FTC launches National Consumer Protection Week

The Federal Trade Commission this week, in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies and national advocacy organizations for consumer protection and education, launched its ninth annual National Consumer Protection Week.

This year’s theme, “Read Up and Reach Out. Be an Informed Consumer,” encourages consumers to arm themselves with knowledge about scams and share it with friends and families.

According to the FTC, informed consumers are better able to see through frauds and deceptions, whether they take the form of questionable claims in an ad, “act now” offers that come in the mail or e-mail, or Web sites promoting schemes that sound like sure-fire successes.

To promote the concept, the FTC and other groups participating in the program have launched the National Consumer Protection Week Web site at www.consumer.gov/ncpw, which contains practical information for consumers and businesses.

For organizations that want to promote the week, there is also an “Outreach Toolkit” online with resources like a press release, PowerPoint presentation, newsletter article, radio PSA scripts, National Consumer Protection Week logos and Web banners.

The National Consumer Protection Week has sponsors like the FTC, the Federal Citizen’s Information Center, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Other sponsors are the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, the National Consumers LeagueAARP, the Better Business Bureau, Call for Action, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Association of Attorneys General.

These groups are partnering at hundreds of events across the country to educate consumers about fraudulent schemes and to provide them with the tools and information needed to combat fraud.

During National Consumer Protection Week, Ponemon Institute LLC also made available its “2007 Privacy Trust Study of the United States Government,” which found that Americans have rated the USPS the No. 1 government agency they trust to protect their privacy for the third year in a row.

The national study is from the Elk Rapids, MI-based Ponemon Institute, which is focused on independent research and education for responsible information and privacy management practices within business and government.

The goal of the study is to understand the level of confidence Americans have in the many government agencies that routinely collect and use the public’s personal information.

The USPS retained the top spot with a privacy trust score of 83 percent. It also is one of the few federal agencies able to increase its customer satisfaction and trust scores.

The Privacy Trust Study identified 10 factors, ranging from a sense of security when providing personal information to secure Web sites and access to personal information, in ranking federal agencies. More than 7,000 adults were surveyed.

Also concluded in the Privacy Trust study findings was that Americans remain concerned over a “loss of civil liberties and privacy rights,” “surveillance into personal life” and “monitoring e-mail and Web activities.” One of the most pressing issues for consumers is identity theft, the study found.

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