VIRGINIA CONSUMER GUIDE Virginia Attorney General Robert F McDonnell Office by guy26

VIEWS: 131 PAGES: 36

									 VIRGINIA
CONSUMER
  GUIDE




     Virginia Attorney General
           Robert F. McDonnell



        Office of the Attorney General
                  900 East Main Street
             Richmond, Virginia 23219
                 mail@oag.state.va.us
                        www.vaag.com
            TOP 10 TIPS TO AVOID CONSUMER FRAUD

•   If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

•   Never give your credit card number, checking and savings account number, social security
    number or other personal information over the telephone or Internet unless you initiated the
    contact and are familiar with the company.

•   Be suspicious of any e-mail or call asking for personal, financial information or notifying you
    that you have won a sweepstakes or lottery. It is very likely a scam aimed at separating you
    from your money or an attempt at identity theft.

•   Check out a business or charity before doing business with them or making a contribution.

•   Take your time - avoid high-pressure sales and offers that are good “today only.”

•   Ask about the seller’s refund policy and return policy before you make your purchase.

•   Get all guarantees and promises in writing and read warranties.

•   Carefully review all contract terms before signing. Never sign a contract you don’t understand.
    Be sure the contract accurately describes the goods and/or services and includes precise
    dates for delivery, installation and completion. Ask if you can take a copy of the contract
    home to review. Make sure there are no blank spaces in the contract. If there are, do not
    sign it.

•   Immediately report any suspicious call, letter or e-mail to your local consumer protection
    authorities. (Contact information begins on page 25.)

•   Be suspicious of an Internet company or mail-order company that provides only a toll free
    phone number or uses only a post office box as its address. The post office box might be just
    a mail drop. If you have a complaint later, you may have trouble locating the company.
                 C OMMONWEALTH of V IRGINIA
                            Office of the Attorney General
                                  Richmond 23219

Dear Fellow Virginians:

As Attorney General of Virginia, one of my duties is to serve as Consumer Counsel for the
citizens of the Commonwealth. My Office works every day to fight consumer fraud and to
protect Virginians from those who prey on unsuspecting victims. Through our enforcement
efforts, we have successfully stopped illegal conduct and obtained redress for many victims
of consumer fraud. In addition, we are working constantly to increase consumer awareness
of fraudulent conduct and the protections state and federal law provide to consumers. We
believe the best way to prevent consumer fraud is to educate consumers about the dangers
the uninformed may face in the marketplace. To that end, we have published this Virginia
Consumer Guide.

This Guide provides information about the many ways consumers can be defrauded, offers
assistance for consumers who find themselves involved in a potentially fraudulent transaction,
presents tips for spotting consumer fraud and taking advantage of available privacy protections,
and includes references to the governmental agencies that are available to address consumer
complaints and a sample consumer complaint letter.

The Virginia Consumer Guide was designed to help you find the best help for your consumer
complaint. You also may contact this Office directly if you would like more information or if
you have specific questions about resolving a particular consumer complaint. Consumer fraud
will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth. Working together, we can reduce consumer fraud
for all Virginians.

Sincerely,




Bob McDonnell
Attorney General
                    TABLE OF CONTENTS

BE A SMART CONSUMER                      1

SAMPLE COMPLAINT LETTER                  4

CONSUMER TRANSACTIONS                    4

AUTOMOBILE REPAIR                        6

BUSINESS/WORK-AT-HOME OPPORTUNITIES      7

CHARITIES                                8

COUNTERFEIT CHECKS                      10

FOREIGN LOTTERIES                       10

HOME IMPROVEMENT                        11

IDENTITY THEFT                          13

INTERNET SAFETY                         14

INVESTING YOUR MONEY                    17

LEMON LAW                               18

NIGERIAN AND SIMILAR SCAMS              19

PAYDAY LENDERS                          19

PYRAMID PROMOTIONAL SCHEMES             20

PRIZES AND GIFTS/SWEEPSTAKES            21

TELEMARKETING                           24

CONTACTS FOR STATE & FEDERAL AGENCIES   25
                 BE A SMART CONSUMER

BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY PURCHASE, ALWAYS:

 Check out the company and the product before buying – know where the company is
 located before doing business with them. Check with the Attorney General’s Office,
 Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau (contact information
 at end of this Guide).

 Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics and offers that are “good today only.” If you feel
 uncomfortable, hang up the phone or walk away from the sale.

 Look at the total price before deciding on your purchase.

 Take your time and compare prices and services – avoid impulse buying.

 Ask about the seller’s refund policy.

 Carefully consider exactly what you want, what options interest you, and what features
 will best suit your needs and wants. Compare features on different brands and do some
 research online or in consumer publications.

 Check your contract for your cancellation rights and always keep sales receipts, warranties,
 service contracts and instructions.

 When buying an appliance, look for energy guide labels. Federal law requires them on
 many home appliances. The more energy- efficient appliances may cost more initially,
 but can save operational money over the years.


                            WARRANTIES:
 For most appliances, the warranty that comes with the appliance will provide ample
 protection. Before buying an extended service contract, determine whether it provides
 anything more than the original warranty, and decide whether any additional warranty
 coverage is cost-effective.

 Carefully read all terms in the warranty so you can determine exactly how much
 responsibility the manufacturer will assume if there is a problem. Note the time period of
 the warranty, the parts that are covered and whether labor costs are included.

 Read and follow product and service instructions. Misuse of a product may affect your
 warranty rights.



                                                                                                1
            Consider if the warranty will still be in effect when the product is most likely to break
            down. If all parts are not covered, determine what it will cost if you have to replace a
            part. And remember, if labor costs are not included, you might be stuck with a large bill
            for even a minor repair.


          WHAT TO DO IF SOMETHING
               GOES WRONG

            First, contact the seller to discuss your problem and make sure you’re prepared - have
            copies of all relevant documents at hand and make notes beforehand so you will not
            leave out something important. Many companies and manufacturers print their toll-
            free telephone numbers on the packaging. You may also find contact information on
            their website.

            Have a reasonable attitude, explain the problem and state exactly what you want: a
            refund, a credit, replacement or repair.

            Keep a log, documenting your efforts to resolve the problem. Note the names of
            everyone with whom you speak, date, time of day and outcome of the conversations.
            Record the date the seller promised to get back to you so you can take additional
            action if you have not heard from them by that date.

            As long as someone in authority is willing to speak with you, it is not necessary to send
            a letter. Many complaints are resolved in this manner; however, you should put your
            complaint in writing if you paid by credit card. You must follow strict time
            limitations when requesting a chargeback from a credit card company. The
            procedures to follow are on the back of your credit card statement. Send a
            copy of your credit card company letter to the merchant.

                   WRITING A COMPLAINT LETTER
    If you cannot resolve your complaint by speaking with the company, write a letter directly to
    the business (see sample letter on page 4). Find out to whose attention your letter should be
    addressed, since writing to the owner or president may only mean further delay if the business
    has complaint procedures in place.

    Your letter or e-mail should be brief and should accurately and in chronological order describe
    the problem and state what you want: refund, credit, replacement or repair. Identify the item,
    model number, date of transaction, etc. Type the letter if possible. Always provide the company
    with your name, address and telephone number.

    Send copies (never originals) of all pertinent receipts and other documents.

    Describe what you’ve already done to resolve the problem.
2
Keep an accurate record of your efforts to resolve the problem and keep a copy of your
correspondence for your files.

If the seller fails to satisfactorily resolve your complaint, contact the state or federal government
agency that has jurisdiction over the business. (see listing at the end of this Guide.)

If you suspect that you have been the victim of criminal activity, contact your local
Commonwealth’s Attorney (listed in your local telephone directory).

If you believe your problem may require the services of an attorney, the Virginia Lawyer
Referral Service is available to help you find an attorney in your community who is skilled in
handling your type of problem. If you are referred to an attorney, you will be entitled to an
initial consultation of up to 30 minutes for a small fee. For more information, contact the Virginia
Lawyer Referral Service at their Richmond number: (804) 775-0808 or by calling their statewide
toll free number: (800) 552-7977. Their web site is: http://www.vsb.org/vlrs.html.

