February 2, 2004
GENERAL PROMOTES FINANCIAL LITERACY' FOR NATIONAL CONSUMER
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
"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.