This year's National Consumer Protection Week is March 5th through March 11th. It's a time to educate people about their rights as consumers and how to make informed decisions about their money. Whether it's taking a hard look at your finances or having the information to avoid scams, taking control of your consumer life is critical. Celebrate this National Consumer Protection Week by following some of the tips listed below.
1. Monitor Your Identity
Identity theft reports are a concern. They may be one of the most devastating financial crimes that some experience. Of the 2.2 million complaints filed in the previous year, consumers lost more than $3 billion.2 There are several ways you may help keep tabs on your identity.
Shop on trustworthy sites. Don't give out your Social Security number or other identifying information. It may be wise to sign up for a credit monitoring program that alerts you to changes in your credit. Some of these programs are free services offered by credit card companies.2
2. Be Wary of Robocalls
Robocalls are an annoying part of daily life for some people, one that adds up to a significant amount of wasted time. In fact, robocalls that violate the Consumer Protection Act cost consumers billions a year in wasted time. Avoid the distraction of robocalls by utilizing phone software that blocks potential scams or prevents your phone from ringing when a robocall is detected.2
3. Watch for Price Gouging
The recent shortages from the pandemic have brought price gouging back to the forefront of some consumer's minds. While consumers typically shop for deals on needed products, shortages and panic-driven buying led consumers to pay seriously inflated prices on everything from health care basics to safety supplies. Report any price hikes that seem out of place or unusual to Consumer Reporting sources, and be sure to look at comparison prices of items before you purchase.2
4. Avoid Tax Season Scams
Tax scams have been prevalent for years, and with recent stimulus payments, scam attempts have increased. From demanding payment to avoid warrants for tax crimes to filing claims for other people's stimulus money, scams around the tax season come in many forms. Remember that the IRS contacts you by mail if there is a problem, and if someone calls demanding immediate payment, it is not the IRS but likely a scammer trying to get money or personal information.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess
LPL Tracking #: 1-05233569
1Getting Beyond the Tough Times: Make a financial plan to see you through, FDIC.gov, https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/information/ncpw/index.html
2National Consumer Protection Week 2021, IllinoisPRIG, https://illinoispirgedfund.org/blogs/blog/usp/national-consumer-protection-week-2021