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March 04, 2013

National Consumer Protection Week

moneyMarch 3-9, 2013 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Organizations from around the nation developed National Consumer Protection week to make people aware of their consumer rights and help them make better financial decisions. The NCPW website features a variety of helpful resources, such as ways to protect your health, investments, and your identity.

In Utah, the Division of Consumer Protection has many resources for individuals, including scam alerts and consumer information pages.

This Wednesday, March 6th, representatives from the FTC and USA.Gov will be hosting a nationwide Twitter chat for consumer questions at 2 pm. You can submit your question via Twitter using the hashtag #NCPW, through Facebook, or through the USA.Gov blog.

February 21, 2013

Divorce Education Online Scams

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If you are involved in a Utah divorce case and you need to take your divorce education classes, be aware that there may be companies that advertise online divorce education classes. They may also promise to print a certificate of completion of divorce education classes. You should avoid these scams.

The only divorce education classes that satisfy the courts' Divorce Education Requirements are the classes developed by the Utah State Courts. The Courts' website lists dates and times for in-person classes throughout the state, fee details, and information on how to ask the court to waive the divorce education requirements.

February 11, 2013

Guide to Buying Jewelry

pearlnecklace.JPGOne of the most popular gifts to buy for Valentine's Day is jewelry. If you do plan to purchase jewelry for that special someone, check out the jewelry buying tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This page includes important questions you should ask when you're at the store and what to watch for in online stores.

If you have a complaint about the jewelry you purchased, the FTC recommends trying to resolve it with the seller first. If you're not satisfied with the results, you can contact the FTC, the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General's office, or the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, a non-profit organization supporting ethical practice in the jewelry business.

July 26, 2012

Fake Rental Ads Scam

FOR_RENT_Sign.JPGThe Utah Division of Consumer Protection has recently alerted Utah residents of an increasing number of fake rental ads on online classified pages. Common characteristics of these scam ads might include:

  • the ad indicates the property cannot be shown in person
  • the telephone number listed in ads or follow up emails are for out of state or international numbers
  • the person claiming to rent the property requests the deposit by wire transfer.

    To learn more about housing and renting, visit the Utah State Courts' self help resources section on housing. Here you'll find information from Utah Legal Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • December 14, 2011

    Online Shopping Resources

    present.jpgPlanning to buy holiday gifts online or through your smartphone this year? According to statistics available from the U.S. Census, online holiday shopping is becoming increasingly popular, with $30 billion in sales in 2009 alone.

    Utah's Division of Consumer Protection recently released holiday online shopping tips, including the importance of researching the seller, keeping a paper trail of your online transactions, and making sure your antivirus software is up to date.

    In addition to shopping safety tips, there are also tips from the Federal Trade Commission for finding the best deals online, including searching for product reviews and checking comparison shopping websites.

    September 27, 2011

    Buyer Beware - Do Your Research Before Paying for Court Forms

    moneyThe Utah State Courts' website - www.utcourts.gov - provides a wealth of information and free forms.

    Library staff feel terrible when patrons tell us they paid hundreds of dollars for divorce papers when we know they could have completed the paperwork using the courts' website. We feel even worse when they are told that their papers aren't sufficient. Before you pay for online forms, check our website to see whether a free, court-approved form is available.

    Some of the forms provided on our website are fill-in-the-blank. You can either print a PDF version and neatly handwrite the information, or you can use the Word (in some cases WordPerfect) version and type the information. Remember, however, that there is not a form available for every situation. You may have to draft your own pleadings.

    Our website also offers the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP), which guides you through a series of questions and generates a packet of papers that you file with the court. While there is a $20 fee to file papers generated with the program, OCAP is otherwise free to use and is designed to be user-friendly. OCAP is available for these common court case types:

    • Divorce
    • Parentage (child custody, support and visitation, and paternity issues, but not as part of a divorce case)
    • Landlord-tenant (for both the landlord starting eviction proceedings, and the tenant responding to an eviction case)
    • Guardianship of a minor
    • Protective orders
    • Civil stalking

    Helpful Resources

  • If you have questions about how to complete forms or want feedback on papers you put together, or if you need guidance on your case, we strongly encourage you to speak with a Utah attorney or visit one of Utah's free legal clinics, at which you can speak with an attorney for free for a short amount of time.
  • Watch our 8-minute presentation, How to Read a Legal Pleading in Utah, to get a tour of basic pleading format.
  • See Form 1, Caption & Signature Block, for the format for the top and bottom portions of a court pleading.

