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Six ways to be a better shopper

It’s National Consumer Protection Week.

Ncpw_250x250-button-englishGovernment agencies, consumer organizations, and advocacy groups are joining forces March 3 to 9 with shopping strategies and consumer tips to empower you to make better buying decisions and protect your rights in the marketplace.

Sales pitches and financial advice come at you from every direction – by phone, by mail, and every time you read an ad, go online, or turn on your TV.

Here are six tips from the USA.gov blog to help you sort through all the pitches:

  • A free mobile app can help you check any product or vehicle, new or used, to see if it’s been recalled or has safety complaints. Keep up with recent recalls 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. 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 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 simple tips for protecting yourself.
  • 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.

You can get consumer questions answered during a special National Consumer Protection Week online Q&A session.

USA.gov will connect you with government resources to answer your questions during a live event on Wednesday, March 6 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. You can find out about the latest scams, how to protect your family from identity theft, and more. 

To participate, submit your questions during the event on Twitter using the hashtag #NCPW.

Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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