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

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

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Statement on P&G’s Consumer Product Fragrance Disclosure Announcement

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

APS Rate Case: Not over until ACC Votes | Diane E. Brown

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Guidance for Utilities Commissions on Time of Use Rates

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

30th Annual Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona PIRG Education Fund Commends Release of Labor Dept.'s Proposed Rule To End Conflicted Retirement Advice

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s Annual Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A Public Interest Internet Agenda

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2008

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Campus Credit Card Trap

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Mixed Signals

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Blog Post

Arizonans overwhelmingly embrace the idea of growing the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy resources and believe clean energy is important to Arizona jobs and the economy, according to a new statewide poll.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted at its February 6th, 2019 meeting to approve Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) proposed energy efficiency programming budget of $22.9 million dollars. This approval will allow the Pima County utility to restore programs that have been on hold since their plan was initially released.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

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