March 5, 2013 - 4:26 pm
By Kris Monteith | Acting Bureau Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) strives to make life better for the American consumer.  One way we work towards that goal is through partnerships like the one we have with the Federal Trade Commission in celebrating the 22nd Annual National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3-March 9, 2013.  National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. 

Here at the FCC, CGB is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies and for educating consumers about the work of the Commission.  We work diligently to ensure consumers have the information and tools available to help them make informed decisions.  For example, you can find consumer guides on our website on topics such as Cramming, Bill Shock, and Slamming.  Our Household Broadband Guide  can be used to compare minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate and high household use with one, two, three or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet or game console).  And you can compare typical online activities with the minimum Mbps needed for adequate performance for each application by using our Broadband Speed Guide.

CGB is the Commission’s outreach arm.  Our Bureau is out there at events answering questions, educating consumers about the functions of the FCC, and providing consumer information. We speak at libraries, senior centers, industry events, schools, religious institutions and lots of other places where consumers congregate. Not only do we provide information, but we also act as the Commission’s “ears” – listening to consumers and providing policy makers with feedback on how our rules and regulations are affecting them.

Our Consumer Center answers calls, emails and even letters from thousands of consumers on every issue involving telecommunications. Dedicated Consumer and Mediation Specialists (CAMS) take complaints, answer questions and walk consumers through the commenting process. We are able to handle calls from consumers who have sight and hearing disabilities, as well as those who speak Spanish.  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).

During this National Consumer Protection Week, events are taking place throughout the country with the sole purpose of empowering consumers.  For example, Fairfax County, VA, is hosting events on how to prevent identity theft, how to purchase a new television, how to hire a great contractor and even a "couponing” workshop.   Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General is hosting events this week focused on teaching Older Americans how to avoid scams and educating consumers on money management.  These are just two examples of the types of events going on all week across the country.

We hope you take advantage of all of the opportunities offered by your community during National Consumer Protection Week.  You can find more information on this and other consumer issues by visiting the Federal Trade Commission and FCC's web sites.