Programs that utilize a wide variety of informational materials and techniques to increase the public's awareness of their rights and responsibilities as consumers of goods and services. The services may include information concerning federal and provincial consumer protection laws and regulatory agencies; advice regarding comparison shopping, use of consumer reports and buying guides, and other practices that help consumers make informed decisions and avoid problems before they occur; and education regarding the steps that need to be taken to resolve problems with unfair credit practices, defective products, shoddy repairs or workmanship or incompetent services.
Organizations that maintain credit history records and make available to prospective lenders, insurers, landlords and employers (as well as to consumers themselves) reports that document the individual's past borrowing and repayment activity including information about late payments and bankruptcies. Information in credit reports is used to calculate credit scores (a numerical representation of the likelihood that a consumer will meet future financial obligations) which are used to determine the interest rate people receive on their mortgage, car loan, credit cards, auto insurance and other forms of credit.
Programs that provide assistance for individuals who are having difficulty meeting their financial obligations and, as a result, may be faced with bankruptcy or loss of their home or property.
Programs that help people who are having difficulty paying their monthly bills gain control of their finances. The process generally involves analysis of the individual's income, expenses, debts, taxes and other factors to create a personal financial assessment; development of a budget for basic living expenses; and agreement on a short-term plan for repayment of creditors which may include debt consolidation or other strategies and a longer term plan for realizing personal financial goals.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.