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Consumer Information Guide
Copyright © 1999-2013 Middletown Thrall Library
























General Consumer Information
Reviews, Advisories, & More

Address Changes
Address changes when you move - a one-stop site to change your address for the Post Office, driver's license, IRS, Social Security, veterans benefits and voter registration.
Consumer Action Handbook (current edition)
Online full text version available in .pdf, .htm and ASCII format. "Thousands of names, addresses, telephone numbers and electronic addresses of corporations, trade groups, state and local consumer protection offices and Federal agencies." Also, how to write a complaint letter, consumer tips and toll free numbers. (Adobe Reader required to view PDF documents.)
Consumer Information Publications
Full text versions of federal consumer publications organized by subject. "We used to be Pueblo.GSA.gov, but now we're Publications.USA.gov. This Federal Citizen Information Center site still offers important consumer information and publications to help you make important life decisions."
Consumer Reports Online
Some current articles and alerts available for viewing. Access to product safety and evaluations require a subscription.

Members of Thrall - Please Note: You can enjoy full access to Consumer Reports by logging into MasterFile Premiere through this link.
ConsumerSearch
Product reviews including ranking, analyzing reviews and summarizing the top-rated. Organized by broad categories. Easy to use.
Consumers International: The Global Voice for Consumers
The site provides access to valuable reports and articles on hot issues for consumers.
Consumer World
This is a public service site which includes links to consumer rights, discount travel and entertainment, mortgage rates, product reviews, money and credit, car dealer costs, arranged by category - over 1700 resources.
Epinions.com
An Ebay company. Provides consumer reviews of products from over 30 different categories
Product Recalls
Food products, cars, and more.
Shop Smart from Consumers Reports
Includes "news, advice, and smart ideas" for the consumer.
US Consumer Gateway
Provides links to federal information sites covering consumer issues under categories such as food, health, home, transportation, children, product safety, money, education and more. Good general site.
Viewpoints - Lets Review
"Viewpoints Network is a social technology and media company focused on helping consumers make smarter decisions. We specialize in building communities and motivating "social influencers" to share their experiences by writing reviews, blog posts, how to guides, participating in discussion boards and contributing and voting on ideas. We then help organize and present those contributions to help other consumers make well informed purchase decisions."



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Consumer Agencies, Organizations, & Advocates

Clark Howard
"Clark Howard is a Radio and TV consumer advocate who shows you how to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. His nationally syndicated radio show is heard every day on more than 200 radio stations throughout North America." Topics include: Business/Entrepreneurs, Cars, Consumer Issues/ID Theft, Deals, Economy and Markets, Education, Employment and Military, Environment and Energy, Family and Lifestyle, Health and Health Care, Homes and Real Estate, Insurance, Personal Finance and Credit, Scams and Rip-Offs, Shopping and Retail, Technology, and Travel.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
"The central mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans-whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products."
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
"Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations. By mobilizing more than 61,000 concerned citizens through our Action Center, EFF beats back bad legislation. In addition to advising policymakers, EFF educates the press and public."
Environmental Protection Agency
Targets public health and environmental issues caused by pollution such as radon exposure, pesticides, toxic chemicals and second-hand smoke. Offers ways you and your community can protect the environment.
Federal Trade Commission
FTC enforces federal antitrust and consumer protection laws. Emphasis on consumer education including telephone and online scams, bogus business opportunities, timeshare, leasing, credit card fraud and more. Includes current news releases and regional office information.
Food and Drug Administration
FDA monitors and ensures the safety and effectiveness of food, cosmetics, medicine and medical devices. Includes hot-lines, FAQs, brochure, an index and is searchable.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Site includes Auto Safety Hotline, recalls, crash test information, technical service bulletins, consumer complaints. Has hot topics, news, statistics and information on driver performance and injury prevention.
Social Security Administration
Top 10 most requested services including cost of living, hot to replace, correct or change your name on your social security card, Social Security Handbook, retirement benefits and how to contact local offices.
U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
CPSC was created to "protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products." Site includes product recalls, consumer research, hotline and contact lists.
U. S. Department of Agriculture - Food & Nutrition
Provides information on 15 food assistance programs, consumer education and outreach including food stamps, WIC, the school lunch program, nutrition for the elderly and more. Includes USDA fraud hotline, dietary guidelines and consumer affairs.
U. S. State Department
Good source for comprehensive travel information - passports, visas, travel warnings, Consular Offices. includes information on living overseas - cost of living, schools, marriage, dual nationality and career opportunities.

