It is possible to be a wise consumer that never faces a problem with a business. Well, much of a problem. The fact is that mistakes, misinformation and just plain rudeness abound in the marketplace. Don’t assume that every business is honest and fair. Don’t assume that you will be trusted or treated well. You should expect a fight sometime for your rights and your money.
Here are some tips to help you become a wise consumer:
Tip #1 — Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you’ve won a lottery, free gas or any other little goody. If you aren’t standing there with a claim ticket in your hand that you purchased, you should just ignore the scheme.
Tip #2 — Read ever contract thoroughly before signing. You want to make sure that you understand every sentence. Make sure that all oral promises are obtained in writing. Remember that “three-day cancellations” only apply to door-to-door or off-premise sales contracts.
Tip #3 — You need to check your credit report several times a year to make sure there are no errors. Go to Annualcreditreport.com for your absolutely free by law credit report. Or call 877-322-8228 to get the forms by mail.
Tip #4 — Do not simply pick a company, such as a contractor, by the size or advertisement. Make sure that you research anyone that you are going to give money to before goods are delivered. Check the company’s track record with the Better Business Bureau and the state attorney general’s office.
Tip #5 — If you have to pay for a prize, it isn’t a prize. It’s a purchase.
Tip #6 — DO NOT give out your Social Security number or personal information to anyone you don’t know.
Tip #7 — Buy a shredder and destroy all personal information and credit card offers before throwing it away. You can learn a lot about someone by reading their mail.
Tip #8 — Don’t ever send your account information through email to anyone. Companies will not ask you to update your account information through email, ever.
Tip #9 — Things that are too good to be true, usually are. You can’t make money stuffing envelopes or buying information about lucrative government jobs. If you could, everyone would stay home.
Tip #10 — You should never pay the full amount for work left unfinished, sign a blank contract or pay a fee in advance for a loan. There are just some things you should hold out on.
Make sure you keep copies of all receipts, refund information and other documents that you are asked to send a company. Lots of companies lose things in the mail.
You can be a wise consumer, all it takes is a little common sense. Trust your initial feelings and don’t jump on good deals without any research. Make sure you check out companies that are requiring down payments thoroughly. Track all of your correspondence with companies and businesses. Note who you talked to, when and what was resolved. If a problem does arise, be persistent. Consider that you may need to contact a lawyer. And spread the word of your experience. Good Luck.