HOME RESIDENTS BUSINESS LEISURE GOVERNMENT CALENDAR

Mayor's Office of Consumer Information (MOCI)

Working in Cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office

City Hall, Room 315
Tel:  (413) 787-6437 - TTY: (413) 787-6154 
Fax: (413) 787-7781
E-mail: moci@springfieldcityhall.com

The Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information (“MOCI”) is a Local Consumer Program funded by and working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General  to help consumers resolve complaints who otherwise have to seek legal recourse through the court system. It serves residents of the City of Springfield and its surrounding cities and towns throughout Hampden County, and parts of Worcester County. The MOCI cannot guarantee the outcome of a complaint but ensures that it will, with the cooperation of both parties, aim to effectively mediate the complaint in hopes of reaching an amicable resolution. 

Since 2000 MOCI has handled tens of thousands of complaints, recovered over $11.5 million dollars for consumers in the form of a refund or credit, and held hundreds of community outreach events.

The goal of the MOCI is to empower consumers with knowledge of their rights and to educate them on ways to protect themselves from becoming a victim of a scam, fraud or identity theft. After all, its motto is "Education is the Best Prevention."

The MOCI's services are provided throughout Hampden County and the following cities and towns of Worcester County: Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Tolland, Wales, Warren, Webster, and West Brookfield.

It provides education, referral and informal mediation services at no cost to consumers. Mediation allows consumers and businesses the opportunity to address and resolve disputes, although no legal advice or services are provided. Spanish-speaking staff is available. WALK-INS ARE WELCOMED FROM 10AM TO 3PM, otherwise by appointment.

The MOCI staff will educate consumers on their rights in many consumer-related areas and has an array of brochures readily available. Following are some of the areas the MOCI can assist with:

Lemon Laws
Home Improvement
Debt Collection
Retail Rights
Credit
Landlord/Tenant Rights
Identity Theft

...and more

To speak to a consumer advocate to learn of your consumer rights, seek advice on how to resolve your dispute or to request mediation, call (413) 787-6437.

In addition, the MOCI provides consumer-related educational outreach to Hampden County area schools and colleges, senior centers and civic agencies, free of charge. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, Identity Theft, Credit, Buying a Car and Home Improvement.  To request a speaker, download the speaker request form.

Forms for Download

If you wish to speak with a mediator about filing a consumer complaint, you may reach us at (413) 787-6437 Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. To file a formal written complaint, download the PDF. Submit the completed form to us, along with supporting documents.

Speaker request form – Please contact Program Director, Milagros S. Johnson about speaking to your organization. You may reach her at (413) 787-6437 or email moci@springfieldcityhall.com.

The MOCI brochure is available in EnglishSpanish and Russian.

Mortgage Foreclosure Assistance - Are you struggling to make your mortgage payment? If so, there is help for you.

Consumer Links

Facing Foreclosure? The MA Attorney General's HomeCorps may be able to help: AGO HomeCorps Initiative 

To learn of your consumer protection rights, fraud and corruption, civil rights, and promoting meaningful economic recovery, visit: Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office: Consumer Protection

For additional consumer protection information (Lemon laws and home improvement) visit: Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America.  Learn how to deter, detect and defend against it, visit: Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft

Did you know that you are entitled to a free annual copy of your three credit reports, with no strings attached?  When requesting your credit reports, be sure not to use a public computer or Wi-Fi and allow at least 20 minutes for the process. Securely request your free credit reports from Annual Credit Report.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with pre-approved credit card offers in your mailbox? Did you know that they put you at risk of identity theft if they end up in the wrong hands? To stop receiving pre-approved credit card offers, click here: Opt-Out of pre-approved credit card offers

Would you like to reduce the volume of junk mail in your mailbox? You can actually stop junk mail by simply requesting to opt-out: Stop Unsolicted Mail, Calls and Emails

To stop telemarketing calls to your home or mobile telephone, register at: National Do Not Call Registry

Are debt collectors harassing you at home or work?  Learn what you can do to stop the calls your consumer rights: Fair Debt Collection

Every household should have what's often referred to as the, "Consumer Bible." Here's how you can obtain yours: Consumer Action Handbook.

There is now accountability for predatory lending.  The CFPB will "Educate, Enforce and Study" consumer issues.  Visit their website at: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Before doing business with a merchant, you may want to first check its ratings and complaint history with the Better Business Bureau 

Elder scams and financial exploitation are on the rise. The U.S. Department of Justice launched a website, Elder Justice to help protect seniors

We are now serving parts of the Worcester County community

Since July 1, 2014, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office funded our office to serve parts of Worcester County area. The cities and towns we cover are: Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Palmer, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Wales, Warren, Webster, and West Brookfield.

The Con$umer Toolbox Episodes

The MOCI invites you to learn more about your rights as a consumer through a lively discussion on its monthly television program, The Con$umer Toolbox. You can find all of the episodes on YouTube through these links. We hope you enjoy watching.

Episode 1: Find out what services the program offers and how the mediation process works.

Episode 2: Learn about scams and fraud through a discussion with Chicopee Police Officer Michael Wilk.

Episode 3: Do you know what to do when your car fails inspection? Watch this video for all the answers.

Episode 4: Ms. Milagros Johnson is joined by two experts in the field of consumer protection to discuss the different types of scams and fraud happening in our surrounding cities and towns, including Franklin County and Berkshire County.

Episode 5: Guest, Joan O'Brien, Assistant District Attorney for the Hampden County District Attorney's Office discusses the various types of elder scams, fraud and financial exploitation.

