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.
The Best Ways to Protect Yourself
Being a consumer in today’s marketplace can be tough. Financial decisions in particular often require navigating a torrent of misleading advertisements and pages of jargon-filled small print. Even the simplest choices — everyday financial decisions like opening a credit card, creating a bank account, applying for a loan, or sorting through cell phone contracts — can take time, energy and knowledge that too many of us don’t have.
Many financial institutions don’t set out to make it easier for their customers:
- 1 out of every 20 Americans — millions of consumers — have errors on their credit reports significant enough to raise their rate on loans.
- Financing cars through dealerships costs consumers more than $25.8 billion in additional hidden interest.
- From 2005 to 2010, identity theft rose by 33%. In 2012, an estimated 12.6 million Americans became victims. That is 1 victim every 3 seconds.
- Banks made around $11 billion in overdraft fees in 2015, fees they pitched as “overdraft protection” but actually cost consumers more.
Despite these practices, there are ways to protect yourself. We want to help. This is why we’ve created the following tip sheets based on common complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Read on. Protect yourself from becoming a statistic.
File a complaint if you have a problem
For all sorts of everyday consumer problems, there are government resources that can help. Federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Consumer Product Safety Commission exist to protect us from unfair or dangerous products. Submitting complaints to government agencies can help resolve your problem AND it helps these agencies hold companies accountable for unfair practices. For more information, consult our tip sheet on the subject, which includes information on how to contact the CFPB with financial complaints, the CPSC with toy and other product safety complaints, the NHTSA with car safety complaints, and DOT with air travel complaints: How to File a Consumer Complaint and Use Government Databases.
Keeping Track of Your Money:
- Top Ten Ways the CFPB Can Help You With Financial Questions
- How to Choose a Bank
- How to Avoid Problems When Paying Taxes
- How to Choose a Credit Card
Credit Reports, Credit Scores, and Identity Theft:
- How to Access Your Credit Report and Avoid 'Free' Credit Report Scams
- How to Fix Mistakes on Your Credit Report
- How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Common Consumer Problems:
- How to Pick a Cell Phone Plan
- How Tenants Can Protect Themselves from Predatory Landlords
- How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Buying a Car
- How to Avoid Dangerous Toys
- Your Rights As an Air Traveler
Please 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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a full recall Wednesday of all ranitidine, a heartburn medication known by the brand name Zantac.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not join in the call to the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. A bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with co-leading Attorneys General Hector Balderas (NM), William Tong (CT), and T.J. Donovan (VT), sent a letter today urging the companies -- Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart -- to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis.
As the second week of spring break begins, I wanted to update the student resources I sent last week and give you some ways to help others during this unprecedented moment.
As you know, on March 30th, all classes will resume online and students who live on campus are asked to move out throughout this week.
Here are a few resources to turn to if you need them:
The spread of coronavirus across the country is a serious threat to our health and financial security. We here at TexPIRG are working from home and wishing everyone health, calm, and plenty of hand-washing.
During this time, we must ensure that consumers are protected from those who would take advantage of the pandemic situation and that everyone has access to what they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this disease.
The changes occurring to our daily lives and the whole country is overwhelming. We’ll get through it by working together, so we wanted to offer some information on what TexPIRG is working on.
As we enter spring break, I wanted to share some important resources as our campuses transition to online classes.
This change to our daily lives - and the whole country - may feel overwhelming. We’ll get through it together and so we wanted to offer some information for students who may be especially struggling to adjust to this major transition.
As you are most likely aware, UT Austin has extended it’s spring break an additional week and will resume classes on March 30th.
TexPIRG is happy to provide the following resources for students during this time.
Your tax-deductible donation supports TexPIRG Education Fund's work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and to stand up to the powerful interests that are blocking progress.
You can also support TexPIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.