As 2013 gets underway, Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is challenging residents to be smart and savvy consumers by making these ten simple resolutions for the new year:
• Always check a store’s return policy before making a purchase. Knowing the store’s return policy – including restocking fees – makes returns easier.
• Read parking rules before parking your car. Checking the signs in the parking lot before walking away from your car can save you hundreds of dollars and hours of aggravation.
• Shred documents that contain personal information.
• Protect your Smartphone by always logging out of banking and social networking apps and clearing the phone’s browser history. Password-protect your phone and never share data over public Wi-Fi networks.
• Review monthly statements promptly. Always review monthly credit card and bank statements immediately to ensure that all charges are accurate and no hidden fees appear. Dispute billing errors or charges in writing right away.
• Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Wiring money is like sending cash – once it is sent, you cannot get it back. Scammers frequently use money wiring because it is quick, difficult to trace, and typically, there is no way to reverse the transfer.
• Order and review credit reports annually from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-800-332-8228.
• Use a credit card – not a debit card – when shopping by phone, television or online. If a problem arises, charges can be disputed within 60 days from receipt of the bill.
• Do your homework before signing a contract or making large purchases. Always check the business’ complaint history, know the refund policies and check for any required licenses.
• Contact the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection with any consumer-related concerns.
OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, internet services and most other consumer transactions. OCP provides pre-purchase information to consumers, as well as speakers to the community on consumer issues.
For more information and to check any merchant’s complaint record, call 240-777-3636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit OCP’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.
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