Consumer Tips

PROTECTING YOURSELF IN A COMPLEX MARKETPLACE — Our researchers and attorneys provide key tips for how you can shop for the best bank, get the best car loan, protect against identity theft and more.

How to Protect Yourself

Being a consumer in today’s marketplace can be tough. Financial decisions in particular often require navigating a torrent of misleading advertisements and pages of jargon-filled small print. Even the simplest choices – everyday financial decisions like opening a credit card, creating a bank account, applying for a loan, or sorting through cell phone contracts – can take time, energy, and knowledge that too many of us don’t have.
   
Many financial institutions don’t set out to make it easier for their customers:

  • 1 out of every 20 Americans - millions of consumers - have errors on their credit reports significant enough to raise their rate on loans.
  • Financing cars through dealerships costs consumers more than $25.8 billion in additional hidden interest.
  • From 2005 to 2010, identity theft rose by 33%. In 2012, an estimated 12.6 million Americans became victims. That is 1 victim every 3 seconds. 
  • Banks made around $30 billion in overdraft fees in 2011, fees they pitched as “overdraft protection” but actually cost consumers more.

Despite these practices, there are ways to protect yourself.  We want to help. This is why we’ve created the following tip sheets based on common complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Read on. Protect yourself from becoming a statistic.

File a complaint if you have a problem

For all sorts of everyday consumer problems, there are government resources than can help. Federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Consumer Product Safety Commission exist to protect us from unfair or dangerous products. Submitting complaints to government agencies can help resolve your problem AND it helps these agencies hold companies accountable for unfair practices. For more information, consult our tip sheet on the subject, which includes information on how to contact the CFPB with financial complaints, the CPSC with toy and other product safety complaints, the NHTSA with car safety complaints and DOT with air travel complaints: How to File a Consumer Complaint and Use Government Databases.

Find more information about...

Keeping Track of Your Money:

Credit Reports, Credit Scores, and Identity Theft:

Common Consumer Problems:

Please note that these tips are not intended as, nor should they be construed as, legal advice. If you need legal advice dealing with a consumer problem, consult an attorney.

Issue updates

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Falls Behind for Energy Efficiency

Arizona fell in national rankings for energy efficiency, according to a new report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The state is now 23rd in the country, down four spots since last year. The annual scorecard measures states’ progress on a variety of energy efficiency efforts, including utility programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, and state government initiatives.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Help is on the way for Customers Struggling to Pay Utility Bills

Yesterday the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to help ratepayers struggling to pay their electric bill know there is at least a bit of light heading into 2021. Through the Commission’s action, Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and Unisource Electric will automatically enroll ratepayers behind on their bills who may be subject to disconnection in an eight-month payment plan, starting in January 2021. Utilities also agreed to work with customers who may need more time to catch up on their bills. In addition, qualified low-income customers will receive a discount up to $250 off their bill, due in part to support from APS, TEP and UNSE shareholders.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A Guide to Energy in Arizona

A Guide to Energy in Arizona provides elected and government officials, business and organizational leaders, members of the media, and Arizonans with a primer on energy issues in our state.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Votes to Expand Energy Efficiency

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, commended Chairman Bob Burns and Commissioners Boyd Dunn, Sandra Kennedy, and Lea Marquez Peterson - utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission - for voting yesterday to expand Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard through 2030.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Auto Loan Complaints Rise in Pandemic

A review of consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database reveals long-standing patterns of abusive and deceptive practices in the automobile industry. The pandemic has brought to light growing auto sales and loan problems.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Falls Behind for Energy Efficiency

Arizona fell in national rankings for energy efficiency, according to a new report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The state is now 23rd in the country, down four spots since last year. The annual scorecard measures states’ progress on a variety of energy efficiency efforts, including utility programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, and state government initiatives.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Help is on the way for Customers Struggling to Pay Utility Bills

Yesterday the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to help ratepayers struggling to pay their electric bill know there is at least a bit of light heading into 2021. Through the Commission’s action, Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and Unisource Electric will automatically enroll ratepayers behind on their bills who may be subject to disconnection in an eight-month payment plan, starting in January 2021. Utilities also agreed to work with customers who may need more time to catch up on their bills. In addition, qualified low-income customers will receive a discount up to $250 off their bill, due in part to support from APS, TEP and UNSE shareholders.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Votes to Expand Energy Efficiency

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, commended Chairman Bob Burns and Commissioners Boyd Dunn, Sandra Kennedy, and Lea Marquez Peterson - utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission - for voting yesterday to expand Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard through 2030.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report: COVID-19 Pandemic Worsens Existing Consumer Problems with Car Buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Arizona and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Approves Programs to Save Money and Energy for Arizona Public Service Customers

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona applauded a vote today by utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission to approve energy-saving programs that will provide financial relief to APS ratepayers for months to come. Energy efficiency is widely recognized as the least expensive way to meet Arizona’s energy demand and for lowering customer utility bills, creating local jobs, boosting the state’s economy, saving water, and reducing harmful air pollution.

> Keep Reading

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30 years of toy safety

For the past thirty years, our sister organization U.S. PIRG Education Fund has taken a close look at the safety of toys sold in stores. Their reports have led to more than 150 regulatory actions. In November 2015, they released our 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

> Keep Reading

Keeping Our Families Safe From Dangerous Products

Those who violate product safety laws will face stiff fines and penalties, and hazardous products will be removed from store shelves more quickly, under a landmark law championed by Arizona PIRG.

