The Office of the Attorney General recognizes that most reputable members of the business community intend to operate within the bounds of state and federal consumer protection statutes. While we cannot advise individual businesses about the legality of specific business practices, we offer the following general information on the following topics of particular importance and timeliness:
- Protecting customers' personal data in storage;
- Concealing credit card numbers on receipts;
- price-gouging - illegally raising prices in times of declared disaster;
- Training for bank tellers to help them recognize exploitation of senior customers; and
- Foreclosure prevention efforts to help homeowners endangered by the mortgage lending crisis.
Most importantly, businesses need to be aware of their role in the prevention of the fast-growing crime of identity theft. Specific legislation has been passed in recent years requiring businesses to protect personal data they collect from customers in a number of ways. Businesses can face substantial penalties for disregarding these requirements.
Businesses should also be aware that in times of disaster, raising prices to exploit shortages of certain commodities may qualify as price-gouging. This office aggressively pursues businesses that violate price-gouging laws.
Many business operators recognize that protecting their customers is not only good business, but also the right thing to do. This agency welcomes oportunities to work in cooperation with businesses to promote the public good.
A good example of a business initiative on behalf of consumers is bank teller training. Some senior Texans fall prey to con artists who persuade them to withdraw increasingly large amounts of cash from their bank accounts. This agency offers training in how to recognize the signs that this is happening and how to intervene.
A more recent collaboration involves the crisis in the home mortgage lending sector, where tens of thousands of homeowners face foreclosure. This agency is urging major lenders to join an effort to help these homeowners keep their homes whenever possible.