Wednesday, April 24

January 2008

Gift returns: New rules require new tactics
from Consumer Reports provides tips for successfully returning items received during the holidays.

This cross-agency U.S. Government site provides the current Air Quality Index and forecasts for the nation as well as state and local. The site also provides news, historical information and other resources.

Water — Use It Wisely
This site provides tips for saving water. It includes a monthly planner, a home water audit, and other information.

1040 Central
This page on the IRS site provides information about what's new for this filing season including tax law changes, the alternative minimum tax, and tips for choosing a tax preparer.

December 2007

Trouble in Toyland: The 22nd Annual Survey of Toy Safety
This 2007 report from the U.S. Public Interest research Group (U.S. PIRG) provides safety guidelines for purchasing toys and examples of toys that pose potential safety hazards.

Recycling Tips for a Tech Savvy Holiday from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
These tips provide tips for recycling or donating cell phones, computers, TVs, and other electronics.

Fun for the Kids during the Holidays

AnimalCams at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Visit the animals at the National Zoo through these numerous web cams.

NGA Kids from the National Gallery of Art
This site features Adventures with Art — activities and projects that your kids can create online.

November 2007

The 2008 Fuel Economy Guide is now available. The 2008 guide uses revised methods for estimating MPG that better represent current real-world driving conditions. The fueleconomy.govsite has also revised the 1985-2007 gas mileage ratings to make them comparable to the 2008 MPG estimates.

Where Does My Gasoline Come From? from the Energy Information Administration offers a basic description of how gasoline is made and how it gets to a pump near you.

Paying for It: Checks, Cash, and Electronic Payments
This brochure from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta decribes how checks and electronic payments work, the Federal Reserve's role in the nation's payment system, and how currency is processed and distributed.

Looking for a college or university? Check out the College Navigator from the U.S. Department of Education. Search options include location, programs/majors, type, tuition & fees, test scores, and more.

October 2007

BBB Cautions Sports Fans: Play Smart When Buying Tickets Online
This alert provides tips to help you avoid being taken by con artists.

How to buy green electricity
Cleaner and maybe even cheaper power options are widely available according to this article from Consumer Reports.

The Redesigned U.S. Currency
The new $5 bill will enter into circulation in 2008. View an interactive tutorial showing the security and design features of the new $5 bill.

"Free Lunch" Investment Seminar Examinations Uncover Widespread Problems, Perils for Older Investors
This release from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission describes the findings of a year-long examination of "free lunch" investment seminars.

September 2007

51 Ways to Save Hundreds on Loans and Credit Cards
This special edition of FDIC Consumer News provides simple tips and other information on topics such as cutting your costs, avoiding fraudulent or deceptive deals, paying for college, and more.

BBB Warns College-Bound Students and Parents to Beware of Financial Aid Schemes
This alert from the Better Business Bureau describes financial aid seminar and college grant scams and provides tips on how to avoid scholarship scams.

Turning 50 is turning point for preretirees
This news brief from the Credit Union National Association provides some tips for preparing for retirement.

Your Credit Rights: How the Law Protects You
This brochure from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco describes the major laws that regulate credit and how they affect you.

August 2007

Pay Your Money, or You're Taking a Chance
This investigative report from Consumer Reports' Webwatch looks at the practice of "dynamic pricing" used by various e-commerce vendors.

Dollars and Cents: Fundamental Facts about U.S. Money
This site from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta provides information about how U.S. currency and coins are made, their design and features, how they circulate and how to spot counterfeits.

Keeping Your Telephone Number When You Change Your Service Provider
This fact sheet from the Federal Communications Commission describes the process and provides information on what to expect when changing your service provider.

To help you be prepared for possible emergencies, Ready America has tips for making an emergency supply kit, making a emergency plan for your family, and for being informed.

July 2007

Keeping Children Safe in Crashes
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has produced photos and videos to help parents choose, install, and properly use child restraint systems -- car seats, booster seats, and adult belts.

