Mayor's Office of Consumer Information (MOCI)

Working in Cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office

City Hall, Room 315
Tel: (413) 787-6437 - TTY: (413) 787-6154 
Fax: (413) 787-7781
E-mail: moci@springfieldcityhall.com

OUR VISION: To protect the good of consumers and ensure a safe and fair marketplace, free and clear of deceitful practices.

OUR MISSION: To empower consumers with knowledge for them to make informed decisions, and to advocte for those who need assistance in resolving a consumer complaint.

OUR MOTTO: "Education is the Best Prevention!"

WHAT'S NEW? In September 2020, we launched our very own podcast, The Consumer Toolbox available to you on multiple platforms. We invite you to listen and subscribe! 

The Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information (“MOCI”) is a Local Consumer Program (LCP) funded by and working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General  to help consumers resolve complaints who otherwise have to seek legal recourse through the court system. It serves residents of the City of Springfield and its surrounding cities and towns throughout Hampden County, as well as parts of Worcester County. The MOCI cannot guarantee the outcome of a complaint but ensures that it will, with the cooperation of both parties, aim to effectively provide consumer advocacy assistance in hopes of reaching an amicable resolution. 

Since 2000 MOCI has handled tens of thousands of complaints, advocated for consumers, and successfully recovered over $14 million dollars for them in the form of a refund or credit. It has held hundreds of community outreach events throughout its serving community.

The MOCI's services are provided throughout Hampden County, and the following Worcester County cities and towns*: Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Tolland, Wales, Warren, Webster, and West Brookfield.

Spanish-speaking staff is available. 

The MOCI staff will educate consumers on their rights in many consumer-related areas and has an array of brochures readily available.Some of the areas the MOCI can assist with are:

  • Lemon Laws
  • Home Improvement
  • Debt Collection
  • Retail Rights
  • Credit
  • Landlord/Tenant Rights

To speak to a case specialist to learn of your consumer rights, seek advice on how to resolve your dispute, or to request consumer assistance, call (413) 787-6437. We are ready to personally answer your question(s).

TO FILE A COMPLAINT

NOTE: Consumer complaints are completely online in a centralized computer system at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office to bring to their attention any potential trends of unfair and deceptive business practices in our serving jurisdiction.

COMPLAINT FORM

However if need to request a printed version of the complaint form, or wish to speak with a case specialist about filing a consumer complaint, you may reach a Case Specialist at (413) 787-6437, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm.

The MOCI brochure is available in EnglishSpanish and Russian.

CONSUMER RESOURCES:

Are you facing foreclosure? The MA Attorney General's Office may be able to help: Mortgage Lending and Foreclosures

For additional consumer protection information (Lemon laws and home improvement) visit: Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America.  Learn how to deter, detect and defend against it, visit: Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft

Did you know that you are entitled to a free annual copy of your three credit reports, with no strings attached?  When requesting your credit reports, be sure not to use a public computer or Wi-Fi and allow at least 20 minutes for the process. Securely request your free credit reports from Annual Credit Report.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with pre-approved credit card offers in your mailbox? Did you know that they put you at risk of identity theft if they end up in the wrong hands? To stop receiving pre-approved credit card offers, click here: Opt-Out of pre-approved credit card offers

Would you like to reduce the volume of junk mail in your mailbox? You can actually stop junk mail by simply requesting to opt-out: Stop Unsolicted Mail, Calls and Emails

To stop telemarketing calls to your home or mobile telephone, register at: National Do Not Call Registry

Are debt collectors harassing you at home or work?  Learn what you can do to stop the calls your consumer rights: Fair Debt Collection

There is accountability for predatory lending.  The CFPB will "Educate, Enforce and Study" consumer issues.  Visit their website at: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Before doing business with a merchant, you may want to first check its ratings and complaint history with the Better Business Bureau 

Elder scams and financial exploitation are on the rise. The U.S. Department of Justice launched a website, Elder Justice to help protect seniors

REMOTE OUTREACH IN ACTION

We are looking for opportunities to partner with other service providers, community libraries, universities/colleges, high schools, civic organizations and churches to offer a series of workshops to consumers. If you are interested, please reach out to us via email at moci@springfieldcityhall.com.

FALL 2022 ANNOUNCEMENT

Hampden & Worcester County consumer outreach

We continue to receive requests for outreach events thoughout Hampden County and parts of the Worcester community. If your school or organization is interested in getting empowered on a consumer topic (such as Scams & Fraud, Identity Theft, Credit, Buying a Car) complete the Speaker Request Form or contact us via email: moci@springfieldcityhall.com. We are prepared and committed to serve you FREE of charge.

Director of the Mayor's Office of Consumer Information

Milagros S. Johnson

OFFICE HOURS

To speak with a Consumer Specialist, call (413) 787-6437 between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

From the pandemic we learned that our work was as much in demand as before, if not more, which is why our staff never went remote. The staff continued providing the same level of uninterrupted service to consumers via telephone and email, just as we continue to do today.

