Consumer News & Views
In this Issue…
- Consumer Advice: Eight Things
Never to Skimp On.
- Ten Ways to Avoid Buying Fake
- ACC Releases New Videos to Help Millennials
Improve Their Finances and Build their Credit History.
- ACC’s "Friend of the Consumer" Award Recognizes
- Apply for the 2017 Green CSM
Consumer Advice: Eight Things Never to Skimp
On. When Consumer Reports first issued
the following article in December 2017, it drew rave reviews. We wanted to share
it with our members and readers because it really hits home. For more
Here, we focus on eight things you should never
skimp on when it comes to protecting yourself and your family.
1. Car-Safety Features.
The systems that can help you prevent a car crash—or survive one—are worth
every penny. Buy as many car-safety features as you can afford, especially
forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, even if it means
forgoing the sunroof or leather seats you have your heart set on. Better yet,
choose a model that has safety features as standard.
2. Car Insurance.
Never buy a policy that meets just the minimum liability limits required by your
state. That's because it may be insufficient to cover the cost of a major
accident and typically is far below the standard 100/300/100, which pays for
bodily injury up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, and property
damage up to $100,000. Don’t skip uninsured/underinsured motorist protection,
either. You’ll need this if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
You can use Consumer Report’s ratings to find a high-performing, inexpensive
product. But you shouldn’t try to save money by using only a tiny amount. To
properly cover your body, you need to use a shot-glassful for every 2 hours that
you’re in the sun.
Last year’s flu vaccine won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu. And
when it comes to vaccines that call for multiple doses, such as the MMR for
kids, optimal protection requires that all doses be given. And don’t skimp on
the boosters that are recommended for adults during outbreaks, because the
protection from some vaccines wears off over time. Also, adults should get a
tetanus booster shot every 10 years. Good news: All of these are covered by most
insurance plans or are available for very little cost at your local drugstore.
5. Interior and Exterior Paint.
Consumer Report’s proprietary paint tests continue to find that economy grades
of interior paint don’t perform well overall, and you may need to apply three or
four coats to cover dark colors. You don’t have to buy ultra-premium paints,
just avoid the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. Economy exterior paints don’t
weather as well as top-of-the-line products from the same brand, so you’ll be
back on that ladder sooner than you imagined.
6. Charging Cords.
It’s worth protecting your expensive phone by using a decent power cord. Cheap
cords may not have undergone stringent testing by Underwriters Laboratories
(UL), a leading safety testing organization whose logo you see on many
electronic devices. Those cheap cords could damage your device while voiding the
warranty, and even, on rare occasions, cause a fire.
7. Home Insurance.
Don’t buy less costly “actual cash value” homeowners insurance to cover your
home’s contents. Always get replacement-cost coverage. If you were to make a
claim, an actual cash value policy would reimburse you only for your belongings’
depreciated value, which probably wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of
replacing everything. (By default, most homeowner policies cover the replacement
value of your home’s structure.)
8. DIY Identity Protection.
Pay the fee (up to $10 per credit bureau, depending on your state) to freeze
your credit report at each of the big three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian,
and TransUnion. This is one of the best ways to lock out identity thieves who
want to open new credit in your name.
Editor's Note: This article also
appeared in the February 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Visit:
www.consumerreports.org for more
information on these tips
How to be Sure You Aren’t Buying Fake Merchandise
Online. Do you want to be sure you aren’t
buying fake products? Check out the 10 ECC-Net tips on how you can avoid buying
fake products online. This article appears courtesy of the Swedish Consumer
Buying counterfeit goods is risky for your
security, your health and your wallet. So, don't do it! If you're not sure ask
yourself these questions:
- Are your fake sunglasses really protecting
- Is the fake toy for your baby girl free of
- What might be in your fake perfume?
- Are you sure your fake battery won't explode
when you're using it?
- And what if your fake product is defective?
Do you have a guarantee right?
- Or what if you receive a letter from the
right holder saying that you will have to pay the destruction costs for the
fake mobile you just bought in Asia?
You want to be sure you aren't buying fake
products? Check out the 10 ECC-Net tips on how you can avoid buying fake
products on the Internet.
1. Check the identity of the seller.
Always check the contact details of the web shop to verify if it really exists,
and where and how to complain in case of a problem.
Here are the details to verify:
- the name of the company,
- the geographical address,
- the e-mail address or a genuine contact form
- the phone and fax number, if available.
