New York State Attorney General Lists Top-10 Consumer Fraud Complaints

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Victory State Bank, Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank, is committed to keeping business owners and consumers informed about the threat of fraud.

With this in mind, we are sharing the following information from New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, which lists the top-10 consumer fraud complaints his office received in 2013.

In addition to highlighting the scams most reported by New Yorkers, the Attorney General offers tips on how to avoid them in the future.

“My office will use every legal tool at our disposal to hold fraudsters and unscrupulous businesses accountable and to protect consumers from their deceptive practices” said Schneiderman. “I encourage all New Yorkers who feel they have been victims of fraud to contact my office and take all necessary precautions to prevent scams before they start.”

In 2013, Internet-related complaints topped the list (4,753), followed by automobile-related scams and credit-related complaints that involved debt collection, credit card billing and identity theft, with 2614 and 2295 complaints respectively.

In addition, the Attorney General's Office continues to receive a large number of mortgage-related complaints (more than 1,700).

In June 2012, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), a $60 million program to fund legal service providers and housing counseling organizations serving at-risk homeowners across New York. Homeowners who need assistance can call 1-855-HOME-456 to be connected with a counselor within 24 hours.

 

The following is the 2013 list of the top-10 consumer complaints by category:

1. Internet (privacy issues; spyware; consumer frauds)

2. Automobile (buying; leasing; repair; service contracts; rentals)

3. Credit (debt collection; credit card billing;  debt settlement; payday loans; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft)

4. Consumer-Related Services (security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs; dating services) 

5. Mortgage (mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud; foreclosures)

6. Landlord/Tenant (deposit releases; tenant harassment)

7. Furniture/Major Household Appliances

8. Home Repair/Construction (home improvement services not delivered or done poorly)

9. Retail Sales (any sale of goods: food; clothing; rent to own; wholesale clubs; price gouging)

10. Mail Order (purchases made online or from a catalog)

The Attorney General also provided a list of tips all consumers should use to protect themselves and their families:

Internet: Always make sure Websites are secure before providing any financial information, such as a credit card or bank account number. Secure Website addresses start with “https” and have a symbol, such as a lock. These secure sites are encrypted to scramble your information as it is transmitted over the Internet to keep it secure.

Credit: Debt collection is the most common type of credit fraud, and consumers must know their rights. Debt collectors may not harass or abuse consumers, or provide misleading information – for instance, claiming to represent a government agency. Anyone with credit problems should contact non-profit credit counseling agencies licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services for assistance in managing the situation and avoiding collection scams.

Automobile: Many automobile complaints relate to leasing, and New Yorkers should know that they are protected by the strongest auto-leasing law in the country. The law allows consumers to shop around for the best deal when leasing a car and set limits on early termination, and even gives the Attorney General’s Office jurisdiction to resolve excess wear-and-tear disputes.

Consumer-Related Services: We rely on a range of services in our day-to-day living, from snow removal to home repair to party planning. Make sure to use a written contract for all services that clearly defines restrictions and obligations of both the consumer and service provider.

 Landlord/Tenant: Landlords are required to keeping records of all notices, inspections and repair matters related to the residence. This is especially important for issues like lead paint – which was prevalent in the 1960s and poses a significant threat to children. Ask your landlord for documentation to ensure that your building is up to code.

 Mortgage: Mortgage rescue scams prey on homeowners in their greatest time of need. Look out for offers that will stop or delay foreclosure payments for an upfront fee or make payments on your behalf. Beware of companies that suggest a government affiliation or claim to be with the government, or those that work with attorneys but do not provide the services promised. Call our toll-free Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) hotline at 1-855-HOME-456 to find a free non-profit housing counselor or legal services organization that can help you.

 Home Repair/Construction: The biggest and most important investment families will make is their home, and improvements should add value, not hardship. Before entering into a contract, shop around for estimates, check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers and neighbors for references, and know your rights: You have three days after signing a home improvement contract to cancel it. Home improvement contractors must be licensed in New York City, Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties.

 Retail Sales: Retail gift cards have become increasingly popular. However, consumers should be careful to buy only from retailers they know and trust. If you buy a card from a company that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business, the card may be worth less than what you paid. Consumers should also read the rules on the card to know what fees and conditions apply. New rules now provide that money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased, or from the last date any additional money was added to the card. Inactivity fees can be charged only if the card has not been used for at least one year.

Mail Order: Whether ordering online or from a catalog, make sure the company has an operating customer service line and lists a real street address. Companies operating on a “fly-by-night” basis often have no working customer service number and list only a post office box.

 Telecommunications: Consumers should check their landline and wireless phone bills for unauthorized third party charges for non-call-related services like email, Website hosting, discount buying programs or voicemail services. “Cramming,” as this practice is called, can occur when companies trick consumers into allowing such charges through sweepstakes entries, surveys, Websites, and contests. Some businesses use misleading and deceptive ads promising "free" services or products to get your name and telephone number and then charge you for a service you don't need or want. If you see unauthorized charges on your bill, tell your telephone company that you dispute the charges and ask that they be removed.

Attorney General Schneiderman reminded New Yorkers that in addition to being vigilant consumers, they should also report instances of fraud to his office. Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting the Office’s Website or calling 1-800-771-7755.

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.

