20 U.S. Government Agencies Protecting Consumers

There are many agencies in the United States dedicated to ensuring corporations are being ethical in all of their business practices. The goal of these agencies is to protect not just consumer rights but also the employees, competitors and the public from unfair or illegal business practices.

All regulatory organizations aim to establish and uphold the safeguards the government has put in place to protect others. The federal regulatory agency is a government body set up by legal legislation to oversee and enforce laws. There are many areas of business and consumerism, so there are many types of regulatory agencies.

10 Government Agencies that Deal with Consumer Protection

The majority of government regulatory agencies protect the rights of consumers in some fashion. While some are directly involved in consumer rights, others work to protect both employees and consumers or to improve safety conditions across an entire industry.

us consumer protection agencies

1. Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission or FTC has a goal of protecting consumers against unethical or illegal business practices. Created in 1914, the original purpose of the FTC was to be the government’s weapon against monopoles and companies in violation of the anti-trust laws.

This federal consumer protection agency expanded over time to protect customers from fraud and false advertising as well. Violations investigated and enforced by the FTC can take many forms, and many of the FTC cases are well known and well publicized.

When a company has been acting in a deceptive manner and hiding fees, forcing customers to pay additional charges, or continuing with shady business practices after having been warned, the FTC may step in to force the company into compliance. For example, according to the news found on theatlantic.com, Apple did not have any safeguards in place to prevent children from downloading in-game features and enhancements.

Children were creating bills for hundreds of dollars simply by clicking on things they wanted in apps and games. The FTC determined that Apple was responsible for failing to require mandatory safeguards and approvals and forced the company to reimburse customers and pay a fine of $32.5 million.

You can learn more about the safeguards and policies enforced by the agency by visiting the FTC website. If you have a concern about a company failing to follow mandatory regulations, you can report that concern to the FTC by contacting them at (202) 326-2222.

2. Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, was established in 1934 to regulate the interstate and international communications within the United States. Various forms of communication including radio, television, telecom, and internet as well as other forms of media fall under the jurisdiction of the FCC.

The FCC is a US consumer protection agency that has been involved in many changes in the industry over the years. Recently the FCC has been in headlines regarding the Net Neutrality decisions and appeals. The FCC established rules that prohibited providers from slowing down internet service or blocking websites for customers.

There has been a great deal of debate about net neutrality and the latest policies by the FCC require all internet traffic to be treated equitably by broadband providers.

To learn more about the FCC and its policies, visit the FCC website or just call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322.

3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps to safeguard customers when it comes to financial instruments and services. The CFPB is a consumer financial protection agency that regulates the financial industry to ensure that customers have full disclosures and information about credit cards, student loans, and mortgages.

Specifically, the CFPB monitors the fine print add-ons that companies use to minimize attention to details that can harm or confuse consumers. The CFPB also works directly with affected consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts affected customers in touch with counselors to provide financial planning and assistance with their financial obligations.

If you have been affected by harmful financial practices, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by phone at (855) 411-2372 to see what the agency can do to help. You can learn more about the services the organization provides by visiting the CFPB website as well.

4. Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, enforces federal safety standards. The consumer protection agency is designed to protect the public from injury or even death caused by products. The CPSC has been behind many fines and recall notices for everything from children’s clothing to car seats or even toys determined to be unsafe.

The CPSC also works to educate consumers about the risks of certain products and the age-appropriate guidelines for various products and toys. The CPSC regulates the toy industry to be sure that toys are labeled as appropriate for infants, toddlers, and older children.

The CPSC publishes guidelines for products like swimming gear for young children to better educate parents and caregivers about the risks water can present for young swimmers.

If you have concerns about a product and how it may be unsafe for consumers, consider contacting the CPSC. To contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you can visit the CPSC website or call the agency at 800-638-2772.

5. Food and Drug Administration

There are also safeguards in place to protect the food and drugs consumers ingest. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is responsible for administering food purity laws, testing the safety and effects of drugs and monitoring the safety of cosmetics.

The FDA is a customer protection agency that monitors companies to be sure the company is testing and ensuring quality and safety. If a manufacturer sells or provides a product that isn’t safe they can face fines and potentially criminal charges.

The FDA also creates or prompts recalls to protect customers from foods that have been determined to be unsafe. Based on the information found on the Consumer Reports website, recent recalls for lettuce and other vegetables that have been traced to cases of listeria were enacted by the FDA. Customer complaints about restaurants and the food they serve often fall under the administration of the FDA. It’s worth noting that complaints about service or nonfood related concerns are not FDA jurisdiction.

