Updated March 07, 2011
"Let the buyer beware," as they first said in ancient Rome, but when it comes to consumer protection in the modern world, most buyers need some help in "bewaring" of all the dangers and threats out there. For years, Americans have looked to U.S. government agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the USDA as mainline sources of information about products, goods and services that can do us physical, financial or psychological harm. But is there one place where consumers can "get it all?"
In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week 2011 on March 6 - 12, more than 30 federal agencies, consumer groups and national advocacy organizations, in conjunction with state, county, and local government agencies, have joined together to create NCPW.gov, an online centralized source of information on such topics as consumer rights and privacy, online security and identity theft.
Also See: The US Food Safety System
New Consumer Handbook a 'Must-Have'
Among the many consumer resources available from NCPW.gov, perhaps the most important and valuable is the Consumer Action Handbook (.pdf), featuring:
- General tips on buying products and services as well as in-depth explanations on consumer's rights and responsibilities
- Instructions on how to file a complaint, including a sample letter of complaint that consumers can use when trying to resolve a dispute
- An invaluable directory of federal and state government agencies as well as nonprofit organizations dedicated to consumer issues; including all auto makers, Better Business Bureaus, and hundreds of corporations
Surfing the Internet is sort of like cruising off the coast of Somalia; the scenery is nice but the pirates are plentiful. Just like the Somali pirates, bad people from identity thieves to sexual predators aren't just waiting for you on the Internet - they are looking for you.
Another highlight of National Consumer Protection Week 2011 is the launch of OnGuardOnline.gov, a new website that provides tips on a variety of online security topics including how to protect yourself against Internet fraud, how to secure your computer and how to protect your personal information.
You can also find tips about safe internet behavior for parents and children, including guidelines for safe interactions in the social media world. Other topics include:
- Precautions you should consider when sharing information online
- Appropriate behavior when interacting with others online
- What is cyber bullying and what to do if you become a victim
- How to protect yourself when using Wi-Fi hotspots