(Phoenix, Ariz. - March 4, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the start of Arizona Consumer Protection Week, a campaign intended to help people become more savvy consumers, which will run March 7-13. This effort also encourages Arizonans to take full advantage of their consumer rights.
“The message of Consumer Protection Week is that it is never too early or too late to become a more informed and empowered consumer,” Goddard said. “Regardless of your age or financial situation, useful lessons can be learned about spending and managing money wisely.”
This year’s theme -- Dollars & Sense: Rated “A” for All Ages -- highlights the importance of using good consumer sense at every stage of life, from grade school to retirement. In recognition of the week, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is promoting free resources to help Arizonans protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identity theft, understand credit and mortgages, and steer clear of frauds and scams.
The Attorney General’s Office has aggressively pursued those who prey upon the public and threaten the economic well-being of Arizona residents. In the last year alone, the Office processed some 11,400 consumer complaints and has filed dozens of civil and criminal cases.
The Office has prosecuted operators of fraudulent foreclosure rescue businesses who have victimized hundreds of Arizona homeowners. Through criminal prosecutions and consumer fraud lawsuits, the Office stopped rip-off artists who charged consumers large upfront fees and claimed they could modify their mortgage terms and prevent foreclosure, yet provided no such assistance.
Additionally, the Attorney General’s office has filed several major lawsuits and settlements to stop deceptive marketing or advertising. These included a multi-state settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation with a potential value of nearly $8 billion, relating to the company’s use of deceptive mortgage lending practices, and multi-million-dollar settlements with some of the world’s biggest drug companies. Another significant case was the $175,000 Nutraceuticals settlement in which the defendants used the Internet to advertise “14-day risk free” trial offers of various “nutritional supplements”. The company failed to adequately disclose to consumers material terms and conditions that rendered the trial offers far from “risk free” and resulted in significant, unauthorized charges to consumers.
The Office also reached a $1 million price accuracy settlement with Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer. Walmart agreed to establish a rigorous price inspection and monitoring system to ensure that its customers have access to accurate and clearly posted prices.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office encourages everyone to visit the AG website and the special section set up specifically for Consumer Protection Week. Please visit http://www.azag.gov/consumer for tips about making smarter decisions in the marketplace, at school and at home.