To check current recalls and legislation about food and drug safety, visit the Food and Drug Administration website. If you have concerns about the safety of cosmetics, food, drink or medicines, you can contact the FDA at 1-888-463-6332.

6. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, exists to protect pollution standards and other environmental concerns like air quality, the purity and safety of water sources, monitoring insecticides and monitoring refining emissions. The EPA is a consumer rights agency that offers customer protection when it comes to the safety of drinking water, recreational water and the air we breathe.

The EPA shows up routinely in the news for fining or otherwise punishing organizations and manufacturers who fail to meet environmental standards. Car manufacturers who produce autos that fail to meet emission standards, ATV companies who import and sell vehicles that emit too many pollutants, refineries whose emissions are over the allowed limits have all felt the financial sting of an EPA fine.

If you have environmental concerns about a manufacturer in regard to air or water quality, you can learn more about and contact the Environmental Protection Agency on the EPA website. You can also call the EPA directly by region or by concern using one of the many EPA hotlines.

7. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is a government regulatory agency that monitors and enforces the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or Title VII. The agency works to ensure fair employment without discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, or religion.

The EEOC works to do this by educating businesses about the regulations and the fair ways to treat their employees while also suing businesses who fail to follow these rules. If a company refuses to hire a qualified applicant based on their religion, sexual orientation or race, they are in violation of Title VII and the EEOC may pursue charges. The same is true if a company doesn’t hire a woman because she is pregnant.

If you feel you have been discriminated against at work based on one of the criteria of Title VII or you have been the victim of a hostile work environment, you can learn more about how to pursue a claim on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website or by contacting the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000.

8. National Labor Regulations Board

The National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, is an independent regulatory agency that works to enforce labor laws within the United States. The NLRB focuses primarily on collective bargaining and unfair labor practices when employees have complaints against a supervisor or supervisory management.

The NLRB cannot fine or bring legal action against a company or entity, but it can work through other government means to punish those who operate with unfair labor practices. The NLRB decides if employees have ample opportunity for collective bargaining, to oversee labor union representation for employees and to prevent and correct workplace requirements that are determined to be unfair.

The NLRB has shaped many workplaces over the year and has even influenced entities like Major League Baseball. The NLRB was credited by ending a baseball player strike over wage caps other hiring practices by the MLB owners. The NLRB ruled that players had the right to organize and collectively bargain against unfair practices.

You can learn more about the National Labor Regulations Board by visiting the NLRB website. If you are concerned about a company that may be in violation of NLRB regulations, you can contact the NLRB directly through your regional office.

9. Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, is the government agency tasked with regulating all aspects of civil aviation or flight for federal consumer protection. The FAA oversees the operation and construction of airports and also manages air traffic as well as the certifications required for air personnel and for aircraft. The FAA is also involved in protecting US interests and participants in commercial space flights.

The FAA regulates flight inspections and oversees new aviation technology as well as issuing consumer protection laws. The agency also investigates and can suspend or revoke pilot certificates.

The FAA is not often mentioned in main street media sources, but it is acting behind the scenes to establish regulations and improved qualifications for pilots to meet medical standards and to fly in various situations including those that can be considered hazardous to better protect passengers and employees alike.

You can learn more about the latest FAA regulations and updates by visiting the FAA website. If you have concerns about civil aviation or airline flights, you can contact the FAA’s consumer protection office directly at (866) 835-5322.

10. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The United States Department of Transportation created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, in 1970 to protect consumers on the roadways. The goal of the NHTSA is to reduce deaths, injuries and financial loss that can occur in vehicle accidents. The NHTSA also investigates designs of cars and vehicle equipment as well as oversees traffic laws.

The NHTSA also works to educate consumers about the safety of their vehicles and roadways by offering trainings about drunk driving, safety belts, air bags, and child safety seats. The NHTSA has posted recalls about vehicle safety. Issues the NHTSA has addressed include faulty airbags, safety violations with seatbelts, or issues with other defective car parts.

To learn more about the latest vehicle recalls or highway regulations, visit the NHTSA website or call the consumer protection agency phone number directly at 1-888-327-4236.

There are many consumer protection agencies in the United States including the ten listed above. The goal of these agencies is to protect consumers and improve their buying and the enjoyment processes of any number of goods and services. Government protection extends in virtually every industry to try and ensure safety and the rights of consumers in all areas.

 

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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