For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2011
Freehold Township wins County Consumer Bowl
High School students comes out on top 4th consecutive year
HOWELL, NJ – Freehold Township High School came up winners of the 15th annual Monmouth County Consumer Bowl, a game-show-style competition for teams of high school students.
Students from 9 high schools answered consumer-related questions in a multiple choice and open-ended format to test their knowledge of consumer issues, such as Internet fraud and buying and leasing automobiles. The contest was held today at the Monmouth County Fire Academy.
The five-member team from Freehold Township High School successfully defended its 2011 Monmouth County Consumer Bowl title against students from Freehold Borough, Howell, Keansburg, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown North, Neptune and St. John Vianney.
The Consumer Bowl comes on the heels of National Consumer Protection Week, which was March 4 through March 10. The county’s focus this year was on making residents better consumers by helping them to protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identity theft, frauds and scams.
“It’s important that teens understand consumer and business concepts, like credit and identity theft, banking and fraud, marketing and advertising,” said Annmarie Howley, director of the county Department of Consumer Affairs. “Consumer Bowl participants are a step ahead of their peers with their knowledge of consumer issues and are well-prepared to tackle issues in the marketplace.”
The three finalists, Freehold Township High School, Howell Township High School and Manalapan Township High School, were even going into the bonus round, but Freehold Township was quicker on the draw and answered most of the questions correctly. Team members are Casey Moore, Samantha Fitzgerald, Samantha Sanchez, Morgan Thompson and Jahred Liddie. Their adviser is Adam Falk.
The Freehold Township team will move on to the regional competition on April 18 with home field advantage because the competition will be held at the Monmouth County Fire Academy. The winner of the regional competition will go on to compete in the 2012 New Jersey State Consumer Bowl scheduled for May 21 at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton.
The New Jersey High School Consumer Bowl is a program of the state Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs. It was established in 1997 to help students learn about consumer issues that will benefit them throughout their lives.
“The best part about this program is that all of our participating young adults gained some knowledge about what it takes to help them be smarter consumers and possibly future consumer advocates,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs. “It is also a great way to promote the county’s Consumer Affairs office, which enforces consumer laws and helps people who suspect they might be victims of unscrupulous business practices.”
Since the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs was established in 1977, the department has handled more than 50,000 complaints and resolved disputes, resulting in savings to consumers of more than $12 million.
In 2011, the department mediated more than 600 complaints and recovered more than $337,000 for consumers. Mediation includes letters, telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and informal conferences with businesses. If a business is uncooperative and does not appear as scheduled, the Department has the authority to issue a subpoena, a function coordinated with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
The Consumer Affairs department is a law enforcement agency, created and funded by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. It protects against consumer fraud and dishonest and unscrupulous business practices by enforcing the state Consumer Fraud Act and many other regulations.
“We can assist consumers with the resolution of all sorts of consumer-related issues,” Howley said.
“People are continuing to watch every dollar they spend, so it’s comforting to know there is a place to turn to for help,” Burry said. “The staff works not only for Monmouth County residents, but for any resident who is having difficulty dealing with a business located in Monmouth County.”
Monmouth County was pleased this year to partner with OceanFirst Bank, which donated lunches for the students and staff attending the Consumer Bowl.
Additional information about fraud and other consumer affairs programs can be found on the county Web site at www.visitmonmouth.com or by calling 732-431-7900. The office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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