See also:



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Business & Companies

Better Business Bureau
Access business and consumer alerts, charity reports, membership lists as well as online complaint forms. Includes U.S. and Canada.
Better Business Bureau of New York
Locate local bureaus, discover which businesses received the most inquiries and complaints, file complaints online, access consumer alerts.
Empire State Development
"Dedicated to creating jobs and encouraging prosperity... providing one-step access to the entire array of the state's products and services for business." International and national, also includes statistics from the New York Data Center.
Know Your Contractor
From the Office of the New York State Attorney General, this database "provides New Yorkers the tools they need to make informed decisions when it comes to hiring a home improvement contractor. You can search to see which contractors have been subject to legal action, and which contractors have had substantiated consumer complaints filed against them."
New York State - Consumer Protection
Attorney General, Consumer Protection Board (Division of Consumer Protection), and more.



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New York State

Better Business Bureau of New York
Locate local bureaus, discover which businesses received the most inquiries and complaints, file a complaint online. Acess consumer alerts.
Department of Consumer Affairs - New York City
Includes Top Ten Tips, Consumer Protection Laws, online complaint forms, telephone hotlines plus links to the Office of the Mayor, city services and agencies, business resources as well as attractions and events.
New York State Consumer Protection Board
File a complaint online, read the Consumer Guide to Vehicle Leasing, check out recalls, alerts and consumer tips. Includes hot issues and brochures as well as providing links to other consumer sites. Clear nicely done site.
Office of the New York State Attorney General
Spotlights issues of local interest such as Megan's Law Hotline, patient abuse, on-line child pornography as well as general topics concerning money matters, environment, seniors, health, crime, family, Internet and doing business in New York.



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Consumer Information by Topic




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Auto

Auto Values
New, used, and trade-in values for cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
Autobytel
"Through its flagship website Autobytel.com, its network of automotive sites, including Car.com and MyGarage.com and its respected online partners, Autobytel continues its dedication to innovating the industry's highest quality Internet programs to provide consumers with a comprehensive and positive automotive research and purchasing experience, and auto dealers, dealer groups and auto manufacturers with one of the industry's most productive and cost-effective customer referral and marketing programs."
Buying a Used Car
Things to consider before purchasing used cars. Includes information on payments and options, automotive dealers and sales, manufacturer's warranty, implied and unexpired warranties, service contracts, vehicles and inspections, private sellers. Also available in Spanish / Español. From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Edmund's Automobile Buyer's Guide
Check prices on new and used vehicles, read about buyer's advice, road tests, incentives and rebates or use a VIN to perform a "carfax" history on a particular vehicle.
Governors Highway Safety Association
Links to highway safety laws by state or topics, such as cell phone use, helmets, child passenger safety, aggressive driving and more.
Motor Trend
"Motor Trend Magazine is an industry-leading automotive publication just celebrating its 60th anniversary. Its online presence features its trademark authoritative and unique editorial content including thousands of in-depth new and used car reviews, up-to-the-minute auto news, car videos and a prestigious auto blog run by top Motor Trend editors and contributors. In addition, both new and archived content from Motor Trend's print magazine is available online."
TireWise
"Because safety is our top priority, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation want to make sure you have the tools to avoid being in one of those 11,000 crashes. TireWise is your resource to help you make smart decisions to keep you and your family safe, whether you’re in the market to buy new tires or want to extend the life and safety of the ones on your car or truck. TireWise is also a resource for tire manufacturers, sellers and other partners to provide essential information to consumers for choosing and caring for their tires."
U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Automobiles
Some documents in PDF format require the Adobe Reader. Some documents are also available in Spanish:
Auto Repair Basics
Auto Service Contracts and Warranties
Auto Warranties & Routine Maintenance
Sections include: Auto Service Contracts, Consider the Alternatives: Alternative Fueled Vehicles and Alternative Vehicle Fuels, Gas Saving Products: Fact or Fuelishness, Low-Down on High Octane Gasoline, Taking the Scare Out of Auto Repair.
Automobiles: Buying Cars
Sections include: Auto Service Contracts, Buying a New Car, Buying a Used Car, Car Ads: Reading Between the Lines, Consider the Alternatives: Alternative Fueled Vehicles and Alternative Vehicle Fuels.
Understanding Vehicle Financing
Sections include: Car Ads: Reading Between the Lines, Keys to Vehicle Leasing, Renting a Car, Understanding Vehicle Financing, Vehicle Repossession: Understanding the Rules of the Road.
FuelEconomy.gov
Find and Compare Cars for gas mileage, emmissions, safety and more
Hybrid Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicles
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: "NREL works toward developing hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs); moving them from research and development to the marketplace."
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Independent, nonprofit organization "dedicated to reducing highway crash deaths, injuries and property damage losses." Includes crash tests and vehicle evaluations, relevant state laws on DWI, child safety restraints, helmet use, seat belts, statistics, and research.
Kelley's Blue Book
Site includes trade-in and retail values for used cars as well as new car pricing. Pick model, make and year; enter mileage, zip code and condition and submit for price information.
Lemon Law Guide
Includes Lemon Law Statutes by State
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Site includes Auto Safety Hotline, recalls, crash test information, technical service bulletins, consumer complaints, hot topics, news, statistics and information on driver performance and injury prevention.
SaferCar.gov
Presented by the NHTSA administration. Includes links to equipment and safety, recalls and defects, crash tests and complaints forms.
U.S. Government Auto Auctions
"GSA is the federal agency that buys fleet vehicles new and leases them to other federal agencies. When these vehicles complete their lease term we sell them to renew the government fleet". The website "provides lists of vehicles for sale, auction locations and times, and a description of the process. It also will link you directly to our available on-line vehicle sales."


