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CAC encourages more consumer vigilance

Published:Thursday | April 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Dolsie Allen, CEO of the Consumer Affairs Commission. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is stressing the need for consumers to be well informed about managing their financial resources in order to ride out the lingering effects of the global recession.

Chief executive officer of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, is encouraging consumers to exercise more vigilance with regard to their financial operations and obligations.

"It is your hard-earned money and we want you to get the best for it," the CEO implored.

Allen added that financial literacy, proper money management and knowledge of the inner workings of the vast landscape of financial entities were all key to survival.

"Many of us are not quite knowledgeable when it comes to our financial matters. We probably grew up learning about one particular bank and we just take our money and put it there without checking out what interest rate we are getting, what are the conditions in which we are opening an account," she explained.

Allen urged Jamaicans to resist the urge to become complacent or slavishly attached to financial entities because of sentimental ties.

Due diligence necessary

"Loyalty is important and relationship is important, but just do your due diligence before you go shopping, whether for investment or credit facility," the CEO further advises.

On the matter of day-to-day bank transactions and processes, Allen said banks and other financial institutions should make it more user-friendly for consumers who want to conduct business.

Critical, she noted, was for financial institutions and the consumer to build and maintain a mutual beneficial relationship.

Turning to credit facilities, Allen advised that persons pay keen attention to the many fees that are usually attached to these loans.

"There are times when an institution might advertise and you see it as a lower interest rate than others, but when you check it out, you are better off going somewhere else as the other fees and conditions are probably more of a disadvantage to you as a consumer," she said.

Credit cards, the CEO cautioned, served a purpose, but, if not managed properly, could put consumers into serious financial dilemma.

"Pay your credit card first, since that is the highest interest that you are being charged, and bear in mind the penalties for late payment and other fees that add up over a period of time.

"It is important to ensure that when you have your debts, that you prioritise ... . Try to get rid of the highest interest ones first, and use credit cards when it is absolutely necessary and pay within the time frame that is given," Allen advised.