Call 811 Before You Dig
811 is the new federally mandated "Call Before You Dig" number. This site provides information about why you should call 811 before you dig and provides links to site specific information.

For fun, here's a video on The Life of a Dollar Bill from the Federal Reserve. It requires the flash player, version 6.0 or higher.

June 2007

Speed Paying and Banking
This overview from the FDIC describes how high-tech cards and phone could change the way you spend and manage your money.

Planning to travel overseas this summer? Then visit the U.S. Dept. of State's travel site. It is full of information, including tips for traveling abroad and travel tips for students.

Savvy Strategies for Surviving a Fender Bender
This article from the Better Business Bureau describes how to choose a trustworthy collision repair shop.

May 2007

State and Local Government on the Net
This site is a directory that provides links to state government sites, state agency sites, city government sites, county government sites, and other local government sites. It also has links to federal resources, multi-state sites, and national organizations.

Looking for a new car or truck? Then visit to check out gas mileage, gas emissions, air pollution ratings, and safety information for new and used cars and trucks. The site also has gas mileage tips, information on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, and much more.

Shopping for a Mortgage? Your Application May Trigger Competing Offers
This FTC Consumer Alert explains why you may get competing offers, how you might benefit from them, and how to stop them if you choose.

Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress
This site features questions asked by researchers and answered by librarians from the Library of Congress' Science Reference Services. Browse questions and answers in topics such as agriculture, botany, chemistry, meteorology/climatology, physics, zoology, and more.

April 2007

Frauds and Scams Protect Yourself and Your Money
This brochure from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco describes various scams that can come calling on the phone, at the door, and through the mailbox.

Pretexting: Your Personal Information Revealed
This fact sheet from the Federal Trade Commission describes the practice of getting your personal information under false pretenses.

Moving from Analog to Digital TV
This consumer focus from the Federal Citizen Information Center explains the impact the switch (in February 2009) of television stations to broadcasting only in digital signals could have on consumers.

March 2007

Beginning this year, Daylight Saving Time will last a month longer. It begins three weeks earlier—on March 11th—and ends a week later—on November 4th. Read about its history and why we use it.

Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams from the FTC

February 2007

Interested in making phone calls over the Internet? Then find out how it works (and more) at this site from Federal Communications Commission. This paper (pdf) from US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) discusses the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP and covers related security issues.—the United States Federal government website has changed it's name to In addition to the name change, the site also has introduced a new web chat feature.

January 2007

Privacy and the Internet: Traveling in Cyberspace Safely
This recently updated guide from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides lots of information about your privacy online. Be Car Care Aware
This site from the Car Care Council provides numerous tips and articles to help you take an active role in maintaining your vehicle.

Avoiding Costly Banking Mistakes: No Trivial Pursuit
This article from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) describes some common mistakes consumers make when using their checking account, credit card or other banking services.

Thrive by FiveTM: Teaching Your Preschooler About Spending
This site from the Credit Union National Association has free activities and other resources for parents to help them encourage healthy attitudes about money in their preschool children

December 2006

Why you don't need an extended warranty from Consumer Reports

National Traffic and Road Closure Information
Before leaving on a road trip this holiday season, use this site to check out whether you might encounter construction or other issues.

Permitted and Prohibited Items
Flying during the holidays, then check out this list from the Transportation Security Administration. It should help you be better prepared for the security screenings.

Shop with Speed and Ease on the Internet, But Be Cyber-Savvy!
Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping from the Better Business Bureau

November 2006

New Year Begins for Free Annual Credit Report Program
This news release from the FTC highlights reminds consumers that there is only one authorized site for their free reports and what is required to obtain them.

A Cautionary Tale: Don't Gamble on Foreign Lotteries from the FBI

Interest-Only Mortgage Payments and Payment-Option ARMS — Are They for You? (pdf)
This brochure from the federal bank, thrift, and credit union regulatory agencies includes a glossary of lending terms, a mortgage shopping worksheet, and a list of additional resources.

Your Home Fire Safety Checklist (pdf)
This brochure from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can help you spot possible fire safety problems in your home.

