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Home | Online Resources: Link to a Topic | Consumer Information
 
Consumer Information
 

From government agencies to nonprofit watchdog groups to all access bulletin boards, consumer opinion and consumer information on the Internet is plentiful.

The Ocean County Library subscribes to the NADA Guides to used vehicles, Consumer Reports, and Edmund’s new and used cars. Complementing these print resources, the Web has numerous sites to turn to for information.

The Library’s subscription to Ebscohost includes access to the following consumer-related databases: Ebscohost Master File Premier provides full text access to articles in magazines like Consumer Reports, and Consumers’ Research Magazine.

Federal Government

  Consumer.gov
This site’s goal is to serve as a directory of all of the federal government’s
resources for consumer information online. Topics are broken down into general areas such as product safety, health, and food, making it easier to find the relevant information without wading through agency Web page after agency Web page. The Consumer’s Resource Handbook, Federal Blue Pages Directory, and Older People’s Resource Directory are available via the Directory Assistance link on the left-hand side of the home page. For a list of every participating Federal agency, plus a link to their Web page, follow their About link.

  Federal Citizen Information Center
Pueblo, Colorado 81009 is one of the best known addresses in the country. Home to the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo is a one-stop shopping center for federal consumer publications. At this site, you can find the current Catalog and publications, along with a library of
Consumer News and features. Check out the latest edition of the Consumer’s Resource Handbook for plenty of consumer tips and advice. A handy feature is Media Promotions, a listing of consumer information books mentioned in the media. There are also thousands of names, addresses, telephone numbers and electronic addresses of corporations, trade groups, state and local consumer protection offices and federal agencies.

Consumer Action Website
Have a consumer question or problem? You’ve come to the right place for help. All of the information available in the Consumer Action Handbook is available here

  Consumer Product Safety Commission
An independent federal regulatory agency created by Congress in 1972, the CPSC strives to protect the public from "unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products."
Product recalls can be found here: browse the monthly report of product recalls or search recalls by product type, or company. The consumer may also report an unsafe product to the CPSC via this site. Links to CPSC regulatory information from the CFR are included, as well as information for business owners. They regulate over 15,000 types of consumer products. However, items such as "cars, trucks and motorcycles are covered by the Department of Transportation; foods, drugs and cosmetics are covered by the Food and Drug Administration; and alcohol, tobacco and firearms are within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury." The site also includes a list of products the CPSC doesn’t regulate, and the federal agencies that do.

OnGuard Online
OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information

Identify Protection and Theft

One of the most scary and time consuming activities is protecting and trying to restore your good name and credit scores.

Consumer Insights: Identity Theft
The Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs has published this helpful brochure providing information on the prevention of id theft and what to do if it happens to you.

NJ Department of Consumer Affairs:  Identity Theft
New Jersey passed the Identity Theft Prevention Act on January 1, 2006.  Use this site to learn how to place a security freeze on your credit report in addition to many other helpful suggestions.  A toll-free number to the NJ DoCA is also included.

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site
This government website is a one-stop resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.

Prevent identity theft from phishing scams
Microsoft has provided an easy to understand explanation.  Scam artists try to get you to disclose valuable personal data—like credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information—by convincing you to provide it under false pretenses. “Phishing schemes can be carried out in person or over the phone, and are delivered online through spam e-mail or pop-up windows.”

Consumer Affairs

  NJ Department of Consumer Affairs
This agency oversees the
Office of Consumer Protection, professional and occupational licensing boards, and the Bureau of Securities, to name a few. Follow the link to Consumer Information for "Consumer Briefs", descriptions of programs available to consumers in New Jersey who feel that they were victims of fraud or unfair business practices, and for consumers wishing to educate themselves before choosing a product or service. Most helpful are the database searches:

  General List of Medical and Mental Health Related Professional Boards
  Chiropractic Licensee Directory
  Dentistry Licensee Directory
  New Jersey Charitable Registration Directory
  Optometrists Licensee Directory
  Pharmacists Licensee Directory
  Physician Licensee Directory
  Podiatrist Licensee Directory
  Psychological Examiners Licensee Directory
  Other Professional and Occupational Licensing Boards
  Master Plumber Licensee Directory
  Mortuary Science Licensee Directory

  Better Business Bureau
For consumers wishing to investigate a company before hiring them or purchasing a product, the BBB is the place to start. Consumers can get a company reliability report , find out how long the business has existed, whether any complaints have been made against the company, and whether or not the company is a member of the BBB. Plus they offer mediation services for when you are having a dispute with a company. You will need to contact the local branch of the BBB in which the company is located in order to request a report. Find a local BBB anywhere in the Nation by zip code or State, or go directly to a New Jersey BBB Web page:

  The Better Business Bureau of New Jersey, Inc.

