Niagara Gazette — It may not be a surprise, but state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Internet scams led his list of the Top 10 Consumer Frauds of 2012.
Schneiderman unveiled his list, based on consumer complaints he's received, as part of Consumer Protection Week. In addition to highlighting the scams most reported by New Yorkers, the attorney general also offered tips on how to avoid them.
“In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to protect consumers from the deceptive practices of unscrupulous corporations that try to lie, cheat and steal from hard working New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a release.
In 2012, Internet-related complaints topped the list, followed closely by credit-related complaints involving debt collection, credit card billing and identity theft. Of the nearly 3,200 credit-related complaints, more than half of them were filed against debt collectors who illegally threatened and harassed consumers.
Schneiderman said that despite an improving housing market, his office continued to receive a large number of mortgage-related complaints in 2012. The attorney general said the complaints demonstrate the extent to which consumers, who are struggling to stay on top of their mortgages, are being targeted by fraudulent and unscrupulous loan modification consultants.
To deal with mortgage fraud, Schneiderman created the Homeowner Protection Program in June 2012. The $60 million program funds legal service providers and housing counseling organizations serving at-risk homeowners across the state.
Among Schneiderman's tips for consumers were a warning to always make sure websites are secure before providing any financial information, such as a credit card or bank account number. Secure website addresses have a symbol, such as a lock.
The sites use encryption to scramble your information as it is transmitted over the Internet to keep it secure.
In the area of debt collection, the attorney general suggests consumers learn and know their rights. Debt collectors may not harass or abuse consumers or provide misleading information.