National Consumers League

From the Experts Blog

NCL staff is hard at work for you playing watchdog on a variety of issues. Get to know the latest From the Experts!

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling: Fraud Center Helps Friend Avoid Credit Repair Scam

Turns out there are a few perks of working at a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization!

Just this week, a staffer at our Fraud Center was able to identify a scam that a friend of his was about to fall for and stop her from losing a bunch of money.

We track complaints on a number of scams: investment seminars, Fake Check Scams, and Phishing are just a few. Here’s what happened: “Rachel” saw an ad in a magazine from a company that claimed it would lower your credit score for only $500. She’s trying to remove some debt from her credit report, in order to buy a car, so this offer was especially appealing. “Rachel” called her friend, our colleague at the Fraud Center, to tell him about the offer. Good thing she did, because “Rachel” was able to save $500, and avoid further financial heartache.

Our staffer explained to Rachel that the only way to repair your credit is to get a copy of your report and review it for any errors. There are tons of scenarios in which mistakes can pop up on your credit report:

  • A creditor reports inaccurate information to the credit bureau
  • A case of mistaken identity leaves you paying for John C. Smith’s debt, when your name is John G. Smith.
  • A credit bureau employee accidentally types the wrong Social Security number when inputting data.

You get the picture.

Consumers are entitled to one free copy a year of their report through any major credit bureau. You can request your copy here. The moral is: as tempting as a company’s promise to “fix” your credit report may be, it’s not true!

You can report complaints of credit repair scams to NCL’s Fraud Center. Feel free to drop us a comment about how you avoided being scammed. Or, consider supporting our efforts in educating consumers on avoiding being scammed!

Mortgage News: Americans Not Alone in Housing Woes

It's turning out that American consumers aren't the only ones grappling with mortgage and credit crunches, according to international news reports. In Britain, Channel 4 News reports that March saw the fewest number of new home loan approvals in a decade. In Sydney, news reports predict that up to 80,000 Australians may lose their home by September! It's a tough time to be a homeowner, that's for sure. If you are a homeowner worried about losing your nest -- or if you're a prospective buyer hoping to take advantage of dropping house prices -- you might want to check out our new Mortgage Town site.

Groups Calling on Feds - Again - for Alcohol Facts Label

At a news conference today at the National Press Club, NCL is joining several other groups to call on the federal government to get with it and make a final decision on whether or not manufacturers of beverages that contain alcohol will be required to include a standardized "Alcohol Facts" label on the products. It's something that consumer and other health groups have been calling on for years - 30, actually - the kind of standardized labeling information on beer, wine, and distilled spirits products that is now required for conventional foods, dietary supplements, and nonprescription drugs.

Over the years, there have been times where we thought we were close; back in 2005, the federal agency that handles this - the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) - received more than 18,000 letters from consumers and groups supporting the standardized label. But more recently, the TTB seems to be regressing; in 2007 its proposed "Serving Facts" label would have left out information about alcohol content.

So, back to square one. Today's press conference should be interesting. NCL will be joined by the Consumer Federation of America, Shape Up America!, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the Past President of the National Medical Association. Stay tuned for more on this.