Course Outline for Protect Your Money, Credit, and Identity

Week 1

Lesson 1- Real Estate Scams

In this first lesson, we'll concentrate on real estate scams. This is a particularly lucrative field for con artists, so we'll discuss all the different ways scammers can fool victims. We'll talk about foreclosure sales, tax liens, rental scams, and bogus escrow fees. By the end of this lesson, you'll be looking differently at newspaper ads that promise quick riches in real estate.

Lesson 2- How to Stop Unfair Debt Collection Practices

In this lesson, we’ll talk about what could be a delicate situation: falling behind on your bills and being hounded by bill collectors. I’m going to explain the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, which is a federal law, and you’ll see exactly what debt collectors can and can’t do. You’ll also learn exactly what your rights are and how you can make harassing phone calls stop. I’ll share with you some ready-made statements that you can repeat over the phone. Finally, you’ll learn what to do if a debt collector crosses the line. You’ll find out that not only can you make the phone calls stop, but you can also bring suit against someone who violates the statutes.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Internet Scams and Credit Card Theft

As long as there have been human beings, there have been thieves. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at Internet scams, credit card theft, and how you can protect yourself against both. First, we’ll take a look at some pretty common Internet scams, and I’ll explain how you can protect your money. Then we’ll take on credit card theft and fraud, ending up with a discussion of the federal, state, and local agencies that investigate and prosecute people who commit these crimes. At the conclusion of this lesson, you should breathe a lot easier knowing that you have the savvy to protect yourself from Internet scams and credit card thieves.

Lesson 4- How to Guard Your Credit Rating

Credit is the real currency of our economy. This means that your credit score is vitally important. In today’s lesson, we’re going to examine your credit score: how it’s calculated, how credit reports work, how you can change information on the report, and also how you can improve your overall credit. First, we’ll walk through exactly how credit agencies establish your credit history. You’ll learn about that all-important credit score number that follows you wherever you go. Then we’ll talk about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a piece of federal legislation that governs how, when, and why credit scores can be tabulated. More important, you’ll learn how the FCRA specifies what you can do to remove incorrect items on your credit history. Next, we’ll talk about scams to supposedly “clean up” your credit history. We’ll finish the lesson by discussing the correct and legal methods you can use that really will improve your credit score.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Predatory Lending

In this lesson, we’ll examine the issues surrounding predatory lending and other questionable lending practices. Predatory lending is something that might actually cost you more money than fraud—and it’s perfectly legal. It reaches into many areas, but especially into home mortgages. We’ll also talk about another common predatory lending practice: payday loans. You’ll see how they can drain a person dry. By the conclusion of this lesson, you’ll know how to avoid predatory lenders and keep more of your hard-earned money.

Lesson 6- Credit Cards: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In today’s lesson, we’ll cover a familiar topic: credit cards. We’ll be dissecting everything you need to know about terms, interest rates, and fees. We’ll begin with a brief history of credit cards, and then I’ll show you all the different factors you need to consider before choosing one. Then I’ll talk about the credit card agreement and why it’s important to pay attention to it. Finally, we’ll take a look at some credit card scams you should be aware of. By the conclusion of this lesson, you should feel well-prepared to apply for a credit card that will bring you the best value and convenience possible.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Deceptive Trade Practices

As long as there have been businesses, there have been unscrupulous business practices. In this lesson, we’re going to examine specific types of deceptive practices—including bait and switch, passing off one type of goods for another, and outright fraud—and show you how to avoid them. Unscrupulous retailers, especially Internet merchants, are coming up with new ways to dupe us all the time. You’ll learn how to look for warning signs that something may not be what it’s advertised to be and use caution to help guide you. Even the most careful consumer can fall prey to deceptive business practices, though, so you'll also be gathering lots of information on what to do after the fact.

Lesson 8- Automobile Scams and Rip-Offs

In today’s lesson, we’ll talk about scams and rip-offs directly related to cars. If you plan to buy, lease, or sell a car one day, this is the lesson for you! We’ll start off with a discussion about leasing cars and some of the most common tricks, scams, and outright crimes that dealers carry out every day. Then we’ll move on to scams involving buying and selling a car. Along the way, we’ll demystify a lot of terminology that has crept into the auto buying and leasing business. By the time you’ve finished this lesson, you’ll be ready to march down to the car dealer, negotiate the best possible deal for yourself, and save thousands of dollars.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Extended Warranties

It seems like every time you buy something these days, you’re offered the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty. These warranties are tempting, but are they really worth it? That’s the question we’ll be answering in this lesson. We’ll begin by learning exactly what a warranty is, along with a little history of how warranties began. Then we’ll talk about two kinds of warranties: express and implied. After that, we’ll turn our attention to extended warranties, something I’m sure a car dealer or retailer has dangled before you at one time or another. By the time you finish this lesson, you should have all the knowledge you need to expertly evaluate any warranty you might be thinking about purchasing.

Lesson 10- Product Liability Cases

You’ve undoubtedly heard about lawsuits in which people have sued over products that have injured them. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at this area of law and see how it’s entirely possible to bring such a case and what will happen when you do. Such lawsuits fall under the category of product liability cases, so our focus for this lesson is to understand what product liability is all about. Once you have a solid understanding of product liability, you can then figure out if your case falls into the product liability area.

Week 6

Lesson 11- So You Want to Sue 'Em

In previous lessons, we’ve talked about scams, rip-offs, and product liability cases. Suppose you want to sue the con man who swindled you, the corporation whose product hurt you, or someone else. How do you go about doing it? That’s what we’ll focus on in this lesson. We’ll take a look at the process you would follow if you decided to bring a lawsuit. By the time you finish this lesson, you’ll know how to bring a small claims action or even a full-blown lawsuit in state or federal court.

Lesson 12- Home Repair, Stock, and Franchise Cons

In this final lesson, we will address a few more scams and rip-offs that we have not yet covered. We’ll focus on cons and schemes that you’re likely to run into at some point and that you need to protect yourself against. We will be discussing everything from home repair scams to Ponzi schemes. Along the way, you’ll also be getting the information that you need to protect yourself and the resources to contact the proper authorities if you feel that you have been the victim of any of these illegal activities. By the time you finish this lesson, you should be well-armed to spot the many ways in which unscrupulous folks can take advantage of you. With what you’ll learn in this lesson—as well as what you’ve learned throughout the course—you can count yourself a savvy and well-informed consumer.