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Consumer Publications List

What’s Your Consumer IQ?
Take this quiz to see how much you know about consumer issues, laws and scams.


1. The only time you can get a copy of your credit report is when you apply for a loan or a mortgage. True or False?

2. After you sign a contract, including a contract to buy a car, you have three days to cancel if you change your mind. True or False?

3. You receive an e-mail that says your bank is updating its security measures and your account will be frozen unless you verify your account information. You should:

a) Give the information immediately.
b) Check that your bank’s logo appears in the e-mail message; if it does, give the information.
c) Call your bank and ask if the e-mail is legitimate.

4. You should only hire licensed contractors to do repair work on your home. This means you should check that the contractor has a valid:

a) Commercial driver’s license
b) Maryland Home Improvement Commission license
c) License from the national association for his professional specialty (electrician, plumber, etc.)


5. Your credit card says it has a “universal default” policy. This means that:

a) If you make a payment late to another creditor, it will raise your interest rate.
b) It offers accident insurance when you rent a car.
c) If you default on your payments, it will close your account.


6. By law, all pharmacies must charge the same price for a prescription drug.
True or False?


7. You agree to co-sign a car loan for your younger brother. If he defaults, can you be held responsible for any of the debt?

a) No, as a co-signer you are only acting as a reference.
b) Yes, for 50 percent of the debt.
c) Yes, for 100 percent of the debt.


8. You are ordering furniture and the store requires a 50 percent deposit. What is the safest way to pay?

a) check
b) credit card
c) cash or debit card


9. You recently had surgery. You received statements showing that the surgeon and the hospital were paid by your insurance plan, but then you receive a bill from a laboratory. You should:

a) Assume the lab tests are not covered by your insurance and pay the bill.
b) Don’t do anything, the insurance plan will take care of it.
c) Call your insurance plan to find out why the lab bill wasn’t paid.


10. What is the surest sign that a work-at-home opportunity is a scam?

a) It gives a post office box as an address.
b) It requires you to send money in advance for supplies or instructional materials.
c) It advertises on telephone poles.


11. A landlord can keep your security deposit after you move out:

a) For routine painting and carpeting
b) If he sends you a list of damages you caused and what it actually cost to repair them
c) If he says your pet made the carpets smell


ANSWERS


1. False. You can order a copy of your credit report at any time. In fact, it’s a good idea to review your credit report annually, to catch mistakes or to spot signs that someone is using your data to commit identity theft. By law, you have the right to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit reporting companies. Call 877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

2. False. There are a few transactions for which the law allows a cancellation period (such as a door-to-sales or health club contract), but most contracts are binding when you sign them. The often-repeated myth that you can cancel a signed contract has given many consumers a false sense of security when making an expensive purchasing decision, like buying a new car.

3. c. Call the bank at the number listed in the phone book. Banks do not ask their customers to verify sensitive information by e-mail. Con artists send these messages to try to steal your identity and use it to make fraudulent withdrawals or credit applications. Their phony e-mails can look very authentic.

4. b. Home improvement contractors are required to be licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. Be sure to check that a contractor you are considering using has a current license. Call the Commission at 410-230-6309. If a licensed contractor fails to do the job, or does it poorly, you may be able to recover your losses through the Home Improvement Commission’s Guaranty Fund.

5. a. Many credit cards have a “universal default” policy. They monitor your credit file. If you are late paying any creditor, they consider that you are a higher credit risk and they will raise your rate.

6. False. Pharmacies can charge different prices for prescription drugs.

7. c. The bank can hold you responsible for 100% of the amount owed.

8. b. It’s safer to use a credit card when paying in advance for an item. If the store should go out of business or something similar happen before you get your furniture, you might be able to get a “chargeback” from your credit card. If you paid by check, cash or debit, you might never get the money back.

9. c. Call your insurance plan. If you need further help with a medical billing or health care question or dispute, you should call the Attorney General’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit at 410-528-1840.

10. b. If a company requires you to pay money up front, beware. It’s against state law for a company that advertises a work-at-home opportunity to require advance payments for materials. You’ll probably receive worthless materials and find that there’s no way to make money.

11. b. If the landlord withholds any part of your security deposit, he or she must send a list of damages you caused and what it actually cost to repair them within 45 days after you move out.How did you do? You can find information about many other consumer issues at the Attorney General’s website at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer.

 

August 2005

Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division
Consumer hotline: (410) 528-8662 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free

 
 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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