Creative Consumer: Watchdogs Who Can Help You

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Government consumer agencies are far from perfect. They're overworked, understaffed and sometimes they get too cozy with the businesses they oversee. Increase your odds of success by asking multiple watchdogs for help. If you're persistent, you could get some satisfaction — and maybe even put a bad company out of business.

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

The Better Business Bureau (Consumer advice, links to local BBB branches and background checks on businesses.) www.bbb.org

Consumer Information Center (Order federal consumer publications or view them online. The Consumer's Resource Handbook is free and lists corporate customer service contacts plus state consumer agencies.) www.pueblo.gsa.gov

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (Rules and advice about banking and personal finance transactions.) www.fdic.gov

Federal Reserve Board (Information on banking, credit, loans. Lists of low interest credit cards.) www.federalreserve.gov

Federal Trade Commission (Articles on dozens of consumer topics, enforcement actions against bad businesses.) www.ftc.gov

First Gov for Consumers (Collection of consumer articles by various federal agencies.) www.consumer.gov

National Association of Attorneys General (Consumer news. Links to state attorneys general.) www.naag.org

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