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

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Analysis of Predatory Lending Complaints Reveals Need for Stronger Federal Protections

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumers Count: Five years of the CFPB standing up for consumers | Kathryn Lee

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Survey Shows Free Checking Widely Available At Small Banks But Banks Still Hiding Fees from Consumers

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

BANKS SKIM MILLIONS IN FEES FROM STUDENT AID USING DEBIT-CARD-LINKED STUDENT IDS

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Dept. of Insurance Issues Rule on Health Insurance “Rate Review”

Today, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and the Arizona PIRG Education Fund released a new report Getting All the Cards on the Table: The Premise and Promise of Health Insurance Rate Review in Arizona which highlights options Arizona has to increase transparency so consumers have better information and are better protected against unreasonable health insurance rate increases. The report comes on the heels of the Arizona Department of Insurance’s (ADOI) initiation of rulemaking on “rate review” which began on Friday. 

 

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

State, Federal Settlement of Robo-Signing Claims With Big Banks Is Important Step

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) said a vote last night by the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s utility regulators, failed to provide the short-term relief many ratepayers need now and the long-term relief many ratepayers will need for months to come.

Blog Post

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

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