In some instances, depending on your income level, the size of your family and the type of
legal issue you are facing, you may qualify for legal aid. For more information, contact your
local Legal Aid office (listed in your local telephone directory).




                                                                                                        3
                                SAMPLE COMPLAINT LETTER

    [Your Name]
    [Your Address]
    [Your City, State, Zip Code]
    [Your Daytime and Evening Phone Numbers]

    [Date]

    [Contact Person (if available)]
    [Title (if available)]
    [Company Name]
    [Company Address]
    [Company City, State, Zip Code]

    Dear [Contact Person]:

    On [date], I [bought/leased/rented] a [product and model number] at [location]. Unfortunately,
    I have not been satisfied with your product because [state problem]. To resolve this problem, I
    would like your company to [state specific action you want taken]. Enclosed are copies of my
    records. I look forward to your prompt reply and a resolution to my problem. You may contact
    me at the address listed above, by telephone or by e-mail at [home and/or work number with
    area code(s) and/or e-mail address].

    Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in this matter.

    Sincerely,
    [Your Signature]

    [Your Name]

    Enclosure(s) [Include copies of all related records; do not send originals]




                                         CONSUMER TRANSACTIONS


    The Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-196 through 59.1-207, prohibits
    misrepresentation, deception and fraudulent acts or practices by businesses. The law applies
    generally to the “advertisement, sale, lease, license or offering for sale, lease or license of goods
    or services to be used primarily for personal, family or household purposes.” Two state agencies
    have primary authority for the investigation and prosecution of violations of the Virginia Consumer
    Protection Act: the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General.
4
                         Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs

The Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) provides protection to consumers against
fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices. By investigating violations of the Virginia Consumer
Protection Act and other consumer laws, the OCA strives to reduce the incidence of economic
crime while assisting in the resolution of consumer complaints. And, following the philosophy that
“the best protection is an informed consumer,” the OCA works to help improve the ability of
consumers to make informed decisions.

The OCA is comprised of three units:

Regulatory Programs - handles all registrations and related surety management for health spas,
charitable solicitations, credit repair facilities, extended service contract providers, membership
campgrounds, travel clubs and legal services plans.

Investigations - handles the investigation of suspected violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection
Act and other related consumer laws. This unit works closely with the Office of the Attorney
General and local Commonwealth’s Attorneys to stop illegal activities, and to pursue civil and
criminal prosecutions.

Counseling, Intake and Dispute Resolution - handles complaints related to the advertisement,
sale, lease or license of goods and services that are intended for personal, family or home use.

The OCA does not handle complaints resulting from private transactions between individuals
where no business is involved, or from transactions involving products or services intended for
business or commercial use (i.e., business v. business complaints). Call (804) 786-2042 or
(800) 552-9963 (toll free within VA) or visit their website at www.vdacs.virginia.gov.


                            Office of the Attorney General

The Antitrust and Consumer Litigation Section of the Office of the Attorney General has the
responsibility of enforcing statutes that protect Virginia consumers from fraud, deception and
misrepresentation. Moreover, the Antitrust and Consumer Litigation Section enforces antitrust
laws that protect businesses and consumers from behavior that defeats healthy competition.
These laws are based on the concept that fair and vigorous competition ultimately results in the
greatest efficiency, lowest prices and finest goods and services for all Virginians. Call (804) 786-
2116 or 1-800- 451-1525, or visit our website at www.vaag.com/consumer.




                                                                                                         5
                                AUTOMOBILE REPAIR
    The Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-196 through 59.1-207, and the
    Automobile Repair Facilities Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-207.1 through 59.1-207.6, prohibit
    deceptive practices in automobile repair. The best way to avoid automobile repair rip-offs is to
    be prepared. Select a reputable automobile repair facility, ask questions and know your consumer
    rights.

    If you have a problem, contact the automobile repair facility where you had the work done. Most
    disputes can be settled quickly. However, if the facility refuses to correct the problem or answer
    your questions about the bill, contact the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs at (800) 552-9963
    or (804) 786-2042, your local Better Business Bureau (in your telephone directory) and/or a
    private attorney.


              TIPS TO AVOID
           AUTOMOBILE REPAIR
            CONSUMER FRAUD
    •   Be specific in describing what’s wrong and tell the mechanic about any previous repairs for
        similar trouble. Although you might not fully understand the technical terms, listen to the
        diagnosis carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something you do not understand.

    •   When choosing a repair facility or mechanic, ask for recommendations from people you
        trust. Look for a facility before you need one to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision.

    •   Before you have any work done, ask how the facility prices its work. Some charge a flat rate
        for labor on repairs; others charge on the basis of the actual time the mechanic worked on
        the repair. Make them confirm any specific work and/or estimates before proceeding with
        repairs.

    •   If you need expensive or complicated repairs, believe the mechanic has recommended
        unnecessary work, have unanswered questions about recommended work, or are dissatisfied
        with the estimate provided, consider getting a second opinion.

    •   Find out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work performed
        elsewhere. Many automobile repair facilities charge for diagnostic time.

    •   Request a written estimate. Under Virginia law, no repair facility is permitted to charge the
        customer more than 10% above the written estimate without first obtaining his or her consent.

    •    Also, the repair facility must offer to return to you the old parts that were replaced (unless
        those parts are required to be returned to the manufacturer or distributor). If the old parts
        are required to be returned to the manufacturer, the consumer still has the right to inspect
        them.

6
                                    BUSINESS/WORK-AT-HOME
                                        OPPORTUNITIES


We’ve all seen Internet ads, infomercials or television ads promising “big money” business
opportunities or work-at-home schemes.

An infomercial may resemble a real television program and may imitate the format of genuine talk
show or investigative consumer news programs. Some infomercials or ads invite you to attend a
seminar where you can learn more about how to start a home-based business. More than likely,
the seminar is a sales pitch. Lured by the promises of easy success, it is tempting to invest in
programs, materials or services without giving them enough thought. Later you may find that the
program or business opportunity was essentially worthless and that all you have are empty
promises.

While some work-at-home plans are legitimate, many are not. Many ads do not say you may
have to work many hours without pay, or that there may be hidden costs. Countless work-at-
home schemes require you to spend your own money to place newspaper ads, make photocopies,
or buy the envelopes, paper, stamps and other supplies or equipment you need to do the job.
The companies behind the ads also may demand that you pay for instructions or materials.

Typical work-at-home opportunities include envelope-stuffing and craft work. Envelope-stuffing
opportunities usually advertise that, for a “small fee,” you can earn money stuffing envelopes at
home. For your fee you are likely to receive a letter advising you to place the same “envelope-
stuffing” advertisement in newspapers or magazines, or to send the advertisement to friends and
relatives. The only way you will earn money is if people respond to your work-at-home
advertisement. Craft work opportunities often require you to invest hundreds of dollars in
equipment or supplies. You also may be required to spend many hours producing goods for a
company that has promised to buy them.




                                                                                                    7
                    TIPS TO AVOID BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
                              CONSUMER FRAUD

    •   Be skeptical of “get-rich-quick” advertising claims.

    •   Ask companies for written substantiation of their claims, especially those about success
        rates. Be suspicious of any company that refuses to show you in writing how it computed its
        earnings claims.

    •   Be aware that “experts” who endorse a product often are paid by the advertiser.

    •   Be wary of purchasing a program if company representatives give you evasive answers or
        are not willing to answer your questions.

    •   Before you buy, decide whether the price reflects a fair market value. You may wish to
        consult with a lawyer, accountant or business advisor to evaluate the business. The money
        you spend on professional advice could save you from making a bad business decision.

    •   Be wary of promises of free money or low-interest government loans. As a general rule,
        these are available only in limited circumstances.

    •   Do not be pressured to purchase immediately. Good opportunities are not sold through high-
        pressure tactics.

    •   Before you buy, ask about the company’s qualifying requirements and refund policies.

