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  • Michigan Attorney General Announces First Semester Success of OK2SAY

    Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the success of Michigan's student safety initiative, OK2SAY, in its first semester. Since the start of this school year, OK2SAY has already generated 410 confidential tips submitted by Michigan students. These tips included reports of bullying, suicide threats, and child abuse. "If even one child's life is saved by OK2SAY, this program will have been a success.  OK2SAY has passed its first semester with flying colors," said Attorney General Bill Schuette.

    Read more: 410 Tips Received by OK2SAY!



RECENT NEWS
Press Releases
Schuette Congratulates Michigan Realtors® On Their Centennial Celebration

 

March 4, 2015           

 

LANSING  –  Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement congratulating Michigan Realtors® on their 100th anniversary:

"For 100 years, the Michigan Realtors® have been proficient advocates in our state on important issues like protecting private property rights, reducing burdensome taxes and regulations on business, and preserving the American Dream of home ownership," said Schuette. "Michigan Realtors® are moving our state forward and ensuring Michigan's tomorrows are bright for future generations.  Congratulations, Michigan Realtors®, on 100 years of excellence."

 

            Schuette provided the keynote address at the Michigan Realtors®' Centennial Luncheon today during their legislative day at the Lansing Center.

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Schuette Files Felony Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges Against Southwest Michigan Man

 

March 3, 2015           

 

LANSING  –  Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his Criminal Division in collaboration with the Michigan State Police have charged Cary Jones, 46, of Three Rivers for multiple counts of felony Criminal Sexual Conduct against children.   The alleged crimes occurred at a home daycare, of which he was a resident.

"Parents trust daycare providers to keep a watchful eye over their children while they themselves aren't there," said Schuette.   "Michigan's children are too precious and we must do everything we can to protect them from harm."

Jones was home during a majority of the time that the children were being supervised by an employee at the daycare. He often provided transportation from school to the daycare and would sometimes be left alone with the children at the residence.

On March 2, 2015, Schuette and the Michigan State Police filed the following charges against Cary Jones in St. Joseph County's 3B District Court:        

  • One count of Criminal Sexual Conduct - First Degree, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, but according to the charges, Jones could face a minimum of 25 years in prison; and,

  • Eight counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct - Second Degree, a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

Jones is expected to be arraigned on March 3, 2015 in St. Joseph County's 3B District Court. He is currently being held at the St. Joseph County jail.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Mug shot of Jones.

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Schuette Releases Top Ten Michigan Consumer Complaints List

 

March 2, 2015           

 

LANSING  –  Attorney General Bill Schuette today marked National Consumer Protection week by releasing his annual list of the Top Ten Consumer Complaints in Michigan and highlighting his Department's free educational resources.  Schuette's Top Ten List is compiled by analyzing the more than 10,500 written complaints filed with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection team in 2014.  Schuette's Consumer Protection team also recovered nearly $2 million in consumer refunds and forgiven debts and more than $4.2 million in State recoveries in 2014.  

"Consumer protection isn't just one program," said Schuette. "It's a philosophy that guides everything we do.  We emphasize safe social media use for students and fight to protect seniors from scams and fraud.  We also defend consumers by exposing insurance fraud and price fixing, guarding against bogus charities, and prosecuting home foreclosure scams."

Credit and Financial Concerns Top Complaint List

In 2014, Credit and Financial Concerns once again topped the list with the Consumer Protection team receiving 865 complaints on debt collection and credit reporting.  Consumers often voice concerns regarding aggressive debt collection tactics used by debt collection agencies.  Debt collection scams, or phony debt collectors trying to scare consumers into giving money to pay off fraudulent debts, continues to remain common. 

 "While debt collectors have the right to contact you on legitimate debts, they never have the right to threaten, intimidate, or harass you," said Schuette. 

Schuette's Consumer Alert on Debt Collection and Debt Collection Scams details prohibited debt collector practices and provides tips on avoiding common debt collection scams and disputing bogus debts.

Consumer Education Key to Prevention

During National Consumer Protection Week, Schuette's office joins consumer advocacy groups and governmental agencies from across the nation to highlight how individuals and families can protect themselves from abusive practices and scams.

Schuette noted one of the best ways to safeguard citizens from commercial exploitation is by equipping them with the information necessary to avoid becoming the target of a scam.  The Top Ten Complaint List is one useful component of this information-sharing effort. By highlighting the most problematic product and service categories, the List encourages consumers to engage in commercial transactions with a heightened level of caution.  

 

Top 10 Consumer Complaint Categories of 2014

  1. Credit and Financial Concerns: The top complaint category for 2014 held on to the spot that it has had since 2006 generating almost 1,700 complaints in a variety of areas including debt collection, credit repair, payday lending, and mortgage brokering.

  2. Gasoline, Fuel, and Energy: Rising all the way from number 8 in 2013, propane complaints dominated this category last year.  In 2014, Attorney General Schuette secured agreements with two companies relating to their propane prices and helped more than 6,200 customers obtain more than $600,000 in relief.

  3. Telecommunications, Cable, and Satellite TV:  Maintaining the third spot from the previous year, this category includes complaints involving issues like robocalls, telemarketing, and cable and satellite TV services.  These categories made up almost 1,000 of the complaints in 2014.

