Before strong health and safety laws were enacted, there was serious risk of poison or injury from unsanitary food and defective products. But despite serious legal efforts, consumers continue to be defrauded and hurt by unscrupulous or simply clueless businesses. Luckily, there are a number of resources for consumers to turn to when they need to take action to protect themselves and their families.
Consumer Fraud and Internet Scams
The Better Business Bureau has information about scams, helpful consumer tips and allows consumers to verify if a charity, business or offer is legitimate or a scam.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates all sorts of fraud and has taken a keen interest in banking and savings and loan fraud since the savings and loan scandal of the late 1980s. Consumers can find detailed information on failures and scams – and then use the online form to report tips of their own.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers a wide variety of consumer protection from shopping to scams to debt management.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) takes and investigates complaints of internet fraud and scams. In addition to filing a complaint, consumers can learn of the latest schemes and find helpful prevention tips.
Travel and International Fraud
Econsumer.gov is a joint effort of 28 countries and allows consumers to report cross-border complaints in any of several languages.
The FTC offers sage advice to travelers through its “Operation Travel Unravel” education program.
Interpol conducts and coordinates international investigations, and its website has a wealth of resources on international crime.
Air travellers can find report and file complaints against an airline through the United States Department of Transportation.
Food and Product Safety
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) protects the public by issuing warnings and recalls on thousands of products that pose a threat to health and safety.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers food and other health safety tips for kids.
FoodSafety.gov provides information on recalls and alerts as well as tips on keeping food safe. Consumers may easily report a problem or concern and get immediate responses to specific food safety questions.
Issues with international product safety may be researched at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization.
Swimming pools pose a unique danger, particularly to children, and consumers can find information and advocacy at Pool Safely.
Consumers may report an unsafe product and search for recalls and reports at SaferProducts.gov.
Health Care and Medical Malpractice
The American Association for Justice provides an overview of how the justice system protects patients’ rights.
The American Association for Retired People (AARP) has a comprehensive yet easy-to-read Health Law Guide.
The Center for Medical Consumers has been helping consumers make informed decisions and protect their rights since 1976. Consumers can find the latest health related news as well as search historical archives.
Healthcare.gov explains the Patient’s Bill of Rights under the Affordable Care Act.
MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, provides consumers with information on their health care rights and responsibilities.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services offers its Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight to help consumers and the states implement the Affordable Care Act.
Privacy and Identity Theft
Consumers can learn about how businesses should protect privacy at the Bureau of Consumer Protection .
The Consumer Federation of America offers tips and information to help consumers protect their privacy and their identities.
The United States Department of Justice lists the most common ways in which identity theft occurs.
The National Association of Consumer Advocates provides tips and resources to help consumers identify if their identity has been stolen.
An overview of privacy law may be found at the Small Business Association.
Consumers can learn the ins-and-outs of prohibiting unwanted email at the Federal Communications Commission website, and those who wish extra telephone privacy may register on the National Do Not Call Registry.