Consumer Tips in a Tough Economy

April 7, 2011

As part of its service-learning project, the University of Colorado Law School’s Consumer Empowerment class offered an April 2, 2011 seminar on pressing consumer issues through a joint project with the Boulder County Housing Authority. The seminar was open to the public and presented at the Boulder County Housing Authority facility in north Boulder.  Lunch and printed program materials were provided with the help of funding from Boulder County and the University of Colorado’s Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement.  The program materials also will be available online for the benefit of all consumers.

Led by Professor Amy Schmitz, the student presenters sought to inform attendees of current economic issues and offer tips to protect themselves from potential problems.

Topics presented were: 

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This presentation informed consumers about what debt collectors are legally allowed and not allowed to do to collect a debt. It gave examples of coercive and abusive practices that debt collectors engage in regularly and provided information for consumers to report these practices.

Debt Consolidation and Credit Repair.  This presentation discussed the problems and scams common in debt consolidation and provided consumers some alternatives to debt consolidation. The presentation also discussed common scams surrounding credit repair.

Foreclosure Scams.  This presentation outlined the types of scams that victimize people facing foreclosure. The presentation offered tools for spotting a company engaging in fraudulent foreclosure practices.

Payday Lending Laws.   This presentation explained how payday lenders operate and described the interest rates that consumers pay when they use payday loans. The presentation offered alternatives to payday lending for consumers.

The Credit Card Act of 2009. This presentation covered the new legislation governing credit card companies and the new restrictions on fees that companies can charge consumers.

The Dodd Frank Act. The presentation focused on the upcoming creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how this will impact consumers. It outlined the goals of the Dodd-Frank Act which aims to promote financial stability in the United States and protect consumers from abusive financial services, online privacy and safety.  The presentation explained various types of Internet scams, such as e-mail scams, Web site scams and Facebook scams. The presentation also provided consumers with resources to protect themselves from becoming victims of these types of fraud.

“The University of Colorado Law School has a long-history of public service, including its service-learning program,” said Schmitz. “These types of presentations are useful to the students, who are able to hone their skills, the consumers who benefit from the information and the organizations with which Colorado Law partners, who are able to offer a more robust educational program at no cost.”