  • August 15, 2011

    Disposing of Electronic Waste in Utah

    Electronic_waste.jpgRapid advances in technology mean shorter life spans for many common electronics. According to Greenpeace, the average life span of a computer has fallen from 4-6 years in 1997 to 2 years in 2005. As a result we bear the burden of more and more hazardous electronic waste.

    The Utah legislature passed Senate Bill 184 during its 2011 session. The law, which becomes effective January 1, 2012, prohibits manufacturers from offering electronics for sale without establishing a public educational program on collecting and recycling for these products. It is still up to us consumers, however, to dispose of our e-waste responsibly.

    Cities and counties throughout Utah, including Logan City, the Sandy Public Works Department and Washington and Summit counties offer free electronic waste recycling to residents daily.

    For more information about e-waste, including how to plan your own e-waste recycling event, visit the Recycling Coalition of Utah.

    March 16, 2011

    New Safety Recalls Database

    saferproducts.bmpThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has just launched a new safety recalls database, SaferProducts.Gov.

    The database is a one-stop site where consumers can both report and search safety incidents. The database was created pursuant to Section 212 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008.

    To learn how you can report a product safety issue online, watch the How To File a Report video. You can still report a safety issue by phone or fax, or download a form to report by postal mail or email.

    We have blogged in the past about sources of information about product safety recalls announced by the CPSC.

    March 07, 2011

    National Consumer Protection Week


    National Consumer Protection WeekMarch 6 - 12 is National Consumer Protection Week.

    The National Consumer Protection Week website provides information on a variety of consumer topics including banking, business resources, credit and debt, health, identity theft and privacy, investing, mortgages, and scam and fraud alerts.

    The website also offers a blog and a Spanish-language page, Semana Nacional de Protección del Consumidor 2011.

    February 09, 2011

    Scams Preying on the Lovelorn

    roses.jpgValentine's day is quickly approaching. For many people, that means buying gifts for a loved one, or finding a date.

    One of the most popular gifts for Valentine's Day is flowers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were over 18,000 florists in the United States in 2008. Be a smart consumer! The FTC has put together an alert of warning signs that the florist you're using might be a company posing as a local florist to scam you out of money.

    Another popular way of celebrating the holiday is by going on a date with your spouse or partner. Millions of Americans use dating websites to look for love. If you use these sites, watch out for scams. OnGuard Online, a tip center sponsored by several U.S. agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Education, has created a list of tips to help you avoid dating scams. Requests for money or access to personal email accounts early in an online relationship could be warning signs.

    You can file a complaint online against an individual or business you might suspect is deceiving customers out of money or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

    October 22, 2010

    Beware of Telemarketing & Charity Scams

    scam.bmpTelemarketing and charity scams are on the rise, including schemes where scam artists pose as employees of federal government agencies and charities like the Make A Wish Foundation (Read their fraud alert here.).

    The Federal Trade Commission provides information about this type of fraud and how to report it, including these red flag warnings if you think a phone call like this might be too good to be true:

    1) Don't pay to collect sweepstakes winnings.
    2) Hold on to your money.
    3) Look-alikes aren't the real thing.
    4) Phone numbers can deceive.

    More information about phone call scams is found at Who's Calling? Recognize & Report Phone Fraud. If you believe you have been a victim of one of these scams, file a complaint with the FTC. Sometimes other agencies get involved with investigating fraud claims -- in 2009 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement partnered with the Jamaican government to investigate and dismantle a telemarketing scam targeting U.S. Citizens. Read about their investigation here.

    April 27, 2010

    New Airline Passenger Protections

    Airlines.jpgSummer is just around the corner. If you're planning to travel for vacations, holidays, or family reunions, you should know there are new regulations introducing airline passenger protections that will go into effect on April 29th. These were issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    The new regulations require airlines to make changes including:

    • adopting contingency plans for tarmac delays
    • publishing flight delay information on their websites
    • responding to and resolving consumer complaints within 60 days
    Consumers can file airline service complaints with the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement division of the Department of Transportation or with the Better Business Bureau.


    April 02, 2010

    Avoid Census Scams

    census.gifYesterday, April 1st, was officially declared Census Day to help remind everyone to mail back their census forms. If you don't mail back your census form, a census taker will visit you up to three times to collect census information.

    The FTC has recently announced an alert to protect citizens from census scams, whether in person or online. Official census takers must show ID, and they will never ask to enter your home. Census takers are only allowed to ask questions that appear on the printed census forms. The U.S. Census provides some tips on what to do when a densus taker visits you.

