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Marking Consumer Protection Week at the FCC

by: Howard Parnell , Chief, Web and Print Publishing Division, Consumer and Governmental Affairs

March 5, 2012

Looking out for consumers is a year-round job at the FCC, and Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity to take stock in our work, renew our commitments and note the achievements of our colleagues in other agencies.

The 21st Annual National Consumer Protection Week runs through March 10, with a variety of events planned in the nation’s capital and across the country. Activities range from an Illinois press conference calling for a ban on telephone bill cramming to a social-media powered national consumer Q&A. The week culminates with a Consumer Fraud Summit on Friday at Georgetown University, with Attorney General Eric Holder and the co-chairs of the Consumer Protection Working Group of the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Here at the FCC, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies. In recent weeks, we have targeted unsolicited pre-recorded telemarketing calls, known as “robocalls,” and collaborated with other commission colleagues on the recent Lifeline reform, a program vital to ensuring affordable communications for low-income consumers.

As Consumer Protection Week gets underway, CGB’s Web and Print Publishing Division is completing the latest comprehensive review of its Consumer Publications Library, which offers a wealth of advice and tips. The library contains approximately 175 consumer guides that are actively curated by the division, in collaboration with subject-matter experts throughout the agency, to ensure information available to consumers is reliable and up to date. The semi-annual check includes fresh editing in the spirit of the Plain Writing Act so that the expert guidance is clear, concise and appropriate for consumer audiences, and we welcome your feedback on making documents more consumer-friendly.  

New or recently refreshed guides include: Loud Commercials, Getting Broadband  Wireless 911 Services, Dial 211 for Essential Community Services and Hearing Aid Compatibility for Wireless Telephones. Guides are available in Spanish as well as English.

Consumer protection, education and empowerment takes many other forms at the FCC. There’s the Accessibility Clearinghouse, a directory of communications devices of particular interest to consumers with disabilities; the Broadband Speed Test, which lets consumers check the speed of their residential service; and improving the availability of information about residential broadband performance nationwide, to name just a few. Consumers may also turn to the FCC for help when problems with their product or service providers cannot be resolved. Complaints may be filed online or by contacting the FCC toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC, or 1-888-TELL-FCC (TTY).

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