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For Immediate Release
February 09, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

Avoiding Problems

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. reminds all Maryland citizens that consumers should be active participants in avoiding problems in the marketplace. The best time for consumers to protect themselves is before they have entered into a contract or parted with their money.

Purchases when you are contacting the business
Today purchases can be made in a variety of ways – in a store, over the phone, on the Internet, or through the mail. Regardless of the means used to make the purchase, it always pays for consumers to take their time and do their homework. That is the only way for consumers to ensure that they will get the product or service they want for the price they want to pay. Just because an item is on sale doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t a better deal elsewhere. Comparing prices of various merchants before consumers buy will give them the information needed to decide whether that sale price is really a bargain.

It also pays to take the time to read and understand the contract. In many contracts, the devil is in the details. Whether consumers are buying a new car, a major appliance or signing up for cellular telephone service, there are usually terms included in the contract that will have important consequences down the road. Make sure everything the seller has agreed to do is written into the contract. If there is something that a consumer doesn’t understand or is different from what the salesperson said, the consumer should ask questions.

Transactions when the business is contacting you
If consumers receive an unsolicited offer from a business in the form of a telephone call or written communication by mail or over the Internet, they need to be particularly careful. The scams that occur in the marketplace vary, but many of them involve a stranger contacting consumers to let them know that they are entitled to a great deal or have won a tremendous prize and that in order to take advantage of this opportunity they have to act immediately. Consumers should never do that. The caller is almost certainly a scam artist.

In recent years, consumers have been receiving calls from another type of scam artist – who wants to get hold of their personal information, which will then be used to obtain credit in the consumer’s name, drain the money from the consumer’s bank account, or financially harm the consumer in some other way. Callers may pretend to be government officials, the utility company, your bank, or some other institution that you might have a reason to trust. Don’t believe the caller. Never give out your personal information. Politely ask for the name of their business and their phone number. Then check to make certain they are who they say they are before you call them back. Consumers should never use a phone number provided by the caller to verify who the caller really is. For example, if the caller said he was from your bank, a consumer should independently get the bank’s phone number from the phone book. More than likely the bank will say it didn’t have anybody place that call.

If consumers encounter a problem in the marketplace or want to obtain general information on their rights, they can contact the Division at 410-528-8662. Consumers can also access lots of information about their rights over the Internet by going to www.oag.state.md.us and clicking on consumer protection. They can also file complaints against businesses on line while they are there.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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