Archive for the ‘Consumer Alerts’ Category

Westinghouse Portable Generators Recalled by MWE Investments Due to Fire Hazard

Description:

This recall involves Westinghouse iGen2500 and iPro2500 portable inverter generators used to power appliances, cell phones or other electronic devices. The iGen2500 has a bright blue plastic cover and has “Westinghouse iGen2500” printed in white lettering on the side and on the front of the generator. The Westinghouse iPro2500 has a plastic gray cover. “Westinghouse iPro2500” is printed in white lettering on the side and front of the generator. The number of watts is also printed on the side. It reads 2200 Running Watts and 2500 Peak Watts. The generators measure about 20 inches long by 18 wide inches by 11 inches tall. They weigh about 49 pounds.

Remedy:

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled generators and contact MWE Investments to arrange for a free repair.

Incidents/Injuries:

The firm has received four reports of the recalled generators overheating and catching on fire. No injuries have been reported.

Sold Exclusively At:

Online at Amazon.com, apelectricgenerators.com, Climate Right.com, Homedepot.com, Houzz.com, Menards.com, PowerEquipmentDirect.com, and Walmart.com from June 2017 through October 2017 for between $580 and $600.

Source: Westinghouse Portable Generators Recalled by MWE Investments Due to Fire Hazard

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Consumers impacted by scams utilizing Western Union may now seek compensation from $586M fund

Attorney General Mills encourages fraud victims to file claims

PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
November 13, 2017
CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

AUGUSTA – Mainers who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program. This fund is related to a multi-state settlement with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and Western Union that was first announced in January.

Mainers who reported to the Maine Office of the Attorney General that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union will receive a claim form in the mail in the coming weeks, which will contain instructions explaining how to file a claim for compensation. If you do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe you may have an eligible claim, visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.

“I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to make these fraud-induced payments to file for reimbursement from this fund,” said Attorney General Mills. “I realize some may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed, please take this opportunity to get some of your money back. If you ever wire money, keep in mind that it’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a money transfer. Scammers love using money transfer services because once you send the money, it’s gone forever. So, if a telemarketer asks you to wire money, already you know they’re a crook.”

In order to receive restitution under the settlement claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018. Attorney General Mills encourages consumers to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division if they have questions or concerns at consumer.mediation@maine.gov , (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

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Original story

SCAM ALERT: Senate Aging Committee Warns to Beware of Scams Targeting Veterans

Need Help? Call the Senate Aging Committee’s Toll Free Fraud Hotline:  1-855-303-9470

Washington, D.C.—Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor the sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans and their families. Yet, there are scam artists who target these men and women as potential victims and who try to capitalize on patriotism to rob all Americans of their hard-earned money.

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), have made fighting fraud against older Americans a top priority.

This Veterans Day, they are warning the public of various scams that specifically target veterans.  Some of these schemes include benefit scams, imposter scams, or charity scams that use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting donors into giving money to fraudsters.

“Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank those who served in our nation’s armed forces” said Senator Collins. “Despite our deep gratitude for their service and sacrifice, the unfortunate reality is there are criminals and scammers who will always exploit others to make a quick buck. We must keep working to ensure the public is aware of these scams, which can either target our nation’s heroes or prey on those who want to support them.”

“On Veterans Day, and every day, it is important that we honor the extraordinary sacrifice of those who put their life on the line to serve, defend and protect our country and fellow citizens,” Senator Casey said. “It is our duty to ensure that our veterans, their families and caregivers do not become victims to scam artists who seek to defraud them of their hard-earned benefits. I will continue working to stop unscrupulous people who try to profit in the name of patriotism.”

Charity scams that target people’s sense of giving and patriotism are particularly prevalent around Veterans Day.  Criminals posing as charitable organizations and claiming to benefit veterans and their families will often use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting Americans.

Donors who want to give money to a legitimate veteran’s organization this Veterans Day should make sure to look into the charity and make a direct payment rather than making a payment through a wire transfer or gift cards.

Benefit scams, or pension advances, will try to charge veterans who are seeking to claim benefits they rightfully earned through the Veterans Administration (VA).  Advisers, who are approved by the VA to help veterans file a pension or other claims, are never allowed to charge for their services.  In addition, imposter scams involve someone claiming to be from the VA seeking personal information.  If you are contacted by someone, either by phone or email, claiming to represent the VA and requesting payment for services or wanting to confirm your personal information, disregard the solicitation and contact the VA directly for assistance.

