Tools of the Trade: Tools to Know Your Own Personal Risk

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By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

meterFor National Consumer Protection Week, we have focused on several tools to spot scams and fraudsters as well as tools to educate consumers. But an important part of being an informed consumer is to have some level of self-awareness. That is, knowing what characteristics about yourself make you more vulnerable to certain types of scams, or more likely to make bad financial decisions.  Financial self-awareness is just understanding where you are vulnerable to remove fraudsters’ ability to make you a victim.  Fortunately, there are some helpful tools to determine what these weaknesses are and how to guard against them. Continue reading

Tools of the Trade: Educational Tools for Teen Consumers

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By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

carFor National Consumer Protection Week, we have brought you several tools to protect consumers against scams and bad decisions, but many consumers have school-aged teenagers who also need education in the area of financial health. After all, teens are big consumers in our economy and often carry their parent’s credit and debit cards, so educating young people on how to protect against financial loss is just as important as educating adults.  Fortunately, our friends at FINRA have compiled a great resource for educational tools to prepare teens to face their financial futures. Continue reading

Tools of the Trade: Credit Freeze Tools and New Innovations

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By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

During National Consumer Protection Week, we are bringing you a number of different tools that may help you prevent falling victim to fraud, scams and bad financial decisions. But if you fall victim to identity theft, someone else can make bad decisions in your name before you even realize what happened.  Below are some tools to help you prevent identity theft and the often nightmare scenarios that follow this crime for the victims. Continue reading

Tools of the Trade: BrokerCheck and Scam Meter

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By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

toolsEvery day, we make important decisions about finances, health, privacy, technology and more. National Consumer Protection Week is March 1 -7, 2015 and we will be bringing you several posts discussing ways consumers can protect themselves against scams, fraud and even just bad decisions. Fortunately, with today’s technology, there are many tools that can help consumers avoid making bad decisions that will negatively affect their overall financial health.  Follow this week’s posts for links to some of those tools and some general advice on consumer protection.

Our friends at FINRA are always a great source for consumer protection tools, especially in the area of consumer investments. One of the best tools available for fighting investment fraud is FINRA’s BrokerCheck website. BrokerCheck is a free publicly accessible FINRA database that allows investors to research the educational and professional backgrounds of current and former brokers and brokerage firms registered by FINRA.  BrokerCheck includes information such as current licensing status and history, employment history, and, if any, reported regulatory, customer dispute, criminal and other relevant matters. It is a useful tool for all potential investors to use before making any investment decisions with a particular broker or brokerage firm. Continue reading

National Consumer Protection Week: Yes, You Can Receive Spam on Your Cell Phone

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By: Ryan Corbin, Fall 2014 Student Intern

phone1Have you ever received a promotional message over text messaging? Text message spam is to your cell phone what email spam is to your personal computer.  Text message spam can lead to unwanted charges in your cell phone bill, reveal personal information, and slow cell phone performance.  Often the text message will promise free gifts just by clicking a link.  Clicking on the link can install malware on your phone that collects information from your phone.  Once the spammer has your information, it is sold to marketers or identity thieves.  Also, your wireless carrier may charge you simply for receiving a text message and it can slow performance by taking up space on the phones memory.

Practice doing these things to protect against text message spam: Continue reading

National Consumer Protection Week: Safely Leverage Today’s Money Management Tools

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By: Ryan Corbin, Fall 2014 Student Intern

compHave you ever used the internet to buy an investment? Just because you are buying an investment online, don’t forget what the Investor Advocacy Clinic has taught you.  Remember: Continue reading