Government web sites you should know about: consumer issues

USA.gov pageVarious offices of the federal government offer a wealth of information that the public can use. It seems good to describe some of them here from time to time. This first installment looks at three web sites devoted to various consumer issues.

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC’s Consumer Information page has separate tabs for information on

  • Money & Credit
  • Homes & Mortgages
  • Health & Fitness
  • Jobs & Making Money
  • Privacy & Identity

It also offers a video/media library. There you’ll find not only videos, but audio tips and games. Quite a bit of the content deals with scams and consumer fraud, but the library includes tips on such things as saving money on gas, understanding how to understand “lumens” when buying light bulbs, and how to read bills.

Besides finding information on the site, you can take action: file a consumer complaint, register for do not call, get a free credit report, etc.

Financial Literacy and Education Commission

Before I checked out MyMoney.gov I was not aware that such a commission existed. The site itself is very well organized. It collects and categorizes information from other government agencies.

You can find, for example, a great deal of information about scams and consumer fraud from the FTC site above, but at MyMoney.gov, you can also find links to the General Services Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Department of the Treasury, and more.

In part, the site is designed around life events, with sections devoted to

  • Birth/adoption of a child
  • Going to collect
  • Marriage/divorce/partners
  • Home ownership
  • Starting/losing a job
  • Starting/buying a business
  • Planning for retirement/Retiring
  • Death of a family member
  • Natural disasters and unexpected events

It also offers helpful calculators, worksheets, and checklists to help with various aspects of money management.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s site exists not so much to provide information as a place to get assistance. You can indeed read the reports, bulletins, and other information the bureau has published, but more than that, it is a place to file a complaint, tell your story (good or bad) about experiences, and pay for college.

The page for filing complaints enables consumers to deal with very specific issues:

  • Bank account or service
  • Credit card
  • Credit reporting
  • Money transfer
  • Mortgage
  • Student loan
  • Vehicle or consumer loan

There, you can not only submit a complaint, but also track its progress through the system. Meanwhile, information consumers supply to the bureau helps it fine tune its procedures and improve its services.

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