Consumer Tips

Tips to file your tax return while avoiding fees, scams

by Jacob van Cleef, Consumer Watchdog Associate

March 3, 2021

You have six weeks to file your income tax return for 2020. Every year, it seems there are more issues to watch out for. They fall into two main categories: Scams looking to get your personal information, and unexpected fees that can add up when trying to file your return using software or professional preparers. Below are tips to keep in mind this tax season.

Avoiding fraud and scams

File as early as possible:

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Consumers in Peril

A review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public complaint database finds that consumer complaints about financial grievances spiked during the pandemic year of 2020, eclipsing 2019, the previous record year. 

Credit freeze -- A free and fast way to help safeguard your finances

By | Grace Brombach
Consumer Watchdog Associate

My first-hand, step-by-step guide to freezing your credit reports.

A week's worth of help and tips during Consumer Protection Week

Being a consumer is a tough job. Really tough. During National Consumer Protection Week, which runs through March 6, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund staff is offering a daily dose of tips and advice to help you navigate life’s biggest consumer challenges.

How to freeze your credit files by phone or online

by Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog

March 2, 2021

You have two primary options for freezing your credit files with the three major credit bureaus. You can do it by phone or online, whichever you’re more comfortable with.

How to get your stimulus payments when you file your tax return

by Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog

March 3, 2021

Some of your friends or relatives have received two COVID-19 relief/ stimulus payments in the past year. And a third may be on the way soon. 

If you haven’t received anything yet and believe you should have, don’t fret. You will be able to recoup your money when you file your income tax return in the weeks ahead.

Credit freezes FAQ: You can prevent a fraud nightmare in 20 minutes

by Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog

March 2, 2021

Some of your worst fraud nightmares can be prevented in about 20 minutes. That’s roughly how long it takes total to freeze your credit files with the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. A credit freeze, also called a security freeze, prevents most entities from seeing your information in the credit bureaus’ databases.  

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