    •   Listen carefully to the sales presentation. Be sure all of the seller’s promises are in the contract
        or sales documents.




                                           CHARITIES
    The Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law, Va. Code Ann. §§ 57-48 through 57-69, requires
    any organization soliciting in Virginia to file with the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA).
    However, churches, certain political parties, political campaign committees and anyone who
    solicits on behalf of a registered or exempt charitable organization do not have to register with
    OCA. Registration does not imply endorsement of a public solicitation for contributions. Before
    contributing, it is always advisable to determine if the group has filed with OCA and to review
    financial information on the organization to determine how they intend to spend your contribution.


8
                          TIPS FOR AVOIDING CHARITABLE
                                SOLICITATION FRAUD


•   Avoid letting door-to-door solicitors into your home. Always ask to see identification. Also,
    contact the charity and verify that the solicitor is authorized to collect on their behalf.

•   Don’t judge a charity by its name. Watch out for names that closely resemble names of other
    groups. Be particularly cautious of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas
    involving patriotism and current events.

•   If you are unfamiliar with the charitable organization, research it first. You may contact the
    OCA to verify their registration. Remember that just because a “charity” has a tax identification
    number does not mean that it is a charitable organization or that your contribution is tax-
    deductible.

•   Avoid cash donations. Also, be sure you make checks payable to the charitable organization
    itself and not the individual collecting a donation.

•   For charitable solicitations that are mailed to you, read the information carefully—especially
    the fine print.

•   If the solicitation is for a “charitable organization sweepstakes,” be aware that “winners” in
    some sweepstakes may receive only a few cents and that the charitable organization cannot
    require you to contribute before responding to a sweepstakes offer. Be particularly wary of
    guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation. By law, you never have to
    donate something to be eligible to win.

•   Refuse to commit yourself over the telephone. Request a copy of the organization’s annual
    report. Legitimate charitable organizations will gladly send you written information when
    requested. Financial statement information also is available from the OCA.

•   Just because you are contacted by an organization with “police,” “sheriff” or “firefighter” in
    the name, the organization may not officially be connected with any public safety agency.
    Most police and fire departments are funded by your tax dollars. However, you may be
    asked to contribute to their professional associations or labor unions.

•   While there are many legitimate organizations that provide relief to disaster victims, there
    also are many that collect funds for non-existent charities and pocket the money. Only give
    to those disaster relief funds that you know are reliable.




                                                                                                        9
                                COUNTERFEIT CHECKS
     The types of consumer scams now using counterfeit cashier’s checks or other supposedly authentic
     instruments are growing as fast as is the number of potential victims. Today’s sophisticated home
     computers and printers have the ability to produce genuine-looking cashiers’ and certified checks.

     Under federal law, banks must make funds available to customers from cashier’s checks and
     certified checks at the opening of the business day after you have deposited the check. However,
     just because the funds appear in your account doesn’t mean the check is good. It may
     take several days for the bank to discover that a check is fraudulent. Often, by the time
     the bank notifies the customer, he or she has sent much or all of the funds to the con artist who
     forged the check.

     Most scams begin with an offer that seems too good to be true, such as:

     •   You list an automobile on the Internet for $5,000 and immediately receive an offer for $8,000
         because the potential buyer has been “looking for that exact vehicle.” You soon receive a
         cashier’s check in the mail in the amount of $10,000. A story is attached explaining why they
         have sent such a large amount and the “buyer” instructs you to deposit the check in your
         bank account and wire him the $2,000. The check will prove to be bogus. The “buyer” has
         no interest in your vehicle and you’re out $2,000.

     •   You’re asked to help gauge the effectiveness of a money transfer service and will be paid big
         bucks for your trouble. You receive a certified check for $5,000 and are asked to deposit it
         in your bank account, and then withdraw the amount in cash. Your instructions ask you to
         then wire the money to an address in a foreign country to “see if the transfer works.” Again,
         by the time your bank discovers the check is fraudulent, the money is gone and you’re left
         holding the bag.


     In each case, you’re promised “big money” if you will only deposit the check and send some
     amount to an unknown person, usually in a foreign country such as Canaca. While these offers
     may be tempting and appear legitimate on the surface, look for clues that the transaction may be
     bogus. The con artist will usually insist on immediate action and request that you keep the deal
     secret, even from your spouse.

     The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a bogus check is to arm yourself with the latest
     information on frauds and scams involving counterfeit instruments.


                                  FOREIGN LOTTERIES

     The first thing to know about foreign lotteries is that United States law prohibits the cross-
     border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. However, if you’ve ever
     bought a foreign lottery ticket, you will receive more solicitations for lotteries or foreign investments
     in your mail. Why? Because fraudulent marketers buy and sell lists of people who have already

10
fallen for scams. You may also receive solicitations that refer to secret systems to make you a
winner. You should toss them first, then, ask yourself two key questions: If there were a secret
system, why would a stranger want to share it with you?Why are you hearing about it for the first
time through the mail?If you have a complaint about Canadian sweepstakes and lotteries, contact
your local police or sheriff’s office and ask them to make a request for assistance from the
appropriate Canadian law enforcement agency. If the sweepstakes or lottery offer was initiated
through a telemarketing call, your complaint can be filed with PhoneBusters: Box 686 North
Bay, Ontario P1B 8J8, (888) 495-8501, info@phonebusters.com, www.phonebusters.com/
english/index.html. PhoneBusters is operated by the Ontario Provincial Police. They educate the
public about specific fraudulent telemarketing pitches as well as collect and disseminate evidence
for outside investigations.



           HOME IMPROVEMENT
For many Virginians, their home is their most valuable financial asset. Home improvement scams
ensnare many unwary consumers, especially during tough economic times. Bogus and substandard
services and products for the home are among the leading causes of consumer complaints
nationwide. Seniors are especially vulnerable to this form of consumer fraud. Because they often
are particular targets for high-pressure sales techniques, seniors are more likely to be conned
into making unneeded and expensive repairs to their homes.

Whether you are planning an addition or simply getting new storm windows, finding a competent
and reliable contractor is the first step to a successful and satisfying home improvement project.

                              How to Select a Contractor:

•   Ask for a written breakdown of the total price for materials and total price for labor. When
    comparing contractors’ labor charges, it is important to know how many workers (including
    subcontractors) will be on the job. Make sure all workers are bonded and/or insured.

•   Make certain you understand exactly what the contractor will be doing and what he/she will
    not be doing. Do not assume anything.

•   Ask about the quality of the materials to be used. Find out if substitutions can be made to suit
    your budget and long-term needs.

•   Find out how long the job will take. Make sure that this information is included in the contract.

•   Find out if you will be charged by the job, by the hour or day, or by cost of the materials plus
    a certain percentage. A contractor bases the estimate on the amount of time it usually takes to
    do the job. If you are paying by the job, you pay a fixed cost, no matter how long the job
    takes. If a contractor charges by the hour or day, you should be given an estimate of how
    long the work will take. You pay only for the number of hours or days it takes to complete the
    work. If the contractor happens to be working on a “per-day” or hourly basis, the contract
    should specify a cap on the total cost of the labor (e.g., “not to exceed” a predetermined
    amount).
                                                                                                        11
         TIPS TO AVOID HOME IMPROVEMENT CONSUMER FRAUD

     •    Be suspicious of contractors who seek you out. Don’t believe a contractor who tells you he/
          she has materials “left over from a job down the street” and he/she can pave your driveway
          or replace your roof for a “really low price.”

     •    Find out what work the project requires. Knowing this will help you speak knowledgeably
          with other contractors you are considering for the job and allow you to compare them on an
          equal basis.

     •    Determine what repairs or improvements you would like to have done and how much money
          you can spend. If you know in advance exactly what you want, need and can afford, you will
          be less likely to fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics.

     •    Ask for recommendations from friends and relatives who have had work done on their
          homes. Don’t depend solely on radio and television claims or advertisements in the newspaper
          or telephone book.

