How to Resist Consumer Traps

Changes in the economy and banking industry have caused consumers to reevaluate how they spend their money and be more vigilant about avoiding illegitimate deals and sales pitches that are less than honest. Adopting a few new shopping habits will teach you how to resist consumer traps and spend your money wisely.


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    Read the fine print.
    • Request a complete contract or list of terms and agreements for any offer you consider and read it thoroughly. You can avoid consumer traps by looking past introductory offers and spotting hidden fees or annual charges that are often hidden toward the end of the contract. These details are often not discussed at sign up, so read through the contract on your own first before you sign anything.
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    Evaluate the regular charge.
    • Resist consumer spending traps by looking past low introductory rates and signup discounts to the regular amount you will be left with after these initial incentives expire. This is the percentage rate or payment you will be responsible for during the length of the contract, so your ability to pay this amount should be the deciding factor.
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    Research purchases.
    • Avoid consumer spending traps by analyzing product information and reviews before you shop. Use resources like Consumer Reports to learn about different product lines and options so you know exactly what you want before you shop. This information will help you avoid being pulled into a sales pitch.
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    Shop with a list.
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    Arm yourself with a list of needed items if shopping for several things or with a list of specific requirements or features if you're shopping for one large purchase, like a car or household appliance. Having a list in hand will help you stay focused on what you're shopping for and avoid being suckered into buying something you don't need or want.
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    Buy only what you need.
    • Purchase items that have the exact features that are most important to you. Evaluate the worth and necessity of any extra options or features that a salesman tries to add on before agreeing to the purchase.
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    Know who the deal is really coming from.
    • Research any promotion, sale or giveaway to learn who originated the offer and whose contract you're really signing. Credit card companies often offer free items like phones or appliances to lock consumers into a contract that they're not even aware they're signing. It's important to know what kind of contract you're signing in order to get the giveaway item.
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    Beware of free offers.
    • Promotions that offer free items like credit reports or memberships are often only free for the first month, then charge monthly fees using the payment information you're required to give in order to be eligible. Investigate any offers that promise something for free to find out when it's going to start costing money and how much.

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Categories: Buying Wisely