Top Ten Consumer Myths & Facts
From the Office of Attorney General Jim Ryan, Illinois
The National Association of Attorneys General and Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan's Consumer Protection Division have compiled the Top Ten Consumer Myths and the FACTS which dispel those myths.
Myth #1: You have a three-day right to cancel any purchase.
The Three-day right to cancel applies to the sale of goods valued at $25 or more and only when the seller is physically present at the buyer's residence at the time of the sale, such as a door to door salesman. It does not apply to automobile sales.
Myth #2: A store has to give you a refund if you request one.
Illinois has no law which regulates a refund or return policies. Each business may set its own return policy.
Myth #3:When you receive an "Awards Notification," you are a guaranteed winner of a prize.
FACT: Although it is tempting to think that you could be a winner, you're probably not. These offers almost always end up costing you money, in the form of a purchase, a donation, a request for an advance payment of taxes on prize money, or handling fees or processing charges.
Myth #4: There is a lemon law that protects you on all big-ticket items you purchase including used cars not under warranty.
FACT: Illinois has a "lemon law" which applies specifically to new cars. But there is no universal lemon law that applies to all big-ticket items, and, in Illinois, there is no lemon law pertaining to used car sales.
Myth #5: When you donate money to a charitable organization, you can be assured that almost all of the money will go to the charity's intended purpose.
FACT: Charitable organizations are not obligated to spend a certain percentage on their stated charitable purpose. However, consumers have the right to ask what percent of their donation will actually go to the charity. By law, the solicitor must respond truthfully to these questions.
Myth #6: Giving out your credit card number for identification or other purposes is safe, as long as you don't authorize a charge on your account.
FACT: Credit cards used for identification purposes can turn out to be a costly mistake. Con artists with access to your credit card number and expiration date can make unauthorized charges against your card. The best rule of thumb for telephone purchases - never give out your credit card number, social security number or bank account number to anyone who calls you on the telephone with an offer to buy anything!
Myth #7: You have a better chance of winning a publisher sweepstakes if you purchase magazines.
FACT: It is unlawful for sweepstakes promotions to require any type of purchase or payment. Entrants who do not purchase magazines must be given the same chance to win as those who do make purchases.
Myth #8: People cannot take money directly from your bank accounts without your written authorization.
FACT: Giving someone your bank account number over the telephone or through the mail can result in a withdrawal from your account! A "demand draft" can be issued to your bank, claiming that you have authorized the withdrawal, and the bank may pay even though it lacks your signature. You may not even know this has happened until you receive your statement.
Myth #9: Your credit report is private unless you authorize someone to review it.
FACT: Potential employers, landlords, insurers and others may also access your credit report and many actually do.
Myth #10: Advertisements that you see or hear on TV, newspapers, magazines and radio are accurate or they would not be in the reputable media.
FACT: There is no government requirement that advertisements be submitted to a governmental agency for advance review and the media generally do not investigate the truth of advertisements and are not legally required to do so. Consumers should read all advertisements carefully and should be especially skeptical of claims that sound too good to be true, of continuous sales, of liquidation and going-out-of-business sales and of inflated suggested retail prices.
Source: Office of the Attorney General - Jim Ryan. 500 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706. 217-782-1090 or 1-800-243-0618
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