Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection Unit is one of the local consumer programs throughout the Commonwealth working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.

A Consumer Protection specialist provides assistance 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 members are unable to resolve your complaint, they will discuss the option of redress through small claims court, face-to-face mediation or a private attorney.

CONSUMER PROTECTION COMPLAINT FORM

Click HERE
 

Please call us for a printed version of the form.
Mail
Northwestern District Attorney              Northwestern District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit         or         Consumer Protection Unit
1 Gleason Plaza                                    56 Bank Row
Northampton MA, 01060                      Greenfield MA, 01301

Fax: (413) 584-3635                            Fax: (413) 773-3278

Note: The Consumer Protection Unit does not provide legal advice or opinions


Consumer Protection video PSAs

Consumer Protection Case Coordinator Anita Wilson explains how to avoid the Granny Scam

For the past 45 years, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office has worked directly with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to help protect you against scams and fraud.

CONSUMER PROTECTION NEWS ITEMS

Don't fall for a romance scam!

If an online love interest asks you for money, walk away! Read more from the FTC on how to spot and protect yourself from online romance scams.


It's almost back-to-school time, Talk to your children about online safety

Read more from the FTC HERE.


 

The American Community Survey: Is it legitimate?

Yes! It's conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, but unlike the 10-year Census, this survey runs all year, every year. The survey goes to a random sample of addresses in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Back to College: Renting a house or apartment

Are you, or do you know, a college student moving into a rental soon? The FTC has some advice HERE.


Capitol One Data Breach
There's been a data breach of information collected from Capitol One credit card customers and credit card applicants in the United States and Canada. The FTC recommends checking your credit report. Read more from the FTC HERE.
 


Beware of fake Equifax data breach settlement websites!
The FTC has advised consumers to check ftc.gov/Equifax to find out if their information – like their Social Security number – was exposed in the September 2017 Equifax data breach. At that same website, consumers can also start a claim for benefits available under the settlement that the FTC and others reached with Equifax. Beware! Scammers may have already started putting up fake websites meant to look like the official Equifax settlement claims website. To be sure you’re going to the right place, start at the FTC’s page: ftc.gov/Equifax. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Report robocalls!
It may not put an end to them, but you're providing important information. Read about data collected on robocalls, incuding topics, trends and the most reported robocalls over time. Read more from the FTC HERE.


There's a new spin on Gift Card scams.
Scammers are pretending to be a rabbi, priest, imam or pastor collecting donations for a worthy cause. Read more about it from the FTC HERE.


Medicare does NOT give out DNA testing kits!
 The FTC is getting reports that callers claiming to be from Medicare are asking people for their Medicare numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information…in exchange for DNA testing kits. The callers might say the test is a free way to get early diagnoses for diseases like cancer, or just that it’s a free test. But the truth is, Medicare does NOT market DNA testing kits to the general public. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Mystery Shopper Scams: Who wouldn’t love getting paid to shop and dine at cool places and then review them? Whether you’re a student looking for a summer job or someone wanting to start a side or full-time business, mystery shopping sounds like an exciting option. But while some mystery shopping opportunities are legitimate, many are scams that rob you, not pay you. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Beware of Government Imposter Scams. 
Scammers are pretending to be calling from the IRS, Medicare, a government grants group, the police and the FBI. Even if caller ID tells you otherwise – that’s not the government calling. Read more from the FTC HERE.


 

 

There are no “quick fixes” to clean up your credit.  If you’re trying to clean up your credit, you’ll come across plenty of companies offering an easy fix. But any company promising instant results for a price is likely a scam. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Beware of Home Rental Scams!
Read more from the FTC HERE about how to avoid them.


Click HERE to read about Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse by the FDIC.

 

 

 


Don't fall for the one-ring telephone scam! 

Unless you recognize the number, don't call back. Read more from the FTC HERE.

 

 

 


Imposter scams top complaints to FTC in 2018

“If you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government agency like the Social Security Administration or IRS asking you for personal information or money, it’s a scam,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Click HERE to read more.


Fake calls about your Social Security Number. 

The SSA will never EVER call and ask for your Social Security number. It won’t ask you to pay anything. And it won’t call to threaten your benefits. Click HERE to read more from the FTC.
Imposter scams were the top complaint to the FTC in 2018. Click HERE to read more.


Scammers are going low-tech and asking people to send cash. Never send cash through the mail. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Holiday shopping online?

If you’re thinking about donating to charity, do some research first to make sure your money will really help the causes you care about. Click HERE to read more from the FTC.

 


Click HERE for tips from the FDIC on how to avoid scams.


Don't fall for sneaky tax scams and IRS imposters!

Read more from USA.gov HERE.


Hang up on Social Security Scams!

Read more from the FTC HERE.


