New Reports and Tips for Consumers

The threats facing consumers seem to be increasing every year. Consumers are burdened by identity theft risks, robocall scams, and the difficulty of navigating our credit reports. Arizonans are facing surges in counterfeit products, dark apps that compromise our privacy, erroneous medical bills, and financing traps with “gotcha” clauses. And then there are products we pay good money for that are difficult, if not impossible, to fix when something small goes wrong.

In recognition of Consumer Protection Week 2022, Arizona PIRG Education Fund has released a series of consumer protection tips and tools to help Arizonans address some of the most common consumer issues.

Top consumer complaints

In 2021, a record number of individuals from across the country filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Complaint Database. Topping the list of the issues that Arizonans complained about: credit reporting, credit repair services, or other personal consumer reports, including incorrect information or a problem with a credit reporting company’s investigation into an existing problem; and debt collection, including attempts to collect debt not owed. Check out our tips on freezing your files, requesting your credit reports, and other steps you can take to protect yourself.

Failing the fix

Chances are you don’t walk into an electronics store and think, “I’m wanting to buy something unfixable.” But how do you know which products you’ll be able to repair to last? We compiled repairability rankings for 186 phones and laptops, grading manufacturers on whether they are Failing the Fix. Our resource guide is designed to help consumers who want to purchase easily repairable products.

Dark patterns

Apps, especially social media apps, collect an incredible amount of information about us without us realizing it. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund has compiled step-by-step instructions, using screenshots, on how to change your settings on leading apps to protect your privacy on both iPhones and Androids.

 The ‘buy now, pay later’ phenomenon

The new ‘buy now, pay later’ financing scheme is causing complaints to soar. Consumers making purchases as small as $50 online are offered payment plans, which can turn into debt traps. We offer tips to avoid the interest and fees that often come with ‘buy now, pay later’ “deals”.

Counterfeit products

Often consumers associate counterfeits with luxury items such as bags or shoes; however, the variety of counterfeit products includes medicines, hygiene products and COVID-19 tests. See our tip guide on the best practices to avoid counterfeits when shopping online or evaluating reviews.

Surprise medical bills

Beyond illness or injury, being a patient isn’t easy financially. Arizonans need to know their new consumer protections against unexpected and unavoidable out-of-network medical charges. This hard-won Arizona PIRG-supported consumer law can save insured Arizonans from paying hundreds to thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.

No doubt scammers are going to try to find new ways to scam. Consumer Protection Week may be over, but protecting consumers is never over for us. Sign up to receive our emails and keep up-to-date on our work: https://arizonapirgedfund.org/contact and @ArizonaPIRG on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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