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 
(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 communities. 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, our motto is "Education is the Best Prevention."

Its consumer services are provided throughout Hampden County and the following communities of Worcester County: Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, North Brookfield, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Warren, West Brookfield and Worcester.

The MOCI provides education, referral and informal mediation services at no cost to consumers. Mediation provides 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 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  

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 your e-complaint directly with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, click here: AGO Complaint Form

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.
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 them, be sure not to use a public computer or WiFi 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? 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 clicking here: 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 and to learn of your consumer rights: Fair Debt Collection

Every household should have what's often refered 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, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holden, North Brookfield, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Warren, West Brookfield and Worcester.

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 (high school or college) 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're ready to serve you FREE of charge.








Director of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Information

          Milagros S. Johnson


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


HIGH ALERT: IRS SCAM TARGETING LOCAL RESIDENTS

THE IRS DOES NOT CALL DEMANDING PAYMENT OR THREATENING TO HAVE YOU ARRESTED.

I know that many of you have already heard of the scam, but there are still some residents, namely the elderly who are unaware of the IRS scam and how it works.  I urge you to please talk to your elderly parents, neighbors and friends to share this warning with them. 

Recently our office has been inundated with calls from mostly senior citizens who are in a state of fear after having received a fraudulent telephone call claiming to be from the IRS, demanding payment and threatening to have the individual arrested.  One individual stated that the caller told him that he was at the police station getting the arrest order. 

If you Google "IRS Scam" you will see that the scam is not prevalent to just our area, but across the nation. Each day someone loses money because they were unaware of the scam, or gave into pressure and/or fear. 

Again, I urge you to spread awareness of the scam.  When it comes to scams, "Education is the Best Prevention."  Thank you for sharing and keeping our seniors safe. 


The Con$umer Toolbox

We're excited to introduce you to The Con$umer Toolbox, our new television program aimed at providing consumers with the necessary tools to make informed decisions. The monthly program, which is getting excellent reviews, is currently running on Public Access Television in Springfield, Ludlow, Chicopee, Agawam, West Springfield, and most recently Wilbraham, Palmer and Longmeadow. A special thank you to everyone for their support!

Most cities/towns run the program twice a week at two different time slots, but the times and channels vary. We suggest you check with your local community station to find out when it runs.  

If you have a topic of interest you would like to hear about, or wish to be a guest on The Con$umer Toolbox  (no business advertisements or promotions), please drop us an email at moci@springfieldcityhall.com

You can now watch previous episodes of The Con$umer Toolbox on our YouTube channel. We hope you watch and get empowered.


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. You may want to follow these suggestions when writing the letter:

  • Avoid writing the letter 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. Be sure to 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: I lost my credit card and there have been charges made on it since then. What can I do and am I responsible for those charges?

A: Under the FCBA, you can be held liable for charges under your name for up to $50. If the loss is strictly the credit card number, you have no liability for unauthorized charges. The best course of action is to notify your credit card issuer as soon as you realize you have lost your card or other information. Most companies will have a 24-hour, toll-free service to help their customers in these instances. It is important to follow up with a letter and keep a copy for your personal records.




Page last updated:  Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:05 am