AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott kicked off National Consumer Protection Week, which runs March 2-8, by launching a new, consumer-friendly Web site to improve Texans’ access to educational resources. Recognizing that education is the first line of defense against consumer fraud, the Attorney General’s redesigned Web site will help Texans make well-informed financial decisions, avoid scams and protect their personal information from identity theft.
The Office of the Attorney General’s interactive Web site, which can be found at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov, provides numerous resources, newsletters, consumer alerts and news releases that contain common-sense tips about a variety of consumer issues.
“Well-informed consumers are more likely to make thoughtful money management decisions, carefully use credit and build a solid financial foundation for their families,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Whether they need guidance on buying a home or preventing identity theft, the Office of the Attorney General’s recently redesigned Web site offers helpful information. We encourage all Texans to take advantage of this valuable online resource.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers conduct a financial transaction that requires educated decision-making every day. Whether shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, understanding their credit report, or simply deciding how to pay for a purchase, Texans will find helpful information at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. Consumers facing major financial decisions, including buying a vehicle or considering an investment opportunity, can find valuable resources on the OAG Web site.
The agency’s redesigned Web site also provides timely resources to consumers who need help, including identity theft victims. The OAG’s online Identity Theft Victim’s Kit is designed to help Texans who have fallen victim to identity theft begin the process of recovering, both financially and legally. The kit includes relevant forms and agency contact information to help restore credit and prevent further victimization.
The OAG Web site also provides valuable information on topics of particular importance to Texas businesses, including: protecting customers’ personal data; concealing credit card numbers on receipts; training for bank tellers to help them recognize schemes that exploit senior customers; and foreclosure prevention efforts.
The OAG also gives Texans the opportunity to receive consumer alerts and other publications via e-mail. Timely consumer alerts help warn consumers about emerging scams that can lead to financial harm. For example, the most recent consumer alert warned Texans about a federal economic stimulus rebate check scheme and instructed taxpayers to hang up on identity thieves posing as IRS agents.
National Consumer Protection Week comes on the heels of several OAG legal actions to protect Texans’ privacy. In 2007, Attorney General Abbott took action against CVS Pharmacy and RadioShack for improperly dumping customer records in publicly-accessible garbage bins. He also filed identity theft actions against Select Physical Therapy Texas Limited Partnership and its parent company, Select Medical Corporation, as well as Minnesota-based LifeTime Fitness for improperly discarding customer records.
The OAG obtained temporary injunctions against CNG Financial Corporation, which operates Check ‘n Go stores across Texas, and Texas-based EZPAWN and EZMONEY Loan Services to improve their document disposal systems and protect their customers from identity theft.
The OAG also is engaged in a variety of efforts to protect Texas homeowners. In 2007, Attorney General Abbott secured a temporary injunction against Foreclosure Assistance Solutions, a Florida-based “foreclosure rescue” scheme that targeted Texans who fell behind on their mortgage payments. He also took action against Southern Residential, LLC, a Texas-based foreclosure rescue outfit engaged in similar practices.
For more information on the Office of the Attorney General’s consumer protection efforts, visit the agency Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
Texans can find additional information about National Consumer Protection Week at www.consumer.gov/ncpw.