Charities

Don’t forget to check out the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance , and the New Jersey Charitable Registration Directory for a listing of New Jersey charities registered with the Department of Consumer Affairs!

  Guidestar.org
Guidestar is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to providing information on over 620,000 charities. Information from tax returns (990 or 990 EZ) filed with the IRS by the charity, a listing of how much money is raised each year, what the money is spent on, including paid workers, and additional information such as program descriptions and contacts are included. Charities that do not have to file with the IRS, may fill out a Guidestar Basic Financial Statement.

Consumer Opinion

  Consumer World
A public service, non-commercial site which has gathered over 1700 of the most useful consumer resources on the Internet, and categorized them here for easy access. Try this database when you are unsure of which Web site to turn to first with your consumer concern.

  Epinions
Find a host of reviews written by consumers on a multitude of products and services. All reviews are posted, unedited, and the reader has the option of voting on the review itself and how "trustworthy" they found it to be.

Specific Resources

Opt-Out Programs

National Do-Not-Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home

Opt-Out Prescreen
Use this Opt out site or call 1-888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) to stop receiving preapproved credit offers.

Junk Mail Opt-Out by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association)
The DMA maintains a database of consumers who want to curtail unsolicited mail. The catch is that only DMA members must abide by the pledge to take your name off their lists.  An annoying aspect is that you can opt out by mail for free, but opting out online will cost you.

Gasoline Prices

GasBuddy
GasBuddy.com provides you with the tools you need to find the lowest gas prices in Ocean County.  Note:  Make sure you look at the time the price was last reported for each gas station!

AAA Fuel Cost Calculator
AAA Fuel Cost Calculator is intended to help you determine the cost of fuel needed to complete a vacation drive.  It creates the calculation using year, make and model of your car.

Food Safety & Information

 Nutrition.gov 
The gateway site for information and federal regulations concerning nutrition guidelines, dietary supplements, and food safety. The resources included concern health statistics, tips for eating healthy, and press releases and publications from federal agencies.

 Nutrition Analysis Tool 2.0
This database does more than tell you how many calories are in the fast food lunch you ate this afternoon. The results are displayed along side your daily recommended amounts, depending on your gender, age, and if you are female, if you are pregnant.

Utilities

  10-10 Phone Rates
Trying to compare ten-ten phone rates? This site lets you compare rates whether you are calling from within the state, out of state, or out of the country.

  FCC Consumer Information Bureau
The consumer information page for the FCC is incredibly helpful. Consumers with questions or complaints concerning their cable or telephone company, or who believe that they are victims of cramming or slamming would do well to stop by this site. 

Banking and Investments
 Card Trak
CardWeb.com, Inc.® is a leading online publisher of information pertaining to all types of payment cards, including, but not limited to, credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, prepaid cards, ATM cards, loyalty cards and phone cards. The firm uniquely serves all constituencies connected to the payment card business: consumers, institutions, merchants, acquirers, processors, manufacturers, consultants, news reporters and many others. The company is renowned for its independence, credibility and fairness.

  Investing Online Resource Center
The IORC is funded by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).  The website was developed to:

  • Set out the key facts about online investing.
  • Make available rankings and other information needed for informed decision making by consumers.
  • Outline the rights of online investors and dispute resolution alternatives.

Shopping Online

  Bizrate
An independent shopping resource which evaluates online stores for safety, efficiency and quality.

  MySimon
Scans dozens of retail Web sites in real time to find current prices.

  SafeShopping.org
This informational site created and maintained by the American Bar Association is a must read for all who shop online. The goal of this site is to inform consumers about online issues including privacy, company reliability, and security.

 

Got questions? We have answers!
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Researched and Compiled by K. Sparks Fusco

 
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Ocean County Library, 101 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ 08753 | Tel. 732-349-6200
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