Life gives us plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. Here are five of the worst (and most expensive) ones consumers make, according to the Consumer Information Center (CIC), Pueblo, Colo.

1. Giving out Social Security numbers and other personal financial numbers when asked for identification.

2. When buying a car, going with the lowest price offered by the closest car dealer.

3. Not checking the telephone bill each month to verify the carrier or itemized charges.

4. Going for broke with "too good to be true" investment offers.

5. Never complaining.

If you've made one or more of the above mistakes, you're not alone. Use these CIC publications to help avoid making future mistakes.

  • "Identity Crisis ... What to do if Your Identity is Stolen." The Federal Trade Commission features a helpful chart to help you report fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, credit cards, or bank accounts.

  • "How to Get a Great Deal on a New Car." The Center for the Study of Services and USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service takes you step-by-step through the negotiation process when buying a vehicle.

  • "Investment Swindles: How They Work and How to Avoid Them." The National Futures Association lists 16 questions that can protect you from investment fraud.

  • "The Consumer's Resource Handbook." The handbook has a sample letter about registering complaints with corporate consumer contacts and state, county, and city government consumer protection offices across the country.

To order CIC publications, call 888-878-3256, or visit to read, print, or download these and hundreds of other publications.

© 2000 Credit Union National Association Inc.