Pure Vermont Newsletter Articles March 2013
best form of scam prevention is awareness. Be able to identify the top
scams that are plaguing Vermont so that you and your loved ones don't
become a victim. Know the signs. The top 10 categories of
reported to our office in 2012 were:
1. "Phishing" scams
2. Contests, sweepstakes, or lottery scams
3. Bogus computer tech support scams, viruses and
4. Imposter scams
5. Debt collection scams
6. Phony invoices targeting VT businesses
7. Security system scams
8. Other telemarketing scams
9. Online advertisement scams
10. Loan scams
to do if you have been targeted:
- Cease contact with the scammer
- Stop or report any fraudulent transactions, such as wire
transfers, checks, and credit cards.
reading on our website...
In 2012 auto complaints
placed second among the top written complaints reported to CAP and the
totals even surpassed written reports of scams, which came in
third. In February, automobile concerns were also the second
most reported consumer issue. Most of the
complaints are against Vermont licensed dealers.
Consumer complaints allege false claims, misrepresentations, defective
merchandise, pressure sales, deceptive pricing, and more.
- Know how to
National Consumer Law Center
of the most difficult problems consumers face is
trying to obtain a car in good condition. There are several
alternatives states can pursue to address this issue by enacting used
car lemon laws and required warranties.” -NCLC
Many Vermonters assume that
protections are in place to prevent such behavior from happening on our
dealer lots. The truth is that currently Vermont
offers few consumer protections when purchasing autos from car
Consumers often don’t know:
There is no statutory "3-day
right" to cancel an auto purchase.
Cars are not required to pass VT state inspection prior to sale.
In “As-Is” car sales, the dealer most often takes the position that
there is no implied warranty.
Though Vermont has a "Lemon
Law," the statute is only relevant to cars that are still under the
manufacturer's warranty and essentially defective.
to the NCLC, six states; HI, MA, MN, NJ, NY, RI, have a used car lemon
law and 7 states, AZ, CT, IL, ME, NV, NM, and PA, have a required
minimum warranty for used car sales. Other states, including
and D.C. prohibit "as-is" sales at a dealership. Our office
been able to locate any data that reflects negative outcomes in the
states where greater protections are in place.
Commerce Committee of the Vermont Legislature has been reviewing H.165,
an auto bill, supported by the Attorney General's Office. The
goal of the bill is to obtain greater rights for used car purchasers in
Vermont. The bill is currently undergoing consideration by the House
Commerce Committee. The bill offers a hopeful resolution to
longstanding issues in the Vermont auto industry.
National Highway and Traffic Safety Commission reporting that over 9
million cars were recalled
in 2012, it's
time to make sure Vermont has
protections in place to ensure safe cars are on our highways.
it stands currently, if your
vehicle is stranded and then ordered for tow by law enforcement, there
is no requirement that a tow company must notify the vehicle owner
where the vehicle is being towed or about tow and storage fees to
release the vehicle. The proposal in the bill would provide
consumers with information up front about where they can claim their
vehicle, the amount of the daily storage fees, and the methods of
payment (cash, check, etc.) that will be accepted.
Also, as the artisan's lien currently stands in Vermont, a
person, including a mechanic, can place a lien on an item as long as
costs of services are unpaid, and keep the item until those charges are
paid. The proposed changes to the artisan's lien law would
require that, for vehicle repairs that will cost over $200, the
mechanic must get the customer’s prior authorization to do the work.
Otherwise, the mechanic cannot hold onto the vehicle while waiting for
the bill to be paid.
you have comments, concerns, or input regarding the auto
legislation you should contact your legislative representative(s).
Link to the Legislature
Reference: NCLC Fueling Fair Practices
little consumer knowledge
can go a long way when purchasing a car. That is why
our intern, Judah Griffin, is developing a buying guide that
first-time car buyers. The guide will primarily target teens.
Once complete, CAP will reach out to Vermont High Schools to
present the information to students.
Need useful tips now?
