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These were the top 10 scams in NY for 2019 – News – The Evening Tribune

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Scammers’ most damaging weapon was using the internet to steal money and personal information from customers in 2019, according to the complaints submitted to the state Attorney General’s Office.

The office collects complaints of fraud from residents and business owners throughout the state to keep track of scam trends and get law enforcement involved when necessary.

Here are 10 most common scams customers wrote formal complaints about in 2019.

1. Internet scams

Those include issues with service providers, data privacy and security, data breaches and fraud through internet manipulation.

This would include phishing emails, which appear to be from a legitimate source and coax the receiver to provide sensitive information.

Last year, DiBella’s Subs, which operates 47 stores across the U.S., announced that its computer systems were affected by a sophisticated data breach, potentially exposing information from up to 305,000 payment cards.

What you can do: Customers should be wary of pop-up computer messages asking them to call immediately about a computer virus, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

If you know you’ve given scammers access to your computer, run antivirus software and consider reformatting your computer. Apply security updates as soon as possible and change your passwords often.

The office received 4,436 complaints in this category in 2019.

2. Consumer scams

Scams could involve security systems, technology repairs, immigration services and consignment shops.

What you should know: Potential fraud between two businesses often comes in the form of business services.

Food truck and restaurant owners from across the country complained to the Attorney General’s Office about M Design Vehicles, a Rochester-based food truck builder that often didn’t follow through on its contracts to construct food trucks, leaving customers out tens of thousands of dollars.

The complaints, collected by Democrat and Chronicle reporters through a Freedom of Information Law request, bolstered an investigation into M Design’s practices.

The office received 2,659 complaints of this type in 2019.

3. Automobiles

This includes buying, leasing and repairing vehicles, as well as service contracts and rental agreements.

Many residents are not familiar with the fine print in leasing or sale agreements, which gives untoward dealers an opportunity to bilk customers into paying out extra cash.

What you can do: Do not sign agreements that don’t have the numbers filled in, and check over your agreement to make sure there are no extra accessories or warranties present that you did not agree to or ask for. Ask for a copy of every document you sign.

There were 2,510 complaints of this type in 2019.

4. Landlord and tenant disputes

These include security deposit releases and tenant harassment.

Tenants in New York were granted a number of protections as part of new rent legislation last year.

What you should know: Landlords can only charge a maximum of $20 for a credit and background check before a lease is signed, and may only charge up to one month of rent for a security deposit or “advance payment.”

There are also additional protections for late fees and eviction.

There were 1,910 complaints about scams involving landlords and rent in 2019.

5. Utility companies and services

This includes issues with wireless and residential phones, energy suppliers, and cable and satellite providers.

A man in Geneseo was sent a mobile phone bill of over $4,000 after his information was stolen and used to buy several iPhones and phone lines on his AT&T mobile phone account.

Others through New York state have found that they’re paying double on their utility bills, sometimes attributable to energy service companies, or ESCOs, that may convince customers to sign up for unnecessary services at exorbitant costs.

What you can do: Before accepting service through an ESCO, consumers should ask how their rates compare to the rates provided directly from utility companies, the Attorney General’s Office advised.

The office received 1,811 complaints about utility scams in 2019.

6. Credit and debt services

These scams could include debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies and identity theft.

Scammers posing as utility or financial agencies may call residents in attempts to steal credit card information.

What you can do: A good rule of thumb is to never give out sensitive financial information over the phone, no matter how convincing a caller may sound.

Debt collection scams often promise to alleviate or diminish debt quickly and easily, or may charge an up-front fee, which is illegal.

Customers can also sign up for a credit freeze through one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That allows you to restrict access to your credit report.

The office received 1,206 complaints of this type in 2019.

7. Retail sales

This could include any sale of goods, food, or clothing, plus rent-to-own services and online orders. Ticket websites may offer expensive seats for highly anticipated events that turn out to be stolen tickets or seats that don’t exist at all.

What you can do: Before entering into a rental purchase agreement, be sure to read and understand all terms and ask questions, including: How much are the monthly payments? What other monthly fees apply? What is the total dollar cost to own the item? Who pays for repairs? Is there a penalty for paying off the item early?

There were 1,091 complaints came in about scams of this type in 2019.

8. Home repair and construction

These include home improvement services that were not delivered or were done poorly.

What you can do: Consumer protection bureaus regularly urge customers to check customer reviews and Better Business Bureau pages before paying a contractor to seal their driveways, renovate their bathrooms or clear ice from their roofs.