     •    Shop around. Get at least three estimates, especially on big jobs. Make sure you give all of
          the contractors who bid on the job the same specifications. Otherwise, you will not be able
          to compare their price quotes. For smaller, basic jobs, some contractors quote prices over
          the telephone. For larger, more complex jobs, the contractor needs to come to your home to
          determine exactly what the job involves.

     •    Ask the contractor to explain variations in price, and do not automatically choose the lowest
          bidder.

     •    Ask for an itemized written bid that details what will be done, the total price, including
          materials, any warranties and a starting and finishing date. Do not do business without a
          written contract. Be sure that all promises, guarantees and details are in writing.

     •    Do not pay large sums in advance. Pay by check or credit card (never in cash). A deposit
          of one-third of the total price is standard procedure. Never make final payment until all work
          is completed to your satisfaction.

     •    Remember that reliability and quality are as important as price, so ask your contractor for the
          names of customers in the area for whom he/she has done similar work and give them a call.
          Since some con artists give fake references, ask the reference as many questions as possible.

     •    Deal only with licensed home improvement contractors.

     •    Ask the contractor for her/his license number and verify that information with the Virginia
          Board for Contractors (804) 367-2785. Verify a contractor’s licensing and complaint history
          with the Board for Contractors, the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) and your local Better
          Business Bureau.


12
                                 IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft occurs when a con artist falsely obtains your personal information and uses it for
fraudulent purposes. Armed with only a little information about a person, a con artist can often
obtain a surprising amount of additional data. Identity theft can cause financial harm and destroy
a consumer’s credit reputation. You can protect yourself by limiting who has access to your
personal information

Advances in computer technology have made it possible for detailed personal information to be
compiled and shared more easily and cheaply. It is easier for law enforcement to track down
criminals, for banks to prevent fraud and for consumers to learn about new products and services,
allowing them to make better-informed purchasing decisions. However, as personal information
becomes more accessible, it is imperative that consumers take precautions to protect themselves
against the misuse of that information.

Never disclose to a stranger, especially over the telephone or Internet:

•   Your credit card number and/or expiration date, unless you initiate the transaction with a
    company you know is reputable. Otherwise, someone can use your credit card number to
    charge your account for unwanted purchases.

•   Your checking account number and other numbers printed on your checks, which could be
    used to withdraw money from your checking account without your authorization.

•   Your telephone calling card number, which could be used by others to charge calls to your
    account.

•   Your social security number, which could be used to track down information about you from
    other sources or to establish a false identity. While a company can ask for it and even refuse
    you service if you do not provide it, it is still wise not to give your number unless it is legally
    required.

•   Your driver’s license number, which could allow someone to obtain identifying information
    about you, including physical description.

•   Health information, such as your insurance (including membership or medical assistance
    number), medical and mental health history and doctor’s name, which could be used to
    obtain health care and health services fraudulently.




                                                                                                          13
                     WHAT TO DO IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE A
                         VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT
                   First, contact your local police or sheriff’s office and file a criminal complaint.

     Next, you should contact the three credit bureaus to notify them that you believe you are a victim
     of an identity crime and to request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report:
                                  Equifax - (888) 766-0008
                                Experian – (888) 397-3742
                               Trans Union – (800) 680-7289
     Please feel free to contact the Attorney General’s Office (804) 786-2071 or your local
     Commonwealth’s Attorney (number listed in your telephone directory) for assistance in prosecuting
     Identity Theft cases.

     If you fall victim to identity theft while using the Internet, you should file a report with the Internet
     Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/complaint). This is a partnership between the FBI
     and the National White Collar Crime Center. Its mission is to receive, develop and refer criminal
     complaints regarding the rapidly expanding area of cybercrime.

     The Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to assisting all Virginians to avoid becoming victims
     of an identity crime and providing them with the necessary knowledge should they become a
     victim of identity theft. In that effort, we have published a booklet, “How To Avoid Identity
     Theft – A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft” that includes helpful advice to avoid falling
     victim to identity theft as well as providing victims with information on the specific steps they can
     take when they become a victim of identity theft. You may read and download it at www.vaag.com/
     FAQs/IDTheftBook02.pdf, or you may order a copy by calling (804) 786-2071.

     The Identity Theft Affidavit is available to you if you are involved in a dispute regarding fraudulent
     debts and accounts opened by an identity thief. Rather than completing several different forms,
     you can use the Identity Theft Affidavit to alert businesses to the fraudulent accounts opened in
     your name. The company can then investigate the fraud and decide the outcome of your claim.
     The Identity Theft Affidavit is located at the back of the booklet, “How to Avoid Identity Theft
     – A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft”.

     The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also actively involved in fighting identity theft. You may
     find it helpful to visit the U.S. Government’s I.D. Theft web site (www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/
     microsites/idtheft) for more information.


                                     INTERNET SAFETY
     While the Internet has made it easier for consumers to access all kinds of information, it also has
     made it much easier for others to access personal information about consumers. As a result,
     many consumers have begun to worry about protecting their privacy.



14
You should know that:

        Every time you sign on to the Internet using your screen name, a record of your computer
        usage is created somewhere in cyberspace. Each web site that a consumer visits records
        information about that consumer, including the consumer’s screen name and other
        information about his/her computer, computer usage and Internet service provider and
        more.

        Web sites that ask you to provide even a little information can learn even more about you
        by tying the data to your browsing habits.

        If you sign a web site “guest book,” the information can be sold to other companies.

        Your Internet service provider can gather consumer information by keeping track of e-
        mail addresses and where consumers go when they surf the Internet. Company policies
        on use and sale of that information vary.

E-mail is an easy, fast way of communicating with family, friends and business acquaintances. But
e-mail is not always private. There are many points along the electronic path your e-mail takes at
which it can be intercepted, either intentionally or unintentionally. When you send e-mail or provide
information about yourself online, your communications can be sent through normal means (i.e.,
left open for others to read) or can be encrypted (i.e., encoded so that only the intended party
can readily translate the information). One of the keys to keeping your information private is
making sure that it is secure. As a general rule, you should not give sensitive information about
yourself (such as financial or medical information) to a web site that is not secure, or send personal
information by e-mail unless it is encrypted.

Internet Auction Fraud typically occurs in one of two ways: the seller receives the agreed upon
funds for the item that was advertised and promised but fails to deliver the item, or the buyer fails
to pay for the item once it has been received.

“Phishing” occurs when an e-mail is sent from a scammer posing as a bank or some other official
entity. The e-mail may request personal information, may warn you of a problem with your
account, or ask you to click on a website link that will take you to a site that will ask for personal
information. Don’t fall for it. Call the entity who supposedly sent the e-mail to report it and
confirm that it’s fraudulent. Banks do not contact their customers by e-mail to report
problems with their accounts.




                                                                                                         15
             TIPS TO AVOID INTERNET FRAUD
     Never give personal information (e.g., your social security number, credit card number,
     bank account numbers or address) to unknown companies or email contacts. Remember
     that you do not know who is really at the other end. If you are going to do business on
     the Internet, deal with companies you know. Many major companies and online service
     providers offer safer means of doing business (e.g., encryption of your credit card number).

     Only purchase merchandise from a reputable source. Obtain a phone number and physical
     address rather than merely a post office box.

     Examine the feedback about the seller. Many online auction sites offer “feedback profiles”
     made up of comments from other users - an official “reputation.”

     Be sure to understand the contractual obligations for both the seller and buyer before
     you bid.

     Consider insuring the transaction and shipment.

     Find out what actions the web site or company takes if a problem occurs.

     Tell companies with which you do business not to sell information about you.

     Ask your Internet access provider if the company can screen bulk, unsolicited e-mail
     (“spam”). Some of the major online services offer their customers the option of screening
     out spam that is sent to their customers. While they cannot keep them all out, they can
     cut down on the amount you receive.

     If you have doubts about the authenticity of the sender and/or the content, do not respond.

     Get a free e-mail account specifically for newsgroups and registering on web sites.

