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For Immediate Release
February 2, 2004
Media Contact: 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL PROMOTES ‘FINANCIAL LITERACY' FOR NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. has joined a group of federal, state and local agencies and national advocacy organizations to launch the sixth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), Feb. 1-7, 2004, highlighting consumer protection and education efforts around the country. This year's theme, "Financial Literacy: Earning a Lifetime of Dividends," focuses on the skills consumers need to make smart decisions in the marketplace and ensure a solid financial future.

"Being able to understand financial transactions is an essential life skill," Curran said. "It's more important than ever to be an educated consumer, whether you are shopping for an auto loan, choosing a cell phone plan, choosing a retirement plan, or simply deciding whether to pay by cash, check, debit or credit."

Curran recently focused his consumer education efforts on young people, by creating a new website for teen consumers, "WiseBuys for Teens," at www.oag.state.md.us/Wisebuys. "The teen years are the perfect time to begin learning how to look out for oneself in the marketplace," he said. " Young people can learn to look for the fine print in ads and contracts, learn how to research choices and do comparison shopping, and develop some healthy skepticism."

Curran urged teenagers, their parents, and teachers to visit the site, which includes tips for teens on: how to resist impulse buying; how to see through advertising gimmicks and misleading sales prices; how to determine the value of extended warranties or "frequent shopper" club cards; the pros and cons of credit cards; the ongoing costs of owning a car; and considerations about protecting your privacy as a consumer. It also discusses scams that teens often fall for, including modeling auditions and psychic hotlines, and has a quiz.

The Attorney General's Office continues to provide consumer and financial education to all ages of consumers. It offers a free 28-page "Consumer Guide for Seniors" that offers tips on avoiding common consumer scams aimed at seniors; consumers can request a copy by calling 410-576-6500 or toll-free 1-888-743-0023. The Attorney General's Securities Division publishes information about how to choose an investment advisor, financial planner or stockbroker, how to avoid investment scams, how to choose a franchise or business opportunity; these are available at www.oag.state.md.us/Securities.

Organizers of this year's NCPW are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (NACAA), the National Consumers League (NCL), AARP, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Consumers can visit the National Consumer Protection Week website at www.consumer.gov/ncpw for more information on financial education.

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