National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is held each year in the first full week of March (this year, March 3rd – 9th). The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), the Office of the Attorney General, and Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut are encouraging consumers to participate. It’s an incredibly busy time of year, but there are a few quick things that consumers can do this week to make sure they’re protected all year.
Clean up your computer and your smartphone: More and more cases of identity theft and security breaches originate from downloading cell phone apps and computer programs. Breaches can also occur when we correspond with companies or individuals who are pretending to be legitimate businesses, but who are not. Sharing information with the wrong entity can mean your information is taken, bought, and sold to people who misuse your information.
If you don’t have one, make a budget: The past year has made it more challenging to stick to a financial plan. The government shut down and changes to how tax returns are formulated have made it clear that planning is more important than ever. Take some time to plan out a budget for each month that includes some savings and investments so that you have what you need to get through an emergency.
Check your credit report for free: Your personal and financial information can be used in many ways without your permission or knowledge. That’s why it’s important to check your credit report to ensure that everything looks right, and there aren’t any accounts open in your name that you don’t know about. You can check your credit report for free once a year with each of the three credit reporting agencies. Consumers can visit annualcreditreport.com to get all the information they need to get their credit report.
“Consumer Protection Week is a great time for consumers to take a step back, review their finances, and really get organized for the year ahead,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “Our market, and our needs are changing rapidly, and it can be hard to keep up at such a busy time. That’s why we wanted to remind consumers that it really is easy to be a smart consumer if you build in a little time for yourself to complete a few simple tasks on a routine basis”
"As consumers – particularly senior citizens, working people, and the disadvantaged – are exposed to the dangers of identity theft, data breaches, and scams, it's important that residents are aware of the steps they can take to better protect themselves and their personal information," said Attorney General William Tong. "By better educating people on their consumer rights, we can ensure they are able to safeguard their personal data and make well-informed decisions about their investments."
“Educating consumers on scam prevention is something BBB focuses on all year long and Consumer Protection Week is a great time to highlight a few simple things that could potentially keep a consumer scam free,” said BBB Associate Director of Communication Luke Frey, “Financial literacy is also extremely important, and checking your credit report is a great way to catch possible identity theft and get an overall idea of your financial health—especially in the midst of tax season.”
There are a number of events happening during National Consumer Protection Week in Connecticut that can be found here.
Consumers can learn more about how they can participate in Consumer Protection Week by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.ftc.gov.