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Nieto Empowering Wisconsin's Latino Consumers
November 21, 2012

Contact:  Jerad Albracht, Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Jim Dick, Communications Director, 608-224-5020

MADISON – For Wisconsin’s Latino population, there has long been a question of who to turn to for consumer protection help.  That is where Kristy Nieto steps in.

As the Latino Outreach Specialist within the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) Consumer Information and Education Unit, Nieto travels the state conducting consumer protection workshops and speaking on consumer protection laws and resources.

“My goal is to empower consumers to know their rights and protect their money and privacy,” said Nieto.  “Immigrant and English as a second language communities are especially vulnerable to scams.  By empowering our vulnerable populations to protect themselves from scammers, we make our state a less attractive target for criminals.”

For Nieto, that means working to make consumer protection resources and services more accessible to Latinos in Wisconsin and to make the agency’s messages reach Latino communities consistently and in a meaningful way.

In her year at the Consumer Protection Bureau, Nieto has been responsible for synchronizing the bureau’s Spanish-language communications with its English publications.  She recently initiated the statewide distribution of DATCP news releases in Spanish in an effort to increase Spanish-language media coverage of consumer protection news in the state, and she continues to work with multicultural and Latino markets to identify the most effective channels through which to communicate in Spanish.  Nieto also coordinates consumer awareness events like DATCP’s annual Día del Consumidor (Consumer Day Resource Fair).

“We want consumers to have access to the message we are putting out there,” said Nieto.  “The Consumer Protection Bureau covers a huge list of products and consumer issues, but no matter what topic I speak on or write about, I always bring my audience back to one central message – this is what we do and here is how you get in touch with us.” 

Nieto also serves as the bureau liaison for consumer protection issues that primarily target Hispanic consumers.  By creating information-sharing networks and partnerships across Wisconsin, she is able to identify timely topics and key issues that concern Latino consumers.

For example, Nieto brought a major satellite TV scam to the attention of the statewide Hispanic community earlier this year.  Spanish-speaking scammers were offering consumers a great, but fraudulent, deal on satellite TV service, and consumers were losing as much as $500 dollars each on this scam.  Nieto identified the issue for division management. A subsequent media alert was picked up by several Spanish-language radio stations and several Latino community organizations helped spread the word.

Over the course of her professional and educational careers, Nieto has served Wisconsin’s Latino community in a number of capacities:  as a program coordinator with Dane County’s Latino Academy of Workforce Development, as a Spanish instructor at UW-Madison, and as a special events coordinator with UW-Madison’s PEOPLE Program.  Prior to moving to Madison from Minnesota, she served as a bilingual cultural liaison for the South St. Paul Public School System.

For Nieto, the best part of her job at DATCP is meeting consumers and hearing their personal stories.

“I enjoy conducting workshops where consumers are really high-energy, almost talking over one another about consumer protection topics,” said Nieto.  “I get to watch people go from not knowing what ‘consumer protection’ means to becoming empowered to know their rights and do research before making purchases.”

For additional information about Consumer Protection, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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