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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 
(413) 787-7781 (Fax) 
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, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, 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 and Russian-speaking staff is available.  Walk-ins are welcomed from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. only, 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: 2015 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 the Worcester County area. The cities and towns we cover are: Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Palmer, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, 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 to serve you FREE of charge.








Director of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Information

          Milagros S. Johnson


Let Your Consumer Voice be Heard

Each day consumers tell us about their important issues and concerns, all of which are important to us, and just as important to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (OCABR).

Undersecretary John Chapman and representatives from the OCABR have scheduled a Listening Session in Springfield on Tuesday, July 19 from 11:30 am to 1:30 p.m. at the UMASS Center at Springfield, Tower Square. 

Let your voice be heard and let OCABR know how Used Car Sales, Home Improvement Requirements, Telemarketing Calls, Debt Collectors, Predatory Lending, etc. affect you, and what recommendations for improvement you have to consumer protections and rights. 

Please mark your calendars for this important event! 


Are you in the market for a new car? Planifica comprar un vehículo nuevo?

Before heading out the door to the dealer, be an informed consumer and read the very important step-by-step consumer guide, CarSmart. You may want to print a copy to bring with you.


Antes de ir de compra para un vehículo, lea la guía de consumidor, CarSmart (en Español) para llegar a una decision informada. Es mas, lleve con usted una copia de la guía. 


CHILD IDENTITY THEFT

Child Identity Theft is on the rise.

Just like adults, children too can become a victim of identity theft. To make matters worse, the offense can go undetected for many years because children, or their parents, do not feel the need to check their credit files. There are several ways for parents to guard their child's personal information and for identity theft protection.  Watch this video


Multilingual services provided (English, Spanish, and now Russian)

We're excited to welcome and introduce the newest addition to our staff, Natalia Shtrom. 

Natalia has roots in the Hampden County area, and brings to us many years of experience of consumer advocacy work serving the Russian-speaking communities. She speaks fluent Russian and is prepared to assist consumers in our service area who have a dispute with a business. 

To speak with Natalia, please call 787-6437, Monday through Friday from 10am to 3pm.  


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


Question of the Month

Q: Each month when I receive my credit card statement, I find a blank check from my credit card company. Why is this? How can I stop these checks from being mailed to me?

A. When a customer's account is in good standing, and the customer has open credit line available, the credit card company offers you the check for balance transfers, make purchases, etc. However there are many risks  including:

  • You could potentially be taking on new debt you did not plan for
  • The APR on the check is different (often much higher) than on the credit card itself
  • The check could potentially put you at risk for identity theft

You can simply call your credit card company to request that they cease sending you the checks. If, and when, you need one you can call back to make the request.




Page last updated:  Tuesday, July 05, 2016 12:07 pm