Consumer Action and Chase go Inland

Published: Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Consumer Action and Chase Bank train community-based organizations on using credit wisely.

On December 3, 2009, Consumer Action and Chase Bank co-hosted “Using Credit Wisely,” a roundtable event held in Southern California’s Inland Empire, the largest region of the state. The training attracted advocates that serve low-income and hard-to-reach consumers from several of the 50 cities that comprise the Inland Empire. From Riverside to Victorville, Claremont to San Bernardino, advocates came to the training to learn how to use Consumer Action’s credit card fraud and short-term credit educational modules to better serve their clients in the relentlessly bad economy.

Consumer Action’s Community Outreach Manager Linda Williams facilitated the morning session entitled “Credit Card Fraud and Identity (ID) Theft”. The training module can be viewed at: Credit Card Fraud. She began the session with a brief history on credit cards, informing participants that the newly created C.A.R.D. Act of 2009 will add another chapter to the history and use of credit cards in America. She stressed to advocates the importance of becoming familiar with Act so they will be able to teach and inform consumers of their new rights under the law.

Williams facilitated a spirited discussion on how to recognize different types of credit card fraud—skimming, phishing, shoulder surfing and ID theft. Williams explained that credit card fraud can occur, among other times, when cards are lost or stolen, through data breaches, when criminals divert or steal mail, and when an employee of a business steals customers’ information. She discussed ways in which consumers can defend and protect against fraud online by using secure web sites and by scrambling their credit card number when making purchases online. She explained that many credit card companies now allow consumers to generate a number for one-time use online, so their real card numbers will not fall into the wrong hands.

During the segment on ID theft, Williams informed participants that this particular fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime in America. ID theft occurs when an imposter steals another person’s personal information to obtain credit. Outlining ways to prevent or protect against ID theft, Williams explained the difference between a fraud alert and a security freeze. A “fraud alert,” is a special message that’s placed on the credit report. It tells credit issuers that fraud may be involved. On the other hand, a security freeze will stop the thief in his or her tracks, making credit files off-limit to potential creditors, insurance companies, and employers trying to do background checks. Williams also provided resources on how participants and their clients can obtain copies of their specialty consumer reports.

Community Outreach Manager Nelson Santiago led the afternoon session on short-term credit. The training module can be viewed at: Short-Term Credit. Santiago first walked participants through each component of the module, reviewing the content and providing additional background information for participants. Santiago explained that the goal of the training was to make each participant comfortable and confident using the material to conduct trainings. He also introduced to participants a fishbowl-learning strategy. Informing participants that the fishbowl is a collaborative teaching tool wherein participants with various backgrounds are divided into small teams to discuss and present a subject, Santiago divided participants into five (5) teams, providing each team with a section of the module on short-term credit. He gave the teams 35 minutes to review the relevant section of the slides, brochure, lesson plan, and activities. When the time was up, Santiago instructed each team to give mock presentations on the reviewed materials to the group. The teams were very creative with their approach delivering the information, choosing a rap song or poem to deliver their responsible credit messages.

The positive response to the training was overwhelming. All participants agreed that, due to the state of an economy that is breeding all types of scams and fraud, the timing of the training was perfect.

 
 
 

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