Attorney Generalís office shares consumer safety tips at
Caledonia Town Board meeting

   The New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomoís office serves as the peopleís lawyer and is the legal guardian of the rights of New Yorkís citizens. The message the attorney general is bringing to communities throughout the state is that consumers need to be educated and aware of the laws in place to protect individuals from fraud, scams and to ensure their well being.

   Representing the attorney generalís office, Marthe Ngwashi, presented important consumer education information to the Caledonia Town Board at the July 9, 2009 meeting. The office handles many kinds of consumer complaints and offers a variety of programs to help individuals avoid becoming a victim and what to do if you think you had been a victim of fraud.

   Ngwashi said reports of home improvement contractor fraud rise sharply during the summer months when homeowners are more likely to perform home maintenance. She suggests that homeowners become familiar with the suggested guidelines for hiring a reputable contractor. The attorney generalís office provides materials to help consumers with this process.

   Telephone scams are on the rise as well, she reported. Consumers should never disclose personal information about themselves over the telephone, such as social security numbers, home address or credit card information. She also warned against making purchases through telephone marketing offers.

   Ngwashi said that identity theft threatens all New Yorkers due to digital information storing on computers and servers. Thieves can use your personal information to make purchases, establish credit, to apply for loans or even to seek employment. The attorney generalís office provides valuable information on how to protect personal information.

   Internet safety continues to be a top concern of thousand of New Yorkers. Children are most vulnerable to online predators but it affects adults also. Every day Internet users are prey to fraud, scams, sexual predators, pornography and more. Consumers should become educated in basic online safety precautions.

   Ngwashi also explained that the attorney generalís office has effective reporting procedures in place where consumers can file a complaint if they believe they have become a victim of a scam or fraud. She said Cuomoís thorough investigation of such complaints has led to uncovering and terminating several misleading or illegal practices. For example, a major nationwide investigation into deceptive student loan practices resulted in the Student Lending Accountability, Transparency and Enforcement Act. New York is the first state in the nation to pass such legislation.

   In light of the recent actions at the state legislature in Albany, many New Yorkers may be interested to know that the attorney generalís office has an online program called Project Sunlight that gives visitors access to the workings of their elected officials, state government workings and how tax dollars are being used.

   Ngwashi and other staff are prepared to speak to audiences in the region about consumer safety. They can bring a presentation to clubs, organizations, church groups, schools, etc. on the following topics: consumer frauds, home improvement contractors, identity theft, Internet safety, new and used car Lemon Law, Project Sunlight, smarts seniors and student loans.

   For more information you may call the NYS Office of the Attorney General Consumer Helpline at 1-800-771-7755 or log on to www.oag.state.ny.us

   The remainder of the board agenda included routine old and new business. Highway Superintendent Mark Schroeder gave a progress report to the board on the River Road construction work. Caledonia Town highway department is working on the project through a cooperative agreement with the county highway department. Work will continue on River Road throughout the summer and early fall, reducing travel to 35 miles per hour in the work zone.

   Pam Rychlicki updated the board on the progress of the Caledonia Farm Market, which will open for the first time on Sunday, July 26 at 9 a.m. on Main Street on the Caledonia Library lawn. Parking is available on the street, behind the library and in Caledonia Commons.

   The board approved a land use agreement with Caledonia Trailblazers snowmobile club. They also approved a resolution to join the Village of Caledonia in an application for a court assistance grant, which provides funding for local court related expenses such as furniture, security features, etc.

Community outreach representative, Marthe Ngwashi, from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomoís office, delivers a consumer education message to the Caledonia Town Board. Ngwashi is visiting towns throughout a seven county region, on the services available through the attorney generalís office.