With the use of modern technology (i.e. scanner, email, virtual meetings, electronic complaints), there was no disruption of service to consumers. We appreciate everyone for quickly adapting to our new and improved means of communication. Today, we continue to strive to provide the same quality service as we always have.

If you do not have access to a computer or electronic device, and require assistance, we will gladly accomodate you in completing an electronic-complaint. All you have to do is call us. 

"If you have a consumer-related matter that's concerning to you, it's important to us and we want to know about it!" We encourage you to contact us at (413) 787-6437, or email moci@springfieldcityhall.com

Data Breach and Your Credit Files: What Action to Take!

Longmeadow and Westfield residents recently received letters from Comstar notifying them of a data breach and their personal information being compromised, including their social security numbers, dates of birth and health insurance information. Tina Gorman, the Executive Director of the Westfield Council of Aging invited me to be her guest on her radio/public access television show, Wake up Wednesday where I talked about how a data breach can put you at risk of identity theft, and what steps you should take to protect your credit files, regardless of whether or not your information has been compromised. You can find a Cheat Sheet similar to the one I offered to Westfield residents below.  ~Milagros~

SEPTEMBER 2022 CONSUMER TIP OF THE MONTH: Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

As students await for more information on the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan, scammers are actively prowling to scam students. Remember that you do not have to pay for the free program or help expedite your application. Be wary of deceptive websites, telephone calls, emails, texts and social media posts. Already today I discovered multiple fraudulent websites and social media post on several platforms. ~Milagros~

To learn more about the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan or to register, follow this link.

For better protection, you may want to suscribe for email alerts from the U.S. Department of Education on updates on the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. 

 

Buy Now, Pay Later...it's the new shopping frenzy, and the topic of our recent podcast!!!

Understand the perks and risks of Buy Now, Pay Later services. Listen to our new podcast episode of The Consumer Toolbox. It's available on your favorite listening platform. 

Tips and Resources to Reduce Energy Usage and Lower Utility Bills

CFPB's New Debt Collection Rule Take Effect November 30, 2021

  • CONSUMER ALERT: Under the new rule, debt collectors CAN contact you by text, social media and email.

Uptick of Telephone Scams

Fact: The majority of our daily calls are from consumers wanting to report a telephone scam.

There are all sorts of telephone scams, from lottery to utillity, and they come to us at all times of the day. Simply stated, they target Older Americans most. By the way, scammers have stepped up their game and have become more aggressive and manipulating, mainly when there are done trying to sound professional and convincing. 

Fact:  If you answer the call and engage in a conversation, the calls will only escalate.

Avoid answering your telephone as much as possible. Or, if you answer, hang up as soon as you identify it to be a scam. Don't answer any questions, or keep saying, "Hello," if they don't respond. Let us remind you, that it's perfectly okay to hang up the telephone, and never feel like you are the one who is being rude. 

Buy a Car, Not a Lemon

Are you in the market for a new car? Here's what you need to know to avoid buying a lemon:

  1. Take the car for a long test drive. Make sure you drive it on the highway and on a hilly road.
  2. Bring the vehicle to a mechanic to have it checked thoroughly before you buy it.
  3. The used vehicle warranty period is based on the mileage on the vehicle at the time of purchase, and not set by the dealer.
  4. Take it (yourself) to get inspected within seven days of purchase.
  5. A dealer is not allowed to sell a vehicle in an "as is" condition or with faults.

Flooded Cars: Don't Be Left High and Dry When Buying a New Car

Previously flooded vehicles from other states are creeping their way to Western Mass and being sold by private parties and dealers. Here's what to check to detect prior flood damage on a vehicle:

  • Rust on screws or other metallic items
  • Upholstery and seat belts for water stains
  • Underneath spare tire for water or rust
  • Engine compartment for mud or indicators of submergence
  • Under the dashboard for mud or moisture
  • Headlights and taillights for signs of water
  • Operation of all electrical components
  • Glove-box, trunk and storage compartments for mold or a musty odor

Your Consumer Rights!

What matters to consumers, matters to us!  We make this our number one priority. If you have a consumer question or concern, and need to speak with a consumer specialist, contact us at (413) 787-6437 or via email at moci@springfieldcityhall.com.

Other Helpful Contact Information:

  • Massachusetts Attorney General's Office: (617) 727-8400
  • Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation: (888) 283-3757
  • Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensures (617) 727-3074
  • Hampden County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service: (413) 732-4648

How to Complain Effectively

Are you having problems with a product or service you recently purchased? Learn how to complain effectively and have your concerns heard and addressed by the business or merchant. 

If your dispute remains unresolved and you need further assistance, you may want to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. 

Page last updated:  Wednesday, February 23, 2022 12:49 pm