Consumer Protection Week

Each year the first full week of March is celebrated as Consumer Protection Week. Consumer Protection Week is a week dedicated to providing consumers with information and assistance to avoid fraud during consumer transactions. A consumer transaction is anything from a sale, a lease, transfer of goods, or a service, primarily for a personal, family, or household purpose. During a consumer transaction consumers need to be aware of their rights so they can make well informed financial decisions.

A good practice to be a safe consumer and avoid fraud is to utilize the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) website. The BBB offers reviews, complaints, and information on legal businesses to help you choose the right company for the job. This website will not only allow you to see complaints from others in your area, but allows you to submit your own complaint for investigation by the BBB.

As a consumer you have rights under the Consumer Protection Act. One of these rights is that you’re entitled to an estimate for a service or repair over twenty-five dollars. The estimate can be verbal, written, or no estimate at all, whichever the consumer chooses. If the price of the repair or service changes during the course of the work the consumer is entitled to this information. The supplier must not proceed with the additional work without the consumer’s authorization.

Not only are consumers entitled to the estimate of the service or repair, but also an itemization of services. Since the consumer is paying for the service they are entitled to know where their money is going. Businesses that do not provide consumers with an itemization may be attempting to hide unnecessary costs for their own benefit. This act is deceptive and is a primary example of why Consumer Protection Week exists, so consumers know their rights and are not deceived.

Another good practice to avoid fraud as a consumer is to be cautious of the use of the word “free”. Some suppliers use the word free to entice consumers to buy a product or service that is not actually “free”. Some suppliers may advertise a product as “free” and then raise the price of another product or service in connection to the first. Raising the price of one component of a sale to make another “free” is a deceptive act by the supplier.

As a consumer stay cautious of your consumer transactions to avoid fraud and make well informed financial decisions. As a supplier, this is also a good time to check your procedures and make sure you are in compliance with the rules and regulations. Complying with the Consumer Protection Act is one simple step that can save you thousands down the road.