Office of Consumer Protection Programs Save Montanans More than $5 Million in 2014
National Consumer Protection Week March 1 – 7
As National Consumer Protection Week begins, Attorney General Tim Fox announced Montana’s Office of Consumer Protection facilitated the return of more than five million dollars to the state’s citizens last year, and reminded them of specialized programs available to help consumers.
“Issues like identity theft, deceptive advertising, and scams of all kinds are all too familiar in today’s world,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Fortunately, Montana’s Office of Consumer Protection offers many invaluable services consumers can utilize to protect themselves, their families, and their assets from those who may try to take advantage of them.”
In 2014, the Office of Consumer Protection’s (OCP) investigators fielded more than 4,500 calls from consumers, resulting in more than 1,100 filed complaints. During the same time period, OCP facilitated the return of more than five million dollars to consumers and prevented losses of an additional $470,000. Those savings come through multiple OCP programs, including:
- Scam Alerts – Email alerts that keeps consumers up-to-date on the latest rip-off attempts circulating and helps prevent them from falling prey to fraudsters. Currently, tax scammers are targeting taxpayers by claiming to be the IRS. Signing up for the free alerts is quick and easy; visit https://dojmt.gov/consumer/sign-up-for-scam-alerts/.
- Keep My Montana Home – For homeowners facing foreclosure or struggling to make house payments and who have a mortgage serviced by Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo or GMAC, it may be possible to lower the principal of the loan or to re-finance at a lower interest rate, among other options through this program.
- Identity Theft and Security Freezes – An “Identity Theft Passport” is designed to help victims prove to creditors and law enforcement officers that someone has used their identity to commit fraud. A security freeze allows consumers to proactively “lock up” their credit information so no one can access it without their permission, preventing thieves from falsely using someone else’s identity to take out a new mortgage, apply for a credit card or get financing.
“Unfortunately, shady characters continually arise with new schemes to take advantage of honest, hardworking people,” Fox added. “By alerting consumers to common scams and frauds, the Office of Consumer Protection has been able to save individual Montanans not only substantial amounts of money, but frustration and heartache as well. We are proud to renew our commitment to educating and standing up for consumers in our great state during National Consumer Protection Week.”
To learn more about the Office of Consumer Protection and all the programs it houses, visit www.dojmt.gov/consumer/.