Do not trust the URL address. Just because an
address ends with ".be", ".fr", "nl" or any other European or American extension
does not necessarily mean that the company is actually located in that country.
2. Search other consumers' reviews.
Use Internet search tools to check whether other consumers have left any good or
bad comments about the trader. Read these comments carefully and keep a critical
Excessively positive review? The same person
reviewing the same product on several websites? Review too vague? Be careful! It
could be a review left by the web shop itself, which is, of course, illegal.
3. Check whether the website benefits from a
A trustmark is a stamp that an objective third party awards to a web shop that
meets the trust mark quality requirements and that guarantees a safe online
Does the trader's website mention a trust mark?
To be sure the trustmark is justified and trustworthy, go to the trust mark's
website to check whether the web shop was actually awarded this quality label.
4. Assess the general layout of the website.
Most of the websites selling counterfeit products do not look very professional:
they often have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, poor quality pictures
of the products being sold or of the logos for the means of payment, etc.
The fact that the website is in your language
doesn't mean that it's actually based in your country. Do not trust websites
whose URL links the name of a brand with terms such as "cheap", "outlet" or
other expressions suggesting low prices.
5. Check your consumer rights on the trader's
Online traders are obliged to provide you with clear and correct information
about your consumer rights, such as your cancellation rights and the legal
warranty status. No information on your rights under consumer protection laws?
No indication of the ODR platform for redress? Look somewhere else!
6. Check the picture of the product.
Do the pictures shown on the web shop look unprofessional? Is there something
wrong with the logo or does the background look strange? Are the photos of
low-quality? Is it impossible to zoom in? Is only part of the item displayed?
These may be indicators of a website that is selling fake products.
7. Watch the price of the good.
Counterfeit products are often sold at a price considerably lower than the price
quoted on official retailer web shops. "If the price is too good to be true, it
usually is" is a principle that you should bear in mind when buying on the
Do not hesitate to compare prices on several
websites, and always take the total price into account (are taxes, delivery
costs, banking fees, custom duties, etc. included?).
8. Check the official website of the brand for
authorized and black-listed sellers.
Most of the major brands only give specific retailers their authorization to
sell their products. Ordering products from those retailers guarantees that you
are buying original products.
Go to the official website of the brand to check
whether the web shop you are visiting is recognized as an authorized retailer
and is not black-listed.
9. Pay with a secured means of payment.
When you pay for a purchase on the Internet, you need to follow 3 golden
- always pay on a secured payment page
(displaying a padlock or key logo, and whose URL address begins with
- pay by credit card by preference, as you may
be able to recover your money from the credit card issuer in case of fraud,
- avoid direct money transfers (such as
Western Union, Worldremit, Worldplay, Moneycorp, ...).
10. Pay attention to refurbished products.
There is no clear definition of refurbished products. Is it considered as new or
not? This makes a difference to your guarantee, and to what you can except from
such a product.
Consider the price you pay. Compare it with other original products.
ACC Releases New Videos to Help
Millennials Improve Their Finances. The
American Consumer Council has released two new videos to help Millennials better
manage their finances and plan for the future. These videos are available to
ACC’s credit union partners and may be used by others upon written permission
Here are the YouTube.com links:
ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award Recognizes
Is your business consumer-friendly? Does your
business deserve greater recognition for its service to consumers? If so, you
should apply for the American Consumer Council’s Friend of the Consumer Award.
Now is the time to apply!
Throughout the year, ACC presents its "Friend of
the Consumer" Awards. This prestigious award recognizes manufacturers,
retailers, and other businesses that produce or sell products in the United
States that meet or exceed federally-mandated standards and are touted by
consumers as “consumer friendly.”
Each year, ACC awards numerous "Friend of the
Consumer" Awards to deserving companies and organizations because they have
"demonstrated a commitment to American consumers by providing a specific product
or service that fosters consumer confidence and market acceptance."
To apply for the "Friend of the Consumer" Award,
complete the online application and return it to ACC with the application fee.
Applicants will be notified within 5 days of receipt of their application.
Thereafter, a panel of independent judges will review your application and make
a formal recommendation within 20 days of receipt of your award application.
For more information, visit:
Certification Accepting Applications for 2018 Cycle:
If your company or organization would like to
increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the
Green CSM Certification.
Applications for the 2018 cycle are now being accepted through April 30,
It's a proven fact that consumers want to do
business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are
recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.
All applicants complete the criteria and submit
their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and
feedback. Program details and the Green CSM
Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: