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PROTECTING YOURSELF IN A COMPLEX MARKETPLACE — Our researchers and attorneys provide key tips for how you can shop for the best bank, get the best car loan, protect against identity theft and more.
In today's marketplace, it takes a savvy, informed consumer to avoid common pitfalls and threats. Financial decisions in particular require assessing a blizzard of advertisements and navigating pages of jargon-laden fine print to make decisions about credit cards, bank accounts, loans, health insurance, and cell phone contracts, among other things.
It’s more important than ever to protect yourself:
- Consumers who finance their cars through a dealership pay more than $25.8 billion in additional hidden interest over the lives of their loans.
- In 2010, more than 8 million households were victims of identity theft, a 33 percent rise since 2005.
- One out of 20 consumers has errors on their credit report significant enough to lead to higher rates on loans.
- Banks made around $30 billion in overdraft fees in 2011. Adding insult to injury, these fees were pitched as “overdraft protection,” which most consumers would be better off without.
That's why the U.S. PIRG Education Fund has compiled recommendations and resources for consumers. Our tip sheets address some of the most common complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission—read on, and protect yourself from becoming a statistic.
- Choosing a bank
- Protecting yourself from identity theft
- Picking a cell phone plan
- Protecting renters
- Avoiding mistakes when buying a car
- Dealing with credit cards
- Avoiding problems when paying taxes
- Avoiding dangerous toys
Note that these tips are not intended as, nor should they be construed as, legal advice. If you need legal advice dealing with a consumer problem, consult an attorney.
Our latest report, with the Frontier Group, finds that: Financing the purchase of a car is a minefield for consumers at even the best of times. Tricks and traps in the auto marketplace can leave consumers paying more for a car than they should – or, worse, to being victimized by predatory and abusive practices by auto dealers and lenders. COVID-19 has left consumers even more vulnerable. A review of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database reveals a sharp spike in consumer complaints about auto purchasing, leasing and financing since the beginning of the pandemic.
Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.
Here’s a guide to your rights depending on how you pay
This FTC settlement must be a wake-up call to phone service providers so they do more to protect consumers. If not, the FTC must be vigilant in going after companies that enable the immoral practice of preying on consumers. And the FCC should require providers to block spoofed calls that we all know are scams.
Being proactive and demanding can help keep you and your family safe
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