Charities are a great way to help contribute to causes but be wary of people trying to take advantage of your good will. There are many ways to verify that a charity is reputable and legitimate, but the most important thing you can do is research the charity in question. Also, never contribute with cash or a wire transfer and do not provide personal information until the charity has been verified. Click here for more information.
Common Consumer Issues
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) provides consumer protection resources for most consumer issues. You can find resources for all consumer protection issues on DATCP’s website, or search the frequently searched issues below for quick links to Wisconsin citizen’s most common consumer protection concerns.
A warranty is an assurance to you, the car owner, that you will not get stuck paying thousands of dollars for repairs you are not responsible for. There are “dealer warranties” and “manufacturer warranties;” the difference is who is obligated to pay for the cost of certain repairs. When you go to by a new car there is always a warranty by the dealership, usually of at least 12 months and/or 12,000 miles. A used car sometimes also carries a “dealer limited warranty” or a remaining “manufacturer warranty.” “As-Is” cars might not have any warranty at all. Most important to remember is to read your warranty so you know exactly what you can expect to pay. Click here for more information.
IRS & Other Government Impostor Scams
Hearing that you are going to jail, that a warrant is out for your arrest or that the police are coming for you are scary things to hear and government imposters prey on this. Neither the IRS nor the Department of Treasury will contact you by phone; they will send you a letter in the mail. Do not give out any personal information or send them any money in any way. Click here for more information.
Medicaid fraud harms the intended recipient financially and personally, and it can occur when a person’s identity is stolen. With this information, they can fraudulently claim goods and services. To prevent Medicaid fraud from being perpetrated against you, carefully monitor your medical or billing records to make sure they are correct. If you notice a discrepancy, contact your medical provider. Click here for more information.
To protect our elders in the state of Wisconsin, Wis. Stat. s. 100.264 provides additional punishment for those that try to take advantage of the elderly or disabled. Elders are a major target for scams; for example, some scammers will call claiming to be a relative in need of money to get out of a situation. Although difficult, asking key questions and getting more information can ensure that you are not falling victim to a “grandparent scams.” Click here for more information.
Before you purchase a new car, research different brands and models so you can pick the best vehicle for yourself. Researching the dealer’s price and options, can also help you negotiate a better price, particularly if you know what price the dealer purchased the car for. Reading advertisements closely can also help you make sure auto deals apply to you.
Wisconsin’s lemon law entitles you to a replacement vehicle or a refund of a new car, when the car is in the first year of warranty, if after four tries a serious vehicle problem is not fixed or the car is out of service for 30 days or more due to defects. Click here for more information.
Construction & Home Improvement
Construction and home improvements are a great way to make necessary and valuable improvements to your home, however it is also an easy way for scammers to take your money and leave you with half-finished or poorly done projects. To protect yourself, have a clear plan of the work you would like done, get multiple estimates, check references, and verify that the contractor is certified. Be sure that permits are being filed properly and that you have a valid contract. These actions can protect you, can help ensure work is completed well and lets the contractor know the work you expect. Click here for more information.
When applying for a mortgage, do not agree to a loan you cannot realistically pay off. Develop a budget of income sources and estimate if you can afford the “fixed” expenses that you must account for every month, similar to your mortgage. If you fall behind on mortgage payments, contact your lender immediately to work out a plan. If you cannot agree on a plan, contact a housing counseling agency. Click here for more information.
When applying for a credit card, research the best card for you. There are a number of factors to concern like Annual Percentage Rate (APR), periodic rate, annual fees, rewards programs, and grace periods. Understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision best for you. Click here for more information.
Being contacted by a debt collector can be a stressful and unnerving experience, but understanding the process and your rights can help ease the process. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debt from you. Once you have been contacted by a debt collector, the collector must send you a written statement detailing the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and what actions to take if you believe you do not owe them the money within five days. Click here for more information.
The Internet is a valuable resource and communication tool that allows Wisconsin citizens to find an answer to any question instantaneously, and to communicate with friends. But the internet can also provide individuals access to our most sensitive information, especially if we don’t take the proper precautions to protect our information. DATCP provides information on safeguarding your identity, identity theft, credit reports, online protection of children’s privacy and safety, computer safety, social networking, and data breaches. Click here for more information.
In any interaction, you should first verify that the person on the phone, in the mail, or by any means of communication is who they claim to be. Never give out identification information like a social security number, date of birth, or credit card number. If the person says you cannot tell anyone about the interaction, threaten you, or request payment of any kind, you are most likely the victim of a scam. Click here for more information.
General Consumer Complaints
As a general guideline, it is good to be cautious of all advertising so that you can spot deceptive advertising. Watch for people promising deals or products that seem too good to be true, they usually are. Click here for more information.
Those guidelines extend for lottery, contest and sweepstakes scams that make outlandish claims. Bear in mind that legitimate lotteries, contests, sweepstakes have terms and conditions that include how to apply and they will notify you that you won by certified mail. Never wire money or send cash, you risk never seeing it again. Always ask for the alleged organization’s license number and licensing agency, because all legitimate lotteries, contests, and sweepstakes are registered and licensed. Click here for more information.
In navigating the rights you have as a tenant or as a landlord, you should be well versed on the landlord tenant guide. Understanding this guide can help prevent and solve disputes between the landlord and the tenant. Click here for more information.
To stop receiving unwanted telemarketing calls, you can sign up to be on the Wisconsin Do Not Call Registry. Click here for more information