     Do not post your actual e-mail address on your website; spammers have programs that
     can scan web pages for an e-mail address. Consider using a free web-based account
     such as Hotmail, Yahoo or G-mail.

     Use spam mail filters. They are not always completely accurate but they can cut back on
     the number of junk e-mails you receive.

     Watch what your children are doing. Keep your family’s computer in a public place in
     the house, rather than in your child’s bedroom. Many companies that market to children
     are targeting youngsters on the Internet. Make sure your children know they should not
     give out personal information about themselves or other family members. Several software
     packages now allow you to control your children’s Internet access.

     Instruct your children to never give out information about themselves or your family on
     the Internet without your permission, and to never agree to meet anyone they meet on
     the Internet without your knowledge.
16
                         INVESTING YOUR MONEY
Investing is risky business. Anyone who tells you an investment is likely to turn a profit quickly
should be able to back up the claim. Demand written proof of profit projections from independent
sources. Sales representatives should tell you the risk of particular investments. Be especially
wary if someone tells you profits will be big enough to offset the risk of investing. In general, any
potentially high-profit investment is high risk. Believe the risk disclosures that say you could lose
your whole investment.

                    TIPS TO AVOID INVESTMENT FRAUD

Don’t let appearances fool you. For a few dollars, anyone can incorporate an entity. Personal
computers and desktop publishing software help scam artists produce slick promotional materials.
Phone service providers can put toll-free telephone numbers in homes. Fraud promoters create
the illusion of authenticity and success by incorporating, renting office space and issuing partnership
units or stock certificates.

Scam artists may try to convince you that you will miss out on a big opportunity if you do not
send them more by overnight courier or wire transfer. Once you give your money to a scam
artist, it may be too late to get it back. Claiming that their “opportunity” is similar to those of “hot”
entrepreneurs, scam artists often use news stories about the success of legitimate companies as
bait. However, success stories of other companies in the field are irrelevant for your purposes.

Get the track record of the company you are considering investing in and the background of the
individuals promoting it. There are no “guarantees,” and materials have to inform you that “past
performance does not guarantee the f uture results.”

Legitimate companies account for investors’ money at all times. Ask for written proof of how
much of your money is going to the actual purchase or development of the opportunity and how
much is going to commissions, promoters’ profits and marketing costs. If most of your financial
investment is slated to cover expenses and costs, there will be much less available to earn a
return.

Get an independent appraisal of the specific asset, business or venture you are considering. An
appraisal offered by the party selling the investment opportunity can be bogus.

Discuss all investment ideas or plans with an accountant or a financial advisor you know and
trust.

Several government agencies and business organizations register, regulate, investigate or monitor
companies and individuals that offer investment opportunities. If you have questions about a
company or an individual, or you wish to make a complaint, contact one or more of these offices:




                                                                                                            17
     Commodity Futures Trading Commission             Federal Trade Commission
     1155 Twenty-First Street, N.W.                   Consumer Response Center
     Washington D.C. 20581                            600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
     (202) 418-5000                                   Washington, D.C. 20580
     www.cftc.gov/ask.htm                             (202) 382-4357 or (877) 382-4357
                                                      www.ftc.gov

     National Association of Securities Dealers       National Futures Association
     1735 K Street, N.W.                              200 West Madison Street
     Washington, D.C. 20006-1500                      Chicago, IL 60606
     (202) 728-8000 or (800) 289-9999                 (312) 781-1410 or (800) 621-3570
     www.nasdr.com                                    www.nfa.futures.org

     North American Securities Administrators         Securities and Exchange Commission
      Association                                     450 Fifth Street, N.W.
     10 G Street, N.E., Suite 710                     Washington, D.C. 20549
     Washington, D.C. 20002                           (202) 942-7040
     (202) 737-0900                                   www.sec.gov
     www.nasaa.org



                       LEMON LAW


     The Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-207.9 through 59.1-
     207-16:1, more commonly known as the Virginia Lemon Law, protects buyers of motor vehicles
     by enforcing all of the manufacturer’s warranties. All newly purchased vehicles, demonstrators
     or lease-purchase vehicles with which a manufacturer’s warranty was issued, and certain used
     vehicles to which a manufacturer’s warranty still applies, are covered by the Lemon Law.
     Commercial and off-road vehicles and the non-chassis portion of recreational vehicles, however,
     are not covered. The law applies during the period ending 18 months after the date of the original
     delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer who purchased the new vehicle.

     A motor vehicle may be a “lemon” if it has been subject to repair three or more times for the same
     significant problem, one or more times for a serious safety defect or has been in the repair shop
     for a total of 30 or more days within 18 months of purchase and delivery of the vehicle. It is
     generally the owner’s responsibility to report problems or defects in writing to the manufacturer.
     The manufacturer must be permitted a “reasonable number” of attempts to correct the problem.
     If the problem cannot be fixed in a “reasonable number of repair attempts,” the manufacturer can
     replace the vehicle with a comparable vehicle acceptable to the consumer, or allow the consumer
     to obtain a refund of the full purchase price. By law, manufacturers can deduct a “reasonable
     allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle” from the refund or replacement value.

     If, after repairs are made to your vehicle, you still believe the vehicle does not conform to the
     warranty but the manufacturer or dealer has indicated it does not believe you are due a refund,
     you have two options if you want to seek redress under the Lemon Law:
18
(1) you may file a lawsuit, or

(2) submit a complaint according to the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement procedure.
The address and telephone number for the manufacturer’s consumer appeals or arbitration center
should be listed in your owner’s manual. If you elect to go to court, the Lemon Law provides for
a private cause of action. If you need an attorney, the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service may be
able to assist you. For more information, contact the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at (804)
775-0808, (800) 552-7977 or www.vsb.org./vlrs.html.


                  NIGERIAN AND SIMILAR SCAMS
Many of the fraudulent letters and e-mails we all receive are often referred to as “Nigerian Scam”
letters or “419” letters after the Nigerian statute that makes them illegal. In recent years American
consumers have been defrauded out of $100 million annually by international con artists who
send the communications primarily from Nigeria and other West African countries.

This is how the typical scheme works: The e-mail or envelope arrives unexpectedly in your
mailbox. It contains a confidential business proposal from a mysterious Nigerian or other foreign
country government official who offers the reader a unique business opportunity to earn millions
of dollars. The proposal offers a commission for assistance in transferring surplus funds of millions
of dollars from Nigeria and other countries to the United States. The solicitations request the
reader to provide a bank account number to complete the transaction. “Investors” who respond
to the offer will be required to pay a never-ending assortment of legal fees, personal expenses
and government bribes until the victim is drained of all assets.

Please do not respond to these fraudulent business proposals whatsoever. If you have other
questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Office by calling (804) 786-2071
and asking for our Computer Crimes Unit.

There also is a very helpful web site called the Nigeria 419 Coalition that deals with the topic of
Nigerian scam letters. On this site there are instructions about sending the e-mail you received to
the US Secret Service Task Force. To visit, go to: http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/



                  PAYDAY LENDERS


The law that allows payday lenders to transact business in Virginia became effective on July 1,
2002. Payday lenders are licensed by the State Corporation Commission (SCC).

The Bureau of Financial Institutions is a regulatory division of the SCC. This division administers
state laws regarding banks and savings institutions, credit unions, mortgage brokers and lenders,
and other lenders, including payday lenders.




                                                                                                        19
     From the Va. Bureau of Financial Institutions Consumer Guide to Payday Lending:

                                            PAYDAY LOANS
     Payday loans can offer quick and easy access to money for consumers having temporary cash
     flow problems or are facing a financial emergency and need to borrow funds for a short length of
     time. Although these loans are convenient to obtain, consumers are strongly advised to carefully
     review the contract before they sign it to ensure that they fully understand their obligations as well
     as the fees charged for these short-term loans. Once a loan agreement is signed, the borrower
     becomes legally responsible to fulfill the obligations stated in the contract. It is also important that
     consumers are aware of the significant additional costs they can incur if they are unable to repay
     these loans when they are due.

