Protecting yourself from cell phone account fraud

Dear Consumer Ed:  I have frozen my credit with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to help reduce my risk of identity theft. I just heard that I could be at risk of cell phone fraud because there is another credit reporting agency that keeps data on telecommunications and utilities accounts.

How do I know if I am really a contest winner?

Dear Consumer Ed:  After filling out a feedback form about a fast food restaurant, I received a call saying that I had won a contest. I was asked to provide a faxed form, signed and notarized, along with my Social Security number for tax purposes. Does that sound legitimate?

Don't I have 3 days to cancel a sales contract?

Dear Consumer Ed:  We were recently talked into purchasing some expensive cookware following a very persuasive demonstration at a neighbor’s house.  We put a significant amount of money down and signed a contract to pay the rest. As soon as the cookware arrived, I realized I had made a mistake.

Loan company not reporting all payments to credit bureau

Dear Consumer Ed:  I make loan payments, which are reflected on my credit report. I pay every month, but sometimes the loan company skips a month and does not report to the credit bureau. Isn’t that hurting my credit, and don’t they have to fix that?

Safe disposal of cell phones

Dear Consumer Ed:  I have an old cell phone that I want to dispose of. How can I do this in a way that will not harm the environment and will prevent others from obtaining any personal information that is or was stored on the device?

Are landlords required to provide a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors?

Dear Consumer Ed:  By law, is it the landlord’s responsibility to provide a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors in the apartment? 

Can a merchant charge a restocking fee if merchandise was defective?

Dear Consumer Ed:  I bought a fender for a 1969 Chevelle from a parts store. I got the correct part, but it is defective and won’t line up correctly with the side of the car.  When I went to return the part, the parts company charged me a restocking fee.

Can a car dealer charge tax on pre-rebate price?

Dear Consumer Ed:  If a car dealer is selling a car with a rebate, are they allowed to charge sales tax on the pre-rebate price?

Can grocery stores sell meat if package's vacuum seal is broken?

Dear Consumer Ed:  Can grocery stores sell meat in vacuum-sealed plastic packages if the seal is broken?  I’ve noticed several big name stores that will offer manager’s specials for such products, but I thought it was illegal to sell them if the vacuum seal is broken.

Cable company won't provide price breakdown

Dear Consumer Ed:  I am having difficulty getting a price list for all services and fees from my cable company. When I ask for this information they just try to sell me packages that include phone service I don’t want and equipment I don’t need.