La Colaborativa advocates for consumers in Chelsea as a Local Consumer Program through the Attorney General’s Office. Our team works to spread consumer awareness and outreach, resolve consumer disputes, and hold educational events in our communities. Consumer Protection activities can help consumers with a variety of issues including defective products, auto matters, debt collection, landlord-tenant disputes, mortgages, home improvement contract issues, and utilities.
Unfortunately, our Latinx, immigrant, and low-income communities are often targets of fraud, theft and other consumer crimes. Many of our members feel vulnerable as immigrants or non-English speakers and are often reluctant to come forward as victims of crimes.
La Colaborativa raises community-wide awareness of common scams targeting consumers and provides advocacy and 1:1 case support to our members to resolve consumer complaints. We were selected to partner with the AGO on this initiative given our existing relationships in the community and reputation as a trusted partner with the Latinx immigrant community.
Recent Consumer Cases
La Colaborativa mobilized victims of the TelexFree scam to file complaints and testify. Our Executive Director Gladys Vega testified on behalf of 1,500 victims in Chelsea and surrounding towns who were impacted by the $3 billion scheme. Many lost their entire life savings. Our work was featured on CNBC’s American Greed.
Several years ago, La Colaborativa became aware of a travel agency, Oasis Travel, selling airline tickets to consumers but when they arrived at the airport for their trips they found that the airline had no record of their tickets or payments. Oasis Travel particularly targeted immigrants by marketing airline tickets for them to return to visit their home countries. In this case, we advocated for victims and helped them navigate the process of receiving compensation through mediation between the court and the victims.
Payment Plus is a local agency that was taking payments from immigrant consumers, with the promise to pay their utility bills for them and send money to their relatives in their home countries. But the payments were never made to the companies or families. La Colaborativa worked closely with the Attorney General’s Consumer Affairs Department to mediate and successfully resolve the utility cases by calling larger meetings with the utility companies and asking them to reinstate the consumers’ services — including electricity, gas, and cable — and to forgive the unpaid balances given the circumstances. In the cases of money paid by consumers to be sent to relatives in their home countries, the mediation process is ongoing, and these are still open cases.
La Colaborativa youth and families gathered to shine a light on Chelsea’s rat problem this week at city hall, calling on local officials to do more to improve housing conditions for our families. Housing resources should focus on addressing rat infestations and other quality of life issues, instead of evicting families.
With the extreme housing crisis threatening the stability of thousands of local families, La Colaborativa has had to get creative and implement new tools for tenants to assert their rights and remain in their homes. One of those tools is the tenant self-inspection,...
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