Consumer Protection Assistance
Congresswoman Lowey has been fighting for consumers’ rights both on the national and local levels. She knows that even the most vigilant consumers sometimes find themselves the victims of fraud. She has helped hundreds of constituents with consumer protection problems and scams.
If you or someone you know suspects that he or she is being scammed, or has been a victim of a scam, please call the New York State Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.
For further assistance with any of these consumer problems, please contact the Congresswoman’s White Plains District Office (914-428-1707) or New City District Office (845-639-3485).
Safeguarding Your Identity and Personal and Financial Information
The theft of identity or financial or other personal information is a significant and growing danger, and Americans deserve protections when opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver’s license, or going to the doctor. That is why Congresswoman Lowey has worked to:
- Expand consumer access to free credit reports and fraud identification tools;
- Help consumers limit prescreened offers of credit and insurance and place alerts on credit histories if identity theft is suspected; and
- Require secure disposal of consumer information.
For more information about deterring and detecting identity theft, please click here.
If you believe that someone else is using your Social Security number, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271.
Family Emergency Scams
New, sophisticated techniques using cell phones, voice mimicry, information taken from the internet, and new ways to pay quickly and easily have caused residents in the Lower Hudson Valley emotional and financial pain. Scammers combine these tactics to impersonate a loved one convincingly, play on emotions, swear you to secrecy, and urge you to wire money immediately. This scam is often called the “grandparent scam” because seniors are often the target. To counteract this scam, Lowey has been:
- Informing residents of the resources available to them to help identify the scam before it’s too late; and
- Visiting senior centers and working with state and local officials to raise awareness of the growing use of these scams.
If you or a person you know suspects that he or she is being scammed, or has been a victim of a scam, please call the New York State Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-800-771-7755, or find out more information at www.ag.ny.gov. The FTC also has a number of helpful tips for consumers here. If you have received one of these calls, you can also report to the FTC Complaint Assistant or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Protecting Consumers from IRS/Tax Scams
Several tax scams have affected a large number of consumers from across the country. These types of scams are typically carried out through unsolicited emails or websites posing as the IRS in an attempt to secure personal financial information. These illegal scams come in the form of:
- Phone Scams
- Email Scams
- Identity Theft
- Return Preparer Fraud
- Fake Charities
- Abusive Tax Shelters
If you or someone you know suspects that he or she is being scammed, or has been a victim of a scam, please refer to the IRS’s “Report Phishing and Online Scams” page at: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing. You can also report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Do Not Call Registry Complaints
The Do Not Call Registry is administered by the FTC. You may file a complaint when you are called improperly by calling 888-382-1222, or by visiting its website at www.donotcall.gov. You must have the name and/or phone number of the company that called you. If a number is scrambled or in some other way hidden from your phone display, write down the name the company gives when you answer the call, or the number the message asks you to call back. The FTC does not resolve individual complaints, however, law enforcement does take action when the FTC determines there is a pattern or practice against a single company.
The process of shutting down illegal calls can be arduous because many of the organizations are based out of the country, though the read-out on your phone may show a local number. Stopping these organizations involves agents working with a number of international agencies.
Helpful websites with tips regarding consumer protection:
- Westchester County Consumer Protection 914-995-2155
- Westchester County – Keeping Safe
- Rockland County Office of Consumer Protection (845) 708-7600
- Federal Consumer Assistance. This site includes helpful links to information about saving money, product recalls, consumer alerts and publications, and making complaints about products and services.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Protection
- FTC Consumer Complaint Form
- National Do Not Call Registry
- FTC Identity Theft Complaint Form
- Online transaction complaints involving foreign companies