Consumer Protection Unit

Know Your Rights & Protect Your Finances

Many seniors, transitioning to a fixed income, are unsure of how to manage their finances. Our Consumer Protection Unit can provide advice on this transition and how you can make ends meet. For many, consumer debt can result in stressful and intimidating collection calls or legal action by creditors. The attorneys and paralegals in this unit can provide advice and counsel, advocacy, and representation in these matters. Download our brochure here.

Join Us on April 6th at 11am  at the Cheektowaga Senior Center for a Consumer Debt Clinic! Learn how to live on a fixed income, know your rights and get one-on-one time with an attorney or paralegal. For more information, see our flyer.

We are available to help seniors in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. To find out if you qualify for help, you can contact our intake line at 716-853-3087. CELJ’s Consumer Protection Unit assists people 60 years and older with a variety of legal issues, including:

  • Advice on handling debt matters
  • Stop harassment or calls from debt collectors
  • Resolve offsets of social security funds or restraints on bank accounts
  • Recovery from identity theft
  • Responding to court action or papers from creditors
  • Help with scam prevention or recovery

Senior couple at home reacting to many bills

Specialized Consumer Advocates

Know Your Rights

Protect Your Finances

End Creditor Harassment

FAQs

A 2015 report from TrueLink Financial revealed that exploitation and fraud cost seniors $29.8 billion annually. Older adults are being targeted by sweepstakes scams, fraudulent subscriptions services, and debt resolution scams. Our Consumer Protection Unit works with government agencies to report and combat fraud, and also assists victims with recovery after a scam. If you or a senior you know is a victim of a scam or is at risk of being a victim, you can contact our office for assistance.

What can I do if I am unable to pay my bills?

Living on a fixed income can make it difficult to keep up with your bills. CELJ can help you create a budget and provide advice on setting priorities in your expenses. If you are already being harassed by creditors or have received legal papers for any debt that you owe, we can provide representation in those matters, as well.

I received a mail or email sweepstakes offer- how do I know if it is a scam?

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! Do not respond to mailings or emails with your personal information. If you’d like help determining whether something is a scam, check out these helpful tips from the National Council on Aging https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/22-tips-to-avoid-scams-swindles/ or call our office to speak with a paralegal about the offer you received.

I think my mom or dad is a victim of a scam. How can I help them?

Scammers are very convincing and persistent, which can make it challenging to convince your loved one that they may be involved in a scam. We are a law office, which means that our client has to want our assistance. If your friend or relative would like to talk to us about their situation or receive our help in recovering from a scam, we are available to assist. However, if they do not want to speak with us, we cannot force them to accept our help. In those situations, you can use some of the helpful tips from AARP: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-08-2013/protect-your-parents-from-scams.html.

I am being sued by a creditor. Can I be sent to jail if I fail to pay this debt?

Receiving court papers can be a stressful and scary experience. Fortunately, there are no debtor’s prisons in the United States. While a lawsuit may result in a judgment being filed against you, you cannot be sent to prison for failing to pay. You may receive, however, specific papers that require a response in order to avoid being in contempt of court. If you are being threatened with a lawsuit, have received a summons and complaint, or have already had a judgment filed against you, you can call our office to speak with our Consumer Protection Unit for counsel and advice or representation on these matters.

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