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The threats facing consumers seem to be increasing every year. We’re still burdened by identity theft risks, robocall scams and the difficulty of navigating our credit reports. Now, we’re seeing surges in counterfeit products, dark apps that compromise our privacy, erroneous medical bills and financing traps with gotcha clauses. And then there are products we pay good money for that are difficult, if not impossible, to fix when something small goes wrong.
In recognition of Consumer Protection Week 2022, MASSPIRG Education Fund is providing consumer protection tips and tools to help Americans address some of the most common consumer issues. Go to MASSPIRGEdFund.org each day next week for new content.
Monday, March 7: Digging into the top consumer complaints
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in 2011 after the Great Recession to protect consumers from financial problems. Since then, it has handled more than 2.3 million consumer complaints.
In a series of fact sheets releasing Monday, USPIRG Education Fund analyzes complaint volume for 2021, a year after the number of complaints set new records. This includes specific numbers about Massachusetts complaints. Because credit reporting complaints always top the list, we offer tips on freezing your files, requesting your reports and other steps you can take to protect yourself.
Tuesday, March 8: Failing the fix
Nobody walks into an electronics store and thinks, “I’m going to buy something unfixable.” But how do you know which products you’ll be able to repair to last? We've compiled repairability rankings for 186 phones and laptops, grading manufacturers on whether they are Failing the Fix. This resource guide will help consumers who want to purchase easily repairable products – from companies who do not fight to prevent your Right to Repair.
WHO: Kevin O’Reilly, US PIRG Right to Repair Campaign Director
Joe DaSilva, Massachusetts Repair Business owner
Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG State Director
WHEN: Tuesday, March 8, 2022 @ 10 AM EST
WHERE: In front of the Apple Store @815 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116, near Copley Square
For more information: Ben Rowley, MASSPIRG, email@example.com, (316)765-5747
Wednesday, March 9: Dark patterns
Apps, especially social media apps, collect an incredible amount of information about us without us realizing it. We’ve compiled step-by-step instructions on how to change your settings on leading apps to protect your privacy on both iPhones and Androids. We walk you through everything with screenshots. We also look at different privacy efforts around the country.
Thursday, March 10: The ‘buy now, pay later’ phenomenon
Complaints are soaring about this new financing scheme. Consumers making purchases as small as $50 online are offered payment plans, which can turn into debt traps. The bills are now coming due for those who did their holiday shopping this way. BNPL targets college students and young adults just starting to build a credit history. We offer tips to avoid the interest and fees that often come with these “deals.”
Friday, March 11: Counterfeit products
We often associate counterfeits with luxury items such as bags or shoes. But the variety of counterfeit products is much broader. Some of the most concerning: medicines, hygiene products and COVID-19 tests. With e-commerce, counterfeit products can show up directly at your door. Our tip guides walk you through the best practices to avoid counterfeits when shopping online or evaluating reviews.
Saturday, March 12: Illegal surprise medical bills
Beyond illness or injury, being a patient isn’t easy financially. Medical bills from recent hospital treatments are arriving in patients’ mailboxes. Since the No Surprises Act went into effect on Jan. 1, Americans need to know their new consumer protections against unexpected and unavoidable out-of-network medical charges.
We have an easy tips guide to help consumers identify any illegal bills and understand how to assert their rights under the new law. This hard-won consumer law can save millions of insured Americans from paying hundreds to thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.
Your tax-deductible donation supports MASSPIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and to stand up to the powerful interests that are blocking progress.
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