March Resources of the Month

Did you know that March 1st-7th is National Consumer Protection Week? It’s a great time to learn about how to be a savvy consumer, to avoid scams, and bad business dealings. Consider some of the following consumer tips and share with your friends and family.

Avoiding identity theft

The Vermont Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program believes “the best way to reduce the risk of identity theft is to be aware of where and how your information is kept and used, and to limit access to personal information.” Use the S.C.A.M. method for reducing your risk of identity theft:

S – Be stingy about your personal information!
C – Check your personal information often.
A – Ask regularly for information that will help you keep your identity secure and track your financials. For example, review your credit report or call 1-877- 322-8228.
M – Maintain control of personal information and financial accounts. Guard your documents, use strong passwords for your accounts online, and shred documents you no longer need.

Smart consumers get informed

Recent attention in the Burlington Free Press and VTDigger.org unveiled concerning information about how the Rent-to-own industry exploits consumers, targeting low-income Vermonters.2 Rent-to-own customers oftentimes end up paying much more on furniture and electronics than they would at regular retail stores. For example, “a 55-inch Toshiba TV that was selling recently at Sears for $1,259. Rent-A-Center was offering it at $47.99 a week for 91 weeks for the consumer to own it—at a cost of $4,367.09.”

Get help if something doesn’t add up or if you wish to lodge a formal complaint about a business, contact the Consumer Assistance Program through the Vermont Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-649-2424 or visit the Vermont Attorney General’s site.

These resources are prepared by Connie Beal, CCV’s Working Bridges Resource Coordinator from the United Way of Chittenden County. Contact Connie at 802-881-4218 or connie@unitedwaycc.org

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