5 Ways the Consumer Federation of the Southeast Has Helped Consumers
March 11, 2016
National Consumer Protection Week is March 6-12, 2016. To mark the week, the Consumer Federation of the Southeast is offering a series of Top 5 articles. The Consumer Federation has constantly fought to protect you, the consumer. [See a video of Consumer Federation Executive Jennifer West discussing the issue.] Here are 5 ways we have helped consumers over the years:
1. PIP fraud
PIP fraud has been a problem in the Southeast for decades, with criminals staging fraudulent car accidents to gain access to victims’ personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. The Consumer Federation has repeatedly advocated on behalf of consumers, conducting wide-reaching surveys and providing a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
2. Co-pay cards
High prescription prices prevent many people from getting the medicines they need. One way around this harsh reality is co-pay cards, which pharmaceutical companies offer for individuals who can’t afford the high prices of certain drugs. A co-pay card allows the consumer to get the needed prescription for a discounted price, or even free. Whenever your doctor prescribes a medicine, make sure to ask if there is a co-pay card available to help manage the costs. The Consumer Federation has consistently advocated to get these money-saving cards in the hands of consumers.
3. AOB reform
Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, is one of the biggest issues in the home insurance industry, greatly affecting consumers. AOB is a legal tool that allows policyholders to sign over their insurance benefits to a home repair vendor or other third party without having to pay money up front to cover repair work. AOB can be useful in processing claims promptly, but a cottage industry of trial lawyers and others has increasingly used AOB to take complete control of homeowners’ policies, then inflate the costs of repairs and file costly lawsuits against property insurers. AOB can allow shady contactors to exploit unsuspecting consumers, pocketing homeowners’ right to the insurance benefits they deserve, and the Consumer Federation has worked to make sure homeowners stay in control of their policies.
4. Used-car fraud
About one in nine used cars has some sort of pre-existing condition, and to safeguard consumers from these hidden risks some states require pre-insurance inspections of certain used cars. These laws are an effective tool for law enforcement and fraud investigators, who use them as a powerful weapon against fraud. By requiring in-person inspections of affected vehicles, these laws deter scam artists from victimizing consumers with bogus transactions. Despite opposition by big insurance companies, the Consumer Federation has worked with law enforcement and fraud investigators to ensure that these laws remain on the books.
5. Drug switching
Drug switching refers to the practice of replacing a brand-name drug with a generic alternative, without telling the unsuspecting consumer. This potentially dangerous game has recently been played by insurance companies who encourage a switch to the less expensive medicines. The Consumer Federation has worked actively to end this sort of behavior, which puts profits ahead of patients’ health.