> Keep Reading

Saving Money By Saving Energy

Consumers and businesses in Arizona will save an estimated $680 million on their energy bills after Arizona PIRG-backed legislation that sets minimum energy-efficiency standards on 12 appliances was signed into law. This legislation will also help reduce water consumption by more than 15 billion gallons.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A Guide to Energy in Arizona

A Guide to Energy in Arizona provides elected and government officials, business and organizational leaders, members of the media, and Arizonans with a primer on energy issues in our state.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Auto Loan Complaints Rise in Pandemic

A review of consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database reveals long-standing patterns of abusive and deceptive practices in the automobile industry. The pandemic has brought to light growing auto sales and loan problems.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Electric Buses in America

New report profiles six case studies of early electric bus adopters from South Carolina to Washington State. By understanding common pitfalls and best practices, municipalities, transit agencies and school districts can ensure a smoother roll-out of electric buses, helping to reduce costs and protect public health.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble In Toyland

For over 30 years, PIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toys to look for safety problems. This research has led to more than 150 toy recalls and other regulatory actions over the years. Our work has also helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and well-being of children. This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) passing, which strengthened protections against dangerous consumer products.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Equifax Breach: 1 Year Later – How to Protect Yourself Against ID Theft & Hold Equifax Accountable

The purpose of this report is to make sure consumers have the information they need to protect themselves as much as possible, review what has happened in the last year, and point out the need for Congressional action to prevent breaches as bad as this one from ever happening again. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Consumer Protection

Is your mortgage forbearance ending? | Teresa Murray

If the COVID-19 pandemic affects your ability to pay, here’s what you need to know

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Consumer Protection

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments, here are some tips | Teresa Murray

Good news: You may still be able to request a forbearance because of COVID-19

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Nominee Would Put Consumers and Children in Harm’s Way | Diane Brown

Ever hear of Nancy Beck? Chances are you haven’t, but you should. Congress is expected to soon determine whether to approve the nomination of Nancy Beck to head the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

In the wake of the Capital One data breach, Ed Mierzwinski and Adam Garber explain how to protect your credit

Were you affected by the Capital One breach, one of the largest thefts of data from any bank to date?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

State PIRGs go to Washington for Consumer Lobby Day

Members of Congress hear repeatedly from lobbyists for corporate special interests in their offices and at fundraisers. How can consumer advocates balance the scales?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Congressional testimony underscores how predatory auto loans are driving Americans into debt

In most of the country, owning a car is all but required. And we're paying for it—to the tune of $1.2 trillion. This is putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk, and Arizona PIRG and our national network are calling for change.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

How safe is our food? Not safe enough, says PIRG Consumer Watchdog team, and it's trending in the wrong direction

Unsafe food recalls in the U.S. are trending the wrong way. From 2013 to 2017, they rose 10 percent overall, and a whopping 83 percent for the most hazardous meat and poultry recalls.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

1 Year After Equifax Data Breach, Here's Everything You Need To Know

One year after announcing the biggest data breach in history, Equifax still hasn’t been held accountable or provided the information and tools consumers need to protect themselves. Since Equifax won’t help protect consumers, Arizona PIRG is stepping in.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Arizona fell in national rankings for energy efficiency, according to a new report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The state is now 23rd in the country, down four spots since last year. The annual scorecard measures states’ progress on a variety of energy efficiency efforts, including utility programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, and state government initiatives.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Yesterday the Arizona Corporation Commission voted to help ratepayers struggling to pay their electric bill know there is at least a bit of light heading into 2021. Through the Commission’s action, Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and Unisource Electric will automatically enroll ratepayers behind on their bills who may be subject to disconnection in an eight-month payment plan, starting in January 2021. Utilities also agreed to work with customers who may need more time to catch up on their bills. In addition, qualified low-income customers will receive a discount up to $250 off their bill, due in part to support from APS, TEP and UNSE shareholders.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

A Guide to Energy in Arizona provides elected and government officials, business and organizational leaders, members of the media, and Arizonans with a primer on energy issues in our state. A Guide to Energy in Arizona highlights key research and reports on issues including: Energy Efficiency & Demand Response; Integrated Resource Planning (IRP); Clean Energy; Renewable Energy & Distributed Generation; Just & Equitable Transition for Coal-Impacted Communities; Electric Vehicles (EVs); and Consumer Impacts & Public Participation. A number of organizations and individuals contributed their decades of energy expertise to this effort.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, commended Chairman Bob Burns and Commissioners Boyd Dunn, Sandra Kennedy, and Lea Marquez Peterson - utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission - for voting yesterday to expand Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard through 2030.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Arizona and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry. 

Consumer Protection

General Motors recalls 7 million vehicles with exploding Takata airbags

The automaker announced it will recall 7 million large pickup trucks and SUVs built with potentially explosive Takata airbags, which have forced the recall of tens of millions of vehicles in the last 12 years and killed 18 people.

 

Consumer Protection

California persists with new protections in face of fires, COVID-19

Included in the windfall of CALPIRG-supported legislative victories this year are a law creating a California consumer watchdog, a first-in-the-nation ban on 12 toxic chemicals in personal care products sold in California, and a law prohibiting flavored tobacco products in the state, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed hours after it passed the Legislature.

 

Consumer Protection

Auto Loan Complaints Rise

A review of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database reveals a sharp spike in consumer complaints about auto purchasing, leasing and finance since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Consumer Protection

Grocery stores pull peaches after dozens contract salmonella

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections it believes stems from contaminated peaches. Grocery chains Aldi and Target have recalled peaches suspected of contamination from store shelves.

 
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