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PROTECTING YOURSELF IN A COMPLEX MARKETPLACE — Our researchers and attorneys provide key tips for how you can get the best deal on health insurance, shop for the best bank, get the best car loan, protect against identity theft and more.
In today's marketplace, it takes a savvy, informed consumer to avoid common pitfalls and threats. Financial decisions in particular require assessing a blizzard of advertisements and navigating pages of jargon-laden fine print to make decisions about credit cards, bank accounts, loans, health insurance, and cell phone contracts, among other things.
It’s more important than ever to protect yourself:
- Consumers who finance their cars through a dealership pay more than $25.8 billion in additional hidden interest over the lives of their loans.
- In 2010, more than 8 million households were victims of identity theft, a 33 percent rise since 2005.
- One out of 20 consumers has errors on their credit report significant enough to lead to higher rates on loans.
- Banks made around $30 billion in overdraft fees in 2011. Adding insult to injury, these fees were pitched as “overdraft protection,” which most consumers would be better off without.
That's why the OSPIRG Foundation has compiled recommendations and resources for consumers. Our tip sheets address some of the most common complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission—read on, and protect yourself from becoming a statistic.
- How to get the best deal on health insurance
- Choosing a bank
- Protecting yourself from identity theft
- Picking a cell phone plan
- Resources for Oregon tenants
- Avoiding mistakes when buying a car
- Dealing with credit cards
- Avoiding problems when paying taxes
- Avoiding dangerous toys
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.
A new analysis of publicly available information from the FDA by U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund finds only 26 percent of a class of recalled blood pressure medications have been assessed for carcinogen contamiantion -- and the majority had some lots with higher levels than the FDA considers safe.
Everyone should assume that their social security number has been exposed between this breach and breaches of other major companies’ databases, such as Equifax’s. With that in mind, U.S. PIRG recommends all Americans should use their right by law to freeze their credit reports for free
Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.
Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million Rock n’Play baby sleepers on Friday. U.S. PIRG Consumer Watchdog Adam Garber issued a response: "“While we’re pleased that Fisher-Price is finally recalling these dangerous sleepers, 30 deaths in 10 years is 30 deaths too many and 10 years too late."
Read U.S. PIRG's statement on Wells Fargo eliminating some fees for student on debit cards.
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