Fight Back! in 2010
HOW DO YOU protect your rights, deal with scams
and rip-off artists, and survive as a savvy consumer
in the marketplace? Here is my philosophy: “Life is
full of compromise, but to compromise principle is
to give up your self-respect. I don’t want anyone to
take me for a sucker, and I don’t want to see anyone
else taken either. A lot of things are unfair in life. It’s
tough; that’s the way it is. But, by heaven, if you can
do something about it, do it.”
Your philosophy comes into play when you
select the stores and businesses you patronize. You
probably want to:
• Shop at places where you are treated well, the
price is right and you’re a real person instead of just
another credit card.
• Do business with banks where you are not
just an “account number” standing in a long line.
• Choose businesses and professionals who
treat their customers and clients well.
You can use your philosophy as a guide to select
any enterprise anywhere your life takes you.
WE’VE HAD EARTHQUAKE
insurance to cover our
condo. Recently the company dropped us because
they said they don’t insure
buildings with more than
four units (our building
has 75 units). They said
they never insured such
large buildings, but if we
had claimed they would
have paid us. I asked for
a full refund as I feel we
were not insured correctly
according to their policy.
Where do we stand?
Los Angeles, CA
In addition to a philosophy, as you head into
2010, you need a strategy.
Many people don’t know that plentiful resources
are available, many of them for free, that can help
you navigate these waters and avoid being suckered.
Here are a few.
Updated every year, the Consumer Action
Handbook can be accessed at
The guide, published by the Federal Citizen
Information Center, contains information about
making consumer purchases and getting help with
problems and complaints. Topics range widely—
from cars to credit reports, from federal assistance
programs to floors. The information is available
online free, and in many cases printed publications
can be purchased for a very nominal cost.
MyMoney.gov, from the U.S. Financial Literacy
and Education Commission, provides online financial education resources. A wide range of information is available, from credit-card repayment
calculators to scam warnings and foreclosure prevention.
The Federal Trade Commission Web site,
www.ftc.gov, is a one-stop shop for preventing fraud
and reporting underhanded transactions, as well as
educating the public to avoid being taken by scam-mers. Topics include Internet fraud, identification
theft, truth in packaging and labeling, and the
national Do Not Call Registry.
CARFAX Lemon Check (go to
com, then click “Lemon Check®” under “Free
Services”) is a great free resource if you are thinking
of buying a used car but afraid you might get a recycled lemon. Even though they also feature a paid
service for a full car history, CarFax.com offers a
free service that runs a check on the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if the car has a lemon
history. From there, the rest is up to you.
AARP.org isn’t just for the retired. Many years
ago, AARP shed its original name and focus on
retired persons, and has become a leading educator
for consumer rights for everyone. While many of
the online articles are geared toward older
Americans, they provide important and timely
information about financial matters, family health, retirement systems and
scams, and ways to protect yourself
against fraud. AARP also provides a
wealth of services, including tax filing assistance, insurance services,
travel advice and financial planning.
IRS.gov. Sure, we’ve all
come to fear the Internal
Revenue Service, particularly around tax time. But
did you know the IRS has
a full range of information services to help you
prepare for tax filing and
avoid the pitfalls and
traps that can cost you
money? The time to
check them out is now, so
the approach to April 15,
2010, will not be filled
In fact, the time to
prepare for all areas of
your life in 2010 is now.
Don’t wait! Check out
these agencies, and Fight
Back! with new philoso-phies and strategies for
the new year! C
Why are you entitled
to a refund? Even if the
insurance company can-
celled the policy, they told
you they would have paid
you if you’d filed an earth-
quake claim. So, I do not
believe you are owed
a refund; however,
the state Depart-
ment of Insurance
would have the
final say on that.
Now, if you’d
filed a claim,
could they have
denied it if your
This is a prime
example of why you
need to make sure cov-
erage matches your
particular needs, in
writing. Make sure you
check the fine print on
exclusions and restric-
tions before you select
your next policy.
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate (
He is a frequent guest on radio and television stations. Consult your local
listings for dates and times.
© 2010 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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