Covid-19 Money Problems Can Be Prevented In The Future, Consumers Federation Says

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Consumers can avoid money problems in future disasters that many people faced during the pandemic, the Consumer Federation of America says in a new report.

While price hikes and other complaints related to Covid-19 topped the list of new complaints in CFA’s annual survey of state and local agencies, the group said people can prevent some of the damage to their health and wealth in future disasters.

During the pandemic, consumers felt it was unfair for businesses to invoke their usual cancellation and refund policies when weddings and vacations had to be canceled due to the pandemic, the CFA noted:

“In many cases, national and local consumer agencies have been able to secure reimbursements for them, but not always. “

The study by the consumer organization said financial stress, supply chain issues and understaffing resulting from the pandemic have impacted everything from device repairs to caregiving. ‘kids, from garbage collection to towing.

In addition, the CFA’s investigation of state and local governments found some homeowners attempting to illegally bypass eviction moratoria while so-called crooks and opportunists took advantage of the pandemic to come up with miracle cures, play on loneliness. people to fraudulently advertise puppies for sale and charge exorbitant prices. prices of sought-after products such as toilet paper, masks and hand sanitizer.

He added that “Covid-19 surcharges” by companies such as dentists and restaurants that incurred additional expenses to take safety precautions during public health emergencies violated existing laws or government decrees.

For future disasters, CFA advises consumers to take the following actions:

1. Use gift cards and credits quickly. You never know when a business is going to close, temporarily or permanently, and you may not be able to get that money back.

2. Save money for emergencies. Even setting aside a small amount of money on a regular basis can give you a financial cushion when you need it.

3. Pay in the safest way. Use credit cards to pay for goods or services that will be delivered or performed later, as you can dispute the charges if you don’t get what you are promised.

4. Know your cancellation and refund rights. You automatically have the right to reverse door-to-door sales over $ 25 and cancel an order you placed by phone, mail or online if it is not delivered within the promised time frame. or within thirty days if no delivery date is indicated. Otherwise, you are bound by the seller’s cancellation and refund policy. However, if the seller cannot perform the contract – for example, you

purchased tickets for a sporting event that cannot take place because the stadium is closed due to a public health emergency or other emergency – you may be able to argue that your money should be refunded regardless either the normal policy.

5. Avoid trip trips. Airlines must reimburse you if they cancel or significantly change your flight. They don’t have to do this if you decide not to fly, even for health reasons, unless you’ve purchased a refundable ticket. Many airlines have voluntarily offered credits to consumers who have canceled their trips due to concerns about COVID-19. If you have one of these vouchers, write down the expiration date and use it as soon as possible. Tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, and vacation rentals may also have no-refund policies if you cancel, but you can have a good basis for insisting that your money should be refunded if they can’t. provide the service due to the pandemic. Travel insurance generally does not provide relief if you cancel a trip unless you have been genuinely ill; read the cover conditions carefully. You can purchase “cancel for any reason” protection, which costs more but gives you more flexibility.

6. Get financial help if you need it. The federal government has responded to the financial woes caused by Covid-19 by providing stimulus payments, additional unemployment benefits, foreclosure prevention assistance and business loans. Some state and local governments have also created financial aid programs.

7. Assert your rights as a tenant. Most states require notice and other procedures for evicting tenants for non-payment of rent or other issues. The owner can’t just throw your things out on the street and change the locks. The federal government has placed a moratorium on evictions of certain types of property during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some state and local governments have also created programs to temporarily block evictions and help tenants.

8. Report sudden price increases and surcharges. Many states have laws that prohibit unwarranted price increases for essential goods or services during a public emergency. Even if your state does not have such a law, alert your state or local consumer protection agency if you see sudden price increases or disaster surcharges.

9. Beware of fraud. Disasters bring out the best in many people, but they also bring out crooks who peddle bogus prevention and remedies, try to get people to provide their personal information, falsely promise jobs, loans, or other aid. fundraisers, and collect donations for bogus charities. Stop, think, and check before you answer.

10. Try to resolve complaints yourself and seek help if you cannot. Legitimate businesses will generally work with consumers to resolve issues and maintain good customer relationships. Be polite but persistent, and keep in mind that the business can also be negatively affected by the emergency. If you are unable to resolve your complaint, seek help from your national or local consumer protection agency.

The investigation found that the 34 agencies in New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and 14 other states received 280,413 complaints in 2020 and recovered or saved more than $ 262,973,073.

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