click HERE  and see below for tips to stay secure online. 



Keep a Clean MachineKeep a Clean Machine

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, your smartphones, gaming systems and other web‐enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug & scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal InformationProtect Your Personal Information

  • Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
  • Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information.

Connect With CareConnect with Care

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the ways cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Get savvy about Wi‐Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security-enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

 Be Web WiseBe Web Wise            

  • Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, share with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Be a Good Online CitizenBe a Good Online Citizen

  • Safer for me, more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post only about others as you have them post about you.
  • Help the authorities fight cybercrime: Report stolen finances, identities and cybercrime to (the Internet Crime Complaint Center) and (the FTC).

Visit for more information.


Read HERE and below about the mailing some citizens have received seeking their input as the next Census is being prepared.

The 2015 National Content Test Is Now Underway

Written by: John H. Thompson

This month, 1.2 million households began receiving the questionnaire for the 2015 National Content Test. For those who receive the test, your participation in this important milestone on the road to the 2020 Census will help us determine the best questions for you to respond to in the next census. September 1 marks Census Day for the test.

The National Content Test has two main objectives. First, we want to evaluate and compare different versions of questions to ask in the 2020 Census, such as those about race and origin, relationships, and the best questions for determining where people should be counted as of Census Day.

Second, during the National Content Test, the U.S. Census Bureau will try different strategies for encouraging households to respond to the census on their own. We will test nine different approaches to encourage households to respond via the Internet – the least costly and most efficient response option.

The Census Bureau has sent National Content Test questionnaires to a statistically representative sample of households in the United States and Puerto Rico. For each household, we ask how many people live in the house, and each person’s name, sex, age, relationship, and race and ethnic origin. We ask whether the housing unit is owned or rented. Finally, we ask for the respondent’s telephone number and email address. Because studying the effectiveness of different content is part of the test, different households will receive different versions of question wording.

If you receive a form, please perform your civic duty and complete it. You will help inform our decisions as we design the 2020 Census. Your participation will also help us to identify additional topics for 2020 Census testing later this decade. As always, the information we collect is subject to strict privacy and confidentiality laws, and we go to great lengths to protect your data. The National Content Test is part of our ongoing testing activities to research innovative methods for reducing the cost of the 2020 Census, while still maintaining a high-quality census. It will help us develop a census that is cost-effective, improves coverage, and reduces operational risk.

The 2015 National Content Test is scheduled to run through November 2015




Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:                                                                                 

Buying or Leasing a Vehicle

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations

Lemon Laws

Federal Trade Commission

Renting a Car: What Everyone Should Know

Federal Trade Commission

Tips on Used Car Buying

Federal Trade Commission

Getting the most from your Car's Warranty

Federal Trade Commission

Massachusetts Consumer Guide:  Mechanics of Auto Repair

Massachusetts Consumers’ Coalition:

Car Smart

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Registry of Motor Vehicles          

Center for Auto Safety          

Auto Safety, Recalls, Service Bulletins

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Auto Recalls, Highway & Vehicle Safety Standards, Crash Test


Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations:  

Massachusetts Consumer Guide:  Mechanics of Auto Repair


Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:

Guide to Consumer Credit


Consumer Credit and Fair Debt Collection

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations

Managing Credit & Debt

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Money and Credit


Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Consumer News & Information

Federal Trade Commission:

Credit and Loans

United States Financial Literacy Education Commission:



Massachusettts Office of the Attorney General 

FAQs about Charities

Charities and Charitable Giving

Better Business Bureau

Wise Giving Alliance for Charities and Donors



Federal Trade Commission

Free Annual Credit Report



Federal Trade Commission:

Computers and the Internet Privacy and Security


Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General  

National “Do not Call” Registry

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations: 

Do Not Call Program

Federal Trade Commission:

National Do Not Call Registry

Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

Truth about Wireless Phones & the National Do-Not-Call List     



Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations  

 Consumers Guide to Planning a Funeral

Federal Trade Commission      

 Funerals- A Consumer Guide

Federal Trade Commission-Business Center      

Complying With the Funeral Rule


Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:    

Home Improvement

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations:             

MA Guide to Home Improvement

Massachusetts Department of Public Safety      

Construction Supervisor license verification site



Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General 

Identity Theft

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations:    

Identity Theft

Federal Trade Commission

Create an Identity Theft Report

Identity Theft

Fighting back against Identity theft

Taking Charge: What to do if your identity is stolen

Medical Identity Theft



Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:    

Landlord and Tenant Law

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations

Tenant & Landlord

Massachusetts Housing Court Department:

Frequently Asked Questions

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library:           

Massachusetts Law about Landlord and Tenant


Franklin County Bar Association


Hampshire County Bar Association


Massachusetts Bar Association Referral         866-627-7577

Dial a Lawyer Program

Free legal questions answered:

1st Wednesday of the month    5:30- 7:30                        (617) 338- 0610

Community Legal Aid

 Legal Aid to Low-Income & Elderly Residents of Western MA

National Consumer Law Center

Advocacy Organization

MA Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations

Small Claims Court



Massachusetts Office of Attorney General:     

 Home & Housing

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau                                                                                           Trouble Paying Your Mortgage-Explore options  

 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau                                                                 

Valley Community Development Corporation (Valley CDC):

Building Community through Housing and Business Development 

Franklin County Housing and Redevelopment Center:

Housing Consumer Education Center

Consumer Action Housing Help:

Foreclosure Prevention Guide

Massachusetts Housing Court Department

Frequently Asked Questions


US Consumer Product Safety Commission:    

Recent Recalls


Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:   

Retail Rights

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations

Shopping Rights

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations:  

Gift Certificate Law


Massachusetts Attorney General's Resource Guide for Veterans


Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General:    

Workplace Rights & Responsibilities