Local April 18, 2023 | 3:37 pm

Pro Consumidor and ADESS will work to protect beneficiaries of the Alimentate and Bonogás programs

The National Institute for Consumer Protection (Pro Consumidor) and the Administrator of Social Subsidies (ADESS) have joined forces to protect consumers who benefit from social programs such as Alimentate and Bonogás Hogar from fraudulent activities such as card cloning. At a meeting held at Pro Consumidor’s headquarters, Eddy Alcántara, the executive director of Pro Consumidor, and Catalino (Freddy) Correa Hiciano, the general director of ADESS, discussed an inter-institutional agreement to address the issues of overpriced food products sold to consumers using these programs.

Several complaints have been filed regarding the overvaluation of food products near the dates of placing benefits on the cards of consumers. Consumers have reported that when they present their cards, they do not have funds available because their cards have been cloned. Additionally, some businesses take advantage of the situation and retain the cards by paying or advancing an amount less than what is placed on the beneficiaries, which distorts the fundamental objective of the program which seeks to directly assist low-income citizens.

To combat these issues, Pro Consumidor will be responsible for permanently monitoring the establishments that contain the authorized verifons of ADESS throughout the national territory. Starting from the 18th of each month, Pro Consumidor will be visiting all the businesses that are authorized to accept this type of card. If any fraudulent action on the part of a business or its owner is detected during the inspections, Pro Consumidor will take preventive measures and sanction them accordingly. The competent authorities and the Public Ministry will be informed and the file will be processed if necessary.

Sanctions that may be applied to these businesses include temporary closure, fines, warnings, and action before the Public Ministry. The agreement also includes the placement of signs in each business that has the authorized verifone, guaranteeing that it is located in a visible place where it cannot be manipulated by the merchant or any employee of the establishment. This will prevent any effective action against consumers and provide information to consumers about the correct use of plastic and the benefits granted by the State.

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