Media Inquiries:

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718 682 1509

http://www.RelevantPR.com

Mobile: 917-715-8761

 

Victory State Bank Echoes FDIC Tips

For Stopping Unwanted Solicitations

 

Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank explains how

to remove your name from marketing lists

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Some people want to be on marketers' mailing and telephone lists for new offers, but if you don't, Victory State Bank suggests you follow these tips from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC):

  • You can reduce the number of offers for credit cards, insurance and other financial products that you receive by calling toll-free 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) to remove your name from marketing lists that the nation's major credit bureaus provide to creditors and insurers.
  • You can cut back on mailings and phone calls from national advertisers by taking advantage of services offered by the Direct Marketing Association. For more information, write to DMA Consumer Affairs, 1111 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, or go to www.dmaconsumers.org on the Internet. To be removed from marketing lists at local businesses, contact them directly.
  • Don't give out personal details (such as your income or buying habits) to people or businesses who ask for it unless you know and approve of how that information will be used. Example: The information you provide when you enter drawings at stores, fill out warranty cards for new products or respond to surveys on the Internet often gets sold or rented to other marketers.

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.

Media Inquiries:

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718 682 1509

http://www.RelevantPR.com

Mobile: 917-715-8761

 

 

Victory State Bank Shines Light on New York City’s

Free Business Guidance

 

Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank points to education opportunities

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- If you’ve got a business idea without a business plan, or you’re in need of a new strategy for your business, Victory State Bank suggests you learn about NYC Business Solutions.

The program, a resource of the New York City Mayor’s office, can help you – for free.

NYC Business Solutions provides free business courses and workshops in all five boroughs.

You can learn how to develop your business plan and receive guidance on the right strategy for your business.

You can take a course on computer-based bookkeeping, how to master marketing, what it takes to get certified to sell to the government, how to navigate the government, and much more.

For additional information, log onto: http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/about/about.shtml.

 

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.

Media Inquiries:

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718 682 1509

http://www.RelevantPR.com

Mobile: 917-715-8761

 

Use Caution When Buying Through an Online Auction

Victory State Bank shares Internet-safety advice

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Before participating in an Internet auction, make sure you are proceeding safely, urges Victory State Bank.

The bank suggests business owners and consumers learn how to protect themselves from Internet auction fraud by following these tips from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center:

 

  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
  • Examine the feedback on the seller.
  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.
  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.
  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.
  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.

 

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.

Media Inquiries:

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718 682 1509

http://www.RelevantPR.com

Mobile: 917-715-8761

 

5 Tips For Thwarting A Government Imposter Scam

 

Staten Island’s only community-based business bank warns of government imposter scams

 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Fraudsters want your hard-earned money, and they will use every trick available to accomplish their mission.

Sometimes, scammers will pretend to be government officials to get you to send them money. Victory State Bank is urging our friends and neighbors to be alert when it comes to any solicitations regarding an exchange of money.

According the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), thieves may try to temp you by promising lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. Regardless of the tactics, the goal of scammers is the same: To get you to send them money.

With this in mind, Victory State Bank is echoing the warning of the FTC: Don’t part with your money.

Federal government agencies and federal employees don’t ask people to send money for prizes or unpaid loans.

Nor are they permitted to ask you to wire money or add money to a prepaid debit card to pay for anything.

The FTC suggests the following five tips for beating a government imposter scam:

 

  • DON’T WIRE MONEY

 

Scammers often pressure people into wiring money, or strongly suggest that people put money on a prepaid debit card and send it to them. Why? It’s like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back.

Never deposit a “winnings” check and wire money back, either. The check is a fake, no matter how good it looks, and you will owe the bank any money you withdraw.

And don’t share your account information, or send a check or money order using an overnight delivery or courier service. Con artists recommend these services so they can get your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.

 

  • DON’T PAY FOR A PRIZE

 

If you enter and win a legitimate sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay insurance, taxes, or shipping charges to collect your prize. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize. And companies, including Lloyd’s of London, don’t insure delivery of sweepstakes winnings.

If you didn’t enter a sweepstakes or lottery, then you can’t have won.

Remember that it’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or over the phone.

 

  • DON’T GIVE THE CALLER FINANCIALOR OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION\

 

Never give out or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you know who you're dealing with. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft — charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.

If you get a call about a debt that may be legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact the company you owe money to about the calls.

 

  • DON’T TRUST A NAME OR NUMBER

 

Con artists use official-sounding names to make you trust them. It’s illegal for any promoter to lie about an affiliation with — or an endorsement by — a government agency or any other well-known organization. No matter how convincing their story — or their stationery — they're lying.

No legitimate government official will ask you to send money to collect a prize, and they won’t call to collect your debt.

To make their call seem legitimate, scammers also use Internet technology to disguise their area code. So even though it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

 

  • PUT YOUR NUMBER ON THE NATIONAL DO NOT CALL REGISTRY

 

Ok, so this won’t stop scammers from calling. But it should make you skeptical of calls you get from out of the blue. 

Most legitimate sales people generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Putting your number on the list helps to “screen” your calls for legitimacy and reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you get. Register your phone number at donotcall.gov.

More information about government imposter scams may be found online at FTC.gov.

 

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.

Media Inquiries:

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718 682 1509

http://www.RelevantPR.com

Mobile: 917-715-8761