Other scams can involve phony sales or rentals on the Internet offering veterans or military discounts.  Always be suspicious of anyone requesting upfront payments via wire transfer or gift cards.

Americans who suspect fraud can contact experienced investigators at the Senate Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline.

If you have questions or believe you are the victim of a scam, call 1-855-303-9470.

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Mainers Encouraged to Document and Report Wind Storm 2017 Damage

PRESS RELEASE

November 3, 2017
Maine Emergency Management Agency

 

AUGUSTA, MAINE — As the state-wide response and recovery effort continues in Maine following a devastating wind storm that caused power outages to nearly a half million electricity customers as well as tree damage, flooding and property damage, many are asking how to report those damages.

Individuals

  • Report damages to 2-1-1 Maine. This information will be used to assess damages and will be provided to the individual’s town to enable them to learn who has storm-related damages. Callers will be asked a series of questions. By reporting this damage, callers are not applying for assistance, and should continue to pursue the steps and resources below.
  • Callers should keep their documentation of the damage and cost of items damaged or spoiled as well as receipts for any repairs in a safe place (receipts, photos and other documents).
  • File a claim with homeowner’s or auto insurance.
  • Those who cannot afford to fix damage from the storm should contact their municipal General Assistance Officer for assistance that may be available under 22 M.R.S.A. � 430.
  • Check with local food pantries if you lost food.
  • Community Action Programs may be able to provide some assistance to those who meet certain income guidelines.
  • Current SNAP benefit recipients may be able to obtain a voucher to replace lost food. Contact the Office of Family Independence at 855-797-4357.
  • Individuals can also contact 2-1-1 Maine for referrals for assistance.

Farmers

  • Farmers who experience losses and need assistance should contact USDA Farm Service Agency at 207-990-9140.

Businesses

  • Businesses should report losses to their local Economic Development Corporation.

For additional preparedness, shelter, resource and safety information, please visit MainePrepares.com, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter.

Kidde Recalls Fire Extinguishers with Plastic Handles Due to Failure to Discharge and Nozzle Detachment: One Death Reported

Consumers should immediately contact Kidde to request a free replacement fire extinguisher and for instructions on returning the recalled unit, as it may not work properly in a fire emergency. Note: This recall includes fire extinguisher models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015. Kidde branded fire extinguishers included in these previously announced recalls should also be replaced. All affected model numbers are listed in the charts above. Recall information for fire extinguishers used in RVs and motor vehicles can be found on NHTSA’s website.

 

Source: Kidde Recalls Fire Extinguishers with Plastic Handles Due to Failure to Discharge and Nozzle Detachment: One Death Reported

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills warns public about new phone scam

Callers claiming to alert recipient of grant award from DHHS

AUGUSTA – Attorney General Janet Mills is warning the public of a new phone scam in which the caller tells the recipient that they have received an award from Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. The call recipient is then asked to pay $200 for an access code to get the award.

AG Mills stated that one individual received a phone call claiming that the consumer had awarded a grant of money from the Department of Health and Human Services. The caller asked the individual to pay $200 for an access code to receive the grant.

“If you receive a similar call, don’t be fooled,” said Mills. “The government will not call you to ask for your credit card information over the phone.”

Recently, many Mainers have encountered similar scams via Facebook messenger, where someone they “know” has heard of some grant and wants to share their good fortune with you. Often, the person you know is a spoofed profile of your friend, and it is a scam.

Sometimes the scammer poses as a government official. The scammer may even have an account with a name and photo that matches that of a real office or public official. The scammer tells the potential victim that they have qualified for a free monetary grant from the government that does not have to be paid back. All the victim has to do is pay a small processing fee and the larger sum of money will be released. No matter how much money is sent to the scammers, no grants are ever released.

“Scammers are always coming up with new ways to convince you to part with your hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Mills. “If any one tells you that you can have something for nothing – they are lying to you. No governmental agency conducts business or financial transactions via Facebook or instant messenger and they will never demand that you wire money or make a payment by a prepaid money service or any card you can buy in a convenience store. If you receive one of these offers, ignore it, delete it or block the sender. If you send them any money, you will never see it again.”

