Consumer questions come up every day, whether you are buying a big ticket product, applying for a loan, managing debt or going on a trip. Most people handle these major decisions with zero to little input, oblivious to the remarkable body of advice the U.S. government has amassed to help them out. Federal and state departments have spent years trying to provide the public with accurate online information. Take advantage of their services today!
Consumer Protection and Awareness
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: This Bureau is designed to warn consumers about a wide variety of financial products, especially different types of loans and mortgages. It makes for excellent reading if you are preparing to talk with lenders or major businesses.
USA.gov: Consumer Protection: From Internet and mail fraud to car loans and telemarketing, this resource summarizes the federal government’s consumer protection information, creating an ideal index to reference when making a big financial decision.
NAAG: While it may seem strange to include the National Association of Attorneys General on the list, for the past several years each state Attorney General has been working to create a website that includes valuable information for consumers. Find your attorney general on the list and see what their site has to say.
United State Consumer Product Safety Commission: This site allows you to report unsafe products, look up dangers and recalls, and browse current news articles covering consumer product safety and the present dangers consumers need to know.
Recalls.gov: Similar to the Product Safety Commission, this website offers lists of current and past recalls on items. Tabs divide the list into categories like automobiles, food, and environmental products.
BBB: Consumers: The Better Business Bureau has a consumer section devoted to scams and reports of unlawful business. Use it to look up the latest in con work or make a report of your own.
FDA: For Consumers: The Food and Drug Administration maintains this section of its site so you can look up drugs, food, cosmetics and other products, checking both their safety measures and any potential dangers.
Standards.gov: Not for the faint of heart, this technical website goes through international standards that the United States uses, and includes handy links to information on state standards as well. If you are doing research on a contract project, such as construction work, you may want to look for data here.
IDTheft: Identity Theft is a Crime: This website is dedicated to the task force set up by the current administration to deal with identity theft and provide resources for those looking to address the problem. It is one of the best general resources for ID theft available.
FTC: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft: This is the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) center for ID theft resources. When it comes to detailed resources, this site is worth your attention. Step by step response suggestions are included.
IRS: Identity Protection: The IRS website approaches ID theft from a tax perspective, and includes information on what the IRS is doing to help prevent problems.
FBI: Identity Theft: The FBI site is notable for its collection of ID theft case studies and the resulting information. The site also includes ways to report ID theft on a national and local level.
Federal Reserve: Consumer Information: This site offers several different financial centers based on what information you want. Several sections are dedicated toward credit and credit cards, with the latest government advice and programs.
America Fair Credit Association: Government Resources for Consumer Credit Education and Awareness: For those worried about how store credit and the variety of available loans work, this website provides a number of resource articles that can help you categorize credit and identify scams. It also offers memberships for people who want more detailed information.
FinCen: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network helps you to identify an array of financial crimes. Subsections offer forms and filing instructions if you are the victim of a scam or financial crime.
National Resource Directory: This is a collection of assistance and benefit information that covers many different topics. Much of it is advice or assistance for loans, but information on other government programs and resources is also available. Find the category tab that interests you and start exploring.
FTC: Credit and Loans: This homepage offers links to a number of FTC resources for people with financial struggles or questions. The In Debt? section is particular useful, full of articles on debt management and the proper legal action needed in tough times.
Mortgage and Foreclosure
USA.gov: Mortgages for Home Buyers and Homeowners: This section of the USA website offers advice on mortgage shopping, especially handy if you are anxious to compare loan data to find what loan terms work best. There is a separate foreclosure section of the site, too.
HUD: Avoiding Foreclosure: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has many resources for homebuyers. This version gives direct advice to those who want to save their homes, including info on the latest government programs.
Benefits.gov: Federal Resources: Similar to the National Resource Directory, this website offers information on the different federal benefits available. The site’s handy index of links is designed to help with buying a home and managing a mortgage, although other topics are also addressed.
FBI: Mortgage Fraud: If you are considering a mortgage that seems too good to be true, or you just want to learn more about fraudulent lender practices, investigate what the FBI has to say. The section on Protections is especially useful.
Federal Reserve: Mortgage and Foreclosure Resources: The Federal Reserve Board also has this section dedicated to resources for homebuyers and homeowners. Of particular interest is the list of major cities where the banks offer more specific advice based on your living location. Choose the bank closest to you for more information.
U.S. Department of State: Travel: This site combines a number of travel Q&As with legal information that can answer your foreign travel, citizenship, and domestic travel advice questions.