Posted Monday, August 18th, 2014 at 9:02 am.
VIDEO Russ and Joy discussed the precautionary measures you can take when looking at used cars, especially due to all of the recent flash flooding.
Some hints to look out for when purchasing a new vehicle to see if it was ever flooded include:
- Pull out the seat belts. The portion of the belt that’s been retracted inside the seat may be muddy, mildewed or water-spotted if it has been flood-damaged.
- Check for water rings on the engine block or radiator, mud and dirt under the dashboard, and corrosion, rust or flaking metal on the undercarriage.
- Smell for mildew; lift carpets and floor mats, check inside the glove box, and look for dew or droplets in instrument clusters on the dashboard, as well as the inside and outside lights.
- Look for water stains, silt or mud, mineral deposits, even sticks and twigs.
- Feel the wiring – check for stiffness.
You can get a vehicle history for a fee from Carfax (www.carfax.com), Auto Check (www.autocheck.com) and Consumer Guide (www.auto.consumerguide.com).
On the home page of the National Insurance Crime Bureau website (www.ncib.org), VINCheck lets you check a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if a vehicle has been reported as salvage by its member insurance companies.
For more information on titles and title searches, including applicable fees, contact Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles at (207)624-9000 or visit http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv
Click screen for list of models
Units — About 245,000
Sold at: Best Buy, Meijer, Target, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide , online at Amazon.com, Costco.com, Meijer.com, Sams.com and other internet retailers from December 2013 through June 2014 for between $370 and $450.
This recall involves Vizio E-series 39- and 42-inch Full-Array LED flat panel televisions. The flat panel televisions are black with “VIZIO” printed in the lower right corner of the television front and the VIZIO logo in the center of the back.
VIZIO has received 51 reports of the recalled televisions tipping over. No injuries have been reported.
Consumers using the stand assembly should immediately detach the stand, place the television in a safe location and contact VIZIO for a replacement stand assembly. Consumers with wall-mounted televisions should request the replacement stand assembly in case the stand is needed for future use.
By Russ Van Arsdale, executive director Northeast CONTACT
Posted July 13, 2014, at 10:39 a.m.
This Wednesday marks the second annual Military Consumer Protection Day.
We wrote about the first one last July, and the news flash this year involves several simultaneous efforts to help members of the military and their families become smart, informed and protected consumers.
This year’s observance features a 2 p.m. Wednesday Town Hall/Twitter chat on identity theft and a range of issues relating to credit. The hashtag to take part is #MCPD2014.
Close to home, the state of Maine has been removing barriers to employment opportunities for veterans. Some time ago, state officials announced they were streamlining processes through which veterans can apply for jobs involving technical skills.
The state credits a veteran’s military service and experience when that veteran applies for an occupational license. You can read more at http://www.maine.gov/pfr/military.html.
The state has a number of benefits available to veterans, alongside those benefits guaranteed by the federal government. You can read or download the Veterans Benefit and Resource Guide at http://maine.gov/dvem/bvs/Veteran%20Benefit%20and%20Resource%20Guide_2014APR11.pdf.
The really good news about consumer protection is that regulators are realizing that the need is ongoing. Just as private citizens need to have their rights as consumers safeguarded, so do members of the military and their families.
Federal and state governments plus a number of nonprofit organizations have set up a comprehensive website aimed at service people at http://www.military.ncpw.gov/.
“Military Consumer, Your First Line of Defense” has lots of information about credit, debt, fraud, identity theft and many other topics. You can download materials for free to help spread the word.
The website also includes links to other helpful places. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recognizes that military families face special monetary challenges; they may be approached by both good and bad lenders. The bureau has some advice for meeting those challenges at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers/.
We could never cover all topics of interest to consumer-veterans here. The Military One Source website maintained by the Department of Defense offers individual, confidential consultation on health matters. There also is advice on virtually all aspects of military life. Read more at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/ or call 800-342-9647.
Many businesses offer special deals for members of the military and their families. Scam artists offer what may appear to be “deals” but are in fact veiled attempts to rip people off. Other crooks might pose as VA officials in an effort to obtain your personal and financial information. They might try to make you pay for records that should be free.
Don’t be fooled; know the person you’re speaking with, and be sure that any information you divulge won’t be used to defraud you.
Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teen Work Permits Available Online
06/11/2014 10:32 AM EDT
Russ spoke with Joy about keeping an eye out for scammers when looking to find some home improvement workers.
There are three Maine laws that deal with transient sales and home repairs. They are explained in detail in the Consumer Law Guide published by the Attorney General’s office (visit www.maine.gov/ag. See chapter 17 of the Guide for laws relating to construction. Chapter 13 deals with transient sales).
Among the key pieces of advice are these.
Always have a written contract for any job costing more than $3,000. There’s a three-day cooling off period before work starts; if you decide you don’t want the job done within those three days, you can cancel the deal. You and the contractor may–but you don’t have to–agree to settle any disputes that might arise through mediation or arbitration.
Don’t sign a contract that includes any blank spaces (to be filled in later). And Maine law says the contractor cannot ask for more than one-third of the total contract amount as a down payment. The Attorney General has a model contract for home construction (see chapter 18 of the Guide).
You’ll likely want to check out a number of contractors before hiring one. Ask each of them how many jobs like yours they’ve done in the past year, and ask for references. Find out what kinds of insurance they carry. Beware of those who demand more than the one-third up-front payment or insist on cash. Also, be wary if the contractor asks you to get the building permit.Transient sellers must be licensed by the state, and an unlicensed contractor may not want to show up at your town hall.
For information on professions requiring a state license, visit www.maine.gov/pfr.
Be extra wary of transient repair “pros” who “spot a problem” you had not noticed. Once inside your home, they may break something and then point out that it “needs fixing.” The shady contractor may insist you come with him to inspect something, while one of his associates steals your valuables.
Those last few points are among the National Consumers League’s top 10 red flags of home repair scams. Read more at www.nclnet.org.
See the Federal Trade Commission’s reminder at www.ftc.gov/scam-alerts