The only thing the ABC News Fixer loves more than fixing your problems is helping prevent new ones. In that spirit, please enjoy our resolutions for 2014:
If I see an online promo for a "free trial" that requires a credit card for shipping and handling, I resolve to keep moving. First, it's not free – and second, the terms and conditions probably allow them to keep charging me each month.
Before I shop for a car, I resolve to check with my bank or credit union to see what sort of loan I can afford. If it's a used car, I'll bring along the ABC News Fixer's consumer tips and check out the car thoroughly. And I won't be pressured to drive the car home until the financing is complete because I know about the dreaded yo-yo trick.
When I travel, I resolve to never stow cash, electronics or other valuables in my checked luggage. If it should disappear, the airline won't be required to reimburse me.
Are you a phony debt collector calling with a debt I'm sure I do not owe? Well, I resolve to hang up on you. (READ: Getting Debt Collector Calls? Beware This Faker)
And if you're emailing me out of the blue with a "mystery shopping" job, I'm not biting on that scam, either.
If I get into trouble and can't pay my mortgage, I resolve to seek help from my bank or from www.HUD.gov – not from charlatans posing as "mortgage rescue" companies. (WATCH: Mortgage Help Really a 'Rip Off'?)
I resolve to check my credit report every year at www.annualcreditreport.com, the official site for consumers to get one free report each year from all three credit reporting bureaus.
If I need to move to a new home, I resolve to check www.ProtectYourMove.gov for consumer tips and to fully vet the mover. I won't accept an estimate over the phone because it's more likely to be inaccurate. And I'll remember that the mover must release my stuff after I pay the amount on the written binding estimate.
If something bad happens, I will raise the alarm – with my state attorney general, other consumer agencies and the ABC News Fixer. I'll send my problem to The ABC News Fixer (by CLICKING HERE) and will alert state and federal consumer contacts (by CLICKING HERE).
And finally, I resolve to use those new gift cards I got for the holidays ASAP. They won't do me any good sitting in a drawer, and if the business goes out of business I'll be out the money.
Wishing you all a new year that's happy, healthy, productive and fun -- and free of annoying rip-offs!
- The ABC News Fixer
Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.