                                   PAYDAY LOAN EXAMPLE
     The typical payday loan works as follows: A lender signs a contract with a borrower, agreeing to
     take the borrower’s personal check as collateral for a cash advance. The lender agrees to not
     deposit the check for a specified period of time, yet pays cash immediately to the borrower.
     Let’s say you want to borrow $200 until you get your next paycheck in two weeks. You write a
     check to a payday lender for $230 (15% of $200 = $30 lender’s fee + $200 loan amount =
     $230) and you get $200 cash in return. The $30 interest you pay on the loan calculates to an
     Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 391%.

                ALTERNATIVES TO A HIGH-RATE PAYDAY LOAN
         •   Ask your employer for an advance on your paycheck

         •   Ask to borrow money from a friend or relative

         •   Find out if you have, or can get, overdraft protection on your checking account

         •   Find out if you can delay paying a non-interest bill such as a utility bill and make payment
             arrangements with the utility company

         •   Ask your creditors for more time to pay your bills. Find out what they will charge for this
             service - such as a late charge

         •   Consider a short-term loan from another financial institution, or a loan repayable over
             several months

         •   Consider a cash advance on a credit card.


                   PYRAMID PROMOTIONAL SCHEMES
     Multilevel marketing plans are a way of selling goods or services through distributors. These
     plans typically promise that if you sign up as a distributor, you will receive commissions—for
     both your sales of the plan’s goods or services and those of other persons you recruit to join as
     distributors. Multilevel marketing plans usually promise to pay commissions through two or more
     levels of recruits, known as the distributor’s “downline.”
20
A multilevel marketing plan should only pay commissions for retail sales of goods or services, not
for recruiting new distributors. If a plan offers to pay commissions solely for recruiting new
distributors—as opposed to offering to pay commissions for retail sales of goods or services by
those new distributors—watch out. Under Virginia law, any multilevel marketing plan that “utilize[s]
a pyramid or chain process by which a participant gives a valuable consideration for the opportunity
to receive compensation or things of value in return for inducing other persons to become
participants in the program” is illegal. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-239. Plans that pay commissions
for recruiting new distributors are illegal, and inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be
recruited.

       TIPS TO AVOID PYRAMID PROMOTIONAL SCHEMES

•   Avoid any plan that includes commissions for recruiting additional distributors. It may be an
    illegal pyramid.

•   Beware of plans that ask new distributors to purchase expensive inventory. These plans can
    collapse quickly.

•   Be cautious of plans that claim you will make money through continued growth of your
    “downline” (the commissions on product sales made by new distributors you recruit) rather
    than through sales of products you make yourself.

•   Beware of plans that claim to sell miracle products or promise enormous earnings. Just
    because a promoter of a plan makes a claim does not mean it is true. Ask the promoter of the
    plan to substantiate claims with hard evidence.

•   Beware of “shills” (decoy references paid by a plan’s promoter to describe their fictitious
    success in earning money through the plan).

•   Do not pay or sign any contracts in an “opportunity meeting” or any other high-pressure
    situation. Insist on taking your time to think over a decision to join. Talk it over with your
    family, friends, attorney, accountant or financial advisor.

•   Do your homework! Check with the Office of Consumer Affairs and/or your local Better
    Business Bureau for complaint information about any plan you are considering—especially
    when the claims about the product or your potential earnings seem too good to be true.


                PRIZES AND GIFTS/SWEEPSTAKES
Under the Virginia Prizes and Gifts Act, Va. Code Ann. §§ 59.1-415 through 59.1-423, if you
are told that you have won a prize or gift, you do not have to submit to a sales pitch or pay any
money in order to receive your prize or gift.

The only aim of fraudulent sweepstakes mailings and telephone calls is to get you to order products
or, in the case of fraudulent prize promotions, pay a “processing fee” or make a call to a (900) or
other toll number. Too often consumers buy products they do not need or pay excessive fees to
                                                                                                       21
     sweepstakes. Some consumers even lose their life savings because they become addicted to
     entering sweepstakes and ordering merchandise in the mistaken belief that it will increase their
     chances of winning. They cannot stop because they do not want to lose what they have “invested.”
     They continue to receive mailings and telephone calls that suggest they are close to winning. In
     reality, their chances of winning a legitimate sweepstakes are very small, and there are many
     fraudulent sweepstakes that either do not award any prizes or award prizes that turn out to be
     almost worthless.

     Remember these important points:

             You must be given your prize or gift within 10 days, without any obligation.

             If you receive a notice that you are eligible to win a prize, Virginia law requires that you
             be informed of the prize’s actual retail value. Your prize notification also is required to
             clearly and conspicuously state the odds of winning each prize, the exact number of
             prizes to be awarded and what conditions must be met for you to receive the prize.

             Shipping charges for the gift or prize cannot exceed the cost of postage or delivery
             service, and the handling charges cannot exceed the lesser of the cost of handling or $5.

             A company offering or awarding a gift or prize may not say that a person has been
             specially selected unless the selection process is designed to reach a particular type of
             person.

             The mailing of promotional material which resembles a check or an invoice (unless its
             true purpose or value is clearly disclosed) is prohibited.

             Every solicitation that seeks to induce its recipient to call a pay-per call service telephone
             number to receive any information about a prize, gift, or item of value must disclose the
             total cost of the pay-per-call service immediately adjacent to the pay-per-call telephone
             number.

             Don’t let the offer of a prize determine your purchasing decisions. Many consumers are
             lured in by promises of a prize and then persuaded to make an impulsive purchase. The
             only way to get a good deal is to do some smart comparative shopping for the product
             you need, not the product that catches your eye because it comes with a “free gift.”
             Consumers who respond to these gimmicks may end up spending a lot of money only to
             find out there is no prize, or the “prize” is of little (or no) value.

             Once you pay money in an attempt to get one prize, your name becomes part of a
             mailing list that is sold to other prize operations that also will try to get some of your
             money for an illusory chance to win something of value. Keep in mind that the purpose of
             the “prize” is to lure you into spending money. These operations are not interested in
             giving you anything without getting something in return.




22
   EXAMPLE OF A FRAUDULENT SWEEPSTAKES LETTER AND CHECK:



XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries

ATTENTION:
CLASS :

XXX SWEEPSTAKES AWARD
REF: 000-0000
Re: AWARD FINAL NOTICE

Congratulations! XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries is pleased to inform you that you are our First Prize
Winner! Your name was drawn in the prize sweepstakes lottery program, which was held on January
1, 2007 in Reno, Nevada. Our head office is located in North America. Your name was attached to
ticket 0-010-446-5598X with the reference number 123-4567. Being the First Prize Winner, you have
won a total amount of $500,000 dollars.

XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries tried to contact you by telephone but was unable to reach you. The
purpose of this letter is to explain how you can claim your cash prize. Enclosed is a check for $8,750.
XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries sent this check so that you may be able to pay the necessary insurance
fees. An amount of 10% will be deducted from your cash prize to repay the fees. Before cashing the
check, you must call to confirm that you have received the letter and the enclosed check. If we do not
hear from you within two weeks of receiving this letter, your file will be closed.

Congratulations again. For more information, please contact our office at: (123) 456-7890.

Sincerely,

John Doe
Accounting Manager

XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries
Main Street
Anytown, ME 11111
Fax/Tel: 123-456-7890




                                                                                                 0123
XXX Sweepstakes & Lotteries                                                                 XXX Bank
Main Street                                                                         Headquarters Office
Anytown, MI 11111                                                                Sacramento, CA 22222


PAY TO THE                                                                                  01/01/2007
ORDER OF:
                            John Doe                                                  $   500,000.00
Five Hundred Thousand and no/100------------------                                           DOLLARS

                                                           __________________________________________
00:01:234:567:89:0123                                                 Authorized Signature




                                                                                                          23
                                     TELEMARKETING
     Every day, Virginians receive telemarketing calls selling a variety of goods and services. While
     some consumers find such calls are a convenient way to make a purchase, other consumers do
     not want to receive such calls. You have the right to choose not to receive such calls from most
     telemarketers and the right to ask individual businesses not to call you.