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Charities

Organizations & Consumer Advisories
Charity Checklist
A list of considerations and recommended precautions for consumers from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
CharitiesNYS.com
"The New York Attorney General's one-stop resource for charitable organizations, fundraisers, grantmakers and members of the public." Includes "Pennies for Charity" (the Attorney General's Report on Fundraisers in New York State) and a Charities Bureau Registry search engine.
Charity Navigator
Self-described as "an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best-known charities." Includes Tips for Giving in Times of Crisis.
Charity Scams
"Here are tips to help make sure that your charitable contributions actually go to the cause you support." From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Information and FAQs for Charitable Donors
Sections include: Check Out a Business Charity, Inquire or Complain, Charity Reports and Standards. From the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Tax Information for Charities and Other Non-Profits
Forms and instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

See also:


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Classifieds

Craigslist
"Local classifieds and forums for more than 550 cities in over 50 countries worldwide." (Please read their Terms of Use and advisory "Avoiding scams and fraud")
New York Times Classifieds
Times Herald-Record: Classifieds
See also:


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Computers & the Internet

General Advisories & User Safety Issues
Better Business Bureau (BBB): Computer, Internet, and Technology
Alerts, advisories, tips, and related articles of interest to consumers.
Computer Security
Topics include: "Free" Security Scans, Cookies: Leaving a Trail on the Web, Laptop Security, Mobile Devices, and Networks. From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Cyber Bullying Information Center
"To help parents, educators, and others better understand, prevent, and take action against this growing concern, ebrary is subsidizing a collection of e-books on cyber bullying."
FairSearch.org
"FairSearch.org is a group of businesses and organizations united to promote a healthy Internet future, where economic growth is driven by competition, transparency and innovation in search verticals and online services. We believe in enforcement of existing laws to prevent dominant companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior and to protect investment and choice across the Internet ecosystem."
Free Software Foundation (FSF)
"The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users."
Computer Antivirus Software - How to Remove a Virus
From How Stuff Works.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month
From the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
OnGuard Online - Kids and Socializing Online
"Social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds, and blogs are how teens and tweens socialize online; it's important to help your child learn how to navigate these spaces safely." site includes a PDF copy of NET CETERA - Chatting with Kids About Being Online.
OnGuard Online - Your Safety Net
"The Federal Trade Commission has created this website for consumers and businesses as a source of information about computer security and safeguarding personal information".
Stop. Think. Connect.
"The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign is a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online." From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
StopBullying.gov
"StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying."
Tech Support Scams
Topics include: How Tech Support Scams Work, If You Get a Call, If You've Responded to a Scam, computers, and malware. From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Buying a Computer - Tips & Product Reviews
CNET
Computer product reviews, price comparisons, and related technology news. Includes information about desktop PCs, laptops, netbooks, printers, and other computer parts / equipment / peripherals.
Computer Shopper: Buying Guides
Tips on purchasing a computer. Topics include: Desktops (Performance, Budget, Midrange, Entertainment), Laptops (Budget, Desktop-replacement, Ultraportable, Tablets), Components (CPUs, Motherboards, RAM [Random Access Memory]), Graphics Cards / GPUs, Printers (Inkjet, Laser, Multifunction), Networking / WI-FI, Monitors (LCD, LED displays), Hard Drives (internal, external), CD / DVD Burners, Digital Cameras and Camcorders, Cell Phones, MP3 Players, HDTV televisions, and Home Theater Systems. Includes terminology and specifications. See also their Computer Reviews page.
Laptop Magazine: Buying Advice
Things to consider before purchasing mobile computing devices such as laptops, netbooks, smart phones, eReaders, and other electronic gadgets.


