Free government handbook helps defrauded consumers take action
By: U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton
Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 19, 2009) — Americans make countless purchases and conduct millions of transactions each day without problems, but sometimes even savvy consumers run into difficulty when a product, a company, or a salesperson fails to deliver what was promised. To make matters worse, consumers often may not know what steps to take to resolve a complaint.
The Federal Citizen Information Center, an agency within the U.S. General Services Administration, has been a trusted one-stop source for information on consumer problems and government services for more than 30 years. While the Federal Citizen Information Center produces and distributes a variety of government publications, the agency may be best known for its Consumer Action Handbook and website, www.consumeraction.gov.
The Consumer Action Handbook contains a wealth of information to help citizens become better-educated consumers.
The first section of the handbook includes general advice on shopping for goods and services and an explanation of consumer rights and responsibilities. Topics include product safety recalls, telemarketing and spam, protecting identity and privacy, as well as tips on buying automobiles, banking and credit, investing and insurance, and more.
The second section provides guidance on resolving consumer problems, such as advice on contacting the seller, reporting fraud and safety hazards, and getting help from outside organizations. A useful sample letter provides a format to help file a formal complaint.
The third and final section of the handbook is a consumer assistance directory, which includes contact information — addresses, phone numbers, e-mail and Internet addresses — for corporate offices, consumer organizations, trade groups, government agencies, and other sources of assistance.
Best of all, this valuable resource is available free of charge online or in hard copy format on request. The handbook may be viewed at any time on the Federal Citizen Information Center website at www.consumeraction.gov. Single copies of the current Consumer Action Handbook may also be pre-ordered by calling (888) 878-3256 or writing:
Handbook Federal Citizen Information Center Pueblo, CO 81009
The Consumer Information Center is expected to ship pre-ordered handbooks in early July.
For individual assistance, consumers may also contact the Federal Citizen Information Center by phone at (800) 333-4636. Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Central Time, specially trained staff are available to answer questions about all aspects of the federal government. Information online at www.info.gov is available around the clock.
Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.