Consumer Tips

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:

Credit Reports, Credit Scores, and Identity Theft:

Common Consumer Problems:

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.

Issue updates

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Damaging methane gas pipeline leaks happen every 40 hours in the U.S.

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Methane Gas Leaks

A new Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report documents that gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. Of the nearly 2,600 incidents reported between 2010 and 2021, 850 resulted in fires and 328 in an explosion. Those incidents killed 122 people and injured more than 600.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Says No (Again) to SRP

Consumer, public health, community, business, environmental, clean energy, and faith-based entities along with residents of Randolph and SRP ratepayers applauded the Commission for once again rejecting Salt River Project’s proposal to add 16 gas units at a cost of nearly $1 billion in ratepayer money.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New report: Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?

In a new report, Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?, Arizona PIRG Education Fund surveyed 50 of the largest grocery and convenience store chains nationwide on their notification practices and talked to experts about what needs to change to improve both communication and public safety.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

SRP IS RUSHING A NEARLY $1 BILLION DECISION

Salt River Project (SRP) is rushing a decision to spend nearly $1 billion in customer money for 16 new gas units. However, SRP has not disclosed how much this will cost the average ratepayer nor have they adequately requested or evaluated options to meet electricity demands or reviewed options to spend less money. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Damaging methane gas pipeline leaks happen every 40 hours in the U.S.

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Says No (Again) to SRP

Consumer, public health, community, business, environmental, clean energy, and faith-based entities along with residents of Randolph and SRP ratepayers applauded the Commission for once again rejecting Salt River Project’s proposal to add 16 gas units at a cost of nearly $1 billion in ratepayer money.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

‘Hog-tied’ and fed up: New report shows dealership consolidation makes farmers’ lives harder

According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, many farm equipment manufacturers prevent farmers from accessing the software tools they need to fix their modern tractors. The organization states that this “forces farmers to turn to corporate-authorized dealers for many problems, which can lead to high repair bills and delays that can put their crops—and their livelihoods—at risk”. While farmers have always relied on local dealerships for help, more and more those dealerships have been bought up by large chain networks, further reducing competition and exacerbating the problems farmers already face due to repair restrictions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Best Buy urged to protect consumer health with gas stoves labeling

The typical gas stove, when not properly vented, can produce air pollution levels indoors that exceed outdoor air standards. Yet millions across the country rely on gas stoves for cooking. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund has joined with other State PIRG Education Funds to launch a new campaign calling on Best Buy to take a leadership role in the industry, and better educate consumers shopping for new stoves. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Se Insta a Best Buy a proteger la salud del consumidor colocando etiquetas de advertencia en las estufas de gas

Cuando una estufa de gas típica no se ventila adecuadamente, puede producir niveles de contaminación del aire en interiores que exceden los estándares del aire exterior. Sin embargo, millones de personas en todo el país dependen de las estufas de gas para cocinar. Los estudios muestran que muchos hogares no cuentan con campanas de escape o no las usan regularmente, lo que significa que sus estufas no se ventilan adecuadamente. Según la organización Arizona PIRG Education Fund, parte del problema es que los comerciantes no proporcionan advertencias adecuadas para informar a los consumidores de los peligros o la necesidad de ventilación.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Methane Gas Leaks

A new Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report documents that gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. Of the nearly 2,600 incidents reported between 2010 and 2021, 850 resulted in fires and 328 in an explosion. Those incidents killed 122 people and injured more than 600.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New report: Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?

In a new report, Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?, Arizona PIRG Education Fund surveyed 50 of the largest grocery and convenience store chains nationwide on their notification practices and talked to experts about what needs to change to improve both communication and public safety.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

SRP IS RUSHING A NEARLY $1 BILLION DECISION

Salt River Project (SRP) is rushing a decision to spend nearly $1 billion in customer money for 16 new gas units. However, SRP has not disclosed how much this will cost the average ratepayer nor have they adequately requested or evaluated options to meet electricity demands or reviewed options to spend less money. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Deere in the Headlights II

According to a new Arizona PIRG Education Fund report, software repair locks tie farmers to dealers, putting equipment uptime—and sometimes crops—at risk. Farmers and ranchers rely on equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters to produce America’s food supply. Over the years, that equipment has gotten bigger, more expensive and more digital. The software integrated in modern tractors, ostensibly created to make farm operations more efficient, is being used by manufacturers to lock farmers out of fixing their own equipment. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Healthier Holiday: Minimizing the health risks of cooking with gas

Many of our holiday traditions revolve around food. Whatever the tradition, there’s nothing like sharing a meal with family and friends over the holidays. But in millions of homes, there’s a hidden danger lurking in the kitchen. Common across the country, gas stoves can produce levels of indoor air pollution that would be illegal outdoors.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How I got my finances in order | Mike Litt

Even with the knowledge I’ve gained working as a consumer advocate for several years, getting my finances in order has been a work in progress. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How I started my estate and end-of-life planning | Mike Litt

Until recently, I did not have estate and end-of-life planning in mind, but it was the natural next step in my quest to be a responsible adult, with a nudge from the existential threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Resources I used to prepare my advance directive | Mike Litt

Advance directives are legal instructions that include a living will (different from a regular will) and a health care proxy. In them, you state what treatments you do or don’t want at the end of your life and who you want making health care decisions for you if you can’t. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

What I decided to do after shopping for long-term care insurance | Mike Litt

Before listening to In Case You Get Hit By a Bus, I didn’t know about insurance that covers the costs of long-term care, such as home health care or nursing home care, for people who need assistance with daily living activities. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How I’m supercharging my savings with socially responsible investing (SRI) | Mike Litt

Getting my finances in order has been a work in progress over several years, starting with tackling credit card debt, paying off my car loan and then building an emergency fund. 

After clearing those hurdles, I set more defined financial goals and plans in motion this year, including automatic deposits into new investment accounts.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

A new Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report documents that gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. Of the nearly 2,600 incidents reported between 2010 and 2021, 850 resulted in fires and 328 in an explosion. Those incidents killed 122 people and injured more than 600. The total costs to communities from items such as property damage, emergency services, and the value of intentionally and unintentionally released gas, totaled nearly $4 billion.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. 

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Consumer, public health, community, business, environmental, clean energy, and faith-based entities along with residents of Randolph and SRP ratepayers applauded the Commission for once again rejecting Salt River Project’s proposal to add 16 gas units at a cost of nearly $1 billion in ratepayer money.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

In a new report, Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?, Arizona PIRG Education Fund surveyed 50 of the largest grocery and convenience store chains nationwide on their notification practices and talked to experts about what needs to change to improve both communication and public safety.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Salt River Project (SRP) is rushing a decision to spend nearly $1 billion in customer money for 16 new gas units. However, SRP has not disclosed how much this will cost the average ratepayer nor have they adequately requested or evaluated options to meet electricity demands or reviewed options to spend less money. 

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