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Credit

AnnualCreditReport.com
AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report and credit scores. Sponsored by Equifax, TransUnion, Experian credit reporting agencies.
CardHub
Includes advance searching options, credit advice and card comparisons, a credit estimator and debt help.
CardRatings.com
A comprehensive site, useful for comparing credit cards and explaining numerous credit issues.
Credit Card Repayment Calculator
From the Federal Reserve. "Welcome to the Federal Reserve's Credit Card Repayment Calculator. Based on the information you provide, the calculator will give you an estimate of how long it will take you to pay off your credit card balance. The calculator assumes: you make no more charges; and you make only the minimum payment each month. A second calculation can help you develop a plan for paying off your balance sooner."
Credit Cards
"The CFPB maintains a database of credit card agreements from more than 300 card issuers"/ Submit a credit card complaint. From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Credit Reporting Agency: Equifax
See also these agencies: Experian, TransUnion. Credit reports and scores.
Credit Reporting Agency: Experian
See also these agencies: Equifax, TransUnion. Credit reports and scores.
Credit Reporting Agency: TransUnion
See also these agencies: Equifax, Experian. Credit reports and scores.
CreditCards.com
Identity theft sample letters. This step-by-step guide can help you regain your name.
DebtAdvice.org
"DebtAdvice.org is designed to help consumers understand the wise use of credit and locate a trained, certified counselor if you are in need of assistance. DebtAdvice.org is a service provided by the members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, (NFCC), most of them known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS)." Also available in Spanish / en Español.
Federal Reserve Board - Choosing a Credit Card
Comparison shopping for credit cards, including a Credit Card Owner's checklist, definition of terms and calculation of finance charges.
Federal Reserve Board - Consumer Credit
Web articles for Consumers, including: "5 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Credit Card," "5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score," "Choosing a Credit Card," "Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws," "Your Credit Report: What it Says about You."
National Foundation for Consumer Credit
Straightforward information, including addresses and telephone numbers, on how to get a copy of your credit report. Also has information on credit counseling and bankruptcy. Includes FAQs.


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E-Commerce

Business Law & Regulations
From Small Business Adminstration (SBA).
E-Commerce: Selling Internationally - A Guide for Businesses
From FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection - Business Center.
SBA.gov - Online Businesses
Topics include: Start a Business, Register a Domain Name, Select a Web Host, Design Your Website, Begin Advertising and Marketing, and links to Laws and Regulations.
Selling Online: E-Commerce Toolbox
"This site brings together information and resources the U.S. Department of Commerce and other U.S. government agencies offer to U.S. businesses interested in using the Internet to increase exports." Topics include: Are you E-Commerce Ready?, E-Commerce Site Types, E-Payments and Taxes, E-ssentials, Guide to Going Online, Identify Your E-Markets, Internet Markets, Licensing, Pricing, Shipping, Tariffs, Web Market Development, What is E-Commerce? From Export.gov.
Starting an Online Business
Topics include: Register a Domain Name, Select a Web Host, Design Your Website, Begin Advertising and Marketing, Comply with Online Business Regulations, Find State and Local Compliance Information, Learn Federal, State, and Local Tax Requirements, Understand International Trade Laws and more.

See also the Shopping section in this guide.

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Elections

Can I Vote
"This site was created by the nation's chief state election officials to help make voting as simple and convenient as possible." Includes where and how to register to vote, find a polling place, information on candidates."
Election 2012
Thrall information guide about the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. Contains websites about major parties, issues, voter registration, news, and more.


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Energy

Ask PSC
New York State's Public Service Commission created this website to inform consumers about energy efficiency programs, energy related financial assistance, and energy tax credits. The information will help residential and business consumers get the most out of their energy dollar.
Consumer Energy Information - EREN
Energy efficiency and renewable energy network from the Department of Energy. Includes fact sheets on insulation and other ways to save energy, clearinghouse information on energy-efficient applications, solar power, windows, technology and reference briefs on technologies for lighting, heating and cooling.
Energy Guide
Complete resource for free, unbiased advice about today's energy choices. Find gas and electricity values in your area and learn about energy efficient products.
Energy Star
"ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency."
Federal Weatherization Assistance Program
The program provides help to low-income families in making their homes more energy efficient.
Shopping for Home Appliances? Use the EnergyGuide Label
From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).


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Environment

EPA for the Concerned Citizen
Gateway to issues about home, school, work and community, including air and water quality, chemical exposure searchable by zip code, regulations. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Going Green
"Sustainable Living, Eco-friendly Advice and Alteratives, Environmentally-mindful Lifestyle and Learning Resources for Individuals, Businesses, Organizations, and Everyone Else." Directory of web and library resources. Created by Middletown Thrall Library.

