Consumer Advice: Car Repairs, Insurance

If you've been scammed, ripped off, taken to the cleaners, or you're just worried about becoming a victim, Good Morning America's Consumer Correspondent can help.

In the first installment of his new series "Greg Hunter to the Rescue," Hunter offers valuable consumer advice on car repair, debt consolidation, e-mail spam and auto insurance for teens. Check out his Q and A below before you spend another dollar of your hard-earned money.

Q: "Why is it that women are treated differently by mechanics and car dealerships?" Ethel, New York City

A: Ever since I became a consumer reporter, women have been calling me and e-mailing me about being ripped off at auto shops. First, you should find a mechanic before you really need one. Don't put yourself in a desperate situation. Shop around before you choose one. Poll your co-workers, neighbors and friends about their experiences with their mechanics. Ask whether they had their car repaired in a timely manner, if they were overcharged, and if the mechanic stood behind their work. Look for a shop that has experience working with your car's make and model. Before you go to a mechanic to have your car repaired, make a list of what you'd like them to look at. Treat it as if it's a doctor's appointment. Make sure you get a written estimate of all charges before the work is done and ask them to give you a time estimate as well.

Q: I got a call from a debt consolidation telemarketer wanting me to consolidate my loans for a fee. i almost did it and i changed my mind. was i right to do that? — Patton Family of Cincinnati, Ohio

A: You did the right thing. You don't want to go with a telemarketer who is soliciting you if you are having money problems. Just because a company says it is not-for-profit does not mean you will not get ripped off. If you are trying to get your credit in shape, avoid companies with high up-front fees. Avoid any company charging more than $75 up-front — that's too high, and you should not be paying more than 30 bucks a month for continued help. If you are in really bad shape, a good non-profit debt-consilidation telemarketer should waive all of the fees. Also, the best debt-consolidation companies will teach you how to stay out of debt in the futured. A good place to start your search is the consumer credit counseling service ( Finally, ask how much of your monthly payment goes to paying down your debt. It should 100 percent and the company should be willing to send you a monthly statment on your remaining debt.

Q: My daughter just got her driver's license and we want to know why car insurance is so expensive for teenage drivers? — The Chewinka Family From Faribault, Minn.,

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