In a blog post last Friday, Jessica Rich, the Director for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection noted that Sunday marked the start of the eighteenth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), involving more than 100 organizations including government agencies, attorneys general, and consumer advocacy groups. The goal of this project is to highlight efforts shut down scams, give consumers a better way to report and recover from identity theft, and expose and stop misleading business practices.
One of those groups, Consumer Action, has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change. By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website (www.consumer-action.org) and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,500 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.
In the fall of 2015, the Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC), a group of nearly 30 larger market participants in debt collection, partnered with Consumer Action to produce an “insider’s” guide for consumers on how to recognize a scam. Legitimate debt collectors are fully aligned with regulators who seek to shut down scammers, who use the cover of calling themselves debt collectors in order to deceive consumers. These entities make threats, mask or change their name, refuse and engage in behavior that makes no sense for firms that are long-standing businesses, working for major creditors who care about their reputation.