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About CAP

This blog is generated by many contributing writers that are staff of the Consumer Assistance Program of the Attorney General's Office or the Attorney General's Office.

Navigating Health Care Can Be Tough: CAP Has You Covered!

Have you ever felt stressed out by the health care system? You’re not alone. Figuring out your health care options can be confusing. Here’s the good news—there are FREE programs available to help!

Dog with stethoscope

Here’s a list of common questions CAP gets about health care and the FREE resources available to Vermonters:

Overcharged by your doctor’s office?

  • File a complaint with our office. CAP provides a complaint mediation service, we can you help fix billing problems. To get help, call our office at 1-800-649-2424 (toll-free in Vermont) or submit a complaint on our website.

Not sure why you can’t get Medicaid?

  • Vermont Legal Aid has a Health Care Advocate Office. They have a helpline that all Vermonters can use. They can help you learn about coverage options offered on Vermont Health Connect. They can help you figure out what care plans cover. To get help, call the HelpLine at 1-800-917-7787 or fill out their online help request form.

Confused about Medicare?

  • Contact the Agency on Aging. Their State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help you with Medicare, Choices for Care, and Social Security. Call their HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119 or call your local Agency on Aging.

Need help paying a dental bill?

  • Vermont 2-1-1 can help you find local resources to help. 2-1-1 is a program of United Ways of Vermont. They provide information and referrals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call about emergency food and shelter, counseling, and child care. To get help, dial 2-1-1 (or 802-652-4636 – from outside of Vermont) or visit their website.

Have an insurance complaint?

  • Contact the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation’s Insurance Division. The Insurance Division regulates insurance in Vermont. To get help with filing a complaint, call 1-800-964-1784 or file a complaint online.

Still not sure who can help? Call CAP at 1-800-649-2424! Our team of consumer advisors are dedicated to helping Vermonters get the support they need. If CAP can’t help you, we’ll figure out who can.

Contributing Writer:  Lauren Jandl
Photo Credit:  Annalee Beaulieu

Congratulations, You’re A Winner!

Have you received a letter, email, or even a Facebook message telling you that you have won a sweepstakes or lottery prize, such as thousands of dollars and a car? Have you been asked to send money to cover taxes or registration fees so that you can receive your prize? If so, you are being targeted by a common scam – no real sweepstakes prize would ask you to pay taxes or fees.

Sweepstakes Scam example

Scammers may pretend to be legitimate businesses such as Publisher’s Clearing House or Reader’s Digest, or may use a similar sounding name. You may even receive a check in the mail that looks legitimate. The scammers claim they have sent you some of your prize so you can use the money to cover the cost of fees or taxes. Do not deposit the check – it is fake! Scammers hope that you will send them real money from your account before the bank realizes that the check has bounced.

You may be instructed to not tell anyone about “winning” to protect your prize. This is an attempt to isolate you so your friends and family can’t warn you about the scam. Don’t take the scammer’s advice – call CAP at 802-656-3183 or 1-800-649-2424 (toll free VT) and we can help you determine if you are being scammed.

Remember: if you won a real sweepstakes prize, you would never need to pay a fee to claim your winnings. Never send money to get money!

Contributing Writer:  Annalee Beaulieu

Buying and Selling on Online Listing Sites

Most Vermonters love a good deal.  So, we know how appealing it can be to search for discounted products through online listing sites.  And, when the deal of the century is finally located, we know how easy it is to want to act quickly, rather than question if the deal is too good to be true. But sometimes the most important thing you can do is stop and verify an online offer before you pay.

At CAP, we typically hear about the times people get scammed online, rather than the times they found a great deal.  Vermonters report scams to our office so we can assist them if there is a way to recoup their money and so that other consumers are made aware that there are scammers lurking online, looking to take your money without earning it.  A couple of weeks ago, we heard from a gentleman hoping to close a deal on purchasing an excavator.  He fulfilled his end of the deal by wiring more than $16,000.  After receiving the funds, the scammer went dark.  This Vermonter was lured into the scam through a blatant lie; from a Craigslist post, he was connected to a realistic-looking eBay site to fulfill his order.  The site however, was not eBay.  The money that was wired was gone within a few moments.

Last year (2016) 122 Vermont consumers reported online listing scams to our office. And, fourteen people reported monetary loss due to wire transferring funds in response to an online listing. The year before (2015) nineteen people reported loss by wire transfer.

Listing scams take on many forms.  Sometimes the scammer responds to a seller post, overpays with a check, and asks for the remainder to be wired back.  Sometimes the post is for a fictitious rental property and the scammer is looking for the deposit and first month’s rent to be sent.  Sometimes the item being sold is a used car, riding lawnmower, or construction equipment.

Scams even happen when you are looking for that perfect puppy or pet to expand your family, but the transport of the animal is held up at the airport or elsewhere.  People have reported trying to buy wedding dresses, only to be bilked of their wedding budget due to scam activity.  The point here is, listing scams can happen with any kind of product or service when you least expect it.  The key to prevention is knowing the signs, taking an extra moment to verify an online offer before you pay, and if you are the victim of a scam report it to our office.

The Attorney General will continue to alert Vermonters about new and ongoing scams.  In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to help you avoid online scams:

Tips to prevent Online Listing scams

Welcome to CAP Connection

Welcome to CAP Connection, the new blog for the Consumer Assistance Program of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.  The Consumer Assistance Program has been connecting with local Vermont communities for more than 35 years.  Our hope in producing this blog is to make the information and experiences that we gain by connecting with Vermonters available to everyone.  When it comes to scams, the best form of prevention is awareness.  When problems arise, it’s helpful for consumers to know they have a place to go for help.  When it’s difficult to locate appropriate resources, we may be of assistance too.  Ultimately, through this blog we hope to connect Vermonters to resources and information that will be helpful and useful.

This blog replaces the previously produced Pure Vermont Newsletter, which was issued for four years.  This new communication format is intended to provide the public with up-to-date access to consumer and business news and information.  Check back often for scam alerts, general consumer and business information, business compliance assistance, and reports on consumer and business experiences in the marketplace.  Connect with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office on Facebook and/or Twitter to get the latest updates.  Links to this blog will also be posted on social networks when a new blog is updated.  Don’t hesitate to continue to contact our office to report your concerns.