Home Improvement Projects:

Click HERE for advice from the Consumer Federation of America on Preventing Your Dream from Turning into a Nightmare.


 

Tips from the FTC: Recognize Scammers Who Pretend to Be from the Government

You know those posters businesses must hang up with information about labor laws? You can get them for free from the U.S. Department of Labor. If someone tries to charge you for them, it’s a scam. And this is only one way government imposters try to trick small business owners.
Other ways scammers impersonate the government to con your small business. Scammers contact you and say they're with a government agency. They threaten to fine you, sue you or suspend your license if you don’t pay them.
Some scammers send letters that look like they’re from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The letters threaten severe consequences: “Pay immediately or lose your trademarks.”
Others lie and say you can pay to get access to government grants for your business.
What to do: No matter the threats, verify the claim before you pay. Contact the government agency directly to find out if the story is true.


Spread the word about CHARITY FRAUD. Read more from the FTC HERE.


Beware of scammers demanding to be paid with gift cards. Read more from the FTC HERE.
 


Charity scams follow hurricane's wake. Click HERE for tips from the FTC on how to detect them.


Click HERE to read the FTC's answers to frequently asked questions about the new credit law making credit freezes and fraud alerts free for one year.
 


The Facebook breach: click HERE to read the FTC's description of the breach and what you can do.


FREE CREDIT REPORTS START TODAY!
Click HERE to read more from the FTC.



Avoid Charity Scams After a National Disaster.
Click HERE for advice from the FTC.
 


Fake Utility Company Calls Scams: Have you gotten a call from someone who claims to be a utilities company representative and says you have an unpaid bill? It's likely a scam! Click HERE to read more from the FTC.



Fake Check Scams: Click here for advice from the FTC on how to spot them. 

 

 


Are you financially prepared for a disaster or emergency? Click HERE for advice from the FDIC.


For smart ideas for school shopping from the FTC, click HERE.

 

 


Do you know the signs of a tech scam? Warn your friends about them! Read more from the FTC HERE.

 

 


 FROM THE FTC: You’re working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: “Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device.” It's a scam! What should you do? Read more from the FTC HERE.


From the FTC: The FTC doesn't give out prizes.

Verify any notification that says you have received a prize. Many are scams. read more from the FTC HERE.

 

 


Free Credit Freezes are Coming Soon
A new law with a long name – Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act –  takes effect in September, when Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must each set up a webpage for requesting fraud alerts and free credit freezes. Read more from the Federal Trade Commission HERE.


FTC Sues to Stop Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint in federal district court seeking to stop two related operations and their principals who allegedly facilitated billions of illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide, pitching everything from auto warranties to home security systems and supposed debt-relief services. Read more HERE.
 


Did you lose money to a scammer who had you pay using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017? If so, you can ask for money back from the FTC’s settlement with Western Union. And the deadline to file your claim was just extended to May 31, 2018. Read more HERE.


Beware the "Secret Shopping" scam: If you get a check in the mail to be a "Secret Shopper," remember this: "If anyone ever asks you to deposit a check and then wire or send money in any way, you can bet it’s a scam. No matter what they tell you. Read more about it from the Federal Trade Commission HERE.

 


Why are you getting so many calls? Odds are, many of the calls you’re getting are from scammers. Read how to stop unwanted calls on your cellphone, landline and VOIP (Internet-based calls) HERE.


THE JURY DUTY SCAM IS BACK!
If the Sheriff’s Department calls saying that you failed to report for jury duty, what do you do? Read more about JURY DUTY SCAMS here.


 

IRS alert about scam IRS "refunds."

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.Read more HERE.


From the FTC: Auto Repair Basics

The best way to avoid auto repair rip-offs is to be prepared. Knowing how your vehicle works and how to identify common car problems is a good beginning. It's also important to know how to choose a good mechanic, the kinds of questions to ask, and your consumer rights. This kind of information may help you keep a lid on mechanical mistakes. Read more at the FTC page HERE.


Do Not Call registrations don’t expire

Someone pretending to be from the FTC is sending out fake emails telling people that their Do Not Call registration is expiring. The emails use the FTC’s logo and send people to a phony Do Not Call website to register their numbers again.

Don’t buy it. Do Not Call registrations never expire. Once you add a number to the Do Not Call Registry, you don’t need to register it again -- ever. We only remove your number when it’s disconnected and reassigned, or if you ask us to remove it.

Not on the Registry yet? You can add your phone number at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register. Learn more about the Do Not Call Registry in our FAQs.

Are you already on the Registry and still getting a lot of unwanted calls? Odds are, many of those calls are from scammers. Check out our article on blocking unwanted calls to learn more about what you can do.



 


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US. Government's Everyday Guide to Consumer Protection