    All U.S. Census correspondence is sent by mail and only has ten questions. None of these questions ask for credit card information, bank account numbers, passwords, or social security numbers. The census form will also be sent with an pre-paid postage return envelope.

    If you receive an email with attachments or links to websites claiming to be from the Census Bureau, be sure not to open the email, its attachments, or click on a link. You are encouraged to report suspicious emails or websites to the FTC or to the Census Bureau.

    March 12, 2010

    2009's Top Consumer Complaints

    The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's largest consumer protection agency, receives hundreds of thousands of complaints every year. They have recently issued a report documenting consumer complaints received in 2009. Identity theft tops the list of the fifteen most common complaints at 21% of all consumer complaints received.

    The FTC has created a new video, seen here, on how to file a complaint. There are many options for filing a complaint online. You can use the FTC's form (also available in Spanish). If you're serving any branch of the U.S. military, you can file a complaint through FTC's Consumer Sentinel. If you want to file a complaint against an organization located in another country, file your complaint with EConsumer.Gov.

    March 11, 2010

    Free Credit Reports

    creditrep.jpgEverybody should check their credit history to make sure the information is correct and to watch for suspicious activity. Identity theft can wreck havoc on your life. Stay on top of things by requesting a copy of your credit report each year.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon your request every 12 months. You can request your reports online, via a toll-free phone number or by mail.

    http://annualcreditreport.com

    Beware of imposter websites! This is the only authorized website to request your credit reports.

    1-877-322-8228

    Annual Credit Report Request Service
    P.O. Box 105281
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

    For more information about getting free credit reports, see the FTC's Your Rights: Credit Reporting page. The FTC website also provides information about Credit Reports & Scoring and Credit Cards & Consumer Loans, among many other consumer protection topics.


    March 10, 2010

    Craiglist Scams

    IC3.jpg If you've used Craigslist to rent an apartment, sell furniture, find a job or countless other things, you probably know you should look out for various scams. Craigslist has its own list of tips on how to avoid scams when using this service, especially when a transaction involves money. For a local Utah perspective, the Division of Consumer Protection has tips to stay safe when transacting business online based on an example of wire transfer fraud that happened here. In addition, in 2008 Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff signed an agreement with Craigslist to try to end illegal erotic ads. Per the agreement, posters who advertise erotic services must provide a real, working phone number and pay a fee that will be donated to charity.

    Other Craigslist scams have included the false promise of a Better Business Bureau buyer protection program, marriage fraud after a woman advertised for a spouse, and rental housing scams.

    Of course, these tips apply to any transaction made online, whether its through an online advertising site like Craigslist or KSL Classifieds or through an online merchant.

    So what should you do if you think you have been victimized by a scam or fraudulent transaction? Contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

    March 09, 2010

    Avoid Job Scams


    In today's tough economy, looking for a job can be difficult and stressful. If a job ad is offering the ability to work at home, be a mystery shopper, or is advertising the opportunity to own your own business, be aware that these advertisements may be job scams. The Federal Trade Commission provides tips on how to avoid job scams, such as avoiding any company that is promising you a job or will charge you money. The FTC has also recently begun Operation Bottom Dollar against several companies that have collectively scammed thousands of job seekers.

    If you're a Utah resident, you have a variety of ways to research a company offering work opportunities. Check with Utah's Better Business Bureau to find business ratings. Utah businesses are also registered with the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code--you can search for registered businesses, licensed professionals, and UCC filings.

    March 08, 2010

    Utah Consumer Protection Resources

    Be a smart consumer and educate yourself! Start with Utah's Divison of Consumer Protection website, which provides a wide-range of useful resources including:


    National Consumer Protection Week

    National Consumer Protection Week

    March 7 -13 is National Consumer Protection Week.

    In honor of this week, State Law Library staff will blog on consumer-related topics including Utah consumer protection resources, scams, free credit reports and consumer complaints. We hope you find these posts useful!

    February 22, 2010

    New Rules for Credit Card Companies

    CREDIT CARD.JPG As we've mentioned before, the regulation of credit card companies has been discussed at various branches of the federal government, with the Federal Reserve Board imposing a number of new regulations on these companies.

    Effective today, credit card companies must now follow an additional set of rules that will be enforced by the Federal Reserve. The new rules mean your credit card statement might look different than before.

