Articles by Russ Van Arsdale


Hidden transaction fees boosting costs for consumers

By Russ Van Arsdale on March 27, 2011, at 5:41 p.m.
I don’t put bumper stickers on my car. If I did, the first one would say “Real Mainers Pay Cash.” The phrase captures an idea whose time has surely come. Hidden fees that fuel the plastic transaction industry are driving up costs for everyone, including small businesses that can hardly …

Wire scams all too common

By Russ Van Arsdale on March 20, 2011, at 6:06 p.m.
They’re all too common, and some can be heartbreaking. They’re stories of older citizens who open their hearts and their wallets and hand over money to people they’ve never met. All the while, they believe they’re helping a family member or someone else who’s truly in need. There were at …
Consumer Forum

Wanting what’s good for the marketplace

By Russ van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast Contact on Jan. 30, 2011, at 8:37 p.m.
When our organization changed its name a few years back, we made a conscious decision to call it, “Northeast CONTACT For Better Business Inc.” Our thinking went like this: Since consumers and business people can build a fairer, more effective marketplace together, they should be considered partners in that effort. …

Maine schools can compete, fight hunger

By Russ Van Arsdale on Jan. 23, 2011, at 3:40 p.m.
It’s not every day that students in Maine can help raise serious money to curb hunger. Now they can do so and take part in some friendly competition in the process.

Report aims to protect consumer privacy online

By Russ Van Arsdale on Jan. 16, 2011, at 6:54 p.m.
If you think that surfing the Web is a harmless pastime, think again. The Consumer Federation of America recently said people’s track records on social networking sites were used in some cases …

Reverse mortgage agreements can be complex

By Russ Van Arsdale on Jan. 09, 2011, at 7:40 p.m.
Reverse mortgages offer financial security to many seniors. But not all reverse mortgages are created equal, and those considering the option should think carefully about the ramifications. Unlike a traditional mortgage requiring monthly payments by the borrower, a reverse mortgage uses the equity in a home as a source of …

Fake charities can be a Grinch at holidays

By Russ Van Arsdale Executive director Northeast Contact on Dec. 19, 2010, at 11:27 p.m.
Charitable giving tends to peak at this time of year. The spirit of the holiday season seems to pervade, even during difficult economic times. That’s good, because many charitable organizations …

Intimidation used by swindlers baseless; ignore empty threats

By Russ Van Arsdale on Sept. 14, 2008, at 9:27 p.m.
Dishonest people try all kinds of tactics to steal our money. We’ve talked about a number of them in this column, from Nigerian scams to work-at-home schemes.

Preventing identity theft on the Web

By Russ Van Arsdale on Aug. 31, 2008, at 9:32 p.m.
The task of dealing with identity theft can be a daunting one. This is especially true when the thieves work through the invisible web surrounding many aspects of our lives, the Internet.