Attorney General Hector Balderas
ALBUQUERQUE ― During the last week, the Office of Attorney General has helped more than 300 different people with problems involving scams, consumer complaints against businesses, and constituent problems with government agencies.
March 9, the last day of Consumer Protection Week, consumer advocates saw scores of people who came to the Attorney General’s offices in person to seek free advice and help on housing problems, charities fraud, internet scams, and many other problems.
“We hope that events like Consumer Protection Week will help more New Mexicans become aware of the dangers of shopping online or ordering services through unsolicited calls,” Balderas said. “We hope people will become more confident that it is okay just to hang up on scammers whose primary job is to rob anyone who answers a phone–you. With events such as the one this week, we are able to raise awareness and get people talking about common problems. Our hope is that through doing more such events in the future we will eventually spread the word to every New Mexican.”
Advocates were available by phone and in person and were able to reach out to large numbers of people who needed help in filing effective complaints for consideration of the Attorney General’s staff experts. The advocates are always available—every business day—as part of the Attorney General’s service to the State of New Mexico, but the public took full advantage of the chance to interact with these knowledgeable consumer experts as part of the Consumer Protection Week events.
Scams—the “S” in Consumer Protection Week’s “FACTS” campaign—are still a major problem for people in New Mexico. About a third of the complaints received during the Consumer Protection Week FACTS campaign involved scams. IRS scams, in which dishonest callers attempt to trick innocent consumers into paying taxes they do not owe; phone scams in which callers attempt to persuade consumers to reveal private financial information that could empty their bank accounts; and a variety of phone and internet scams were among the most common complaints received by the office. The common thread for these, as for all, scams is a scammer at one end trying to gain the trust of an innocent consumer on the other end, thereby gaining access to the innocent person’s hard-earned money.
Attorney General Balderas issues regular alerts about avoiding scams in an attempt to save New Mexicans’ money and their credit.
Over the past few months, the Attorney General has warned consumers about a wide variety of scams—from callers who try to get consumers to rush out and wire them money for overdue utility bills that do not exist to fake internet businesses that offer services, receive payment and then never provide what they offered; from callers pretending to be grandchildren who need their grandparents to wire them money to get out of trouble to home repair services that collect up-front payment for landscaping, roofing or other services and then abscond with the money without ever performing the work.
The Attorney General has urged consumers NEVER to give out their financial information unless they reached out to the person who asks for payment, NEVER to wire money on demand, NEVER to add money to a “gift” or other card as a form of payment when an unknown person solicits the payment; NEVER to be pressured into paying for something before it is delivered. Even so, however, scammers continue to attempt to outwit New Mexico consumers and get access to their much-needed money.