On New Years eve, I wrote about the top consumer and personal finance stories of 2022. Inflation and higher interest rates topped the list, and I predict that those two issues will continue to confront consumers throughout the new year.
My recommendations include: be sure you have an adequate emergency fund; make a budget or review yours to make sure that your expenses aren’t creeping up; cancel subscriptions you don’t use; increase your retirement plan contributions, if you can; keep steady with your investments even if the market continues to be volatile; and avoid scams.
I didn’t include scams in the list of the top 10 consumer stories of 2022 because the figures aren’t out yet for last year. However, consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021 in complaints they reported to Federal Trade Commission. That was a 70 percent increase over 2020.
Imposter scams were most prevalent, but investment scams cost the typical victim the most money with about $3,000 lost.
Online shopping scams were second. Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries; internet services; and business and job opportunities made up the rest of the top five fraud categories.
The FTC takes in reports from consumers about problems and stores them in its Consumer Sentinel Network, but the agency doesn’t help individual consumers. You’ll need to file a complaint with your state Attorney General’s Office to get assistance.
The FTC and law enforcement agencies do use the information collected on scams to go after companies they spot committing wide-spread crimes.
So, let’s hope the marketplace improves in 2023. Perhaps with the new year, corporations will value consumers more and, like Southwest Airlines, see the need to provide better customer service and products.
However, when businesses let you down, remember to use your consumer power. Complain to the company, file consumer complaints with government agencies, boycott firms that let you down, and let others know – through social media – who the wrongdoers are.
And, keep reading my blog for information on how to improve your consumer and personal finance life. In addition, if you’re not a subscriber to my free money tips newsletter, sign up at https://tinyurl.com/makeyourmoneywork to get 10 ideas weekly.
Happy New Year.