7 lessons consumers learned in 2011

2011 was quite a year, wasn’t it?

As the economy struggled to recover from the Great Recession, consumers felt as if they had great big targets painted on their backs whenever they went to the store. That frustration led to the “Occupy” protests that took root in many American cities this fall.

What did we learn from 2011 and what does it mean for this year?
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Is this a scam? Are airlines really giving away “free” flights?

Dick Jordan became suspicious when he received the first postcard offering “two round-trip airfares to anywhere Southwest flies.” He’s a loyal Southwest customer, but this seemed too good to be true – and he thinks it might be a scam.

After Jordan received the second postcard offering the same deal, he decided to contact Southwest Airlines. Maybe they were rewarding him for his continued business? After all, the postcard had the trademarked logo on it, so it seemed legit.

Instead of dialing the “888” number on the card, Jordan contacted a customer service representative at Southwest, who quickly informed him that this was not a deal offered by Southwest Airlines.
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Time to get political? Yes, and here’s how

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts and across the country, the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken hold as a grassroots consumer movement. Of course, there’s also Ralph Nader, who has made two unsuccessful presidential bids.

Add it all up and you can’t help but wonder if the time has come for consumers to get political.

Before I give you the answer, let’s consider a few facts about how businesses influence the legislative process. Corporate America and other special interest groups, including unions and trade groups, spent a record $3.51 billion on lobbying in 2010, according to OpenSecrets.org, which is more than twice the $1.56 billion spent just a decade earlier. That’s a whole lotta money.
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12 things you shouldn’t do in 2012

They say 2012 is the year of the apocalypse, and while preventing the end of the world is beyond the power of this consumer advocate, there is one disaster I can definitely help you avoid: The apocalypse of your bank account.

Shady businesses are coming for your money, and they are developing more sophisticated ways of extracting it from your wallet and purse. I know because I spent most of this year researching a book about consumer scams.

Here are 12 things you should never ever do as a consumer if you want to avoid having a scammer or an unscrupulous company clear out your bank account.
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