The office received 901 complaints about these scams in 2019.

9. Mail order and online catalogs

These include purchases made via mail order or online catalog or marketplace.

Negative option marketing is a popular form of sales online, where online merchants treat a consumer’s failure to reject an offer or cancel an agreement as their approval to be charged for goods or services on a recurring basis, according to the Attorney General’s office.

What you can do: Read all terms and conditions before you make a purchase, know when your “free” or “trial” period ends and monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized or recurring charges.

The office received 593 complaints about these scams in 2019.

10. Mortgage services

These include mortgage modifications, mortgage and loan broker fraud and foreclosures.

What you should know: Individuals and companies may claim that they will make homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments in exchange for temporarily holding the deed to the home, allowing the homeowner to remain in the home as a renter until he/she can resume making monthly mortgage payments, according to the Office.

This may be a scam to steal the deed and attempt to evict the homeowner.

The office received 493 complaints about these scams in 2019.

What you can do next: Residents and customers can submit complaints of scams or fraud to the Attorney General’s Office at ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint.

They will be asked to fill out contact information, and provide both a description of the alleged scam or fraudulent activity as well as documents related to the case.

Customers can also call the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection’s customer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.

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California’s vague new financial regulation law

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California Capitol. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

In summary

California has a new financial regulation law but its reach is vague and awaits more definition.

Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

Although the new state law is said to mirror the Dodd-Frank law, it contains at least one significant difference. When federal regulators levy fines for what they consider to be bad conduct, the money goes into the federal treasury. When state regulators impose their fines of up to $1 million a day, the money will be retained by the new agency to finance more activity.

Will that give the new agency a financial incentive to skip over minor consumer issues and go after big companies? It’s a question that only time will answer.

Significantly too, the new investigative and regulatory mechanism contained in AB 1864 specifically does not usurp the authority of the attorney general to also target companies under the state’s equally vague “unfair competition” law.

From its inception a decade ago, Dodd-Frank has attracted criticism from business executives for regulatory overkill. Will California’s new version be less controversial? We won’t know until the new agency puts some definitional meat on its bones.



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California’s vague new financial regulation law – Whittier Daily News

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Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

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397 people register to vote on deadline day at Duval Supervisor of Elections – 104.5 WOKV

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Monday, Oct. 5 at midnight, is the deadline to register to vote in Duval County.

But the Supervisor of Elections helped hundreds of people get registered today.

Robert Phillips, the chief elections officer of the Duval Supervisor of Elections, told Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole that 397 people came down to the Supervisor of Elections in downtown Jacksonville to get registered.

Supervisor of Elections staff assembled tents outside to allow people to register to vote without having to go through the COVID-19 prescreening necessary to enter the building.

“Again, 2020 has thrown us some challenges,” Phillips said.

There was even a little rain thrown into the mix today, but it didn’t stop folks from coming out.

“Out here, we have a lot of activity. We’ve been going since first thing this morning,” Phillips told Action News Jax.

There were people of all ages from all walks of life — some even registered for the very first time like Lemark Jamison.

Monday, Oct. 5, is a day he will always remember.

“It feels awesome, you know? It feels awesome,” Jamison told Cole.

Today, Jamison had the opportunity to register to vote for the first time in Florida.

“I’ve worked for voter registration companies. I’ve done advocating for Amendment 4, but I was never able to vote because of my prior background. But now I can,” Jamison said.

Jamison, the owner of a tax and credit repair business, told Cole his prior felony conviction held him back in the past.

In November 2018, more than 60% of Floridians voted to restore voting rights to more than 1 million people who completed their sentences.

But several months later, legislation was passed that required them to pay all financial penalties, which means thousands lost the right as quickly as they gained it.

“I’ve been contributing to society. I’ve been able to have several businesses. And I pay taxes. But I haven’t been able to, when it comes to voting, whether in a local level or any type of legislature — I haven’t been able to vote,” Jamison said.

The 35-year-old told Cole even though his wife helped him fill out his voter registration form — to which he exclaimed, “Thank God for wives, right?” — he told Cole it was pretty easy.

Now, he has this advice to share with other people who may be in his shoes:

“Get out and vote. Take advantage of this opportunity, regardless of who you plan on voting for.”

Here’s a breakdown from the Supervisor of Elections of how the 397 people registered today:

-56% registered as Democrats.

-21% registered as Republicans.

-22% registered as nonparty affiliates.



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