National Foundation for Credit Counseling® Encourages Consumers to Know Their Rights During National Consumer Protection Week

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Tips are provided to help consumers learn more about their rights and the resources available to protect them.

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Those who take the steps to learn about their rights are in the best position to make healthy financial choices.

National Consumer Protection Week is being observed from March 1-7, and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) is participating by connecting consumers to resources that can improve their level of financial protection.

“Consumers who are informed about their rights have an advantage over those who don't,” said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC.

The following tips can help people learn more about managing their personal finances while protecting themselves from scams and abusive practices:

Know the consumer rights associated with debt collection. During the past five years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed legal action against 180 debt collection agencies. Threatening phone calls, abusive language, calling at odd hours, and revealing account information to others are among the ways that some debt collectors are violating consumer rights. All consumers should be familiar with the rules that protect their rights in these situations. The FTC offers information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection. If consumers feel their rights have been violated by a debt collector, they can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/#debt-collection.

Review credit reports every year. Credit reports are not only the gateway to loans, mortgages and credit cards, but are often reviewed by landlords, cell phone providers and utility companies. The report reflects a person’s financial track record, and can strongly influence a lending decision. Routinely reviewing credit is the best way to stay on guard. Consumers can access a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, by going to http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Get to know credit card protections. Many people don't realize that certain protections are part of their credit card agreement. For instance, the Fair Credit Billing Act allows consumers to seek a refund if a product purchased was unsatisfactory. Cards may also offer return protection and extended warranties. There are many Federal laws in place to protect consumer rights when interacting with a credit card company. For a list of credit protection laws, go to https://www.federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov/learnmore/consumer-credit.cfm#CreditCards.

“Being uninformed or misinformed about basic consumer protections can leave a consumer vulnerable to financial abuse”, continued McClary. “Those who take the steps to learn about their rights are in the best position to make healthy financial choices.”

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The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit http://www.nfcc.org.

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