County Consumer Protection Office Resolves Over $300,000 for Residents in Refunds or Cash Value
(Woodbury, NJ) - Since the beginning of 2010 the Gloucester County Office of Consumer Protection has been actively working on nearly 300 cases generated from consumer complaints about products or services which have resulted in more than $300,000.00 in direct refunds or money value for their purchases.
The County Office of Consumer Protection, which consists of two divisions, Consumer Affairs and Weights and Measures, is a resource that helps protect the public from unlawful, unfair and deceptive business practices.
"Over the past ten months the Office of Consumer Protection has saved consumers on a variety of products and services ranging from used car sales, gas purchases, internet sales, home improvements and scams," said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney.
"Unfortunately, as the economy struggles to recover there are some unscrupulous people who take advantage of a bad situation and make it worse by promising consumers things they cannot deliver on, or never intended to deliver," said Director Sweeney. The County Consumer Affairs office is a resource for residents to use if they feel they have been a victim of a deceptive business practice.
Sweeney said that internet fraud is at the forefront of issues faced by consumers. "Be informed and know the red flags, never send money to someone or a business you have not researched, and if you have a question about something you believe to be a scam, contact the County Office of Consumer Protection," Sweeney stated.
Freeholder Giuseppe (Joe) Chila said, "The statistics coming out of our consumer affairs office show that consumers in tough financial situations can fall prey to people who take advantage of their circumstances. Complaints about home loan modification scams and used vehicles that may not be up to standard are on the rise." Chila said that when consumers come forward and make a complaint the Office performs an investigation and assists the consumer to get a refund or that restitution is made. The Office has received nearly 1400 inquiries so far in 2010.
"Ninety-nine percent of businesses in Gloucester County are consumer friendly and when a problem comes to their attention, they are more than willing to correct the situation," said Chila, who serves as liaison to the Office of Consumer Protection.
Chila said that the Office of Weights and Measures is winding down its annual countywide inspections of service stations and with few exceptions, most are complying with state and county regulations, additionally, the office continues to make unannounced visits to many businesses to ensure compliance.
For information on the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, NJ Title 51, Weights and Measures statutes and your consumer rights. Requests to have a consumer affairs investigator speak to your group or civic organization or to file a complaint can call the office directly at 856-384-6855.