Everyday Resources from Consumer.gov

Monday, October 15, 2012 at 6:10pm by Site Administrator

Federal government websites are not always the most consumer-friendly of places. Fortunately, after years of low-grade websites, federal officials have taken note and made sites more user-friendly. Consumer.gov stands as one of the best examples to date, with many related federal and nonprofit websites following suit. Find the friendly side of government advice and aid by using these resources.

Banking and Credit

Opening a Bank Account: What is a bank account? What do the different accounts do for me? Where can I create one? This section explains the answers to these questions and many more essential issues, including reasons why opening a bank account can be advantageous.

Using Debit Cards: Debit cards drive much of the commerce across the United States. Learn more about what a debit card is, what it needs to work properly, and how you get a debit card and use it safely.

Making a Budget: Managing money from month to month is a vital skill, but many Americans are unpracticed. Use this site to learn how a budget works, what one can do for you, and how to start creating one to end your debt and control your income.

Your Credit History: Confused about credit? Learn what your credit history is, what a credit report does, and how you play an active role in your own credit life. Ways to check your credit are also included.

Using Credit: This section pairs nicely with Your Credit History, showing how you build credit and how each credit decision you make affects businesses, banks, and your personal finances. If you are new to the credit world, find find your usage guidelines here.

Managing Debt: Using credit means creating debts. Read this section to understand how debt affects your finances, and what to do when your debts have started to get out of hand. The What To Do section offers valuable advice on talking to debt collectors.


Nutrition and Food Safety

Nutrition.gov: This USDA site combines nutrition news and advice into one website. The primary section is devoted to the latest food news, but you may be more interested in the columns. Search for ways to build a healthy diet, learn nutrition basics, and tackle specific issues like weight loss, supplements, and ethnic cooking.

FoodSafety.gov: Find information on food recalls because of contamination on this site. Learn more about how to safely prepare food and keep your kitchen clean. Subtopics are handily divided into food groups like fruits/veggies, dairy, and meat/fish.

USDA: Food Safety Education: This site is part fact sheets and part blog-like news items filled
with advice on how to eat right and avoid foodborne illnesses. Explore to find answers to your questions and locate videos or resources on seasonal food topics.

FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Here you can find much of the government-based science and research efforts that revolve around food safety. Look into information unique to a certain food, learn more about food packaging, or search for the latest studies and biotechnology trends.



Product Recalls and Warnings

Recalls.gov: Yes, all the U.S. recalls are gathered in this one site. Focus on the tabs, which divide recalls neatly based on product groups, such as food, medicine, and motor vehicles. You can also sign up for emails or browse through the most recent recalls.

USA.gov: Consumer Guides and Protection: This A-Z list makes it easy to search through consumer guides. Spend some time in the C’s to find resource like the Consumer Action Handbook, Complain about a Product or Service, and Consumer Product Safety Commission links.

U.S. Recall News: Produce Recalls 101: If you do not know much about recalls, start with this article. Its FAQs answer the basics and prepare you to learn more about the recall process and how it affects your products.

Saving Money When You Shop: Comparing prices is easy. This Commerce.gov section dives into the complex calculations desigend to help you understand the ways in which expensive product investments can help you save money in the long run.



Safety and Accident Prevention

FCC: Consumer Safety: In our digital world, the FCC has a lot to say about safety. This section highlights the dangers of using mobile communication when driving, using and protecting your personal information online, etc.

NCPW: The National Consumer Protection Week is an FTC campaign designed to highlight key consumer safety and awareness topics. Visit this site in order to get an in-depth understanding of what consumer protection can really entail.

HHS: Prevention: The Health and Human Services Department of the United States exists to help consumers and businesses encourage safe practices. Topics span your life, from immunizations and health screenings to diet and fitness, all focused on preventing health problems.

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: The CPSC is the center of accident prevention research in the United States. It offer suggestions for keeping a safe household or business and keeps you updated on ongoing consumer dangers.



Insurance and Healthcare

Healthcare.gov: This site covers multiple healthcare topics, but is especially helpful if you have any insurance questions or concerns that have surfaced as a result of treatment. There are also tools that let you compare healthcare options and seek low-cost or free care.

NAIC: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners devotes their website to tips for policyholders and those interested in buying insurance for themselves or their families.

AHRQ: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has created a section for consumers and patients that takes you through the basics of choosing healthcare and then ensuring that the care you receive is error-free. You can also look up information on specific conditions and medical treatments.



Aging and Elder Care

The Senior Alliance: This TSA website collects info on the aging population and offers general advice about living a healthy life in old age and dealing with senior citizens’ finances. It also keeps up on news and legislation important to senior citizens.

USA.gov: Senior Citizens Resources: Here you can find a collection of links for all aspects of senior care. If you are a caregiver, many resources will be useful for you. If you are a senior citizen, you can explore everything from retirement and housing to recreation and end-of-life issues.

Eldercare.gov: Use this government tool to search for assistance in your area – not just caregiver assistance, but help for food, finances, home repair, and specialized medical needs.

Aging.org: While this site is designed for the aging in California, it includes many national resources and news pieces as well. The sections are divided into members, consumers, and residents, each section with its own advice and guides.



Travel Health Information

Consumer Travel Alliance: This organization helps travelers connect with government offices and represent their interests at the federal level. It shows you how to watch out for travel scams, follow the right regulations, and find the most efficient travel options.

GSA: Travel Resources: The U.S. General Services Administration offers four different sections on travel, based on your needs. There are resources for business travelers, help for travel businesses, and advice for government travelers, among other types of aid.

U.S. Department of State: Travel: This travel guide offers excellent information on the legal hurdles travel presents. It also includes a complete emergency guide for international trips and provides many tips for safe travel based on which demographic you fall into, from families to the elderly.

USA.gov: International Travel: This simple list of links connects you with information on health, living abroad, exchanging currencies and other issues travelers frequently run into.



Public Health Assessment

HealthyPeople.gov: This site offers resources for people struggling with many different health issues, but it is also a source of information on current health date and the environmental data behind health issues.

EPA: Human Health: This collection of articles focuses on environmental causes of health problems and the general state of public health in the United States. Use it to narrow your focus down to one topic, like carbon monoxide or asthma.

CDC: Health Impact Assessment: The purpose of the health impact assessment is to rate the overall health of a particular community; the site then gives that community the tools they need to encourage healthier practices. The site includes a wealth of great info on issues from mental health to water quality.

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