    What to expect:

    1. The credit card company must tell you how long it will take to pay off the balance if you only make minimum payments.
    2. If the credit card company raises the interest rate, it can only apply to new charges.
    3. The due date to pay the balance must be the same each month.

    The Federal Reserve Board has more information at What You Need to Know: New Credit Card Rules.

    January 14, 2010

    Beware of Haiti Charity Scams

    haiti relief.jpgYou have most likely heard about the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed at least tens of thousands of people. Many organizations are soliciting monetary donations to support the relief effort. The Red Cross has already solicited over $3 million through a simple donation method: texting. However, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection has urged Utah residents to beware of unregistered charities that are soliciting donations.

    The Division of Consumer Protection reminds Utahns to beware of charity scams by taking the following preventions:

    • Do not reply to unsolicited e‐mail (SPAM) messages and do not click on any links within unknown emails.
    • Be wary of people claiming to be officials who are asking for e‐mail donations.
    • Only open email attachments from people you know. Attachments may contain viruses that can impair your computer.
    • Never give out personal or financial information over the phone or through an email which could result in identity theft.

    To ensure you're donating to a registered charity, check out the list of registered and exempt charities available on the Division of Consumer Protection's site.

    For continued information on the relief efforts in Haiti, visit the U.S. Department of State or the Center for International Disaster Information.

    Photo Credit:

    December 09, 2009

    Product Safety Recalls

    toy.jpegThis holiday shopping season, you're probably browsing stores for the best bargains. How can you be sure that the gifts you're buying are safe? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in charge of protecting the public from injury or death from defective consumer products like kids' clothing, toys, household appliances, and sports equipment. Product recalls are searchable by month and year. You can also report unsafe products, read product safety tips, or sign up for future recall announcements. The agency's regulations can be found in 16 CFR Ch. II.

    Not all products are protected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can find a larger collection of safety recalls, including those released by the CPSC, at Recalls.Gov. You can search recalls or browse them by broader categories, like motor vehicles.

    December 08, 2009

    Buyer Remorse?

    Black_Friday_shoppers_in_2009.jpg Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Do you regret any of your purchases? What are your rights as a consumer to return your purchases for refunds?

    Check out the resources available online at the Utah Division of Consumer Protection's website. The Division has compiled a "Buyer Beware List" that provides information about companies that have violated laws and rules and have failed to follow the Division's order to pay a fine or other restitution. From the home page, you can also access a Frequently Asked Questions section, including whether you have a 3-day right of rescission for your purchases.

    The Consumer Sales Practices Act, found in the Utah Code at Title 13, Chapter 11 and the Consumer Sales Practices Act Rules, found in the Administrative Code at 152-11 govern the rights and obligations of both the business and consumer. For example, Rule 152-11-10 states that a receipt must be provided to the buyer with these six pieces of information:
    1) Description of the consumer commodity
    2) The cash selling price
    3) Trade-in information, if any
    4) The length of time a refund or trade-in is available, if at all
    5) Whether the purchase is refundable and under what conditions
    6) Any other additional fees

    If you made a major purchase over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, such as a car, house, or boat, other laws might protect you. For example, if you bought a new car on Black Friday and now realize you're driving a lemon, Utah's lemon law might provide some protections. Check out our previous post Don't Get Stuck with a Lemon for information.

    November 23, 2009

    New Proposed Rules for Gift Cards

    giftcardblog.jpg Planning to buy gift cards for friends or family members this holiday season? The Federal Reserve Board has recently proposed rule changes to the Federal Reserve System's Electronic Funds Transfer regulation (12 CFR Part 205) that would limit the service and inactivity fees that can be placed on gift cards unless cards have been inactive for more than a year, there is no more than one fee per month, or if fees are fully disclosed to the consumer. The rules would also require expiration dates of cards be no less than five years from the date issued or date funds were last added.

    You can read the full text of the proposed rules in the November 20th, 2009, issue of the Federal Register.

    Want to comment on these proposed rules? Submit your views and read other people's comments through the Federal Reserve's Rulemaking Proposals page. Comments can also be submitted online through Regulations.Gov. You must submit your comments by December 21, 2009.


    October 14, 2009

    Stop Medicare Fraud

    medicare.jpg
    The Department of Justice and Health and Human Services have partnered to create the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). The Team has created a website called Stop Medicare Fraud, which provides resources to help identify and protect against Medicare fraud and information on how to report it.

    To protect against fraud
    - Guard your Medicare and Social Security Numbers.
    - Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment or services and then requests your Medicare number.
    - Do not let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare ID card or your identity.

