Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wise Consumer Tips (California)

My readers are no doubt enjoying the new year--the Nasdaq is up 3.5% and the Dow is up almost 3%. But stock market gains mean nothing if you get scammed in personal economic transactions. To help my California readers avoid fraud, I found some excellent consumer tips, prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. The resolutions/tips are very helpful and definitely worth a look:

As a consumer, I resolve, in 2009, to:

-read and understand every consumer contract, especially when purchasing or leasing a car, BEFORE signing it and get all oral promises added to the contract in writing

-check with the Contractors State Licensing Board on the status of a contractor before hiring one to work on my home (Licenses can be checked by telephoning the Board at 1-800-321-CSLB or using the Board’s website at .)

-understand the refund/return policy before purchasing in a store or from a store online

-watch the register when items are being scanned to catch pricing errors (Consumers may call the Santa Clara County Department of Weights and Measures’ toll-free scanner hotline at 1-866-SCANNER to complain or ask questions about scanning devices at stores.)

-use my credit card for purchases, whenever possible and reasonable, so I can write to my credit card company to dispute any charge

-make all car payments on schedule to avoid repossession and a bad credit record

-obtain a written estimate for any auto repair and ask for replaced parts, if I need them (Licenses can be checked by telephoning the Bureau of Automotive Repair at 1-800-952-5210 or using the Bureau’s website at .)

-review my itinerary and cancellation terms before purchasing travel arrangements, whether online or through a travel agent

-not disclose my personal or financial information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, over the telephone or online to any organization I cannot verify as reputable

-check with the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Reports, the Bay Area Consumer Checkbook or simply do an internet search on any company from which I am purchasing

For more information, call the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Consumer Protection Unit at 408-792-2880.

[Note: this number goes to a local D.A.'s office, designed to assist residents of Santa Clara County, or those complaining about businesses in Santa Clara County.]

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