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Consumer protection week begins Monday

February 28, 2013|Lynn Little

For the past 15 years, a coalition has worked to share tips and information about privacy protection, money and debt management and recognizing identity theft, frauds and scams.

University of Maryland Extension — Washington County is joining the coalition of government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups nationwide to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), Sunday, March 3, through Saturday, March 9, with shopping strategies and consumer tips to empower you to make better buying decisions and protect your rights in the marketplace.

You can begin learning more with these tips from USA.gov (www.usa.gov).

Keep up with recent recalls or safety complaints of things you may have around the house or check on that great thrift shop bargain before you buy. Use the Recalls.gov app and mobile site to search by product type and brand name.

When your wallet is lost or stolen, there are eight steps you need to take right away www.usa.gov/topics/consumer/identity-theft.pdf). A thief won't waste time trying to cash in on your loss. Learn now so you'll be ready to protect your identity and your credit as soon as your wallet goes missing.

A new federal agency is working to eliminate deceptive and unfair lending practices. Established in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) works to make sure providers of mortgages, credit cards, student loans and banking services market their products honestly, clearly and legally. Learn more about their work, and their tips for protecting yourself (Promotions.usa.gov/cfpbpubs.html).

Scammers see tough economic times as an opportunity. Job scams are abundant, as swindlers "guarantee" you an unadvertised job, try to get you to pay for their placement services or tell you that you can get rich by working from home. Learn more about financial scams and saving money at the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer.gov.

There's a formula for complaining effectively. If you're not satisfied with a product or service, use the Consumer Action Handbook's sample complaint letter to let the company know where they went wrong and how you want them to fix it.

To get the free Handbook or its Spanish counterpart, la Guía del Consumidor, visit the consumer protection sections of USA.gov or GobiernoUSA.gov (Publications.usa.gov/USAPubs.php).

During a special National Consumer Protection Week online Q&A session, you can ask government experts your consumer questions. Experts from USA.gov and the Federal Trade Commission will connect you with government resources to answer your questions during the live event on Wednesday, March 6, from 2 to 3 p.m. Find out about the latest scams, how to protect your family from identity theft and more. To participate, submit your questions in advance or during the event on USA.gov's Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #NCPW.  

During National Consumer Protection Week or anytime, visit www.ncpw.gov for free educational resources and blog posts from national consumer protection experts.



Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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