See also: Energy and Recycling

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Freedom of Information

FAQ - Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
From the New York State Department of State - Committee on Open Government.
Office of the New York State Comptroller - Freedom of Information Law (How to file a FOIL request)
A complete list of FOIL contacts at other state agencies is also available.
Using the New York State Freedom of Information Law
Although created by the NYCOSH website, the basics for submitting or appealing a FOIL request in NYS are included.
Freedom of Information, Privacy Act and Web Inventories
Agencies' priorities and schedules for posting information. - includes overviews and FAQs


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Fraud

Fraud.org
"Fraud.org is a project of the National Consumers League (NCL), a nonprofit advocacy organization. Thousands of consumer complaints are collected by the Fraud.org staff and shared with our network of more than 90 law enforcement partners." Also include see also references to New York State - Housing Ready Reference - Lotteries Consumers - Agencies, Indentity Theft, Selling, and Websites
StopFraud.gov
Financial Fraud Enforcement Taskforce - includes Identity Theft, Mortgage Fraud and Credit Card Fraud. How to protect yourself, help for victims of fraud and reporting fraud


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Health

Affordable Care Act & Health Care Reform - Scams & Hoaxes
Consumer advisories from the FTC, BBB, and others.
Cosmetic Ingredient Review
"The Cosmetic Ingredient Review was established in 1976 by the industry trade association (then the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, now the Personal Care Products Council), with the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America. We review and assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner, and publish the results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature." See also Personal Care Products Council and their Consumer Ingredient Information page.
Health Information Guide
Library and Web resources. Directory provided by Middletown Thrall Library.
Health Insurance
Websites to help you learn about and compare health insurance plans in and beyond New York. Directory from the Thrall's Health information guide.
Health Privacy Project
Includes "Plain English" explanations of individual rights under the Privacy Laws, links to summaries of State health privacy statutes, resources, articles and more user-friendly and understandable.
Healthfinder.gov
A government web site which acts as a gateway to health and human services information. Site includes "online publications, clearinghouses, databases, web sites and support and self-help groups, as well as ... government agencies and not-for-profit organizations." From National Health Information Center.
Hospital Compare
The site includes information on hospitals, quality measures, your rights and more. May be searched using zip code, hospital name or other geographic limits. From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
MedWatch
The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (includes drugs and medical devices). From the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
New York Prescription Savings Program ProAct Pharmacy Services
This program has been developed by your County Executives and the County Legislatures to help lower the prescription drug cost for County residents. There is no charge to you or the County to belong to this program.
Prescription Drug Prices in New York State
"The New York State Board of Pharmacy publishes an annual list of the 150 most frequently prescribed drugs, in the most common quantities. The New York State Department of Health collects retail price information on these drugs from pharmacies that participate in the Medicaid program and from pharmacies that submit their retail price information directly to the Department of Health. This site allows you to search for specific drugs from the most frequently prescribed drug list."
Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
"Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group."


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Identity Theft

Government Information for Consumers
Avoiding Identity Theft
"What It Is, What to Know, What to Do." From Consumer.gov.
Identity Theft
Sections include: Fraud Hotline, ID Theft, How ID Theft Happens, Reduce Your Risk, What to Do if a Victim, OIG Investigates, School Responsibility, Scholarship Scams, Lessons Learned from Identity Theft Investigations. From the Office of Inspector General. (Some documents require the free Adobe Reader.)
Identity Theft Affecting Your Tax Records
From the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number
From the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Identity Theft and Your Tax Records
From the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Identity Theft, Fraud or Misuse of My Social Security or Medicare Card
From the Social Security Administration (SSA)
Identity Theft Resource Page
Sections include: Strengthening Federal Efforts To Protect Against Identity Theft, The President's Identity Theft Task Force, Remarks By The President After Meeting With Victims Of Identity Theft. From the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy, U.S. Treasury.
Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do
PDF document. From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In the Spotlight: Identity Theft
Sections include: Facts and Figures, Legislation, Publications, Programs, Training and Technical Assistance, Grants and Funding, Related Resources. From National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), U.S. Department of Justice.
OnGuardOnline.gov
"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." Sections include: Stop/Think/Click: An Overview of Safer Computing, Identity Theft, Internet Auctions, Spyware, Wireless Security, Phishing, Social Networking Sites, Spam Scams, Online Shopping, Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Cross-Border Scams. (To view some documents you may need the free Adobe Reader.)

Onguardonline.gov is also available in Spanish/en español at Alertaenlinea.gov : "Alerta en Línea ofrece recomendaciones prácticas brindadas por el gobierno federal y la industria tecnológica para ayudarlo a protegerse contra el fraude en el Internet, mantener su computadora segura y proteger su información personal."
Phishing
"When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it's called phishing." The FTC guide to how to deal with and report Phishing.
Phishing, Identity Theft and Scams
From the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Privacy and Identity Theft
Topics include: Data Security Breach Information, Facebook Privacy and Safety Tips, Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself, Wireless Internet Tips. From the New York State Attorney General's Office.
Recovering from Identity Theft
"What It Is, What to Know, What to Do." From Consumer.gov.
Suggested Steps to Reduce Your Vulnerability to Identity Theft
From the U.S. Treasury.
Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft
Sections include: How Identity Theft Occurs, Identity Theft Victims: Immediate Steps, Resolving Specific Problems, Staying Alert, Minimizing Recurrences, Appendix (It's the Law, Federal, State, Instructions for Completing the ID Theft Affidavit, The ID Theft Affidavit, Annual Credit Report Request Form. From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
U.S. Postal Inspection Services: Identity Theft
"Tips to help you avoid identity theft."
You Can Fight Identity Theft
"Internet pirates are trying to steal your personal financial information. Here's the good news - you have the power to stop them." From the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)


