Consumer Protection Requires Vigilance
A reminder of some common scams and ways to protect yourself
March 5th through the 11th is National Consumer Protection Week. It’s a good time to raise awareness about the threats consumers face in the financial marketplace.
The consumer protection attorneys at Finn Law Group are doing their part to highlight some common issues consumers face.
According to Finn:
Fraud is common and happens often. Whether you’re a senior, young adult, or any other consumer, the key is to keep your eyes and ears open. Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to fraud prevention. It is imperative to be aware of the prevalent frauds in today’s world, including Imposter Scams, Tech Support Scams, Lottery and Sweepstakes fraud, Charity Cons, Identity Theft Ploys, Investment Fraud, and Timeshare Traps.
Before taking any action in a purchase, always double-check that what you’re seeing and feeling is legitimate. If anything seems strange or out of the ordinary, don’t proceed until it’s been verified!
If it seems too good to be true, it may well be. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of caution.
Here’s what Finn says you need to do to build some protection as you’re making purchases:
Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or emails offering you deals that seem too good to be true.
Research any company before doing business with them.
Don’t give out personal information unless you’re sure it’s safe.
Prior to signing any contracts, be sure that you are familiar with all the related costs and fees associated with them. Don’t rush into a contract without knowing exactly what is expected of you!
And a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau highlights another trap for consumers — illegal junk fees.
Here are just a few examples:
Surprise overdraft fees: Institutions assessed unfair overdraft fees by authorizing a debit that was made with a positive balance, but later charging an overdraft fee because of intervening transactions that were processed before the debit settled. Account holders could not reasonably avoid these surprise fees, irrespective of account disclosures.
Out-of-bounds and fake late fees on auto loans: Servicers charged late fees that exceeded the permissible amounts stated in borrowers’ contracts. Servicers also charged late fees to consumers whose cars had been repossessed and their loans accelerated, which means that no payment was due that could have been subject to a late fee.
Excessive late fee amounts on mortgage loans: Mortgage servicers charged the top late fee amount allowed by relevant state laws, even when homeowners’ mortgage contracts capped late fee amounts below state maximums.
Stay vigilant — not every actor in the financial space has your best interests in mind.