With the arrival of tax season, many Washington households spend time in the spring taking stock of their financial affairs. Several state and national programs to help Americans understand how to responsibly handle their finances focus on this time of year, with special attention to consumer protection and financial literacy.
The topic is immensely important and timely. In 2017 alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 38,000 reports of fraud. In Washington state, people paid $17.8 million to reported fraudsters in 2017, with a median loss of $460 per person reporting. These frauds entered victims’ lives in a variety of ways: imposter scams, identity theft, debt scams, and others.
April is Financial Literacy Month, which makes this a great time to improve consumer awareness. Here’s a place to start.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week’s 20th anniversary observation in March, the State Library hosted a webinar titled “Financial Literacy: fact vs fiction, presented by FTC representatives. You can watch it here:
The webinar discusses the importance of the topic and mentioned a wide variety of resources that are available to libraries for free, including bookmarks, and pamphlets about preventing scams and identity theft. Because the presentation is fast-paced and packed with good information, here are links to some of the top websites they mentioned in the presentation.
The FTC home page will provide links to all of our resources, including how to file a complaint and how to sign up for scam alerts and media feeds
Here you can find information developed specifically for libraries — free materials including videos to embed, sample blog posts, and bookmarks to place in your libraries.
Next you will find guidance about how to avoid and recover from identity theft.
There are also many short videos covering various consumer topics available in English and Spanish (click on the link in the upper right corner).
We’ve all heard of the “Do Not Call” list. Here’s how you register.
And finally, the bulk order site for free consumer materials, covering a wide variety of topics. Almost all are available in Spanish, some are available in other languages.