    Common Medicare fraud schemes include
    - People who approach you in parking lots, shopping centers, or other public areas and offer free services, groceries, transportation, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number.
    - People who call you claiming to be conducting a health survey and ask for your Medicare number.
    - Telephone marketers who pretend to be from Medicare or Social Security and ask for payment over the phone or Internet.

    If you suspect you have been the victim of a Medicare fraud scheme, contact the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

    October 01, 2009

    Federal Credit Card Law Updates

    CREDIT CARD.JPGThe Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, signed and passed into law this May, has several consumer protection provisions that have already gone into effect, according to a recent FDIC Consumer Alert, including:

    • Credit card issuers must provide a 45-day advance notice of rate increases and inform a card holder of his or her right to cancel an account before the rate increase begins.

    • Monthly credit card statements must be mailed or delivered to customers at least 21 days prior to a payment due date.

    While most of the provisions were set to be effective in February and August of 2010, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee recently introduced H.R. 3639, Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, which would move the effective date for those provisions back to December 1, 2009.

    You can keep track of this legislation at THOMAS. Search by bill number H.R. 3639 under Search Bill Status & Summary to follow the bill's latest actions.

    September 10, 2009

    2008 Mortgage Fraud Report: Year in Review

    The FBI has recently released the 2008 Mortgage Fraud Report--Year in Review, which discusses mortgage fraud issues and threats from a law enforcement perspective. Because this report identifies emerging schemes of mortgage fraud, it may help you identify whether you may have been a victim of mortgage fraud. It also provides graphs and maps with information about top markets for foreclosure.

    The report identifies these emerging and continuing areas of mortgage fraud schemes:
    * Reverse mortgage fraud
    * Credit enhancement
    * Builder-bailout schemes
    * Foreclosure rescue
    * Serial property flipping
    * Short-sale schemes

    To address these issues and other mortgage fraud cases, the FBI created the National Mortgage Fraud Team. For more information about the Team, you can listen to the FBI's podcast about mortgage fraud or read FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole's congressional testimony on mortgage fraud.

    If you have a mortgage fraud complaint, you can report it to the FBI using this form.

    September 04, 2009

    New Ban on Robo-Calls effective September 1st

    PHONESCAM.JPG A new ban on robo-calls, or prerecorded messages, went into effect September 1, 2009. Companies can no longer make robo-calls without written consent from the consumer first. Without this consent, a telemarketer can face a penalty of up to $16,000 per call. The ban is one of many amendments that were made to the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule, which were announced last year in the Federal Register.

    Some companies have already faced litigation for making robo-calls. Transcontinental Warranty, Inc., is now banned from making robo-calls to scam consumers into purchasing vehicle service contracts. The FTC sued Transcontinental Warranty, Inc., earlier this year in response to numerous complaints received about the company's calls.

    Not all types of prerecorded calls are banned, such as calls from banks or charities. The rule applies mostly to telemarketing calls from businesses.

    Consumers who receive robo-calls without their consent can file a complaint with the FTC either at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

    August 13, 2009

    Free Upcoming Consumer Information Class

    small_claims.jpgIf you're in the Salt Lake City area, the AAA Fair Credit Foundation is offering a free seminar on Avoiding Predatory Lending Products on Wednesday, August 19th, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. It will be held at the Foundation's office at 230 West 200 South, Suite 3104. The class will teach how to identify and avoid predatory lending products.

    Space is limited and registration is required. Visit the event registration page to reserve your spot for this class. The Foundation updates an online calendar of events, so keep your eye on this page for future class dates and times.

    August 04, 2009

    FTC Consumer Alert: Debts of Deceased Relatives

    Foreclosure-Invoices.JPGThe Federal Trade Commission recently released a consumer alert to help people who may be concerned about debts of deceased relatives, and whether or not they are responsible for those debts.

    Paying the Debts of a Deceased Relative: Who Is Responsible? explains a surviving relative's basic rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, including what you should do if a debt collector calls about a deceased relative's debts.

    For more consumer information about debt collections, visit the FTC's consumer facts page on credit and loans.

    March 06, 2009

    Consumer Law Information

    For information about consumer law issues and advocacy tips, see the National Consumer Law Center.

    This site provides useful consumer brochures like What You Should Know About Debt Collection and also has a special section on consumer information for seniors.

    Don't Get Stuck With a Lemon!

    If you've bought a new car, motorcycle or motor home and are having persistent problems with it that can't be repaired, you may have a lemon on your hands.

