PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Like many, June Balan of South Park was the victim of a fly-by-night roof repair.
“The shingles were separated. They didn’t even match. The nails — they said it was supposed to be six nails per shingle — there were three,” said Balan.
Balan was one of three consumers who met with Attorney General Josh Shapiro in East Liberty on Monday to kick off Consumer Protection Week and to highlight work of the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which helped Balan get a full refund.
Balan: “My check was in the mail.”
Shapiro: “You got you back about $2,500?”
Balan: “$2,500 I got back on there.”
She was hardly alone.
Last year over 19,000 consumer complaints were filed in Pennsylvania.
“Our Bureau of Consumer Protection got back $12.1 million in restitution or refunds for Pennsylvania consumers,” added Shapiro.
Shapiro says the scams run the gamut.
“Home improvement contracts that have gone bad, car sales that have gone bad, those scams over the phone or on the internet that so many people are dealing with each day.”
When Shelly Mack of Penn Hills tried to cancel her on-line monthly face cream order, she was ignored until she called the AG’s office.
“As soon as I did that, within a month, I got full refunds,” said Mack.
Jon Steiger, regional director of the Federal Trade Commission, and Tommy Coke, U.S. Postal Service Inspector in charge, joined Shapiro in urging consumers, if they feel scammed, to report it.
That’s what Beverly Black of West Mifflin did when a fraudster claimed she needed immediate help to remove a computer virus.
“Somewhere along the way we had a brochure and I knew there was a consumer department, consumer services.”
The brochure is entitled “Consumer Protection Rights & Resources,” and it outlines the rights and resources of all consumers.
Shapiro says that he will be beefing up this Bureau of Consumer Protection in the coming year, hoping that more people will file complaints so he can prosecute the scam artists and get whatever refunds he can.
If you feel you’ve been victimized or want to protect yourself, we have a variety of helpful links here: