Did you know that the City of New Bedford has its own Consumer Protection Program? It's located in City Hall and operates through the Department of Community Services.

The program offers information on consumer rights and provides mediation services.

Mali  Lim, New Bedford's Coordinator for Community Education, joined Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss the local consumer program and how you can access its help.

Lim said the New Bedford program is one of 25 in communities across the state, established by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office almost 50 years ago.

"What happens is, if someone files a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's Office, and the AG's staff reviews it, and they feel its appropriate for mediation or other assistance, they will refer it to one of the local offices," she said.

The New Bedford program covers all of Southeastern Massachusetts, and Lim said her office receives about 700 referrals from the Attorney General's Office every year.

The local consumer program also makes presentations at senior centers, organizations and schools, providing information on scams, motor vehicle disputes and tenant-landlord issues.

In fact, all this week, during National Consumer Protection Week, the Local Consumer Program will have a table set up at City Hall, providing consumer information to people doing business there.

"We try to get the word out, to protect people and so they don't lose their money," Lim said.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Lim said about 25 percent of the complaints the office handles deal with auto dealerships, followed by landlord-tenant disputes and scams.

"Our first step is to speak with the consumer and then gather as much supporting documentation as possible," Lim said. "Then we speak with the business, and our role is to try to help both parties reach a resolution without one party or the other heading to Small Claims Court."

To learn more about the Local Consumer Program, call (508) 979-1673.

The complete Townsquare Sunday interview with Mali Lim can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a public affairs program heard Sundays at 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WBSM,

The program highlights individuals and organizations striving to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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