Become a savvier consumer in March
When: March 7 – 13
What: For every e-mail you get from a trusted friend, there is another e-mail from someone claiming to be a prince from a foreign country who is in need of your money. Even the savviest of consumers can be duped by scams, fraud, or identity theft. In March, learn how to protect your privacy and identity, manage money more efficiently, and understand credit during National Consumer Protection Week, celebrated March 7-13.
Background: Now in its 12th year, National Consumer Protection Week is sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A variety of organizations including AARP, the Better Business Bureau, and the United States Postal Service are also partners in the awareness event. This year’s theme, “Dollars & Sense: Rated “A” for All Ages” is aimed at encouraging children and adults to develop healthy consumer habits in every stage of life.
Story Pitch: Banks and credit unions can use this event to highlight the latest tools in online account protection, smart banking, and financial planning. Consumer advocates in the community can draw attention to their services, while youth groups and scout troops can promote programs geared at raising children into educated consumers.
The Story Hook: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently sent a letter to cell phone companies investigating the practice of the “early-termination fee,” which charges customers a hefty penalty fee if they break their contract early. But while the government often steps in on behalf of the general public, each consumer must take steps to ensure his or her own protection. Indeed, there are multiple facets to becoming a smart consumer from being aware of identity theft to guarding against consumer fraud. Consider the following when making your pitch:
- How can consumers of all ages protect themselves against identity theft and fraud as more of our daily activities move into the online realm?
- How have scams evolved with technology to include e-mail and text message schemes?
- What methods of building or repairing credit are effective for college students and young adults?
- What should consumers look for in order to make smart decisions about buying new “green” items and appliances?
Tips: When pitching a news outlet, provide information for a financial expert, consumer protection agency, or credit counselor. In addition, direct your media contact to someone who has been a victim of online scams or identity theft and can talk on how they pulled through it.
Federal Citizen Information Center
Federal Trade Commission
–Researched, compiled & written by Lisa Rowan
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