     One of the most important developments in telephone privacy law is the National Do Not Call
     Registry, which is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The National Do Not
     Call Registry serves as the Do Not Call Registry for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

     The Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act (VTPPA), Va Code Ann. §§ 59.1-510 to 59.1-
     518, prohibits telemarketers that are subject to the law (e.g., businesses offering to sell goods or
     services) from calling a telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To comply with
     this law, telemarketers are required to compare their call lists to the Registry and remove registered
     telephone numbers at least once every 31 days.

     Signing up for the Do Not Call Registry is free and can be accomplished by either:

             Calling the FTC’s toll free number: (888) 382-1222 from the number you wish to
             register

             Filling out a form on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry website at
            www.donotcall.gov.

     Your number will remain on the Registry for five years unless you choose to take it off or your
     number is disconnected. To keep your number on the Registry, you will need to re-register at
     least once every five years.

     Other protections provided by the VTPPA:

             It prohibits sales calls to telephone numbers when someone at that number has stated
             that he or she does not wish to receive solicitation calls by or on behalf of the business for
             which the call is being made. If you make such a request, the business is prohibited from
             calling you for at least 10 years.

             It prohibits sales calls to telephone numbers when someone at that number has stated
             that he or she does not wish to receive solicitation calls by or on behalf of the business for
             which the call is being made. If you make such a request, the business is prohibited from
             calling you for at least 10 years.

             It prohibits sales calls from being made before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m.

             Telemarketers are required to identify themselves by first and last name and the name of
             the business on whose behalf they are calling.



24
        Businesses also are required to transmit to caller ID units their telephone number and,
        if possible, the name of the business or telephone solicitor that is making the sales
        pitch.

        Solicitors are expressly prohibited from intentionally blocking their information from
        consumers’ caller ID units.

If you decide that you wish to receive telemarketing calls, you still should exercise caution in
making purchasing decisions over the telephone. Although most telephone sales pitches are
made on behalf of legitimate organizations offering bona fide products and services, there are
many unscrupulous companies involved in telemarketing fraud. Fraudulent telemarketers use
phony prizes, cheap products and high-pressure sales tactics to defraud consumers. Alarmingly,
seniors are much more likely to become victims of telemarketing fraud. Fraudulent telemarketers
try to take advantage of seniors on the theory that they may be more trusting and polite toward
strangers. Older women living alone are particularly targeted. State laws that help combat
these types of fraudulent transactions include the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.


          CONTACTS FOR FILING COMPLAINTS
                    (Listed in order of complaint category)

   Advertising                                       Automobile Inspection

   Office of Consumer Affairs                        Virginia State Police
   P.O. Box 1163                                     7700 Midlothian Turnpike
   Richmond, VA 23218                                Richmond, VA 23235
   (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963                  (804) 674-6774
   www.vdacs.virginia.gov/consumers/                 www.vsp.state.va.us/Safety.shtm
   index.shtml
                                                     Automobile Leasing/Purchasing/
   Attorneys, Complaints Against                     Repairs

   Virginia State Bar                                Office of Consumer Affairs
   707 East Main Street, Suite 1500                  P.O. Box 1163
   Richmond, VA 23219-2800                           Richmond, VA 23218
   (804) 775-0570 or 1-866-548-0873                  (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
   www.vsb.org/inquiry                               www.vdacs.virginia.gov

   Attorneys, Referral to                            Banks, Federally-Chartered

   Virginia Lawyer Referral Service                  Office of the Comptroller of the
   (804) 775-0808                                    Currency
   (800) 552-7977                                    Customer Assistance Group
   www.vsb.org/vlrs.html                             1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
                                                     Houston, TX 77010
                                                     (800) 613-6743
                                                     www.occ.treas.gov/customer.htm
                                                                                                   25
     Banks, State-Chartered                  Collection Agencies

     State Corporation Commission            Federal Trade Commission
     Bureau of Financial Institutions        Consumer Response Center
     P.O. Box 640                            CRC-240
     Richmond, VA 23218-0640                 Washington, DC 20580
     (804) 371-9657 or (800) 552-7945        (877) 382-4357
     www.scc.virginia.gov/division/banking   www.ftc.gov

     Business versus Business Complaints     Companies (Doing Business in
                                             Virginia)
     Council of Better Business Bureaus
     4200 Wilson Blvd, Suite 800             Office of Consumer Affairs
     Arlington, VA 22203-1838                P.O. Box 1163
     www.bbb.org                             Richmond, VA 23218
                                             (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     Cable Television                        www.vdacs.virginia.gov

     Rates & Service Complaints              Contractors
     Contact your local government agency
                                             Department of Professional and
     Campgrounds                             Occupational Regulation
                                             Board for Contractors
     See Membership Campgrounds              9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400
                                             Richmond, VA 23233
     Cemeteries                              (804) 367-8504
                                             www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/
     Department of Professional and          con_main.cfm
     Occupational Regulation
     Cemetery Board                          Cramming
     9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400
     Richmond, VA 23233                      State Corporation Commission
     (804) 367-8504                          Division of Communications
     www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/          P.O. Box 1197
     cem_main.cfm                            Richmond, VA 23218
                                             (804) 371-9420 or (800) 552-7945
     Charitable Contributions/               www.scc.virginia.gov/division/puc
     Organizations/
     Solicitations                           Federal Communications Commission
                                             Common Carrier Bureau
     Office of Consumer Affairs              Consumer Complaints
     P.O. Box 1163                           Mail Stop 1600-A2
     Richmond, VA 23218                      Washington, DC 20554
     (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963        www.fcc.gov/ccb
     www.vdacs.virginia.gov



26
Credit Cards/Credit Card Fraud/        Funeral Directors and Embalmers
Credit Services
                                       State Board of Funeral Directors and
Office of Consumer Affairs             Embalmers
P.O. Box 1163                          6603 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23218                     Richmond, VA 23230-1712
(804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963       (804) 662-9956
www.vdacs.virginia.gov                 www.dhp.virginia.gov/Enforcement/
                                       complaints.htm
Credit Union, Federally-Chartered
                                       Health Professionals
National Credit Union Administration
1775 Duke Street, Suite 4206           Department of Health Professions
Alexandria, VA 22314-3428              6603 West Broad Street
1-800-755-1030                         Richmond, VA 23230-1712
www.ncua.gov/ConsumerInformation/      (804) 662-9934
index.htm                              www.dhp.virginia.gov/Enforcement/
                                       complaints.htm
Criminal Matters
                                       Department of Health
Local Commonwealth’s Attorney          P.O. Box 2248
                                       Richmond, VA 23218-2248
Discrimination                         (800) 955-1819
                                       www.vdh.virginia.gov/OLC/Complaint
Human Rights Council
900 East Main Street                   Health Spas
Pocahontas Building, 4th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219                     Office of Consumer Affairs
(804) 225-2292 or (800) 633-5510       P.O. Box 1163
www.chr.virginia.gov                   Richmond, VA 23218
                                       (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
Extended Service Contracts             www.vdacs.virginia.gov

Office of Consumer Affairs             Hearing Aids
P.O. Box 1163
Richmond, VA 23218                     Office of Consumer Affairs
(804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963       P.O. Box 1163
www.vdacs.virginia.gov                 Richmond, VA 23218
                                       (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
Franchises                             www.vdacs.virginia.gov

State Corporation Commission           Home Equity Loans
Division of Securities and Retail
Franchising                            Federal Trade Commission
P.O. Box 1197                          Consumer Response Center
Richmond, VA 23218                     Washington, DC 20580
(804) 371-9051 or (800) 552-7945       (877) 382-4357
www.scc.virginia.gov/division/srf/     www.ftc.gov
                                                                              27
     Home Solicitation Sales               Investments

