Ocean County Press Release

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County's Office of Consumer Affairs continues to be at the forefront in protecting consumers from "new, deceptive and fraudulent" efforts to cheat residents, said the state Office of the Attorney General.

Sharon M. Joyce, acting director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs in the Attorney General's Office, praised the county department and its Director Stephen Scaturro in a February 15 letter to the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Joyce said the county has been an outstanding partner with the state in cracking down on efforts to defraud consumers.

"It is with that background that I enthusiastically write to inform you of the outstanding work of Stephen Scaturro and staff of the Ocean County Office of Consumer Affairs throughout the past year," Joyce said in the letter. "Year-end statistics indicate that your county office handled 1,679 complaints and obtained $370,488.38 in restitution and savings for its residents."

Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to the Department of Consumer Affairs, said he wasn't surprised by the state commendation.

"Steve Scaturro and his staff have always been on the front lines defending our working families and our seniors against those individuals that try to take advantage of and cheat them," Vicari said. "I'm very pleased that the State of New Jersey recognizes the hard work of our county employees."

Joyce said her department depends on the county office as a "first line of defensive" in the battle against consumer fraud.

Besides investigations, Joyce praised the county for its efforts to educate consumers about the kinds of fraud they may encounter.

Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little said the rise of online, email, social media and telemarketing scams has made the Consumer Affairs Department's job even more challenging.

"It's scary to get a legitimate-sounding phone from someone claiming to represent the IRS demanding a credit card number or you're going to jail," Little said. "Unfortunately, our older seniors may sometimes fall prey to these hideous scams.

Little also praised Scaturro and his staff for their extra efforts to protect the county's vulnerable senior citizen population.

Joyce predicted the state and county partnership will continue to flourish in 2018.

"The Division looks forward to its continued consumer protection partnership with The Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs and we thank you for continuing to make that office's vital work possible," Joyce said in her letter to the Freeholders.

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