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The Union of Local Authorities together with Israel's better business bureau, Emun Hazibur, has launched a new information center aimed at protecting the consumer rights of new immigrants.
"We have discovered that it is very difficult to reach new immigrants, especially Russian and Ethiopian speakers who do not read the Hebrew media," Ronen Regev Cabir, deputy director of Emun Hazibur and head of the organization's research department, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. "Most of these people are in a weak socio-economic situation and stand to lose everything if cheated by an individual or a business."
The new center, which has yet to be named, will be run out of the immigration and absorption departments of most local municipalities and will investigate complaints lodged by new immigrants about businesses and consumer products sold in the area.
"The aim is to protect the rights of immigrants," explained Michael Ginker, director of immigration and aliya for the Union of Local Authorities, adding that many times new immigrants unfamiliar with the cultural business practices fall victims to criminals and have no recourse. "It is not even a problem of not understanding the language but of not being clued in to the mentality."
"In many cases, immigrants have less information about their consumer rights and without the financial access to lawyers do not know how to protect themselves or seek justice," added Regev Cabir.
While protecting immigrants' consumer rights is the main focus of the project, Regev Cabir said that it would also provide useful information about problematic businesses that hurt the consumer, especially those that prey specifically on vulnerable new immigrants.
Ginker said that the network to deal with such complaints already existed within most municipalities and that he is currently in the process of meeting with local authority representatives to encourage them to promote the project.