     Office of Consumer Affairs            State Corporation Commission
     P.O. Box 1163                         Division of Securities and Retail
     Richmond, VA 23218                    Franchising
     (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963      P.O. Box 1197
     www.vdacs.virginia.gov                Richmond, VA 23218
                                           (804) 371-9051 or (800) 552-7945
     Identity Theft                        www.scc.virginia.gov/division/srf

     Federal Trade Commission              Landlord/Tenant
     Consumer Response Center
     CRC-240                               Office of Consumer Affairs
     Washington, DC 20580                  P.O. Box 1163
     (877) 382-4357                        Richmond, VA 23218
     www.ftc.gov                           (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
                                           www.vdacs.virginia.gov
     Insurance
                                           Lease-Purchase Agreements
     State Corporation Commission
     Bureau of Insurance                   Office of Consumer Affairs
     P.O. Box 1157                         P.O. Box 1163
     Richmond, VA 23218                    Richmond, VA 23218
     (804) 371-9741 or (800) 552-7945      (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     www.scc.virginia.gov/division/boi     www.vdacs.virginia.gov

     Insurance Fraud                       Lemon Law

     Virginia Department of State Police   Office of Consumer Affairs
     Insurance Fraud Program               P.O. Box 1163
     P.O. Box 27472                        Richmond, VA 23218
     Richmond, VA 23261-2771               (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     (877) 623-7283                        www.vdacs.virginia.gov
     www.stampoutfraud.com
                                           Magazine Subscriptions
     Internet
                                           Office of Consumer Affairs
     Office of the Attorney General        P.O. Box 1163
     Computer Crime Unit                   Richmond, VA 23218
     900 East Main Street                  (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     Richmond, VA 23219                    www.vdacs.virginia.gov
     (804) 786-2071
     www.vaag.com/consumer/spam/
     index.html




28
Medicaid/Medicare                   Obscenity, Indecency on Radio or TV

Virginia Department for the Aging   Federal Communications Commission
1610 Forest Avenue, Suite 100       Enforcement Bureau
Richmond, VA 23229                  Investigations & Hearings Division
(804) 662-9333 or (800) 552-3402    445 Twelfth Street, S.W.
www.vda.virginia.gov                Washington, DC 20554
                                    (202) 418-7096
Membership Campgrounds              www.fcc.gov/ccb

Office of Consumer Affairs          Odometer Tampering
P.O. Box 1163
Richmond, VA 23218                  Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963    DMV Law Enforcement Special Agents
www.vdacs.virginia.gov              P.O. Box 27412
                                    Richmond, VA 23269
Motor Vehicle Dealers               (866) DMVLINE (368-5463)
                                    www.dmv.virginia.gov
Motor Vehicle Dealer Board
2201 West Broad Street, Suite 104   Pay-Per-Call Services
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 367-1100 or (877) 270-0203    Office of Consumer Affairs
                                    P.O. Box 1163
Moving Services, Interstate         Richmond, VA 23218
                                    (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
Federal Highway Administration      www.vdacs.virginia.gov
Department of Transportation
400 Seventh Street, S.W.            Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20590                Consumer Response Center
(202) 366-2238                      CRC-240
www.fhwa.dot.gov                    Washington, DC 20580
                                    (877) 382-4357 Toll Free
Moving Services                     www.ftc.gov

Department of Motor Vehicles        Federal Communications Commission
Motor Carrier Services              Common Carrier Bureau
P.O. Box 27412                      Consumer Complaints
Richmond, VA 23269                  Mail Stop 1600-A2
(866) 878-2582                      Washington, DC 20554
www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/        www.fcc.gov/ccb
commercial/mcs/index.asp
                                    Pre-Need Burial/Perpetual Care
Multilevel Marketing
                                    Office of Consumer Affairs
Local Commonwealth’s Attorney       P.O. Box 1163
(Listed in your local telephone     Richmond, VA 23218
directory)                          (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
                                    www.vdacs.virginia.gov
                                                                            29
     Prizes and Gifts                        Slamming

     Office of Consumer Affairs              State Corporation Commission
     P.O. Box 1163                           Division of Communications
     Richmond, VA 23218                      P.O. Box 1197
     (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963        Richmond, VA 23218
     www.vdacs.virginia.gov                  (804) 371-9420 or (800) 552-7945
                                             www.scc.virginia.gov/division/puc
     Pyramid Schemes
                                             Federal Communications Commission
     Local Commonwealth’s Attorney           Common Carrier Bureau
     (Listed in your local telephone         Washington, DC 20554
     directory)                              (888) 225-5322
                                             www.fcc.gov/ccb
     Real Estate Agents
                                             Spam
     Department of Professional and
     Occupational Regulation                 Office of the Attorney General
     Real Estate Board                       Computer Crime Unit
     9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400           900 East Main Street
     Richmond, VA 23233                      Richmond, VA 23219
     (804) 367-8504                          (804) 786-2071
     www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/          www.vaag.com/consumer/spam/
     reb_main.cfm                            index.html

     Savings Associations, Federally-        Office of Consumer Affairs
     Chartered                               P.O. Box 1163
                                             Richmond, VA 23218
     Office of Thrift Supervision            (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     1700 G Street, N.W.                     www.vdacs.virginia.gov
     Washington, DC 20552
     (202) 906-6000 or (800) 842-6929        Sweepstakes
     www.ots.treas.gov
                                             Office of Consumer Affairs
     Savings Institutions, State-Chartered   P.O. Box 1163
                                             Richmond, VA 23218
     State Corporation Commission            (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
     Bureau of Financial Institutions        www.vdacs.virginia.gov
     P.O. Box 640
     Richmond, VA 23218-0640                 Telecommunications/Telephone
     (804) 371-9657 or (800) 552-7945        Services
     www.scc.virginia.gov/division/banking
                                             State Corporation Commission
                                             Division of Communications
                                             P.O. Box 1197
                                             Richmond, VA 23218
                                             (804) 371-9420 or (800) 552-7945
                                             www.scc.virginia.gov/division/puc
30
Federal Trade Commission            Travel Clubs
Consumer Response Center
CRC-240                             Office of Consumer Affairs
Washington, DC 20580                P.O. Box 1163
(877) 382-4357 Toll Free            Richmond, VA 23218
www.ftc.gov                         (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
                                    www.vdacs.virginia.gov
Federal Communications Commission
Common Carrier Bureau               Unsolicited Faxes
Enforcement Division
Washington, DC 20554                Office of Consumer Affairs
(888) 225-5322                      P.O. Box 1163
www.fcc.gov/ccb                     Richmond, VA 23218
                                    (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
Telemarketing/Do Not Call
                                    Federal Communications Commission
Office of Consumer Affairs          Consumer & Governmental Affairs
P.O. Box 1163                       Bureau
Richmond, VA 23218                  Consumer Complaints
(804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963    445 12th Street, SW
www.vdacs.virginia.gov              Washington, D.C. 20554
                                    www.fcc.gov
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center            Unsolicited Goods
CRC-240
Washington, DC 20580                Office of Consumer Affairs
(877) 382-4357 Toll Free            P.O. Box 1163
www.ftc.gov                         Richmond, VA 23218
                                    (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
Federal Communications Commission   www.vdacs.virginia.gov
Common Carrier Bureau
Consumer Complaints                 Utilities*
Mail Stop 1600-A2
Washington, DC 20554                State Corporation Commission
www.fcc.gov/ccb                     Division of Energy Regulation
                                    P.O. Box 1197
Timeshares                          Richmond, VA 23218
                                    (804) 371-9611 or (800) 552-7945
Department of Professional and      www.scc.virginia.gov/division/pue
Occupational Regulation
Timeshare Administration            * If the utility complaint relates to a
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400       municipal utility, contact the appropriate
Richmond, VA 23233                  authoritiy in your locality.
(804) 367-8504
www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/
reb_main.cfm


                                                                                 31
     For more information, please contact:

            Office of the Attorney General
       Antitrust and Consumer Litigation
                     900 East Main Street
                    Richmond, VA 23219
                           (800) 451-1525

                www.vaag.com/consumer
               consumer@oag.state.va.us
32

								
To top