National Consumer Protection Week is in full swing, and this year the focus is on avoiding ID theft, fighting scams and fraud, and managing your credit and debt, among other consumer issues.
Identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission's latest list of top consumer complaints, and the FTC has taken the lead in organizing this year's Consumer Protection Week.
Here are some recent tips and advice from us to help you better protect yourself:
- Identity theft: What you can do, plus ways to secure your identity for less.
- Consumer Reports guide to online security
- This time of year it's a good idea to know the top tax scams so you can avoid them.
- It's also smart to familiarize yourself with top 10 scams of 2011, which notes that scammers are targeting their victims by age.
- And when it comes to your credit, check out this useful information about your credit reports vs. credit scores.
Whether it's staying on top of product recalls due to safety hazards, or guarding yourself against fraudsters, consumer protection is an ongoing battle that occurs on many fronts. Just this week, two House bills up for consideration would add to bureaucratic red tape and make it more difficult for the FCC to protect your consumer interests, according to Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We agree that there are ways to improve and streamline the FCC decision making process, but not at the sake of the consumer," said Parul Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union. She added that these bills would simply hamstring the FCC.
On another front, however, also at the federal level, this past year saw the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the goals for which include holding financial institutions accountable and providing you with the information you need to understand the true cost and risk of financial products such as loans. Just last month the consumer watchdog proposed oversight of debt collectors and credit bureaus.