Other Information
Identify Theft Resource Center (ITRC)
Includes a Data Breach List of current and past breaches. Their stated mission is to "provide best in class victim assistance at no charge to consumers throughout the United States; educate consumers, corporations, government agencies and other organizations on best practices for fraud and identity theft detection, reduction and mitigation; provide enterprise consulting and outsourced services related to information breach, fraud and identity theft."


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Insurance

Health Insurance
Websites to help you learn about and compare health insurance plans in and beyond New York. Directory from the Thrall's Health information guide.
Insurance News Network
Provides access to information on health, auto, home and life insurance. Includes free quotes, articles on recent issues, ratings from Standard and Poors and a glossary of terms.


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Job and Career

InterJob Search


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Law

ABA Network - American Bar Association
Site includes a major heading for Public Information including legal assistance and consumer publications. It is searchable by keyword or includes a comprehensive subject listing leading to relevant sites.
Center for Responsive Politics
Nonpartisan, searchable site which includes a lobbyist database, information on PACs, profiles of presidential candidates, links to politicians, political parties and more. Look up your Senator or Representative, search the White House, read articles or find out Primary dates.
Consumer Law Resources
From the Law resource web guide provided by Middletown Thrall Library.


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Money & Investing

Bankrate.com
Mortgage news and rates, CD rates, auto loans, credit cards, and more.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Division of Enforcement investigates violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. Include consumer warnings. Information is available on the CFTC reparations program, areas of the relavent law, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses necessary to submit a complaint and how to find out if a firm has been found liable by the Commission.
Consumer Information Brochures
From the Federal Reserve Board - includes information on credit cards, mortgages, vehicle leasing, home equity, checks and more
Federal Reserve Board
Consumer information is available on vehicle leasing, home mortgages, credit cards, filing complaints about a bank and the Community Reinvestment Act. Also includes reports to Congress and links to related web sites, such as FDIC Consumer News.
Looking for the Best Mortgage
From the Federal Reserve Board
Money Matters
Sections include: Scam Watch, Credit Cards, Managing Your Money, Dealing with Debt, Your Home, Jobs. From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Also available in Spanish / Español.
MyMoney.gov
"MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government's website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are buying a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k), the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you maximize your financial decisions. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 Federal agencies and Bureaus designed to help you make smart financial choices."
U. S. Savings Bonds Online
U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission
"Its primary purpose is to provide the investing public with a reliable source of investment guidance, advice, and information so that they may make wise investing decisions." Includes information on securities fraud. Best known for the EDGAR Database of company financial filings. Also includes investor assistance and complaints.

See also our Investment and Personal Finance guide

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Privacy Issues

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
"EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values."
Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) - Privacy Resources
Includes Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Consumer Privacy Guide, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and more.
Privacy Law
Websites from Thrall's Law resource web guide.


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Records / Certificates / Social Security Cards

Address Changes
Address changes when you move - a one-stop site to change your address for the Post Office, driver's license, IRS, Social Security, veterans benefits and voter registration.
How to Obtain Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Certificates
Search alphabetically by State for information needed to request birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. Includes fees and special notes.
My Social Security
At each stage of your life, my Social Security is for you. Your personal online my Social Security account is a valuable source of information beginning in your working years and continuing throughout the time you receive Social Security benefits.
Replace Your Vital Documents
Official information and services from the U.S. government. Sections include: Address Change (How to change your address with government agencies), Bank Records (Financial tips and resources for disaster recovery), Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates (Where to write for your vital records), Damaged Money, Document Restoration - Fires and Floods, Drivers' Licenses and Vehicle Registration, Federal Civilian Personnel Records , Immigration Documents, Medical Information Forms, Medicare Card Replacements, Military Service Records, Passports, Savings Bonds Recovery, School Records, Social Security Card Replacements, Tax Returns.
Social Security Administration (SSA): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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Recycling & Trading

