Top 10 Tips to Becoming a Savvy Consumer
~ Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Provides Tips for Consumers in Recognition of National Consumer Protection Week ~
March 2, 2012
Tallahassee, FL - In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released 10 tips today to help Floridians become more savvy consumers. National Consumer Protection Week is an annual campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions in the marketplace.
“We seek to safeguard Floridians from falling victim to deceptive business practices,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “By proactively arming consumers with information, we not only safeguard Floridians, but also create an environment that rewards lawful business, enabling them to thrive and create jobs throughout our state.”
- Know your rights as a consumer. The Federal Trade Commission offers comprehensive guides that outline the right and responsibilities for consumers and businesses, including information about how to resolve disputes. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp.
- Research a business, including its license status and complaint history, before doing business with them by calling the department’s hotline, 1-800-HELP-FLA, or visiting www.800helpfla.com.
- Read the contract and fine print to make sure the terms of service are clearly defined and there aren’t any unwanted services or fees included. All contracts are not subject to a three-day cancellation period.
- Research charities, including how much it spends on program services, before donating by visiting the department’s website at www.800helpfla.com and clicking on the Gift Giver’s Guide.
- Contact 1-800-HELP-FLA with any consumer questions or concerns.
- Don’t provide personal information, such as a social security number, bank and credit account numbers, unless you have initiated the call or internet contact and know with whom you are dealing.
- Don’t fall for deals that are too good to be true. Guarantees of big profits or low risk, high investments that require immediate action are likely scams.
- Don’t make a snap decision when buying a good or service. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t fall for guarantees that debt can be restored, a foreclosure can be halted or a timeshare can be sold. There are no guarantees in these areas.
- Don’t pay via methods that are difficult to track, such as wire transfers, money order or sending cash with a courier.
The department is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer information and concerns and oversees the consumer hotline, 1-800-HELP-FLA, and website, www.800helpfla.com. Last year, the department received 41,961 complaints and recovered nearly $6 million on behalf of consumers.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.