Programs that utilize a wide variety of informational materials and techniques to increase the public's awareness of their rights and responsibilities as consumers of goods and services. The services may include information concerning federal and provincial consumer protection laws and regulatory agencies; advice regarding comparison shopping, use of consumer reports and buying guides, and other practices that help consumers make informed decisions and avoid problems before they occur; and education regarding the steps that need to be taken to resolve problems with unfair credit practices, defective products, shoddy repairs or workmanship or incompetent services.
Programs that are designed to protect the consumer from fraudulent or unfair credit practices through enforcement of legislation that guarantees equal access to credit; the right to notice of credit reporting activities; the right of access to information contained in credit reports; the right to correct erroneous credit report information; the right to withhold payment on damaged or shoddy goods or repairs or poor quality services while negotiating a settlement; the right to timely correction of billing errors; protection from abusive, deceptive or unfair debt collection practices and similar protections.
Organizations that maintain credit history records and make available to prospective lenders, insurers, landlords and employers (as well as to consumers themselves) reports that document the individual's past borrowing and repayment activity including information about late payments and bankruptcies. Information in credit reports is used to calculate credit scores (a numerical representation of the likelihood that a consumer will meet future financial obligations) which are used to determine the interest rate people receive on their mortgage, car loan, credit cards, auto insurance and other forms of credit.
Programs that provide assistance for individuals who are having difficulty meeting their financial obligations and, as a result, may be faced with bankruptcy or loss of their home or property.
Programs that provide educational workshops, printed materials, Internet website information or other types of resources for individuals, families, business owners and others that deal with the essentials of money management, asset building and financial independence. A wide variety of money management issues may be addressed including banking services, consumer credit lending, debt consolidation/repayment, bankruptcy, small business development, retirement planning, investment management, savings, risk management, tax and estate law and other similar topics.
Programs that help people who are having difficulty paying their monthly bills gain control of their finances. The process generally involves analysis of the individual's income, expenses, debts, taxes and other factors to create a personal financial assessment; development of a budget for basic living expenses; and agreement on a short-term plan for repayment of creditors which may include debt consolidation or other strategies and a longer term plan for realizing personal financial goals.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.