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This guide is designed to help consumers locate information on the value, pricing, and reliability of goods and services with a focus on consumer advocacy. There are specific headings devoted to higher profile issues in this area such as Children’s Products, Automobiles, and Health. Though the main focus of this guide is on items and services that can be purchased in the United States, some links may lead to resources outside of the U.S.
General Online Sources
The Better Business Bureau (U.S. and Canada) http://www.bbb.org/ might have an office in your area. If there is not a listing for a local office in the Yellow Pages of the current phone book, this site will help locate the nearest BBB office. This well-designed site provides information on business and consumer alerts, instructs consumers about how to file a complaint online, and lists many other helpful resources.
Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com provides numerous links on the subject of Consumer Advocacy and Information. http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Issues_and_Causes/Consumer_Advocacy_and_Information/ This category is well-organized, well-developed and easy to navigate.
ConsumerReview.com http://www.consumerreview.com/ is a free web site which offers product reviews written by consumers. Searchable and browsable.
Consumer World http://www.consumerworld.org/ is a searchable website that provides access to hundreds of consumer resources on the Internet. It is categorized according to “hot” consumer topics, such as credit card information, mortgage rates, and travel.
A few other good sites…
Miscellaneous Consumer Advocacy Links http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~favretto/consumer.html has a nice list of Consumer Protection web sites.
SafetyAlerts.com http://www.safetyalerts.com/ is an email notification service providing product recall information for free.
Consumer Alert.org http://www.consumeralert.org/ is a consumer advocacy organization that generates several e-newsletters for free including Consumer Comments, CPSC Monitor, and On the Plate. The organization contributes a column to the Consumer Research Magazine as well and those can be found on the website.
The Federal Consumer Information Center http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ is a one-stop shopping center for federal consumer publications. Their website provides a wealth of information on consumer issues, including the Consumer Action Handbook (revised annually), and other FCIC publications.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm has consumer protection information on such topics as lending, automobiles, advertising, children’s issues, products &services, energy &the environment, travel, seniors, and many more.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov/ is an Independent Federal Regulatory Agency with a primary focus on family safety. The agency works with industry to develop product standards and bans products where there are no standards, but high risk. Look here for important information on product recalls.
The European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/health_consumer/index_en.htm provides health and consumer protection for the European countries.
The NOLO Law Center http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/article.cfm/objectID/DE87F155-DF81-4DB5-B8706D5CD609024E will help explain consumer protection laws in plain English and also will help you locate a State Consumer Protection Agency.
The US Attorney General’s Website on Consumer Education http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/pei/bcp.cfm displays information on Lemon Laws, Telephone Scams, Weight Loss Products, Credit Advice, Advice for Seniors, and much more.
FirstGov for Consumers http://www.consumer.gov/ is a directory to government generated consumer information with the following categories: Food, Product Safety, Health, Home &Community, Money, Transportation, Children, Careers &Education, Technology, and Miscellaneous.
The United States Postal Service http://www.usps.com/common/faqs/ has developed a helpful site which contains information ranging from tips on proper packaging, addressing, and shipping costs to advice on moving.
For Children’s Products
Information on Children’s Products can be found in several books and pamphlets.
The Children’s Catalog by Jack Gillis and Mary Ellen R. Fise
The Parents’ Resource Almanac by Beth DeFrancis
Consumer Reports Guide to Baby Products is written for adults, but the publisher also produces an excellent online magazine written for children called Zillions http://www.zillions.org/ .
ToySafety.net http://www.pirg.org/toysafety/ is a project of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs). The information contained on this site was researched and compiled by state PIRG staff across the country.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission provides two major reports relating to Kids and Toys:
Toy Product Reports http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/toy_sfy.html
Toy Hazard Recalls http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html
Other valuable resources include:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/ with categories on Safety Problems &Issues, Testing Results, Regulations &Standards, and Research &Development.
Lemon Law &Used Car Information
National Lemon Law Center http://www.nationallemonlawcenter.com/ has state by state Lemon Law information for used cars and also has a consumer product lawyer locator.
Lemon Law Information: Consumer Protection &Lemon Law Resources http://www.lemon-law-info.com/ has a great list of links to consumer protection sites.
Carfax http://www.carfax.com/ provides free vehicle history reports.
Healthfinder: Guide to Reliable Health Information http://www.healthfinder.gov/ is a free guide to reliable consumer health and human services information, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Center for Patient Advocacy http://www.patientadvocacy.org/ was “founded to represent the interests of patients nationwide and dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have timely access to the highest quality medical care in the world. “.
Patient Advocate Foundation http://www.patientadvocate.org/ “is a national non-profit organization that serves as an active liaison between the patient and their insurer, employer and/or creditors to resolve insurance, job discrimination and/or debt crisis matters relative to their diagnosis through case managers, doctors and attorneys. “.
Your local public library or bookstore should have books on Consumer Information, Advocacy, and Protection. Look for your specific subject category of interest and search for topics such as ‘consumer information’, ‘consumer education’, ‘consumer advocacy’, or ‘consumer protection’. Some of the items you might find would include:
“2002 Consumer Buying Guide” by the Editors of the Consumer Guide: February 2002.
“Children’s Prescription Drugs: A Parent’s Guide to the Most Commonly Recommended Drugs for Children” by the Editors of the Consumer Guide with Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group: March 2000.
There are several Magazines that can be found in your local library, bookstore, or even in grocery stores which have a large magazine inventory.
Consumer Reports http://www.consumerreports.org/main/home.jsp is the most popular magazine of its kind, and it may also be available in your library on CD-ROM. There is limited information available via the website for free, but it is worth perusing. Consumer Reports Newsletter on Travel and Consumer Reports Newsletter on Health will most likely be found in a public library or are available for purchase from online bookstores.
Other good general magazines are Consumers Digest, Consumers Research, and Consumer Guide.
This pathfinder created by Michelle Thomas. Updated by Sena Roth
You may also wish to see IPL – Consumer Issues and Services Resources (/ref/RR/static/bus20.00.00.html)