The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Joins the Federal Trade Commission to Sponsor Consumer Protection Week
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal, state and local organizations and national advocacy groups to launch the first annual National Consumer Protection Week, Feb. 1-6. The reason: consumer fraud is big business, and fraud promoters pose a significant threat to consumers and to the economy.
The emphasis of this year's activities is credit fraud, which is hazardous to everyone's financial health and well-being. Credit fraud raises interest rates, increases financial service fees and can even put homeowners at risk of losing their homes. According to the FTC's consumer response center, consumers write, call and e-mail the FTC with more questions and concerns about credit and credit fraud than any other topic.
"The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is playing a valuable role in alerting consumers to the possibility of credit fraud," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection. "It takes a fraudulent actor only minutes to destroy a solid credit record that may have taken an honest consumer years to build."
Credit fraud appears in many forms: abusive lending practices, stolen credit cards, hijacked credit identities, advance-fee loan scams and "guaranteed" credit repair flimflams, to name a few. Raising the "credit literacy" of consumers is not as easy as it sounds. Credit fraud can be difficult to detect because transactions can be complicated and essential information may be hidden or undisclosed.
"When consumers know how to recognize scams and credit abuses, they are empowered and can then act appropriately to avoid credit fraud," said Ronald Zimmerman, vice president of consumer and community affairs in the Atlanta Fed's supervision and regulation division. "That's why the theme of this National Consumer Protection Week is 'Know the Rules, Use the Tools.'"
The dozens of public and private-sector partners of National Consumer Protection Week are getting the word out in a variety of ways - from announcing law enforcement actions and creating Web links to producing and disseminating brochures, quizzes, posters and flyers about credit fraud and related subjects.
For free information about avoiding credit scams, write to Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20580, or visit www.consumer.gov.