Consumer scams seem to be on the rise as agencies like the Better Business Bureau and Arizona Attorney General’s office get flooded with complaints. But sometimes those who have gotten scammed receive help from much closer to home: a Valley resident just like them.
That’s because ABC15 reporter Joe Ducey’s “Let Joe Know” consumer affairs program, which airs at 6 p.m. weekdays on ABC-Channel 15, is staffed by local volunteers who want to help their fellow citizens get back a least a little of what is owed to them.
The volunteers return phone calls and e-mails and try to offer advice or referrals to those that won’t make the on-air program. It could be a landlord/tenant issue, a bad contractor problem, or someone who is about to fall for a scam and needs guidance.
Ducey has been an investigative reporter with ABC15 for nine years. He launched the “Let Joe Know” consumer advocacy program four years ago.
“We get about 300 complaints a month. It’s amazing that so many people feel like they have to turn to a TV station because they can’t get the help they need from state or federal agencies,” Ducey says.
Volunteers come from throughout the Valley; while a good portion of them are retired, there are a number of volunteers who work flexible schedules and come in to help out because they want to give back to their community, Ducey explains.
Also helping to “give back” is the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which donates space at its North Central office for Ducey and his team to use five days a week, including telephones and computers. The office is located at 1010 E. Missouri Ave. “They have the same goal as we do—to help consumers out,” Ducey points out.
Ducey says all the work is computer based, so for some volunteers, “there is a little bit of a learning curve.” But training is provided and there is someone on hand each day who can help with volunteers’ computer questions. Ducey is usually there on Tuesdays to pitch in.
The goal of the team is to reach out to everyone who calls in or e-mails a consumer complaint, whether or not they can be helped by Let Joe Know volunteers. Sometimes those frustrated consumers are referred to other agencies that might be better able to assist them.
“Let Joe Know” volunteers can choose a three-hour shift (minimum) anytime from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday. If they want to work more than three hours a week, they are more than welcome to, Ducey adds.
If you are interested in volunteering for the “Let Joe Know” program, e-mail Joe@abc15.com with “Volunteering” in the subject line for more information.
The “Let Joe Know” page at www.ABC15.com has a place where you can enter your e-mail address to receive a monthly newsletter highlighting the top three scams of the month, websites for researching companies, and other tips and tricks to avoid becoming a victim.