How to protect yourself

danger

It’s getting dangerous out there. Really dangerous. Every day, I hear from readers who have been taken advantage of, scammed, and ripped off. And every day I wonder: how can I help protect them?

I had that moment on Friday when the government did something that will almost certainly harm consumers like you. More on that in a moment.

Before I get to that, let me answer the question: I can’t protect them alone. Even with a team of dedicated consumer advocates, it’s difficult to accomplish this mission. I need you to lend a hand during our fall fundraiser — and I hope you will.

This week, I’m giving away gift cards from our friends at Otterbox. You might not be able to protect yourself from every corporate come-on, but at least you’ll be able to protect your smartphone from dust, debris and moisture, thanks to your Otterbox. New underwriters for our fall fundraiser qualify for the drawing.

What happened last week?

Late last week, the Department of Transportation quietly appointed new members to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, which by law must include a consumer representative. Consumer advocates are deeply concerned about the new consumer representative, who is affiliated with a libertarian think-tank and has a long track record of fringe, pro-business positions.

Several other committee members are also on the record with extreme pro-business positions, which, of course, is no surprise given the current administration. But is it too much to ask that a consumer representative actually represent consumers, rather than corporate interests?

This drama is playing itself across almost every industry. The foxes are guarding the hen houses. And increasingly there’s only one place where you can get justice: right here. My team will fight for you even when government regulators have left the building.

We are stepping up. But we can’t do this job without your help. We haven’t quite raised a quarter of the money we need to continue operating in 2019. Will you consider stepping up by becoming an underwriter of your favorite nonprofit consumer advocacy site? Here’s how to get involved.

Meanwhile, on the advocacy front

We’re keeping busy. In the last 30 days, we’ve received 681 cases, up 35 percent from last year. On the traffic front, we are pushing 10 million annual page views. Things are really happening!

And I’ve been busy writing about everything, whether it’s in USA Today, the Washington Post or Forbes.

Just this morning, for example, I posted a new story about next year’s vacation trends that could save you a lot of money.

The day before, I had this story in the Washington Post about holiday travel mistakes you don’t want to make.

I’m doing everything I can to make sure you can protect yourself out there. But I’m just one guy. Without your help, I will remain a widely syndicated writer who keeps sounding the alarms. But together, we can do some real good.

Please consider participating in this award-winning consumer advocacy organization. I want to send you those gift cards this week!

This week’s stories

Please “like” and share these stories with your friends:

Everything you need to know before you take a bucket-list drive
If you’re about to take a bucket-list drive up California’s Highway 1 to Monterey or down Florida’s Overseas Highway to Key West, you need to know this: These road trips are unlike any other drive you’ll take. And that’s especially true if you’re doing it with your family.

Why isn’t this Hotwire resort fee disclosed?
When Thomas Stack books a hotel room, his online agency fails to disclose an important mandatory surcharge. What happened to this Hotwire resort fee?

Can you help me get my $113 refund from Prime Time Shuttle?
Prabhakar Pamidi wants a refund from Prime Time Shuttle after it fails to pick him up at LAX. So where’s the money?

Is this the end of unexpected car rental surcharges?
When Jeremy Epstein rented a Nissan Altima from Hertz in Albuquerque recently, he couldn’t believe the car rental fees. They made the extras charged by the rest of the travel industry look like the work of amateurs. They do. But not for much longer.

How do you improve hotel service? Listen to your guests
How do you improve a hotel’s service? One answer comes from a boutique property in Honolulu, appropriately called the Hotel Renew.

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Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

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Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

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Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

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Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

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A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

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Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

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An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.