How to protect yourself


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

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

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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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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise

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.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

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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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

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Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

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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.

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