General Information about Recycling
Earth911
"Find recycling centers and learn how to recycle."
Going Green: Recycling
A directory of recycling information on the web.
Going Green: Waste
A directory of recycling information on the web
Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products?
From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Local Recycling Information (Orange County and New York State)
New York State: Information on Recycling Used Electronics
From the New York State Government website.
New York State: Learn about Recycling
From the New York State Government website.
Orange County, NY Government: Environmental Services - Recycling
Household Hazardous Waste Days, Notices of Collection Events, Rates

Online Recycling Communities ("Free Recycling" / Gifts & Exchanges / Trading)
Freecycle.org
"Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." Search for or browse local groups by state/county. (Please read their Terms of Service / Disclaimer)
FreeUse.org
"Our goal is to reduce waste by connecting people (via the power of the Internet) who would otherwise throw away unwanted items with others seeking those same items."
Sharing Is Giving
"This site of group links was made in the love of the idea that we can make a difference in our communities as freecyclers. What are freecyclers you may ask. Freecyclers are folks that have used items that are not being used that are just to good for the landfills. These folks post the items on a freecycling group such as Sharing Is Giving and freecycle it to a neighbor." (Please read their disclaimer.)

See also the Classifieds section in this guide.


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Seniors

American Association of Retired Persons
Serving the needs of people 50 and older through education, advocacy and community services. Site offers information on managed care, Social Security, reverse mortgages, financial planning and volunteer and community programs, independent living sites and special articles on issues such as learning about the Internet.
Benefits Check Up: A Service of the National Council on Aging
"Many older people need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities and other basic needs. Ironically, millions of older Americans -especially those with limited incomes - are eligible for but not receiving benefits from existing federal, state and local programs. Ranging from heating and energy assistance to prescription savings programs to income supplements, there are many public programs available to seniors in need if they only knew about them and how to apply for them."
Eldercare Locator
Community Assistance for Seniors, search by type of service and geographical location. Sections include: "Locate Medicare Prescription Drug information and assistance in your community" and "Health Insurance Counseling" (option appears after you begin searching).
Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program
"A New York State sponsored prescription plan for senior citizens who need help paying for their prescriptions."
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information
"This web site was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide information and resources to help you and your family plan for future long-term care (LTC) needs." Sections include: Definitions and Risks, Services and Providers, Costs and Paying, Planning Steps, Cost of Care, Public Programs, and Private Financing.
Nursing Home Compare
"To provide detailed information about the past performance of every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country."
Senior Guide to Fighting Fraud
From the office of Minnesota's Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, this site lists particular frauds and schemes directed toward seniors - how to tell if something is a fraud and what to do about it. Site includes a comprehensive guide to Seniors Legal Rights. PDF file: requires Acrobat Reader
Social Security Administration (SSA): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

See also: GovSites: Seniors

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Shopping

Jump to:

Coupons - Tips and Advisories
AdMongo.gov
"This Federal Trade Commission campaign aims to educate tweens (kids ages 8 to 12) about advertising so they can become more discerning consumers of information. The goal of the campaign is to boost advertising literacy by: Raising awareness of advertising and marketing messages; Teaching critical thinking skills that will allow tweens to better analyze and interpret advertisements; Demonstrating the benefits of being an informed consumer." Includes information for parents and teachers.
Bait and Switch" Coupon Scams Promise Savings, Deliver Spam
From the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB).
Coupons and Bargains
Couponing 1010, tips on local bargains, Where to Find Coupons and more. From About.com.
OnGuard Online: Online Shopping - Quick Facts
Basic tips for online shoppers. See also their pages on Internet Auctions. From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Safe Shopping
"This informational site, created by the American Bar Association, will help you order safely when shopping online." Topics include: Security (Secure Internet Connections, Phone-In Option, Passwords, Viruses), Privacy, Sellers, Product ("What Are You Buying?"), Terms (Legal Terms, including Warranties and Disclaimers), Delivery, Records, and consumer complaints.


Coupons - Local Coupons and Special Offers
HudsonValley.com: Coupons and Promotional Offers
Orange County Chamber of Commerce: Coupons
Orange County, NY.
Orange County Tourism: Special Deals


Shopping - Price Comparisons
NexTag
"NexTag is a price comparison site where shoppers find great deals on their favorite products. We provide side-by-side comparison of latest prices, including tax and shipping, from a wide variety of sellers and stores. We also provide helpful information on sellers to help shoppers decide where to order from."
PriceGrabber.com
"At PriceGrabber.com, savvy shoppers can instantly find and compare millions of unique products and services contained in 25 channels, such as Clothing, Babies & Kids, Books & Magazines, Cell Phones, Plans & Accessories, Computers, TV's, Furniture and Cameras. The website also offers shoppers the ability to view and compare over thousands of merchants and sellers and their respective pricing information for products and services, thereby enabling users to ultimately find the right product from the right merchant at the best price."
Shopper.com
"Shopper.com helps you find the right product at the right price when you're shopping online. Shopper.com has an extensive technology catalog, thousands of professional product reviews, user opinions, and the best prices for computers and consumer electronics." From CNET.


