On March 3, Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced the creation of a Consumer Advocacy & Response Division (CARD), set up to provide highly-skilled assistance to individual consumers seeking help from her office on utility bills, identity fraud, retail transactions, and a number of other market-related issues.
“This new division will allow our office to better protect people from fraud, unfair business practices, and consumer abuse,” AG Healey commented, adding, “We will enhance our approach to direct consumer assistance, expanding our reach across the Commonwealth, and re-doubling our efforts to make sure consumers are armed with the knowledge and information they need to avoid scams and other predatory practices.”
CARD combines the staff and resources of the AG’s Public Inquiry and Assistance Center, of HomeCorps (the AG’s foreclosure prevention program), and of the Elder Hotline. Staff can directly assist consumers in working with businesses to resolve disputes, answer questions, offer referrals to appropriate organizations or government agencies, and provide information on other available services and community-based consumer programs.
While CARD staff is available to review any consumer issue, the division has been organized into specialized teams that focus on the most prominent consumer problems. These teams address the following issues: auto transactions (purchase and financing), debt collection, data security and identity theft, home improvement contracts, housing (landlord/tenant and foreclosure prevention), retail transactions, and utility bills. In addition, CARD will have a group of consumer specialists dedicated to assisting vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrants, veterans, and elders.
The AG’s Office fields thousands of consumer complaints annually – and in 2015 handled more than 2,600 cases resulting in more than $6 million in relief for consumers. Consumers with problems are encouraged to contact CARD at 617-727-8400, or file a complaint on the AG’s website.