    Utah's New Motor Vehicle Warranty Act (aka the Lemon Law), Utah Code §13-20-1 et seq. defines when a new vehicle is considered a lemon, and what your remedies are. Used car purchases are not covered under the Lemon Law.

    The Division of Consumer Protection has created rules related to this law - New Motor Vehicle Warranty Rules, Utah Administrative Code R152-20

    The Utah Division of Consumer Protection's Automobiles page has more information about the Lemon Law, as well as other car-related issues.


    March 05, 2009

    National Do Not Call Registry

    Hate those annoying phone calls from telemarketers just as you're sitting down for dinner?

    By now you should know about the National Do Not Call Registry, which allows you to register your phone number telling telemarketers you don't want to hear from them. It used to be that you had to re-register your number after 5 years, but the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007 (P.L. 100-187) now makes registratration permanent.

    You can register up to three telephone numbers at a time, including cell phone numbers. It can take up to 31 days from when you register for telemarketers to remove you from their call lists.

    Some Limitations
    Registering will not stop all calls. Political organizations, charities, and telephone poll-takers are still allowed to call you. Registration is for personal phone numbers only - not fax numbers or business numbers. Information about stopping unwanted faxes is available on the FCC website

    Filing a Complaint
    If you registered more than 31 days ago and a telemarketer you think is covered by the National Do Not Call Registry has called, you can file a complaint:

    Online: www.donotcall.gov
    Toll-free at 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236)

    To file a complaint, you must know the name or telephone number of the company that called you, and the date the company called you.

    March 04, 2009

    Junk Mail Be Gone

    junk.jpg
    Since it's Consumer Protection Week, it's time to protect your mail box and e-mail from unwanted solicitations. Unwanted junk mail fills up your mail box and trash bin (or, hopefully your recycle bin) and you waste time deleting e-mail spam messages.

    The Direct Marketing Association web site allows you to stop receiving credit card offers, catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail offers by simply entering your mailing address and selecting which offers you no longer want to receive. Over 3,600 organizations belong to DMA, and if you say you don't want to receive a member organization's offer or ad, they will stop sending it to you.

    Note that if you're already a customer of a certain company, you have to directly contact the company to stop sending you mail. DMA provides the e-mail address, phone number, and address of customer service offices. But if you're just a prospective customer, signing up with DMA gets you off that company's list.

    DMA also allows you to opt-out of receiving unwanted marketing e-mails with their e-mail Preference Service.

    OptOutPreScreen.com provides a way for you to opt-out of receiving firm offers for credit and insurance. You can opt out for five years or forever. Opting out of prescreened or preapproved offers doesn't mean you're ineligible to apply for credit cards--it just means you get to contact the credit card company when and how you choose.

    And what about junk faxes? While it's not as easy to opt-out of receiving junk faxes, the Federal Communications Commission provides information about how to remove your fax number from company lists and the complaint procedure. You can also file a complaint with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

    March 03, 2009

    Free Credit Reports

    Yesterday Joanne blogged about identity theft. One way to monitor your credit history for suspicious activity is to request a copy of your credit report each year.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon your request every 12 months. You can request your reports online, via a toll-free phone number or by mail.

    http://annualcreditreport.com

    Beware of imposter websites! This is the only authorized website to request your credit reports!

    1-877-322-8228

    Annual Credit Report Request Service
    P.O. Box 105281
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

    For more information about getting free credit reports, read the FTC's publication Your Access to Free Credit Reports.


    March 02, 2009

    Identity Theft Awareness

    If you're a Utah resident and a victim of identity theft, you can use the state's Identity Theft Reporting Information System (IRIS) to report it. You can also check on the status of an existing case.

    IRIS also provides step-by-step guidelines for resolving situations related to identity theft, such as unauthorized credit card charges or lost identification cards.

    IRIS also has general education resources such as scam and identity theft alerts to keep you posted on data breaches happening locally and nationally, a media center with videos featuring topics such as credit freeze and phishing, as well as an interactive timeline where you can learn about how identity theft laws were created in Utah.

    The Federal Trade Commission has additional educational resources for consumers, including tips to minimize your risk for becoming a victim.

    National Consumer Protection Week

    National Consumer Protection Week
    March 1 - 7 is National Consumer Protection Week.

    In honor of this week, State Law Library staff will blog on a variety of consumer-related topics including identity theft, junk mail, Utah's lemon law, the National Do Not Call Registry and how to request your free credit reports. Stay tuned for these informative posts!