Are you looking to protect yourself from fraud or identity theft? Maybe you heard something on the news about a scam but didn’t catch the whole story? Perhaps you’re wondering about the best way to establish credit, shop for a used car, or maximize your security online. There is conflicting information on multiple websites, so it may be difficult to determine which one has the most reliable or accurate information. If you ask friends, family, or neighbors about any of these things, they might inject their own personal opinion which isn’t always what you need.
National Consumer Protection Week, March 4 – 10, is designed to help people understand what rights they have as a consumer, how to make well-informed decisions about their personal security, what steps they can take if they come across a scam, and how best to recover from identity theft. BBB works with a few organizations to provide the most effective resources on different measures to protect against identity theft, information about the latest scams, and methods to find trustworthy businesses to work within your community. A few of these agencies include the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Attorney General.
The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for preventing fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace. This agency is able to take legal action against a business and develop policies that help maintain a fair business environment. BBB works with the FTC to broadcast scams involving identity theft, investment fraud, or online shopping schemes.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the financial watchdog for consumers by providing information and tools needed to make smart money-related decisions. They also take action against predatory companies and practices that violate financial laws. This organization is a good resource to turn to when considering where to apply for a loan, comparing credit card companies, and researching your financial rights as a consumer. BBB will typically use this agency as a resource when warning people of possible financial scams.
BBB has a strong relationship with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), especially when it comes to helping the elderly and their caregivers understand and protect themselves against investment fraud. This not-for-profit agency is responsible for making sure financial advisors and brokers are acting ethically and fairly with customers. They also make sure investment advisors are properly licensed.
The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service that works to protect the nation’s mail service from illegal or dangerous use. They investigate any fraudulent activity involving the Postal Service, even if the scam originated by phone or email. A single arrest for mail fraud is often linked to thousands of victims, most of whom have suffered financial loss because of it.
The Office of the Attorney General is essentially the law officer for each state. They enforce consumer protection practices, ensure charitable organizations are following regulations, and monitor cases of healthcare fraud. The Attorney General and BBB collaborate with one another and share information about suspicious businesses and scam activity in the marketplace.
BBB partners with these agencies throughout the year to inform both businesses and communities on safety measures. However, National Consumer Protection Week brings all of these agencies together at once for a week-long event to help consumers get an overall view of what to do to be financially secure across all platforms. This gives everyone an outlook of current marketplace ethics and serves as a basis to work from for their personal security. Learn more about National Consumer Protection Week by visiting www.ncpw.gov.
Reach Sandra Guile
Sandra Guile | Better Business Bureau Community Outreach Specialist