If you receive a message like this, you should report it to the service provider (for instance if you are using Facebook, report it to Facebook), as they may be able to shut down the suspect account.

Consumers can contact the Maine Attorney General’s Office with questions or concerns about these kinds of scams or other issues they have had with a business. They are encouraged to contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division State House Station 6 Augusta, ME 04333-0006 Consumer.mediation@maine.gov Tel: 1-800-436-2131

The Office of the Attorney General also offers tips on how to avoid scams at http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/scams.shtml.

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Buyer Beware: In the Wake of Harvey and Irma How to Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Vehicle – Consumer Federation of America

Press RELEASE
Contact: Jack Gillis, 202-737-0766

September 11, 2017

With Harvey and Irma Flooding Millions of Vehicles, There’s a Good Chance Unscrupulous Sellers Will Try and Sell These Potentially Dangerous Vehicles

Washington, D.C. – With over 13 million vehicles in the path of Harvey and Irma, flood damaged vehicles could run in the millions. “While, hopefully, these vehicles will have their titles marked flood damaged and go to salvage yards, many will likely re-enter the market as used cars,” said Jack Gillis, the Consumer Federation of America’s Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.  Because of the computerization, electronics and sophisticated safety technology in today’s vehicles, it’s critical that you avoid getting stuck with one of these lemons.  “Looks can be deceiving—with a nice clean up, these water infested vehicles, may actually look pretty good—which means knowing how to identify a flooded vehicle is critical. When it comes to buying a car, three out of four of us buy used. So there’s a big incentive for disreputable sellers to move flood damaged vehicles north hoping to sell them to unsuspecting buyers,” said Gillis.

Here are some important tips for avoiding a flood damaged vehicle:

1.     Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) which is located on the driver’s side dashboard, visible through the windshield, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) or CarFax (both currently offering free flood history information). Even if the database has no flood information, beware, as fraudsters have ways of getting around VIN registration information or it simply wasn’t reported.

2.     Use your nose.  Beware if the vehicle smells musty or damp or if you smell some kind of air freshener.  Close up the windows and run the air conditioner and check for a moldy smell.

3.     Look for dirt, mud and water stains.  Check the carpets, seat upholstery, cloth lining inside the roof, if you see any dirt or mud stains, beware. Feel under the dashboard for dirt or moisture and look in the glove boxes, ashtray, and various other compartments for moisture or stains. If you see straight stain line either on the inside of the door panel, engine compartment or trunk—watch out, that’s probably how high the water went in the vehicle.  Tip: If the carpeting, seat coverings or headliner seem too new for the vehicle, that’s a sign that they may have been replaced due to flood damage.

4.     Listen for crunch.  Pull the seats forward and back and try all of the safety belts. If you’re looking at an SUV with folding seats, try folding them all.  Listen for the ‘crunchy’ sound of sand or dirt in the mechanisms or less than smooth operation.

5.     Check the spare tire (or inflator) area. Look for mud, sand or stains on the spare tire and jack equipment and the well under the spare tire. Check under the trunk carpet for a rigid board and look to see if it is stained or has water damage.

6.     Power up.  Be sure to try all the power options including windows, locks, seats, moon roof, automatic doors, wipers, window washers, lights, AC system, etc.  If any don’t work, sound funny, or operate erratically, beware. And don’t forget the sound system.  Try out the radio, CD player and Bluetooth connectivity. Adjust the speakers front and back and side to side to listen for any crackling or speaker failure.

7.     Check for rust or corrosion.  Look around the doors, in the wheel wells, under the seats, under the hood and trunk and inside the engine compartment.

8.     Look under the hood.  Look at the air filter.  It’s often easy to check and will show signs of water damage.  Check the oil and transmission fluid.  If it looks milky or has beads of water, watch out.

9.     Take a test drive and listen for unusual engine or transmission sounds or erratic shifting and acceleration. Set the cruise control to see if it is working properly.

10.     Check out the head and tail lights; look closely to see if there is any water or fogging inside.  Same with the dashboard—are any of the gauges foggy or containing moisture droplets.

The Consumer Federation of America is a nonprofit association of more than 250 consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

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