Today, the Department of Justice’s Civil Division joins an array of other public and private partners to kick off National Consumer Protection Week.
National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign to raise awareness about information and resources that are available to consumers nationwide so they may take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. At the Department of Justice, the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, along with the Criminal Division, and the United States Attorney’s Offices, is hard at work all year long ensuring consumers are protected from those looking to cheat them or by manufacturers of unsafe products that put profit ahead of consumer safety. For example, did you know that American consumers are behind on paying about $1.01 trillion worth of debts, including payments towards mortgages, student loans, and credit cards? Debt relief scams are among the most notorious frauds to target consumers. Companies offer consumers help, but many not only fail to fulfill their promises, but fail to offer any services at all. When these scams occur, the Consumer Protection Branch and their partners take action to investigate, and when appropriate, prosecute those who commit fraud or other violations of law. Debt-relief scams are just one type of the harmful conduct that the Branch works to eliminate. Other examples of the work we do include:
- abusive and overreaching debt collection practices;
- fraud related to the financial crisis;
- health care fraud by drug and medical device manufacturers, including misbranding due to off-label promotion and providing misleading information to the FDA;
- producing food or drugs under insanitary conditions, which can lead to contaminated food or drugs;
- sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals;
- fraudulent investment schemes;
- mortgage fraud;
- telemarketing abuse;
- immigration services fraud; and
- odometer frauds, in which automobile mileages are falsified to fraudulently inflate market values and to conceal potentially unsafe vehicles.
All this week, we’ll highlight ways you can protect yourself from these and other scams. And on Friday, March 8, the Week will culminate with the Second Annual Consumer Protection Summit, organized by the Consumer Protection Working Group of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The Summit will take place at 9:30am at the Gewirz Student Center at Georgetown Law School, 120 F Street NW (near the Judiciary Square Metro). Seating is limited. RSVP by contacting Christine.Cardwell@usdoj.gov (or at 202-514-2674). For more information, visit the National Consumer Protection Week website or visit the website for the Consumer Protection Branch of the Civil Division.