Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Tue, Jan. 28

Graduates, keep your eyes peeled in the real world

To all Arizona high school graduates, I offer my congratulations and best wishes as you enter the next phase of your lives.

Whether heading to college or joining the workforce, you will be making increasingly significant and complex financial decisions in the years ahead. I want to ensure you are armed with the information you'll need to be a more savvy consumer.

At age 18, a person becomes an adult in the eyes of the law, gaining both legal privileges and responsibilities. You may sign leases, apply for loans and enter into legally binding contracts.

You will be building your credit report with every purchase and every payment. A bad credit report can take years to undo and make purchases made on credit more expensive.

Raising your consumer IQ will help you get the most for your money, protect your rights and reduce the chance of becoming a victim of fraud.The more you know, the easier it will be to make important financial decisions with confidence. As you take on such tasks as renting an apartment, securing student loans, applying for credit cards or buying a new car, here are a few tips to help navigate the marketplace:

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is untrue.

• Protect your personal identifying information. Never give out your financial information, driver's license number or Social Security number through e-mail.

• At age 18, any contract you sign is binding. Be sure to read it carefully first.

• Always read the fine print and don't sign anything you don't understand.

• Don't be pressured into making quick decisions on purchases or investments.

• Get all claims, warranties and promises in writing.

• Keep your receipts.

• Check your credit report for errors or to see if someone has stolen your identity. You can do this once a year, for free, at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Log onto the Attorney General's Web site, www.azag.gov, to download the Consumer Guide for Young Adults. This 27-page guide is filled with useful information on everything from student loans to cell phone contracts to credit card pitfalls to avoiding common scams.

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