Top Ten Consumer Tips
How Not To Be Cheated – Your Best Protection is Prevention:
- Be extremely careful when providing credit card information. Keep in mind that written authorization is NOT required for someone else to charge your account. Therefore, only give credit card information to legitimate businesses. If you disagree with any charge on your credit card statement, notify the issuer of your card immediately so you can file a formal dispute. By notifying the issuer, you limit your liability for fraudulent use of your card by another person.
- Never sign a contract under pressure. Don’t just sign it because someone put it in front of you. Take some time. Relax. Sit back. Read it. If you do not understand it (and there are LOTS of contracts that are hard to understand), do not feel “dumb” and sign it because “it must be alright.” Get someone you trust to explain it to you. Tell the salesperson you want a copy of the contract to take home and read overnight. If they refuse, that tells you something!
- Do not respond to pressure. If a salesperson is pushing you, step back. Leave if you have to. Take a walk around the block. Take a friend with you and discuss it with him or her, away from the salesperson.
- Take your time. Do not buy on impulse. Consider carefully any major purchase. Go to different places. Compare prices. Never rely only on what the salesperson is saying. Read Consumer Reports. Call the Better Business Bureau.
- Make sure the contract says exactly what you think you have agreed to, and exactly what the salesperson has agreed to. Be very sure that all promises are written right on the contract. Do not be afraid to write them in on the contract yourself. Hand-written additions are fine as long as they are initialed by all parties to the contract. Moreover, Do not sign a contract which contains any blank spaces. Put a line through any blank space before you sign.
- Do Not Rely On Oral Promises. Oral Promises Are Generally Not Worth A Thing, And Are Often Very Difficult To Enforce. If the Seller refuses to let you put his or her promises in writing, Assume They Will Not Live Up To Them. Go Elsewhere.
- Be careful of door-to-door salespersons. There are special protections and laws that apply to such contracts, because they are often coercive.
- Be wary of “rent-to-own” stores. If you seek to own an item, research other alternatives (check the classified ads for used items,buy goods on layaway or apply for a credit card). “Rent-to-Own” stores often charge annual interest rates from 100 to 275 percent without specifically telling the consumer and may not indicate clearly whether an item is new or used.
- Check the refund and exchange policy of each store when you make a purchase. There are laws that regulate offers of returns or exchanges.
- Be Careful Of Anything That Sounds Too Good To Be True. It Usually Is.