Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 27: Becoming a Smart Consumer

Cases and Resources

Influences on Consumers
Consumer Protection
Protecting Your Rights as a Consumer
Direct Action by Consumers
Taking Your Case to Court

Influences on Consumers
Smart Shopping
Learn practical shopping techniques and how to decide if you need to buy something and if you can afford a luxury. Take note of the techniques advertisers use to get consumers to buy their goods.

The Field of Marketing
Marketing—advertising to consumers to encourage buying—has evolved into a large field. Those involved in marketing determine targets for advertising, how the advertising works, and why advertising works.

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Consumer Protection
The Federal Trade Commission
Browse through the consumer protection section of the FTC Web site and learn how the FTC helps consumers and businesses. What makes advertisements misleading or unfair?

The Consumer Product Safety Act
Read the Consumer Product Safety Act . Now read an explanation of the act.

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act
Read the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act . The government has passed laws to ensure that consumers have access to complete and accurate food labels on almost all packaged food in this country.

State and Local Consumer Protection Agencies
Browse through this listing of state and local consumer protection agencies. Find an agency that operates in your state or city. Some states have larger divisions for consumer protection than other states. How does your state compare with others?

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Protecting Your Rights as a Consumer
Solving Consumer Problems (After Purchase)
After a consumer has made a purchase, the consumer may not be stuck if he or she is unhappy with the quality of the purchase. Read the options available to a consumer who is not satisfied and how disputes can be settled.

Consumer Federation of America
This site educates consumers about products and services for children and adults, such as health care, food, and utilities.

National Safe Kids Campaign
This link provides information to consumers about issues of child safety.

Consumers Union
This site researches and compares all types of consumer products and services, from cars and appliances to banking and financial services. This is a good place to begin comparison shopping or conduct research before making a purchase.

Better Business Bureau
The BBB is an organization helpful in researching a company—such as an auto repair shop or home repair contractor—before you do business with them.

US PIRG State Directory
Use this site to learn more about what your state is doing to litigate or enforce consumer protection issues.

Federal Government Consumer Protection Agencies
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Department of Transportation (DOT)

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Direct Action by Consumers
Consumer Action
A consumer who takes action will be much more effective if he or she learns the best ways to send a message. This site offers consumers education on advocacy techniques as well as information on specific consumer areas.

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Taking Your Case to Court
Deciding Whether to Sue Someone
The first step in taking your case to court is determining if you have a good case and if the person or company you are suing can pay if you win. Read this article that helps a potential plaintiff decide if he or she has a case worth taking to court.

Press Release: Business Guilty of Criminal and Civil Crimes
When taking your case to court, be aware that a business may be guilty of criminal and civil crimes. Read this press release about a home improvement contractor who was found guilty of both criminal and civil crimes.

Small Claims Court
Read general information about small claims courts and learn how to prepare for a case. Does your state have a limit a plaintiff can seek in small claims court?

Co-op America: Ending Sweatshops
Explore the issue of sweatshops and what consumers can do about sweatshops. This site offers information on businesses that do not use sweatshops and advocacy tips for consumers who wish to get involved.

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