Consumer Protection Week: 6 days of helpful advice

Media Contacts
Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Mike Litt

Director, Consumer Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

From scams to medical bills to airline refunds, PIRG is providing tips and tools to help Americans address common consumer issues

CLEVELAND — As technology and bureaucracy get more complex, the threats facing consumers seem to be increasing. As if robocalls weren’t bad enough, we’re now deluged by robotexts and related scams. We also face new privacy threats we didn’t see a few months ago, even ones targeting our children. And we’re still burdened by junk fees, airline refunds, fraudulent credit card charges and errors on our credit reports. Millions of people report these and similar types of consumer problems every year.

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week 2023, which starts March 5, PIRG is providing consumer protection tips and tools to help Americans address a wide range of common consumer issues. 

“It’s really tough being a consumer today. Making sure no one takes advantage of you is like having a second job,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “And anytime we figure out how to handle one type of problem or threat, new ones emerge, from smart toys that creep on our kids to medical providers that illegally hit us with surprise bills to scam moving companies that steal all of our belongings.”

PIRG offers dozens of tip guides and step-by-step tools to help make it a little easier for American consumers to protect themselves. This consumer week, we will have a different focus each day:

Sunday, March 5:

You, Inc., by Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog

People can think of themselves as their own little business. Your financial transactions, purchases, data and consumer interactions all start with you. Using the FTC’s top complaints for 2022 as a guide, we offer proactive steps you can take to be a smart consumer. We provide advice on avoiding all sorts of fraud, scams, online shopping problems, junk fees and more.

Monday, March 6:

Everyone wants to know your business, by R.J. Cross, Director, Don’t Sell My Data Campaign

From retailers and marketers to con artists, it seems everyone tries to get our data — our personal information, our buying habits, our location, even our conversations. Our kids are easy targets through addictive apps. As the threats snowball, protecting our data is like playing Whac-A-Mole. We walk you through steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Tuesday, March 7:

Not-so-friendly skies, by Teresa Murray

The airline industry has been a mess for nearly three years. First, in 2020, airlines pushed back on refunds, which are required by law. Then there are the ongoing cancelations and delays that have turned many holidays and some routine travel into nightmares for passengers. Regulators are planning to crack down on some issues. For now, we have advice to help you get that refund and tips to protect yourself before you book that next flight.

Wednesday, March 8:

Avoiding high, unfair medical bills, by Patricia Kelmar, Senior Director, Health Care Campaigns

Dealing with medical bills and insurance networks can be confusing and stressful. The good news is new laws provide you with new consumer protections. We explain surprise medical billing protections you can use now, what medical debt should no longer appear on your credit report and how self-payers can get a written estimate for planned procedures.

Thursday, March 9:

Digging into the top consumer complaints, by Ed Mierzwinski, senior director,  Federal Consumer Program, and Mike Litt, Consumer Campaigns Director

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in 2011 after the Great Recession to protect consumers from financial problems. Since then, it has handled more than 3.2 million consumer complaints.

In a report releasing today, PIRG analyzes the complaints from 2022, two years after the number of complaints set new records.

Because credit reporting complaints always top the list, we offer tips on freezing your files, requesting your credit reports, finding mistakes and other steps you can take to protect yourself.

Friday, March 10:

Those dreaded scam texts and robocalls, by Teresa Murray

The government crackdown on robocalls has pushed con artists to resort to robotexts. The number of robotexts has risen from 1 billion a month in mid-2021, to 12 billion a month in mid-2022, to 15 billion a month in January 2023. Regulators only recently proposed new rules to attack robotexts. We have advice on how to deal with this bombardment, which is both a nuisance and a threat.

Consumer Protection Week: Tips, Tools and Step-by-Step Guides