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.
From the Federal Trade Commission:
IRS Releases the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2014; Identity Theft, Phone Scams Lead List
Feb. 19, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud.
The Dirty Dozen listing, compiled by the IRS each year, lists a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter at any point during the year. But many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.
"Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”
Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.
FTC Warns of Utility Bill Scam That Asks for Payment via GreenDot, Paypal or Prepaid Gift Card
Imagine receiving a phone call from your utility company saying they’re about to cut off your electricity. The caller ID looks like it might be a legitimate phone number, but you know you’ve paid your bill. The caller says, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me.”
It’s a scam, but there’s a new twist. Instead of asking you to wire money, a new scam wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal. Scammers using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, or PayPal is not new, but it’s growing. It lets them get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.
Scammers can use computers to make it look like they’re calling from one place – when, in fact, they’re someplace else. If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via PayPal, or to buy a GreenDot card or a gift card, it’s probably a scam. Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill, describe what happened, and report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
FTC Tells Consumers to Hang Up on Tech Support Refund Scams
January 3, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers that if they get a call promising a refund for tech support services, it is just a new twist on an old scam.
Tech support scams try to gain consumer’s trust and access to their computer and personal and financial information. Typically, a fraudster calls claiming to be a computer technician from a well-known software company, and says they’ve detected a virus on the consumer’s computer. Their goal is to trick consumers into giving them remote access to their computer or paying for bogus software they don’t need.
In this latest version, scammers call consumers who may have been victims of an earlier tech support scam under the guise of checking on their “satisfaction” with that service and offering a refund or new service when they express their dissatisfaction. Others may claim a company is going out of business and providing refunds to people who paid for technical support services that will no longer be provided. But it’s all a hoax. Once consumers give their banking or credit card information for a refund, the scammers actually take money from their accounts.
Anyone who gets these types of calls should hang up immediately and file a complaint with the FTC. Consumers who paid for bogus tech support or tech support refunds using a credit card should contact their credit card company and ask to reverse the charges.
Learn more about tech support refund scams in the FTC’s latest consumer blog post, and stay a step ahead of the latest scams by subscribing to Scam Alerts.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
What You Should Know Before Renting a Vacation Property
IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.
See also: the FTC's Tax-related identity theft
By Amy Hebert, FTC Consumer Education Specialist
It sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you’re done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.
If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate “insane profit.” All for just $2.95 for training and a week’s trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you’d be free to cancel any time.
But they couldn’t be believed, the FTC says. According to the FTC’s complaint, people who paid to be mystery shoppers found there were few, if any, jobs in their area. And the jobs that did exist paid a lot less than $50. People who tried to cancel found they were still charged $49.95 a month, not knowing they were also enrolled in a second “opportunity” running their own webstore.
The companies and people behind the alleged scam have agreed to settlements with the FTC that ban them from selling business or work-at-home opportunities and require them to surrender assets to the FTC.
Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are out there, but so are plenty of scams. Don’t pay to be a mystery shopper — information about mystery shopping jobs should be free, and certifications offered are often of little value. Many professionals in the field consider mystery shopping a part-time activity, at best, and opportunities generally are posted online by marketing research or merchandising companies.
Want to learn more about these kinds of scams and get tips on finding legitimate mystery shopping jobs? Read Mystery Shopper Scams at ftc.gov/bizopps.