United States Consumer Info: Credit; Scams; Fraud; Privacy and identity theft

Money, Privacy, and Identity are something that we all treasure. Daily life in the US revolves around these three things most of the times, even when you are buying something, surfing the internet or applying for a job. However, there are various illegal systems or activities like scams, fraud and identity theft that tend to endanger your privacy and identity, which also sometimes, results in financial loss. There are several federal and state agencies under the government of the United States, who facilitate the general people with information to be safe from these deceptions and help consumers in times of need. In this article, we have mentioned some general consumer information about credit, scams, fraud, privacy and identity theft. If you have just immigrated to the United States then to be on a safer side you should know about these things.

Money and Credit

Money is much more, than important and valuable, because of numerous reasons. Mostly because it helps us determine our present and future. Sometimes, in desperate situations, when we don’t have enough cash, we tend to take loans from banks, people, and mortgage financiers and so on. Even our credit card can have debt. This is why it is important to financially strategize about how we spend it and on what.

  • Spending and Saving

Expense and savings go contrary in most of the cases. However, these are the two important parameters that you need to consider in order to become financially secure. A good and realistic budget plan is crucial so that you have enough money for spending while having a bit of money in your saving accounts. For a better and financially secured future, one should always spend wisely and not go overboard.

  • Credit and Loans

When it comes to credits and loans, there are various factors that you should contemplate wisely before making a decision. Think about how much money you actually need, what are the terms offered by your lender (interest rates, give-back time and others) and the reliability of the person or company giving out the loan. If you have a credit card then you should know about the credit card debt, interest rates, and information about how to avoid credit card fraud. You can get such information from your credit card issuer, various local and governmental agencies like credit bureaus or governmental websites like http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.

  • Dealing with Debt

Dealing with Debt
The laws associated with debt are very complex and leaves most of the people confused. But to make your life easier you need to know about four important things while dealing with debt. They are debt collection, debt management, debt relief and debt settlement. Similarly, learn about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and also how to recognize and avoid debt-related scams and frauds.
If you run into any credit or debt-related scams and frauds, you can contact nearby federal, state or local agencies like Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Privacy and Identity Theft

Your privacy and identity is a valuable commodity. In this digital age, these two things are always at risk. This is why it is important to know how to protect your personal information and your identity.

  • Computer Security

Everybody uses the internet nowadays because it gives us access to various information, products, and services, entertainment and opportunities. However, it has also become a common play field for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Falling to the deceptions of these personnel can lead to grave digital, financial and identity crises. It is important that you learn how to protect your computer and your online information to avoid this. Continuously indulge yourself into reading blogs and articles that have information about modern computer security. You can also install reliable firewall and security software; take online classes on network security and ethical hacking.

  • Identity Theft

Identity theft is a very serious crime and can cause weighty losses to the victims. Therefore, you have to be alert at all the times while give your personal information to open accounts, file taxes or make purchases. Similarly, it is very crucial to learn about digital security because identity thefts mostly happen while using online services like email or social networking sites. If you want to report and recover from identity theft or have more info on this subject then you can visit governmental websites like www.identitytheft.gov or www.ftc.gov.

Consumer Scams

Anyone can become a victim of a scam. And it is really very painful as you might lose your money, time, reputation or in worst cases even become the target of legal action.

  • Protecting yourself

To avoid any sort of consumer scams, there are two things we recommend you to follow.

  • Before putting a signature on the dotted line of any agreement or a contract, always remember to go through every last detail of the deal. If you feel suspicious, do NOT sign it or re-check the reliability of the deal being made.
  • Guard your personal information properly. Do not just give your personal information like social security number or credit card info when someone asks you. You should always verify the concerned person’s identity and legitimacy, before providing your information. Check their creditability through outside source if you need to.
  • What to do when you become a victim?

In spite of every precaution, sometimes you might become a victim of a consumer scam. So, to minimize the loss, you can do three simple things.

  • You can demand a refund from the company that you tricked you. In case they refuse, always notify the law enforcement officials.
  • Keep track of every record of every action that you take to recover your money. Keep records of your phone calls, copies of the documents and a track list of your expenditure.
  • Seek help from appropriate agencies. You can contact your local consumer program, local Better Business Bureau (BBB), FTC, police or US Postal Inspection Service.

Consumer Fraud

  • How to Avoid Fraud?
  • Try to find the seller’s address or phone number and check their credentials while making a purchase. For internet services, you can do an online check-up of their accountability and reliability of their products and services.
  • Don’t wire money to strangers, sellers who insist on this payment or unknown callers.
  • Be wary of fake donation collectors during disasters.
  • Read your monthly statements and keep records of the statements.
  • Stay away from calls or deals offering you low-risk, high-return investment opportunities.
  • Don’t give your personal information to strangers. Be alert when a Credit card or other company, asks for your personal information (like credit card info, ssn, etc.) on phone, for verification purpose.
  • Always consult your doctor while taking pills or drugs from television or internet ads.

These were some of the basic information relevant to credit, scams, frauds and identity theft. We hope that it proves to be helpful for you and saves you from any of the scams, frauds, and other risks.

Anuj Agarwal
Anuj Agrawal completed his Master’s Degree in Computer Science from NJIT, USA, and is currently the CEO of a successful software company in Nepal (www.KulfiSoftware.com.np). He immigrated to the USA on a F1 visa in 2007. While pursuing his MS degree, he was a research assistant, and was lucky enough to secure himself a job in HMG America, as a Software Consultant, even during the recession of 2007-2010.  Having studied, and worked for reputed Software Company, as in immigrant in the USA, he loves to share his experiences. Apart from articles for immigrant’s issues, he also writes on financial matters, and ways on becoming a successful entrepreneur. His writings are not only limited to the USA, but are also popular among readers in Canada, London, and India. When not writing, he loves to explore new places and meet people. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, and Bengali, and has visited the USA, Dubai, London, Nepal, and India, so far.

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