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Survey: Massachusetts Residents Should Be More Aware Of Finances

BOSTON (CBS) – The Office of Consumer Affairs' survey found many Massachusetts residents don't do enough to protect their finances.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mark Katic reports:


Most people know they get a free annual credit report, but not everyone knows Massachusetts residents can get two.

"We found out that only 52% of Massachusetts consumers, or say 1 out of 2, actually check their credit report at least once a year," said Undersecretary Barbara Anthony.

The lack of awareness spans across the economic spectrum.

Only 32% making less than $25,000 check their credit, and only 37% of people making over $150,000 per year do it, according to the survey.

Seniors also need to do their homework.

"Only 54% of consumers are familiar with reverse mortgages," said Anthony.

Banking commissioner David Cotney says seniors don't take advantage of other bank services.

"About 4 out of 10 seniors are unaware of the availability of the 1865 account," said Cotney.

The 1865 account, which is free checking, is also available for minors.

The Federal Reserve's Richard Walker says too many of us don't understand debit card fraud.

"About 71% of Mass. residents think they owe nothing or are unsure of what they owe if they notify the bank within 2-60 days. The law states that you can be liable for up to $500 of it," said Walker.

So we need educate ourselves better on our finances.

State Police sergeant Dennis Taliaferro says you can start by opening your mail.

"You need to open up your bank statements. Consumers have to open up their bank statements. A lot of people get them they get them and throw them aside, they don't look at them, they get other solicitations from other financial companies they think its just junk mail and they toss it aside. You have no idea of whether or not someone has opened up an account in your name with another financial institution if you don't open up your mail," explained Taliaferro.

The Office of Consumer Affairs plans to do more in their outreach program so smarter consumers know their finances and can better protect themselves.

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