Episode 6: Workshop at UMass/Springfield on the topic of Identity Theft. This video discusses everything you need to know about ID Theft and more.

Episode 7: Guest Corey Pilz of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications & Cable discusses your rights having to do with telecommunications and cable.

Episode 8: Guest Steve Desilets, City of Springfield Code Enforcement Commissioner discusses housing codes and violations, and ways consumers can protect themselves when hiring a home improvement contractor.  

Episode 9:  Guest Eric Gouvin, Dean and Professor of Law at Western New England School of Law discusses Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law and holiday scams. 

Hampden & Worcester County consumer outreach

We continue to receive requests for outreach events thoughout Hampden County and parts of the Worcester community. If your school or organization is interested in getting empowered on a consumer topic (such as Scams & Fraud, Identity Theft, Credit, Buying a Car) complete the Speaker Request Form or contact us via email: moci@springfieldcityhall.com. We are prepared and committed to serve you FREE of charge.








Director of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Information

          Milagros S. Johnson


We're excited to bring to you our first Consumer Newsletter providing tips and advice on ways to protect your personal information from scams and fraud during this holiday season, and throughout. We hope you enjoy it!


OFFICE HOURS

To speak to a Consumer Specialist, call (413) 787-6437 between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

PLEASE NOTE: Our WALK-IN office hours are 10am to 3pm, or by appointment only.


Many consumers are concerned about the Equifax data breach and the risk of identity theft. Use this guide to freeze your credit files.


Flooded Cars: Don't Be Left High and Dry When Buying a New Car

While many of the vehicles flooded in recent hurricanes were insured and deemed total losses by insurance companies, there are still some that were uninsured or underinsured (no flood coverage). The latter ones could make it our way and sold as "branded" vehicles after they are cleaned up and taken to another state where a clean title can be obtained, leaving no paper trail or warning to a potential buyer of the vehicle's flood history.

Check the following to detect prior flood damage on a vehicle:

  • Rust on screws or other metallic items
  • Upholstery and seat belts for water stains
  • Underneath spare tire for water or rust
  • Engine compartment for mud or indicators of submergence
  • Under the dashboard for mud or moisture
  • Headlights and taillights for signs of water
  • Operation of all electrical components
  • Glove-box, trunk and storage compartments for mold or a musty odor

We're offering several of our most popular and requested consumer workshops at various locations throughout Hampden County. The topics are:

Identity Theft: The fastest growing crime in the U.S. Learn how you can protect your personal information and what to do if you become a victim.

Credit: We all need credit, sooner or later. Learn about credit and how to use it wisely, how to improve your credit score, and how to dispute credit reporting errors.

Buying a Car: Everything you need to know before you go shopping for a car and while you're at the dealer, as well as what to do if your new car is a lemon.

Please mark your calendars, and DON'T FORGET TO REGISTER ASAP!

Monday, November 6, 2017 at 6:30pm at West Springfield Public Library - Topic: Elder Fraud

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 2pm at West Springfield Public Library - Topic: Elder Fraud

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5pm at UMass/Springfield - Topic: Identity Theft: Someone Other Than You!


Recognizing Aggressive Energy Marketing

Are you tired of answering your telephone and hearing a pre-recording about your electric bill and how you can reduce the cost?

This short video provided to us by Eversource will help consumers to identity current aggressive marketing tactics and how to respond to potential fraud. Please share the video.


Your Consumer Rights!

What matters to consumers, matters to us! And we make this our priority.

Our recent segment of The Con$umer Toolbox features a very special guest, Greg White, General Counsel and Chief of Staff at the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation in Boston, and we discuss important matters on home improvement (the homework consumers must do before hiring a contractor), identity theft, skimming devices and much more. Watch it here!

Helpful Contact Information:

  • MA Attorney General's Office: (617) 727-8400
  • MA Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation: (888) 283-3757
  • MA Division of Standards: (617) 727-3480

Massachusetts #16 in Identity Theft in 2016

According to the Commission Consumer Sentinel Network, the Federal Trade Commission received 7,240 identity theft complaints from Massachusetts residents in 2016. In fact, 38% of those were employment or tax-fraud related. 

There are several forms of identity theft and many ways for you to protect your personal information, as much as there are steps for you to take to defend your identity when becoming a victim. To learn more, visit the Federal Trade Commission.

(Source, FTC: Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2016)


Educational Workshops

We are currently scheduling consumer-related educational workshops throughout Hampden County and parts of Worcester County on a variety of topics including identity theft, credit and buying a car. If your school, library, organization or employer is interesting in having us participate in an event (free), please reach out to us via email at moci@springfieldcityhall.com or submit a Speaker Request Form (available on the left column). Remember that "Education is the best prevention" to protecting your consumer rights, and preventing falling victim of a scam. 


How to Write an Effective Consumer Dispute Letter

If you are experiencing a problem with a product or service, which you already brought to the attention of the business but it remains unresolved, you may want to consider writing a dispute letter.

  • Avoid writing it when you are upset; be sure to keep your emotions at bay.
  • State only the facts of the dispute and avoid "he said/she said."
  • Include a description of the product (model number, serial number), and date and location of purchase.
  • Invite the business to respond to your letter by a certain date, and include your contact information.
  • Include copies of any supporting documents or photographs, if necessary.
  • Finally, be sure to send the letter via certified mail/return receipt requested.

If the letter does not help resolve the issue, you may want to file a complaint




Page last updated:  Friday, November 03, 2017 11:18 am