By Assemblyman Will Barclay
My office receives calls on a regular basis from people who are questioning a call they received from a vendor, or a product or service they purchased that isn’t what they expected. Unfortunately, there are many individuals and businesses that prey on trusting people, especially seniors. Many use fake bills and forceful language to scare people into believing a bill they received, for example, is legitimate. Many fall victim to such tactics because scammers create official-looking bills or seek donations for illegitimate charities.
In the cases in which people call our office, we direct them to call the State Attorney General’s office to report their experience or get some direction. If the Attorney General’s office deems it a legitimate complaint, often they announce an area scam, and allow people to be on the lookout on how to protect themselves. To report a consumer complaint and speak to a trained advisor, call 1-800-697-1220.
Most recently the Department of State in conjunction with AARP and the New York State Office for the Aging launched a Senior Consumer Information Hotline. This toll-free, 24-hour hotline, 1-800-503-9000, is just one resource against consumer fraud and abuse. Every month a new recording will be available. Topics will include scam prevention, protecting your personal identity, estate planning and tax information. They also recommend reading your community newspaper to watch for announcements of scams.
There are a variety of resources available online that empower consumers. Visit www.nysegov.com and click on Consumer Info on the left-hand side. This one link contains more than 80 resources on how to become a more informed consumer. The topics range from getting help with your utility bill, filing insurance related complaints, reporting problems with your physician, and reporting suspected insurance fraud among many others. There is a link to learn more about disability and the law, how to save money on your utility bills, and the DEC’s Environmental Navigator. If you have limited or no access to the internet, please call my office and we will be happy to mail you more information on any of these topics.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.