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Top 10 Consumer Myths

Myth 1: You have the right to cancel any purchase within three days.

FACT: Contrary to popular belief, the three-day right to cancel applies to only a limited number of cash or credit card transactions worth $25 or more. In Connecticut, it applies to health club contracts, time share purchases, home improvement contracts and door-to-door sales. Purchases of automobiles and other vehicles are NOT covered.

Myth 2: You have the right to a store refund if you request one.

FACT: In Connecticut, each store may set its own refund policy which must be disclosed at the time of sale. If the policy is not disclosed or if the store has no refund policy, a consumer may return goods purchased for a credit or a refund within 7 days. This does not apply to food, perishable items, plants, custom made or custom ordered items, items which have been used, items which by state regulation cannot be resold, or items marked "as is" or final sale." Retailers are not obligated to make refunds without proof of purchase.

Myth 3: You are guaranteed to win a fabulous prize when you receive an "Awards Notification" in the mail.

FACT: phony prize promotions are among the most common types of fraud, costing consumers billions each year. No matter how they are packaged, these offers inevitably cost money by requesting "entry" or judging" fees, donations, advance payment of taxes, purchases, or calls to 900 numbers. Contests that ask you to send money or that guarantee that everyone's a winner are illegal in Connecticut . Don't fall for them.

Myth 4: The "Lemon Law" protects you on all big ticket items you purchase, including used cars.

FACT: Almost all states--including Connecticut -- have lemon laws covering new car purchases. But there is no universal lemon law applying to all big-ticket items such as used cars, televisions, lawn mowers and refrigerators. Always investigate the history of a used car or product and have it checked by a mechanic or other knowledgeable person before purchasing. Connecticut's Lemon Law applies to new motor vehicles purchase or leased in the state and covers repair attempts made during the first 24,000 miles or during the first two years of use. In some cases, second owners may be covered.Connecticut also has a separate used car warranty law covering some used cars purchased from dealers.

Myth 5: Almost all of the money contributed to charity must go to the intended purpose.

FACT: Charitable organizations are not obligated to spend a minimum percentage of what they raise on their stated charitable purposes. But donors should ask if the caller is a paid solicitor or a volunteer for the charity and what percentage of the donation with actually go to the charitable organization.

Myth 6: It is okay to give out your credit card number over the phone even for identification purposes.

FACT: Never use your credit card for indentification purposes over the phone. It can turn out to be a costly mistake. Con artists with access to your credit card number and expiration date may make unauthorized charges against your card. Using a credit card to place catalog orders, make hotel reservations, or make other purchases from established businesses, or make other purchases from established businesses is fine -- in fact, credit card purchase protection policies can even help protect you if you have difficulty receiving the product or service.

Myth 7: Purchasing magazines improves your chances of winning a publisher sweepstakes.

FACT: It is illegal in Connecticut for any type of sweepstakes promotion to require any kind of purchase or payment to enter. Entrants who do not purchase magazines must be given the same chance of winning as those who do make purchases.

Myth 8: No one can take your money directly from your bank accounts without your written authorization.

FACT: Merely giving someone your checking account number may result in their making withdrawals from your account. Unscrupulous individuals can sometimes contact your bank with your account number, claiming that you authorized a withdrawal, and the bank may pay it even though it lacks your signature. Most often, consumers don't find out about it until it's too late.

Myth 9: Credit reports are private unless you authorize someone to review it.

FACT: Potential employers, landlords, insurers and retailers may access credit reports as part of a background check. You may obtain a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. To review your report for accuracy, contact a credit bureau such as Equifax (800-685-1111), Trans Union (800-888-4213) or Experian (888-397-3742). If you notice errors, contact the company immediately.

Myth: 10 Advertisements you see or hear on radio and TV and in newspapers and magazines are accurate, otherwise they would not be run by reputable media.

FACT: There is no requirement that advertisements be submitted to a government agency for advance review to determine accuracy. Also, the media generally are not legally required to do so. Several national advertisers have changed alleged misleading ads because of action by the Attorney General's Office.

The "Top 10 Consumer Myths" have been compiled by members of the National Association of Attorneys General and the Connecticut Office of Attorney General.


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