BOSTON — A series of events designed to educate consumers will be held throughout the state in the coming days, including three in the Berkshires, as part of the 22nd annual National Consumer Protection Week.
"National Consumer Protection Week is a great reminder of the resources and tools our office makes available every day to protect consumers from fraud, unfair business practices, and abuse," Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. "Our office is here to empower individuals to protect themselves and help consumers in need."
During National Consumer Protection Week, the AG's Office will host and promote consumer education events across the state on topics ranging from consumer awareness, scams, senior consumer rights and auto laws, according to the statement.
There will be general consumer information events Tuesday in Pittsfield and two on Wednesday in North Adams.
Each year, the office provides direct assistance to thousands of consumers across Massachusetts. The office's Consumer Advocacy & Response Division (CARD) directly assists consumers by answering questions, offering referrals to appropriate organizations or government agencies, working with businesses to resolve disputes, and providing information on other available services and community-based consumer programs.
In 2019, CARD worked on more than 19,000 cases, and either directly or through its partnerships with local consumer programs helped secure more than $4.1 million in relief for consumers, according to the statement. The issues CARD received the most complaints about in 2019 related to autos, retail stores, and contractors. Some examples of consumer assistance provided by the AG's Office in 2019 include:
- Helping a senior recover a $3,300 deposit after a roofing contractor coerced her into signing a contract for roofing work at her home, then refused to give her money back when she tried to cancel the contract the next day.
- Assisting a consumer after a dealership took out a loan in his name and completed the purchase of a car without his knowledge after he put a deposit down. With CARD's assistance, the dealer agreed to unwind the sale and cancel the loan, saving the consumer nearly $35,000 for the purchase of a car he never received.
- Working with National Grid to remove an account from collection and correct a consumer's credit report after their identity was stolen and used to open an electric account.
Recovering $2,000 for a consumer who signed up for a carpet-cleaning service that advertised free cleanings that it never actually provided.
- Stopping a debt collection company from collecting on a $7,000 that the consumer had already paid to a different debt collector.
In addition to direct assistance, the office investigates and litigates violations of the state's consumer protection laws.
Consumers with problems are encouraged to contact CARD's consumer specialists at 617-727-8400 or file a complaint on the AG's website.