OFIR Announces National Consumer Protection Week 2012

March 2, 2012
Media Contact: Jason Moon 517-335-1700
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442

LANSING - The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) is joining with federal, state, and local government agencies and organizations to celebrate the 14th annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) March 4-10, 2012. Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed next week as Consumer Protection Week in Michigan. During NCPW, groups nationwide share tips and information that help consumers protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identity theft, and avoid frauds and scams. 

“During National Consumer Protection Week, Michigan consumers are encouraged to utilize every resource available as they navigate through the diverse and complex financial service industry,” OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said. “An educated consumer can better protect themselves from financial scams and make wiser decisions in the marketplace.”

OFIR encourages consumers to visit its website www.michigan.gov/difs and the National Consumer Protection Week’s website www.ncpw.gov for information about making smarter financial decisions.

OFIR has a number of current programs and tips aimed at protecting the financial well-being of Michigan’s consumers, including:

Consumer Education Programs:
OFIR representatives hold free seminars and speak at numerous events designed to help consumers understand the state’s complex financial service industry. Diverse topics include: Auto, home, health and life insurance, avoiding investment scams, financial planning, mortgages and payday loans. For more information, visit: www.michigan.gov/difs  or call 877-999-6442.

Consumer Recoveries:
Last year, OFIR recovered more than $25 million on behalf of Michigan consumers. OFIR recovered more than $18 million by assisting consumers with their mortgage loan modifications. An additional $1 million involved funds recovered by OFIR for consumers who had disputes with their mortgage companies regarding payments, fees, escrow accounts and short sale issues. More than $5 million of the recoveries were due to the reversal of claim denials and premium refunds involving auto, home, life and health insurance policies. The remaining recoveries were related to fee issues involving financial institutions and investment firms.

Shutting Down Fake Financial Institutions:
OFIR has recently shut down a number of fake financial entities that were posing as legitimate businesses in an attempt to steal consumers' money and identities. Through their websites, the fraudulent financial institutions were encouraging customers to apply for loans by providing upfront payments and personal information. OFIR ordered the fake companies to cease and desist from doing business and contacted their websites’ hosts. The websites were then shut down.
Financial Phishing Scams Warning:
OFIR recently warned Michigan consumers of several different types of phishing scams related to financial institutions and transactions. Phishing is an attempt, through electronic communication, to acquire personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, usernames and passwords by posing as a legitimate entity. http://www.michigan.gov/difs/0,5269,7-303-13222_13250-270809--,00.html