The Oregon Department of Justice is joining government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups nationwide to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 3-9, 2013.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has put consumer protection at the top of her agenda. Under her leadership, the Department of Justice is fighting for foreclosure reform and is cracking down on internet scammers and abusive bill collectors.
“I’ve been a consumer protection activist since I worked as a summer intern for OSPIRG in 1973,” Rosenblum said. “National Consumer Protection Week is a good time to remember how far we have come since then. It’s also a fitting time to realize how far we have to go on issues like foreclosure, abusive telemarketers and debt collectors.”
The Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection section of the Department of Justice are the cops on the beat when it comes to watching out for consumers. The 34 employees of the section receive more than 40,000 phone calls and 12,000 written consumer complaints every year. They opened 115 formal investigations in 2012 and typically are working 220 open investigations at any one time.
The section successfully collected $3.7 million worth of restitution for consumers last year. The section also gained another $15.8 million in settlements and judgments against various mortgage companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other companies.
The Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection section is entirely self-funded, receiving no general fund money from the state.
To help lead her consumer protection efforts, Rosenblum in November hired Ellen Klem as the department’s consumer outreach and education director. Klem, herself a lawyer, formerly worked for the American Bar Association, leading policy development and advocacy for low-income seniors.
“The Department of Justice has been doing amazing work,” Klem said. “One of my roles is to help people learn not only about the department, but also how to get the information they need to be savvy consumers.”
In one of a series of events to commemorate National Consumer Protection Week, the Department of Justice will participate in a community outreach event sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service March 5-6. The event will take place 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Portland Main Post Office, 715 NW Hoyt St.
Also this week, the Oregon Department of Justice will:
- Distribute a new brochure titled, “Top Ten Consumer Tips to Protect You and Your Family.” The brochure was created in the hope that it will become a quick-reference guide to help Oregonians make wise consumer decisions and protect themselves, their family, their money, and their personal information. The brochure is available online at the Oregon Department of Justice’s newly created vanity URL, oregonconsumer.gov.
- Tweet about a variety of consumer protection issues, including emerging frauds and scams through the Department’s Scam Alert Network Twitter account, @oregonscamalert. Get immediate information and hear about events as they happen by following the Oregon Scam Alert online at https://twitter.com/oregonscamalert.
Jeff D. Manning, email@example.com, 503-378-6002