There are some great resources online. CAP,
the DMV and the FTC
all have car buying information online. For more interactive
information, consumers can also refer to helpful videos like
those posted on Edmunds.com.
Company Issues recall
on 230,000 minivans
to fix rear seat mounting bracket rust problems in cold-weather states
(VT included). Check recalls on your Ford: Recall Notices
Looking for a loop-hole to get out of debt? A Vermont consumer warns that signing up with a debt consolidation
company may not be the best answer. Last year, the consumer connected with an
organization called Southeast Trust, only to receive false promises,
increased debt woes, and harassment by collectors.
long after she paid the company $1200.00 upfront that the Federal
Trade Commission filed an injunction
and reported that Southeast Trust made false claims.
any kind of refund from the company has been impossible and her
credit is ruined due to following the company's bad advice.
Her primary incentive now is to make sure that others are
aware of the risks of working with a debt management
to eliminate debt.
Her willingness to share her story to
protect others earns her the privilege of Pure Vermont
out more about Pure Vermont Now!
Vermont is about bringing consumer awareness to every door step while
celebrating the wholesome values that Vermonters are known for, such
as helping our neighbors, caring for our community, and
fair dealing in the marketplace. The most important component
the Pure Vermont initiative is you.
nominate someone to receive the prestigious Pure Vermont Award, please
fill out the
nomination form now.
Among the top 10 scams reported
to the Consumer Assistance Program in
2012, were phony invoices, the majority of which were received by
Vermont businesses. The fake invoices had many different
identities, the most common being unauthorized online yellow page
invoices claimed to represent the business' telecom service or
purported to take payments for media under copyright with the
Trademark Office. So far in 2013, it appears that the most
type of phony invoices scam demands payment for expiring website domain
Spot a fake invoice. Scammers try
to give the impression that
they are connected with a valid business and that payment is a
necessary business expense. Review the fine print, it may state that
the invoice-looking document is actually a solicitation. Be
especially suspicious of claims that the purchase of goods or services
were agreed to over the phone, because theTelephonic Home Solicitation Sales Rule
may apply. Streamline processes within your
out fake claims. Establish requirements for ordering
authorizing products/services. Ensure your payment methods include a
thorough verification process that flags any expense that is not
Don't be fooled
by misrepresented claims of significantly
discounted costs and fees
with merchant credit card processing companies. Business
consumers have reported merchant processors cold calling and
making such claims, only to find out after signing the contract that
the promises and claims are unsubstantiated.
Businesses should do their research on merchant processors
signing a contract. Check to see how long the processor has
in business. You may be able to find such information on the
Better Business Bureau website, www.bbb.org, or by checking business
filing information with the Secretary of State in the state of
operation. Ask for recommendations from other businesses that
know and trust, then ask qualifying questions, such as:
- How long have they
used this processor?
often do they use the processing product?
- Have they used
other merchant processors before and how do
- How well does it
operate/process credit cards?
- How satisfied are
they with the customer service?
- How much does it
cost? What are all the fees?
Were there any unanticipated fees, such as an equipment lease fee?
Receive a flyer that
promises free airfare? Watch
have received several similar reports. Consumers have
that the "free" tickets are not really free and are actually contingent
upon agreeing to purchase other services. Remember, if it
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Like the commonly used,
wire transfer, scammers are using "Money Pak" and "PayPower" reloads as
a way of
stealing your hard-earned cash. The scammers use the same
of scamming we have come to be familiar with, but ask you to buy a
reload instead of wiring the funds. Reloads can be found at
grocery stores and pharmacies and cash is required for payment.
Once cash is loaded onto the card, all the scammer needs is
reload number or authorization code to load the funds onto their
own prepaid card (no
identification required). Once
the money is dispersed, the original cash used to pay for the reload is
gone and irretrievable.
PayPower and GreenDot are the most
common companies that currently have the reload option.
Be on high alert if you receive a request to use a
reload as a form of payment.
Go to the Consumer Assistance Program Website: www.uvm.edu/consumer