Consumer fraud is an issue most Penn students don’t think about, but according to a new club, maybe they should.
A new organization on campus, Penn Consumer Assistance Support and Education, is hoping to help out students and the larger community by educating them on how to prevent and deal with consumer fraud.
CASE president and founder College sophomore Christopher D’Urso created the organization to educate the community about the little-addressed subject of consumer advocacy.
“I recognized that there was a need ... to create some sort of organization that would help educate Penn students and Philly residents about consumer fraud and how to protect themselves against those issues,” D’Urso said.
College senior and Penn CASE Executive Vice President Aidan McConnell also believes that Penn students should be more aware of consumer issues.
“Penn CASE’s mission and objective is basically to get the general infrastructure of consumer awareness and consumer protection to be something that Penn students actually care about,” he said.
D’Urso sees the club as having three different departments: one that focuses on students and issues at Penn, one on the larger Philadelphia community and one that handles communication. The club is currently seeking new members.
As far as outreach to Penn students is concerned, D’Urso sees a lot of ways that Penn CASE can help students become savvier consumers.
“There’s a lot of issues that [Penn students] face, like if you want to live off-campus, what are your rights and resources as a tenant?” D’Urso said.
Penn CASE is also focusing on using Penn students to address consumer safety in Philadelphia and is working with local government to make sure they are addressing the issues in the right way. The organization hopes to help groups that are at high risk of being victims of consumer fraud, like students and senior citizens, by providing the resources necessary to educate them about the issue.
D’Urso, who became interested in consumer advocacy while working as an investigative aide in the Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs in New Jersey, said he has not heard about similar groups at other universities.
“I think that’s one of the challenges,” he said. “It’s a little bit of unchartered territory.”
Those in Penn CASE hope Penn students will be able to combine volunteering with interest in learning about business.
“We think this is something that it is really important for Penn students to get involved with because it combines this somewhat business-oriented mindset and economic mindset that a lot of Penn students have with a type of community impact that we don’t really see happening at a lot of universities,” McConnell said.
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