Our national government makes a lot of information available to the public,
much of it free or at nominal prices. In particular, they maintain
a major source of consumer information at the Federal Consumer Information
Center ("FCIC") in Pueblo, Colorado.
Much of the content in FCIC documents is heavily influenced by corporate
interests, but if you keep that in mind you can learn some important things.
The FCIC's consumer publications provide advice you should have before buying
any one of a wide variety of products and services. It also publishes
news of product recalls, warnings about scams, and more.
If you have Internet access, you can download documents directly from the
FCIC Web site at www.pueblo.gsa.gov, and for those without Internet access
we have downloaded some of the FCIC publications. Our members can read
them on screen at our Center, and can order printed copies from the FCIC
if they desire (our office has blank order forms). Also, if you bring
in a blank floppy diskette we will copy any of the documents for you to take
home (except for the Consumer Action Handbook, which is too large to fit
on a diskette).
We plan to download additional documents, but below is a list of the documents
we have in hand as this newsletter goes to press. We will keep an updated
list on the bulletin board in the main activity room of the Center.
2002 Consumer Action Handbook– Advice to consumers on a wide variety of matters,
divided into pre-purchase (what to watch out for before buying), post-purchase
(how to complain) and consumer assistance (where to go for help). A
paper copy is free* from the FCIC.
Funerals: a Consumer Guide – Advice on planning, choosing a provider, determining
costs, information about cemetery sites, and where to obtain more information.
Price for a paper copy* from the FCIC is 50¢.
Where to Write for Vital Records – How to get copies of records such as birth,
marriage and death certificates, that are maintained in state or local government
offices. Price for a paper copy* from the FCIC is $3.
Spring, 2002 Consumer Information Catalog – A listing of government publications
on topics from cars to travel, “and more”, which can be ordered in printed
form. Some online publications also are listed. A paper copy
of the catalog is free* from the FCIC.
Your Right to Federal Records – A guide to the Freedom of Information Act
and the Privacy Act, and how you can use them. Price for a paper copy*
from the FCIC is 50¢.
Cosmetic Laser Surgery … - Risks and benefits of this new face-lift technique. A paper copy is free* from the FCIC.
How to Find Medical Information – Sources and methods. A paper copy is free* from the FCIC.
Buying a Computer – Practical advice on how to buy a computer that fits your
needs, with tips on protecting your computer and your data. A paper copy
is free* from the FCIC.
Making the Connection—How to Go Online – How to get online and choose the
best Internet service provider. Price for a paper copy*
from the FCIC is 50¢.
Cleaning Up Cosmetic Confusion – Facts on cosmetic ingredients as well as
advice on how to protect yourself from makeup misuse. A paper copy is free*
from the FCIC.
* All orders are subject to the FCIC’s $2 handling
fee. However, you can include several documents in one order.
Members can make arrangements to read the documents on screen at our Center
by calling the Center office (973-633-0734).
Thanks to member George Morris for bringing the FCIC to our attention.