Take Advantage of Your New Right to Freeze Your Credit Files for Free

If you’re concerned about identity theft (and these days, who isn’t?), there is good news. As of September 21, 2018, you have the right to ask the consumer reporting agencies that operate on a nationwide basis to freeze your credit files and lift the freeze, whenever you want, at no charge. “Security freezes” make it … Continued

CFAnews Update – October 16, 2018

Public Interest Groups Urge Opposition to the “GRATER Act” Public interest groups are calling on the House Oversight and Financial Services Committees to oppose H.R. 5381, the “GRATER Act,” which would require federal agencies to transfer all credit and guarantee risk assumed by the government to the private sector, to the maximum extent possible. In … Continued

New Twists and Five Lessons from the CFA Consumer Complaint Survey

Every year when we survey state and local consumer agencies about the complaints they receive, some things come up time after time, but there are always new twists. For instance, auto sales and service usually top the list of most common complaints, but this year’s complaint survey was the first time that I had heard … Continued

CFAnews Update – September 24, 2018

SEC’s Proposed Disclosure Form Confuses, Misleads Investors Investors are confused – and may even be misled – by disclosures proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to help investors choose an investment professional, according to independent testing conducted by Kleimann Communications Group on behalf of AARP, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the Financial … Continued

Free Trials That Aren’t Free

You’ve seen them advertised online and on television: enticing offers for a “free trial” on new or unusual products such as skin creams, herbal supplements, computer software, and exercise programs. But these offers often have hidden terms that kick in once your free trial is up and cost much more than you imagined. Remember: if … Continued

Protect Your Identity

According to its last Consumer Sentinel report, the Federal Trade Commission received 371,061 identity theft complaints in 2017, down from 399,222 the previous year.  That’s good news, but the 2018 Identity Fraud Study issued by Javelin Strategy & Research tells a darker tale.  Based on a random survey of Americans, it revealed that there was … Continued

CFAnews Update – September 19, 2018

CPSC Urged to Enhance Recall Effectiveness Consumer and product safety organizations are calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt a number of proposals to enhance recall effectiveness and to encourage consumers to remove dangerous products from their homes. In comments submitted to the CPSC earlier this month, CFA, Public Citizen, Kids … Continued

A Quick Guide to Managing Your Money and Avoiding Debt Trouble

If you have lots of debt, you’re not alone. Many Americans are struggling to keep up with their student loans, credit card debt, car loans, utility bills, and rent or mortgage payments. Unexpected expenses such as hospital bills or car repairs can make the situation even more stressful. Sometimes even when people try their best … Continued

Things to Consider Before Going Solar

The solar panel industry is growing rapidly and it’s pretty clear why. Who can resist the promise of saving money while also helping the planet? Unfortunately, not everyone comes away from the deal happy. Here are some things that you should consider when deciding whether solar panels are the right choice for your home. Lease … Continued

New House Mortgage Reform Bill: Federal Guarantee, No Affordable Housing Requirements

House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) released a section by section summary of yet another mortgage finance reform bill on September 6, 2018.  He was joined by Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Jim Himes (D-NY) as cosponsors. The drop marks Hensarling’s final surrender to the inevitable endorsement of a full faith and credit guarantee for … Continued

Phone Sense

How can you safely use your phone and protect yourself from unwittingly becoming the victim of a scam or identity theft, or even just an unscrupulous business? Keep your contact list updated so you know who is trying to reach you. Scammers use technology known as “spoofing” to impersonate calls with your local area code … Continued

Trusting a Car Dealer to Pay Off Your Loan Can Be a Risky Business

Thinking about trading in a car that you still owe money on? Think very carefully, because buying a car when you haven’t paid off the loan on your current vehicle can put you in serious financial jeopardy. Even if a dealership agrees in writing to pay off your existing loan, there is no guarantee that it will. It … Continued

CFAnews Update – September 4, 2018

Autonomous Vehicle Bill Lacks Meaningful Consumer Protections Legislation to regulate the autonomous vehicle (AV) market, the AV START Act (S. 1885), lacks meaningful consumer protections when it comes to issues of privacy, data availability, government oversight, and transparency, CFA Executive Director Jack Gillis warned at a press conference earlier this summer. “Autonomous vehicles have the … Continued

Don’t Let Imposters Scare You

When a scammer calls a potential victim, only one person on the phone is a pro. For scammers, posing as someone else and weaving a believable story is business as usual. It’s only the victims who get caught off guard by a seeming crisis that only a fast payment can fix. People across the country … Continued

Things to Know Before You Switch Your Electric Supplier

If there are competitive electric suppliers in the area where you live, more than likely you’ve gotten calls or mail from companies claiming they can save you money on your electricity. Perhaps you received a knock on your door from a salesperson asking to see your electric bill and before you know it, you have … Continued

The Groundbreaking Impact of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

When Americans buy toys or other kids’ products, most reasonably assume that what they’re buying isn’t going to hurt their loved ones in some way. It’s such a commonplace experience that it’s easy to take for granted. What people may not think about is that the perception — and reality — of safety is possible … Continued

CFAnews Update – August 27, 2018

Administration Rolls Back MPG Standards The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last month that the agencies will abandon fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks, freezing the gradually increasing fuel efficiency requirements intended to carry through to 2025 at the year 2020 level. They took … Continued

What to Know in Case You’re Towed

After a good night’s sleep, you wake up and take a quick shower as you snatch your car keys off the table. You’re on the way to grab a large coffee at Starbucks before heading off to an early morning meeting at work. Much to your surprise and shock your car is not parked outside … Continued

SaferProducts.gov Puts Power into the Hands of the Consumer

You’re probably familiar with websites like Yelp and Angie’s List, where users can review businesses, research the most popular services in their area, and avoid bad customer service experiences. Websites like these make our daily lives a bit easier, and increase the chances that we’ll have a good experience next time we go out to … Continued

Protect Yourself from Door-to-Door Sales Scams

While some door-to-door sales are legitimate, many are scams in which the salespeople use high-pressure sales tactics and false claims to coerce consumers into buying products or services that they do not need or that are never delivered. Common door-to-door sales scams are for magazine subscriptions, medical alert and security systems, hearing aids and home … Continued

Beyond the Lease: Things a Landlord May Exaggerate or Forget to Tell You

Do you know your rights when shopping for rental housing? In general, state laws set minimum standards for various aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship such as rental applications, security deposits, lease terms, habitability, early termination and evictions. In many states, landlords must also comply with consumer protection laws that prohibit misrepresentations and require information that … Continued

Crowdfunding 101

Online crowdfunding platforms help bring to life creative projects, get new ventures and businesses off the ground, and allow individuals and communities to come together to support charitable causes. They are an engaging avenue through which individuals can have an impact on the world around them, making it even more important for consumers to know … Continued