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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Releases Special Edition of
The Consumer’s Edge in Recognition of “National Consumer Protection Week 2010”

BALTIMORE, MD ( March 8, 2010) - In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, March 7 – March 13, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released today a special edition of the Consumer Protection Division’s bimonthly newsletter, The Consumer’s Edge. This year’s theme is “Dollars and Sense: Rated ‘A’ for All Ages.” Reflecting the need to educate consumers of all ages, the special edition newsletter has articles for all age groups, from children to retired seniors. The special edition Consumer’s Edge is available online at http://www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/ncpw_2010.pdf.

“Marylanders should share the newsletter with their family and friends to educate them on the risks of becoming a victim of identity theft or of a scammer,” said Attorney General Gansler. “An educated consumer is an empowered consumer, and National Consumer Protection Week highlights important topics consumers need to be aware of and the many services provided by the Office of the Attorney General.”

The special edition Consumer’s Edge includes articles on:

  • Debt Settlement and Debt Management – Consumers often mistake the two, but it is important to know the difference. Debt management companies are required to be licensed in Maryland and allow consumers to consolidate their debts into a single monthly payment, which is then distributed to the consumers’ creditors. Debt settlement companies are not licensed and offer plans that may be riskier. Regardless, consumers should be skeptical of any savings promised by questionable ads.
  • Identity Theft – When a person uses the name, Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number or other personal identifying information of someone else to commit fraud, it is called “identity theft.” Marylanders may call the Identity Theft Unit at 410-576-6491 or visit www.oag.state.md.us/idtheft for more information.
  • Protecting Private Information – Attorney General Gansler highlights the top five ways to protect personal information. He asks consumers to limit the amount of personal information they disclose; protect their Social Security numbers; never give out personal information through e-mail or the phone; be careful disposing of mail in the trash; and utilize services to limit telemarketing, junk mail and unwanted commercial e-mails.
  • Internet Privacy – Teenagers need to be aware of phishing scams; whom they speak with in online chat rooms; what they post online in forums or on social networking sites; how to recognize illegitimate websites; and how to avoid downloading viruses.
  • Pyramid Schemes – In a typical pyramid scheme, a consumer pays a set amount to the promoter to join the pyramid and then convinces others to do the same. These scams are “pyramids” because part of each new participant’s investment goes to earlier investors, forming a payment structure that looks like a pyramid. Pyramid schemes often try to pass themselves off as multilevel marketing or network marketing plans, where profits are made from recruitment of others rather than sales of services. In Maryland, no governmental agency approves or registers any multilevel marketing plan.
  • Investment Fraud Protection – When looking for a stockbroker or financial planner, or when choosing an investment, consumers should take their time. Any investment worth making will still be available after doing research and asking advice from licensed professionals.
  • Retirement Assets Protection – Successful con artists sound and look extremely professional and have the ability to make even the flimsiest investment deal sound as safe and sound as putting money in the bank. Marylanders should keep an eye on the progress of all investments, and insist on regular oral and visual reports.

For more information on the featured topics, consumers should contact the Office of the Attorney General at 410-576-6300 or toll-free at 1-888-743-0023. They may also visit the Attorney General’s website at www.oag.state.md.us.

The Office of the Attorney General distributes The Consumer’s Edge to more than 900 businesses, agencies, schools and community associations. Groups interested in receiving a monthly issue should call 410-576-6956 or e-mail consumersedge@oag.state.md.us to be placed on the e-mail distribution list.


   

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