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Consumer Advocacy in the United States

By Candice Taylor in Consumer Advocacy
September 4th, 2011

US Consumers are protected by several governmental agencies who regulate business ethics in the United States. It is YOUR right to file a complaint if you feel that you have been wronged

consumersEach year and every year, millions of Americans fall victim to dishonest merchants, poorly operated service providers and predatory investment schemes. The losses to consumers total in the billions of dollars and often times consumers believe that there is no recourse outside of costly legal action to recover lost money from the business or person who defrauded them.

In the United States, consumer protection laws were created to facilitate fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information to consumers.

There are several government appointed agencies who regulate various sectors in which businesses operate in. Any business operating legally in the United States must conform to the standards set forth by these agencies and should a business fail to do so, they can be warned to improve, fined or have legal action taken against them.

It is of the utmost importance that when consumers feel they have been wronged by a business entity, that they file a complaint with the specific agency governing the practices and actions of the business in question.

In this article, I will try to bring together the different agencies in one place where consumers can find an appropriate legislative body to file a compliant in case they were defrauded.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Protecting Consumers Against False Advertising

FTC LogoThe Federal Trade Commission, also known as the FTC, is an independent agency of the United States government with the main goal being to protect US consumers and businesses by investigating specific concerns raised by reports from consumers and businesses, congressional inquiries, pre-merger notification filings, and/or reports in the media.

The Federal Trade Commission was established in 1914 during the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The main purpose at the time was to deal with anti-trust issues and to enforce the provisions of the Clayton Act.

Since it’s formation, the FTC’s duties have expanded to encompass the “Truth in Advertising” act which protects consumers against false advertising. Since the popularity of the internet and the rise of unscrupulous internet marketing, this currently the most active arm of the FTC.

Contact Information
Website : http://www.ftc.gov
Complaint Form : https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
Phone : 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
TTY: 1-866-653-4261

Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)
Protecting Consumers Against Investment Fraud

SEC LogoNot to be confused with the NCAA conference bearing the same acronym, The Securities Exchange Commission, also known as the SEC, is the governing body for enforcing securities laws and protecting consumers against fraudulent investments in the United States.

The SEC, as we know it, was established in 1934, during the Great Depression following the Stock Market Crash of 1929, to regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuse. It was founded by Congress as a means to provide an independent agency that would overlook the sale of stock and to ensure coporate reporting was not falsified.

The SEC is the regulatory body who pinched Bernie Madoff and Lou Pearlman for their ponzi scheme investments. The SEC also brought down corporate giants ENRON and WorldCom for their fraudulent accounting practices..

If you feel you have been the victim of a securities or investment fraud, you are urged to contact the SEC and file a complaint.

Contact Information
Website : http://www.sec.gov
Complaint Center : http://www.sec.gov/complaint/select.shtml
Other Contact : http://www.sec.gov/contact.shtml

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Protecting Consumers Health

FDA LogoThe Food and Drug Administration, also know as the FDA, is a consumer protection organization that deals with issues specific to food safety, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter medications, vaccines, medical devices, veterinary products and cosmetics.

The FDA falls under the Department of Health and Human Services which is a federal executive department. The agency was created under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 when he signed into law the Food and Drug Act .

Prior to Roosevelt signing the act into effect, there was no federal regulation on food products or pharmaceuticals in the United States. In the 1930’s the FDA’s role was increased due to outcry for even more stringent regulation of consumer goods due to complaints about cosmetics and other products that were causing fatalities.

In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the new, updated Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act into law which provided a wider scope for the agency.

Contact Information
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

Website : http://www.fda.gov
Phone: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Ensuring Safety in the Workplace

OSHA LogoThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA is the primary federal agency in charge of the enforcement of safety and health practices. The agency falls under the United States Department of Labor.

OSHA was created in 1970 by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and was signed into being by President Richard M. Nixon.

OSHA covers safety issues for workers in most private sector workplaces. Some of the changes OSHA has brought about are to make the modern workplace safer by providing adequate protection against dangerous or potentially fatal workplace environments.

Contact Information
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20210

Website : http://www.osha.gov
Phone : 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) Toll Free U.S.

Always remember, that as a US consumer you are protected and that while filing a consumer complaint against a fraudulent business, employer or merchant might not solve your situation with them, your report just might save the next poor victim down the road.


One Response to 'Consumer Advocacy in the United States'

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  1. Michal Stanfa
    posted on September 5th, 2011

    Fantastic article. I’m dealing with several these troubles and it’s nice to have these govt resources all here in one place.

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