How to Avoid Scams: Consumer Protection WeekIstock.com/Tuned_In
This Monday kicked off National Consumer Protection Week, a coordinated campaign that focuses on financial education and encourages consumers to learn their rights. Take the opportunity to educate yourself about dangerous scams and learn to make better-informed decisions.
Why You Need Consumer Protection
It’s an unfortunate truth: Millions of people worldwide are scammed every year. Certain people and organizations are willing to take advantage of you to get your money. It’s an all-too common problem, and the methods get more sophisticated all the time.
These top 10 scams amounted to more than $1 million lost from U.S. and Canadian consumers in 2015 alone:
- Tax scams
- Debt collections
- Tech support
- Government grants
- Advanced fee loans
- Credit cards
- Work from home
- Fake checks/Money orders
Get Financial Education
But no fear—you can protect yourself. The first step is education. Consumer protection laws in the U.S. protect you from deceptive practices, but it’s best to know your rights and what to watch out for before it happens.
To learn about your rights and find tips for protecting yourself, visit www.NCPW.gov. The site has information on a variety of consumer topics like banking, credit cards, identity theft, and more.
Although not as heavily recognized, knowing your insurance limits should be part of your personal financial education. Being an informed insurance customer can protect you.
- Consumers reports – Need insurance? Not only should you look for the best policies and rates, but you should also be on the lookout for potential insurance-related scams. Consumerreports.org has information about a variety of products.
- Robocall Initiatives – Thanks to technology, companies are using “robocalls” more than ever. Some of these calls are illegal, and the Federal Trade Commission can help you limit the number of robocalls you receive.
- Debt Collection – Learn your rights and how to avoid a debt collection lawsuit at www.consumer-action.org.
Take Action: Report Scams
One useful resource is BBB Scam Tracker from the Better Business Bureau. With this tool you can discover financial scams in your area and even report a scam if you’ve fallen victim. The tracker reports fraud on various keywords including credit cards, fake checks/money orders, foreign money exchanges, and more. Search your location to see what to watch out for in your area.
You can also report scams, identity theft, or other complaints with the following resources:
- FTC Identity Theft
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- IRS Tax Fraud (You’ll need to complete and send a form to the IRS.)
- Your state insurance fraud bureau
Have you dealt with your own financial scam? Let us know. You could help others’ avoid the same danger.