Views from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

On any given week, tens of thousands of unsolicited checks end up in New York residents’ mailboxes — making these checks easy targets for criminals looking to capitalize on someone else’s line of credit.

Last month, the governor signed a bill into law that will put the onus on those issuing checks if they are lost or get into the wrong hands.

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly. Hopefully, this measure will reduce the volume of checks like this and better protect consumers from fraud.

The bill, A3601, which became effective last month, aims to protect consumers from liability for unauthorized use of unsolicited convenience checks. These checks are mailed by credit card companies to account holders in the hopes that consumers take out more credit.

Many of people throw them out. It’s best to shred or destroy them somehow if you do not intend to use them.

The problem with the checks is consumers do not know when they are mailed. A few things can happen and do: the mail gets into the wrong hands and then, the check is cashed, or they are stolen if consumers simply place them in the recycle bin.

In the past, unless a consumer acted quickly and was able to convince the credit card company the checks were not cashed by the cardholder, the consumer is held liable.

With this new law, companies would be held responsible, not the consumer. It amends the general business law and adds a section, clearly stating that consumers sent such convenience checks by credit or debit card issuers shall not be liable for the use of such checks unless the consumer has accepted the check.

Hopefully those convenience checks will be reduced with this measure.

There are a number of ways scammers can infiltrate our finances. It’s important to remain vigilant and help loved ones to do the same.

Good guidance and tips, as well as scam alerts can be found on the State’s Division of Consumer Affair’s website at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.

The site also contains good information on preventing identity theft. Unfortunately, seniors are unwitting targets of many types of scams.

A good number to keep handy is the Division of Consumer Affair’s phone number, (518) 474-8583 for guidance or assistance on consumer matters. Residents may also file a complaint there as well, and be placed on the Do Not Call list.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, please sent a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

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