  4. Retail:  This category also ranked fourth for the second year in a row includes complaints about merchandise quality, warranty, and pricing disputes.

  5.  Motor Vehicle and Automobiles:  Rising back to number 5, disputes with used car dealers, automotive repair service complaints, and lemon law violations are included in this category.

  6. Personal Service Providers:  Falling back to number 6, complaints in this category range from dating services and beauty shops to home security and health and fitness organizations.

  7. Internet:  Complaints in this computer-based category numbered more than 600.  Included are issues with internet service providers, online auction disputes, and fraudulent e-mail solicitations.

  8. Landlord and Tenant: Rising one spot to number 8 in 2014, this category made up nearly 500 complaints.  A majority of the complaints in this category involved apartment owners and managers.

  9. Health Service Providers: Also rising one spot from 2013, this category involves complaints about different health service providers like doctors, dentists, and hospitals. 

  10. Contractors: Absent from last year's list and rounding out the top ten are complaints about landscaping services, special trade contractors, and residential building construction services.

 

Emerging Consumer Threats in 2015

Consistent with the theme that it is important to prevent victimization, Schuette takes this opportunity to look ahead and warn consumers about what many predict will be increasing threats in 2015.

Ransomware has been identified as an emerging threat to Michigan consumers in 2015.  Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.  For more information, see Attorney General Schuette's Consumer Alert on Ransomware.

The next biggest scam is expected to be through the use of mobile payment systems.  Mobile payment systems are a relatively new field for both consumers and thieves.  The most likely way consumers will be taken advantage of will be by downloading what looks like payment apps to their phones, and ending up with a virus that steals money instead.  To protect yourself, only download payment apps that you know are from a trusted source, and remember to know where your phone is, set up strong passwords, and always protect your financial information.

Schuette also advises consumers to be wary of how they use technology when providing personal information.  Information can be stolen when provided over unsecured public wireless networks.  Never log into your bank or other financial accounts over a public network and never provide personal information in response to unsolicited requests of any kind.  Monitor your financial accounts and if you see suspicious transactions, contact your provider.  If you feel you have been a victim of a scam, file a complaint with the consumer protection division.

 

How to File Complaints

Schuette encourages any residents with questions or concerns to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division toll-free by calling 1-877-765-8388.  To file a consumer complaint, Michigan residents can submit an online complaint through the Attorney General's website or mail a letter explaining the problem and desired resolution to:

            Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

            Consumer Protection Division

            P.O. Box 30213

Lansing, MI 48909

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Schuette Statement on DeBoer v. Snyder Brief Filing

 

February 27, 2015           

 

LANSING  –  Attorney General Bill Schuette today released the following statement regarding the submission of the plaintiff's brief to the United States Supreme Court:

             "This case involves people of good will, sincerely motivated, on both sides.  All of Michigan's voters, as well as the citizens of our great nation, will be well served by the court's decision to decide this case and resolve such important issue.  I am pleased that the Supreme Court has chosen to review this case, so that important issues involving the fundamental institution of marriage, our Constitution and the rights of voters will be decided.  Court cases by their very nature create an adversarial atmosphere between those representing the two sides of an argument.  But in a democracy, reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable.  We look forward to the oral arguments being scheduled soon."

 

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Schuette Files Lawsuit to Permanently Dissolve The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc. of Lansing

 

February 10, 2015           

 

LANSING  –   Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed a lawsuit to permanently dissolve The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc. of Lansing, Michigan and enjoin its principals, brothers Thomas Fata, Steven Fata, and Joseph Fata, based on allegations they engaged in unlawful conduct meant to deceive businesses. 

The lawsuit alleges the Fata brothers have been sending misleading and deceptive mailings to businesses in Michigan and across the country since 1999.  The complaint alleges the defendants used the name "Corporate Records Service" to send mailings that were designed to look like "official" governmental forms that businesses had to fill out in order to comply with corporate filing requirements.  Schuette received hundreds of complaints about the company and these mailings.  

"Our friends and neighbors who live out the dream of running their own business work hard every day," Schuette said.  "I will not tolerate companies that seek to take advantage of Michigan citizens and get rich on the backs of hard-working entrepreneurs through trickery and deception." 

The complaint alleges the Fata brothers targeted small businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity groups with their deceptive mailings.

In addition, the lawsuit outlines the previous times the Attorney General has had to take action against the defendants.  In 2001, the defendants signed an Assurance of Discontinuance which limited their ability to send out misleading solicitations to businesses.  In 2007, the defendants were parties to a court Order that prohibited them from sending out misleading solicitations for hand washing posters.  As outlined in the lawsuit, Schuette alleges that the defendants violated both of these prior agreements.       

Schuette's charges allege that the Fata brothers continually change the content of their solicitation following each interaction with a regulatory body, but ultimately have not changed their conduct and continue to willfully operate in an unlawful manner in Michigan and several other states.  

"Our goal here is to prevent businesses in Michigan and around the country from being misled and deceived by improper business practices," said Schuette.

A civil lawsuit is merely an allegation and defendants are not liable until the Court enters a judgment in the case.

 

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