Consumer Tips

PROTECTING YOURSELF IN A COMPLEX MARKETPLACE — Our researchers and attorneys provide key tips for how you can shop for the best bank, get the best car loan, protect against identity theft, and more.

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself

Being a consumer in today’s marketplace can be tough. Financial decisions in particular often require navigating a torrent of misleading advertisements and pages of jargon-filled small print. Even the simplest choices — everyday financial decisions like opening a credit card, creating a bank account, applying for a loan, or sorting through cell phone contracts — can take time, energy and knowledge that too many of us don’t have.
   
Many financial institutions don’t set out to make it easier for their customers:

  • 1 out of every 20 Americans — millions of consumers — have errors on their credit reports significant enough to raise their rate on loans.
  • Financing cars through dealerships costs consumers more than $25.8 billion in additional hidden interest.
  • From 2005 to 2010, identity theft rose by 33%. In 2012, an estimated 12.6 million Americans became victims. That is 1 victim every 3 seconds. 
  • Banks made around $11 billion in overdraft fees in 2015, fees they pitched as “overdraft protection” but actually cost consumers more.

Despite these practices, there are ways to protect yourself. We want to help. This is why we’ve created the following tip sheets based on common complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Read on. Protect yourself from becoming a statistic.

File a complaint if you have a problem

For all sorts of everyday consumer problems, there are government resources that can help. Federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Consumer Product Safety Commission exist to protect us from unfair or dangerous products. Submitting complaints to government agencies can help resolve your problem AND it helps these agencies hold companies accountable for unfair practices. For more information, consult our tip sheet on the subject, which includes information on how to contact the CFPB with financial complaints, the CPSC with toy and other product safety complaints, the NHTSA with car safety complaints, and DOT with air travel complaints: How to File a Consumer Complaint and Use Government Databases.

Keeping Track of Your Money:

Credit Reports, Credit Scores, and Identity Theft:

Common Consumer Problems:

Please note that these tips are not intended as, nor should they be construed as, legal advice. If you need legal advice dealing with a consumer problem, consult an attorney.

Issue updates

News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

30th Annual Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according CoPIRG Foundation’s 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2015

For 30 years, CoPIRG Foundation has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children. Check out the 2015 survey.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

30 Years of "Trouble in Toyland," 30 Years of Safety Improvements | Anna Low-Beer

Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund releases Trouble in Toyland, a report on toy safety which examines toys bought at major national retailers, looking for safety hazards including toxic toys, choking hazards, labeling violations, powerful magnets, and excessibely loud toys. We continue to find these hazards on store shelves, which indicates the need for continued vigilance and adequate enforcement of safety regulations. But despite lingering dangers, in the last 30 years, we've come a long way in terms of both policy and compliance with standards.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

We went to a VW Dealership today | Danny Katz

Today, I went to a VW dealership with one of the 482,000 VW owners who unknowingly purchased a “clean” diesel vehicle that was designed to get away with violating the law. I went there to encourage dealerships to join with VW customers and call on VW to give people their money back for these misleading vehicles.

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Congress to seeks answers about why GM, gov't didn't act sooner to recall cars with defect

New General Motors CEO Mary Barra has been cooperative with members of Congress investigating why the company did not act sooner to address a potentially deadly defect in some of its small cars, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said.

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Net neutrality: How it might affect consumers, startups and Level 3

CBS is broadcasting Sunday's Denver Broncos playoff game and also streaming it live over the Internet for viewers without access to a TV. Imagine a scenario where CenturyLink broadband subscribers receive an uninterrupted stream of the game on their Web browser while customers of Comcast, owner of rival network NBC, are intentionally stuck with choppy Internet footage.

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Most complained-about credit card companies

Thousands of Americans are lodging complaints with the government’s financial watchdog about their credit cards, and some issuers are being griped about a lot more than others.

Of the more than 25,000 credit card complaints the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has processed between the November 2011 launch of its complaint database and last September, Capital One received the biggest share, according to new analysis from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

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Which Credit Cards Get the Most Complaints in Colorado?

What’s in your wallet?

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Report: Capitol One Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Colorado

Colorado consumers file more complaints about Capitol One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by CoPIRG Foundation.The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that Colorado consumers are 12th most likely to file credit card complaints.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Private Loans, Public Complaints

This report is the second of several that will review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints in the private student loan sector with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with their student loans.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland: 26th Annual Survey of Toy Safety

The 2011 Trouble in Toyland report is our 26th annual survey of toy safety. In this report, we provide safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for young children and provide examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Highlights of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009

To educate consumers about the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility And Disclosure (CARD) Act signed into law on May 20, CoPIRG released a factsheet about the upcoming changes and tips on how to avoid remaining abusive credit card practices.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Colorado Tenant Rights

This pamphlet will provide you with some basic information regarding tenant rights and landlord rights.

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