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Kicking off on February 28, 2021, National Consumer Protection week is a time to help educate consumers on their rights in order to make more informed decisions about their money.

According to the National Consumer Federation, consumers have a right to eight basic principles:
  • The right to satisfaction of basic needs– to have access to basic, essential goods and services such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
  • The right to safety– to be protected against products, production processes and services that are hazardous to health or life.
  • The right to be informed– to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labeling.
  • The right to choose– to be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
  • The right to be heard– to have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
  • The right to redress– to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
  • The right to consumer education– to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
  • The right to a healthy environment– to live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
Technological advances have, unfortunately, allowed for a fervent increase in online, mobile, and in-person scams. But not to worry, we’re here to help you decipher what could be real and what could be a scam!
According to Fraud.Org, some of the top scams for 2020 were:
  1. Credit, Debit, and Loans
  2. Phony Prizes and Sales
  3. Health Fraud
  4. Money Making Scams
  5. Tech Scams
  6. Scams of the Heart
  7. Identity Theft
  8. Fraud against Older Adults

So how do you identify a scam?
Oftentimes, a scammer will try to gain your trust by claiming to be from a well-known business or by impersonating a known contact. They could also suggest that you need to verify your account by stating your information, either by phone or on a website. Regrettably, they also know how to appeal to your emotions and create a sense of urgency to make you decide without thinking too much about what you’re doing. Scammers have the capability to make false websites and links look incredibly similar to the real deal.
Example 1. Imagine that you receive a text message from your bank stating that your account has been suspended and requires your verification, all you have to do is click on the link to reset. DON’T DO IT!
This is known commonly as a “phishing” scam. Banks will never ask you to verify your account number over the phone, via text message, or in email. When in doubt, call your bank directly.
Example 2. Imagine that you received a phone call stating that you’ve won a trip to the Caribbean. Amazing, right? All you have to do is send in $500 to a designated address in order to reserve your spot and pay for the taxes. DON’T DO IT!
This is known as an “unexpected winnings” scam.
Example 3. Imagine you finally found the perfect puppy in the classifieds to surprise your significant other with for their birthday. The problem is that this puppy and its seller are in another state so you are unable to see the puppy in person. But it is such a good deal, as this particular breed is generally a lot more expensive than the listed price. The breeder has provided you with their Paypal with a promise to ship the puppy to you as soon as they receive payment. DON’T DO IT!
This is known as a “Classified” scam.
Of course, there are numerous scams that are not listed here. As a consumer, you have the right to be informed; you have the right to ask all the questions you need to in order to ensure that you can make an educated decision regarding your person and your financial interests.
Remember, if someone has contacted you unexpectedly, if someone has promised you something, or if they have asked you to do something, stop and think twice!

Additional Resources and Citing: