2003-03-22 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Notes On Consumer Affairs


Audrey PhefferAudrey Pheffer

At some time, almost all of us have planned or participated in a scavenger hunt. For parties, it is a good way to keep kids and guests busy. However, feeling like you’re hunting clue-to-clue when you need information is not fun and can be frustrating. Unfort-unately, finding information to answer a consumer question can often feel like a scavenger hunt. When faced with problems ranging from auto questions to questions about wireless phones, consumers frequently want answers quickly so that they can address the situation while it is still "fresh." Finding information or locating a source to answer everyday concerns can be more exasperating, and often more aggravating, than the original problem. Therefore, I am providing a list of links that may be useful when you have consumer questions. While the following list of resources is not an exhaustive list of resources, the sites are comprehensive in nature and provide links to other state agencies and organizations where you may find your answers.

As Chairperson of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, I am in the fortunate position to introduce and advance legislation that greatly protects consumers. Part of my objective is to also provide information so that consumers may become more educated and know their rights, thereby making more informed consumer decisions.

Office of the New York State Attorney General: a general location for obtaining information about New York laws, as well as filing complaints against businesses. The Attorney General’s website can be accessed at: www.oag.state.ny.us. It’s Consumer Helpline is 1-800-771-7755.

• Crime Victims Hotline:

1-800-771-7755.

• Medicaid Fraud Control Unit:

212-417-5397.

• Environmental Crimes:

1-800-771-7755.

• For the Hearing Impaired:

1-800-788-9898.

New York State Consumer Protection Board: the CPB is involved in addressing consumer complaints, provides mediation between consumers and businesses, it operates the "Do Not Call" Telemarketing Reg-istry, and it provides education and outreach and advocates in front of the Public Service Commission regarding utility issues. It’s website can be found at www.consumer. state.ny.us. CPB’s Consumer Helpline: 1-800-697-1220.

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs: the DCA handles the licensing of fifty-five categories of businesses operating in the five boroughs, it enforces the New York City’s consumer protection law and other city and state consumer protection and licensing laws, it mediates consumer complaints, litigates against rule-breaking vendors; and educates New Yorkers about their legal rights to a fair deal and high business standards. It’s website is at

www.nyc.gov.

• English: (212) 487-4444
• Spanish: (212) 487-4481
• Chinese: (212) 487-4488
• Korean: (718) 286-2996

Telecommunication Device for the Hearing & Speaking Impaired: (212) 487-4465.

FirstGov for Consumers: a "one-stop" link to a broad range of federal information resources available on-line, designed so that you can locate information by category. Its website is at www.consumer.gov.

The above information is intended to inform consumers of their rights as well as provide a referral source when questions arise. However, it is not intended to replace legal advice from an attorney should any issue rise to that level. This can be a useful guide, a first step, in researching your rights or just for knowledge and information gathering.

When you need information or you are in a difficult situation, scavenger hunts are not welcomed. The thing you should be looking for is a helpful answer; save the party games for when you resolve the issues.


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