National Consumer Protection Week: Know Your Rights, and Make Better-Informed Decisions

How much do your members know about credit and debt? Stopping telemarketing calls? Separating facts from fiction in ads?

This week is National Consumer Protection Week, a coordinated campaign by nonprofit organizations and government agencies — including the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau — to answer those questions and many, many more.

The goal: to encourage consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions on everything from shopping and saving to investing, identity theft and protecting themselves from scams.

“You are your own best shield against identity thieves and online threats,” says Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “This is an ideal time to ensure you know how to sniff out scams and make smart buying decisions.”

At www.ncpw.gov, consumers will find a wealth of practical information. There’s an easy-to-understand explanation of the differences between credit, debit and prepaid cards, for example, as well as tips on how to repair credit or deal with debt collectors. Are extended warranties and service contracts worth the cost? Are “free trial offers” really free? Consumers will find answers to those questions, too.

The website also includes a “Get Involved” page, with plenty of suggestions that credit unions and others can use to promote National Consumer Protection Week and reach out to consumers throughout the year at events, in newsletters or via social media.

Throughout the week, the Washington state Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington will be posting daily tips on their websites and social media pages. Together, the two aim to address growing problems surrounding technology, identity theft, health and safety, and other consumer-related issues.

Here, for example, are their general tips to avoid scams:

Learn more about National Consumer Protection Week in this video.

  • Make sure the business you’re dealing with is legitimate; research businesses or organizations before spending money.
  • Do not give Social Security, financial or other personal information to strangers who make contact by phone, Internet or mail.
  • Keep antivirus software up to date and be careful when surfing the Internet.
  • Shred all physical copies of important documents when they are no longer needed.
  • Trust your instincts; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Consumers can follow the Attorney General’s Office on Twitter and visit the Better Business Bureau’s Facebook page. For more information about National Consumer Protection Week, check out this cool video or go to ncpw.org.

Questions? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.