Shopping - Tips and Advisories
ShopSmart
Online edition of a magazine exploring various shopping topics. Free select articles from past issues are available (Adobe Reader PDF format). From Consumer Reports.
Shopping and Saving
Includes: Buying Plans, Clothing and Textiles, Home Improvement, Jewelry and Art, Legal Services, Travel, and Rights. From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Shopping from Home - General Tips
From the U.S. Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC).


Shopping - Directories and Search Engines
Flit
"flit.com is a tool to make online shopping easier: enter your shopping search just once - then flit to multiple sites and see your search results with a single click."
Google Products
Search or browse for products and compare prices from different stores.
Hudson Valley Shopping Guide
Browse stores by category. From Hudson Valley Magazine.
Orange County Tourism: Antiques and Shopping
Click the "Antiques and Shopping" link for options including auctions, factory outlets, and shopping centers. Orange County, NY.


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Small Business

Online Business
Topics include: Protecting Your Customers' Privacy, Collecting Sales Tax Over the Internet, Selling Internationally and Exporting, Online Advertising and Marketing, Digital Rights and Copyright. From the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).


See also:




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Telecommunications

Charges on Your Wireless Phonebill
From the FCC. This site helps explain charges on your wireless phone bill.
Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act
The Commission adopted rules on December 13, 2011 that require commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. The rules became effective on December 13, 2012, one year after the date of their adoption.
Federal Communications Commisssion (FCC) - File a Complaint
Includes complaint forms and instructions for the following categories: Disability Access to Communications Services and Equipment Details Junk Fax Details Telemarketing, Prerecorded Messages, Caller ID Spoofing, and Do-Not-Call Details Wired Telephone Details Wireless Telephone Details Broadband Service and VOIP Details Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues Details Tower Light Outages or Signal Interference Details.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - For Consumers
Find answers to your questions on Internet, radio, satellite Dish, telephone, cellular phone and TV and cable broadcast. File a complaint.
Lifeline and Link-up
"Telephone service is considered a necessity for daily modern life. Yet the cost of starting and maintaining such service may be too high for some consumers. Under Congressional mandate, the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) supports the Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up America programs. These programs provide discounts on basic monthly service and initial installation or activation fees for telephone service at the primary residence to income-eligible consumers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with the help of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), administers the USF."
National Do Not Call Registery
New York State Consumer Protection Board "Do Not Call" Telemarketing Registry
Pre-register to block telemarketers.
SafeLink Wireless
"SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month for income-eligible customers."
Telemarketing Scams
Topics include: Signs of a Telemarketing Scam, How They Hook You, Why They're Calling You, and How to Handle an Unexpected Sales Call.From the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
TRAC: Telecommunications Research & Action Center
How to file a complaint with the FCC, choosing long distance plans, compare wireless plans, and the latest news in telecommunications.
"Unwanted Faxes: What Can You Do"
from the FTC


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Travel

Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement
"Consumer protection compliance and enforcement activities relate to areas such as unfair and deceptive practices and unfair competition by air carriers and travel agents, deceptive airline advertising (e.g., fare, on-time performance, schedule, code sharing, etc.), and violations of rules concerning denied boarding compensation, ticket refunds, baggage liability requirements, and charter flights."
Cheap Tickets Inc.
Includes flights, car rentals, hotels, cruises and more. Register is required.
Currency Rates and Information
Up-to-date foreign exchange rates. Enter any dollar amount to convert to one of 164 foreign currencies. Includes explanation of results.
FAA - Air Traffic
Check here for flight information including airport status and delays; includes links to airports, regulations, aircraft and training.
Health Information for International Travel
Site lists disease outbreaks, sanitation inspection of cruise ships, immunization recommendations and food and water precautions.
National Traffic and Road Closure Information
Click on a State and get road conditions, weather alerts, construction sites and more. Follow your travel route, even includes some real time camera views!
Passport/Visa Services
Download an application, read information about lost or stolen passports, go to links for visas and vital records. List passport agencies.
Transportation Security Administration: For Travelers
Includes travel tips, wait times, prohibited items, FAQs and more.
Travel Warnings
U. S. Department of State recommends that Americans avoid travel to certain countries due to terrorist threats or local conditions. Site has Consular Information Sheets with location of embassies, health conditions, security information and more.


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Websites

Common Sense Media: Websites
Website reviews and recommendations for families / parents / guardians.
SiteJabber
Described as "a consumer protection service which helps people avoid fraudulent websites." You can read reviews posted by other people or submit reviews of your own as a member of the SiteJabber community. Community members and their reviews are rated (please see their Authority FAQ for more details).


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