Tuesday, March 5, 2013

National Consumer Protection Week: Tips to Make You a Smarter Shopper

Sales pitches and financial advice come at you from every direction—by phone, by mail, and every time you read an ad, go online or turn on your TV. It can seem like a full time job just to sort it all out, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Government agencies, consumer organizations and advocacy groups join forces during National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9 with shopping strategies and consumer tips to empower you to make better buying decisions and protect your rights in the marketplace.
Start learning now with these tips:

DID YOU KNOW:
  • A free mobile app can help you check any product or vehicle, new or used, to see if it’s been recalled or has safety complaints? Keep up with recent recalls of things you may have around the house or check on that great thrift shop bargain before you buy. Use the Recalls.gov app and mobile site to search by product type and brand name.
  • When your wallet is lost or stolen, there are eight steps you need to take right away (PDF)? A thief won’t waste time trying to cash in on your loss. Learn now so you’ll be ready to protect your identity and your credit as soon as your wallet goes missing.
  • A new federal agency is working to eliminate deceptive and unfair lending practices? Established in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) works to make sure providers of mortgages, credit cards, student loans and banking services market their products honestly, clearly and legally. Learn more about their work, and their simple tips for protecting yourself.
  • Scammers see tough economic times as an opportunity? Job scams are abundant, as swindlers “guarantee” you an unadvertised job, try to get you to pay for their placement services or tell you that you can get rich by working from home. Learn more about financial scams and saving money at the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer.gov.
  • There’s a formula for complaining effectively? If you’re not satisfied with a product or service, use the Consumer Action Handbook’s sample complaint letter to let the company know where they went wrong and how you want them to fix it. To get the free Handbook or its Spanish counterpart, la GuĂ­a del Consumidor, visit the consumer protection sections of USA.gov or GobiernoUSA.gov.