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Involving Consumer Protection Agencies

There are a large number of consumer protection agencies in existence today. These are groups of people, some related to local government, some comprised of business groups, and some independent, dedicated to helping consumers resolve difficult issues. They are a place to consider turning to in the event that you run into a brick wall with a difficult company.

Here are just a few of the better-known organizations that you may wish to contact if you believe the company you are dealing with has defrauded you or broken the law in some way. There are many other consumer-related agencies as well, many of which may be local or particular to your geographical location:

  • Better Business Bureaus: As mentioned in this section on offline research resources, most larger communities have a BBB office that works to promote ethical dealings by local businesses. The BBB office will not try to take sides in a dispute, but may be able to help mediate a resolution with the vendor. Failing that, they will make a record of your complaint that can be seen by those who research the company in the future.
  • Local Law Enforcement Consumer Protection Agencies: Every jurisdiction has a government office or agency that is set up to handle complaints by customers against local businesses (and in some cases, even businesses that are not local). The exact nature of the agency varies by area; a good place to start looking is with your state's attorney general's office, or consumer affairs bureau. Note that you will have an easier time with local law enforcement if the party causing the problem is in the same jurisdiction.
  • The National Consumers League: This consumers group works to protect consumers from fraud and other problems, especially related to telephone and online sales. They operate the National Fraud Information Center as well as the Internet Fraud Watch. They can be reached at www.fraud.org.
  • The Fraud Bureau: A similar group, also devoted to helping consumers avoid fraud, especially online. Their web site is www.fraudbureau.com.

There are many other similar organizations out there; you can find many of them easily by using a good Web search engine. As you can see, you are far from alone in the event of severe problems with an unscrupulous vendor! The resources are there if you choose to use them to your advantage. Of course, there is no guarantee that these groups will be able to resolve your problem. However, at the very least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped others avoid that vendor.

Next: Involving The Media


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