October 2006

The new pension law: What's in it for you
Provides some highlights on how the law may affect you. From Consumer Reports.

Software License Agreements: Ignore at Your Own Risk (pdf)
This report from the United State Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) describes how ignoring the End User License Agreement (EULA) can put your privacy and computer security at risk.

Plastic Fraud: Getting a Handle on Debit and Credit Cards
This brochure from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco describes some common card fraud schemes and provides tips for avoiding them.

September 2006
This site from Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute provides information about software downloads. The number of reports on the site is small but growing.

Insuring Your Deposits from the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) and Share Insurance from the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) describe what deposits are covered by FDIC and NCUA insurance.

Interest Rates: An Introduction describes what interest rates are, how they are determined and the different ways they are used. From the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

August 2006

ConsumerSearch reviews product reviews. It looks for the best reviews for numerous product categories, then provides descriptions of the reviews, a complete analysis and a listing of the top-rated products. is a fun and informative site that highlights the strings and catches in advertising fine print.

What is a dollar worth? Have some fun with this calculator from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Enter a year and a dollar amount and calculate what it would cost in another year.

July 2006

My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It? and Social Security Numbers: Frequently Asked Questions are fact sheets from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. These fact sheets provide information that everyone should know about social security numbers.

Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information from the Federal Reserve board

Privacy: Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information from the Federal Trade Commission

June 2006

The summer traveling season is here. Here are some useful tips for your travels whether they are across town, across the country or in between.

Saving Money at the Gas Pump — Tips from the Federal Trade Commission

Cool Tips for a Safe Summer Trip — Focus on Safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Tips for Safe and Healthly Travel — Travelers' Health from the Centers for Disease Control

May 2006

Internet safety, especially for teens and kids has been in the news lately. Here are several sites with safety tips and information for the whole family.
This site has information on Internet safety, privacy and security. Check out the various categories and hot topics., and provide many tips for all ages for safely using the Internet.

Working to Halt Online Abuse and Working to Halt Online Abuse Kids-Teen Division
These sites provide have online safety brochures and other education material to help fight online bullying, harassment, and stalking.

April 2006

Almost everyday a new data breach occurs in which personal information is exposed. The fact sheet, How to Deal with a Security Breach, from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides steps for you to take if you receive a letter informing you that your personal information has been compromised by a data breach.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also has tips for Protecting Your Cell Phone Records.

Fire, Floods and Other Misfortunes: Are You Prepared Financially?
This guide from the FDIC can help you plan ahead for possible financial challenges.

March 2006

Don't Be an On-line Victim: How to Guard Against Internet Thieves and Electronic Scams
This multimedia presentation (requires Flash Player) provides steps for securing your computer and protecting yourself form identity theft.

Buying, Giving, and Using Gift Cards
This alert from the FTC provides tips for buying and using gift cards and tips if you have problems or complaints with a gift card.

Prescreened Offers of Credit and Insurance
This factsheet from the FTC provides a Q&A about prescreened offers.

February 2006

National Consumer Protection Week is February 5-11, 2006. Visit the official site and take theGrand Scam Challenge!

10 Tips for Financial Security from Consumer Reports provides tips on controlling your debt.

Invest Wisely in 2006, BBB Advises
This alert from the Better Business Bureau provides a list of "red flags" to look for with any investment opportunity.

Saving Starts @ Home
This site from the FTC is called "The Inside Story on Conserving Energy." It provides information on how you can save money in every room of your home.

January 2006

It's winter. Here are winter tips for your home, your car and yourself.

What You Should Know about Winter Weather from the Centers for Disease Control has articles on Winter Storm Facts, Extreme Cold Prevention Guide, Protect Yourself form Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, When the Power Goes Out, FAQs, and related links.

Exercise and cold weather: Stay motivated, fit and safe from provides tips for choosing indoor exercise options and dressing properly and staying safe when exercising outdoors.

Winter Tips from the Alliance to Save Energy provides tips to cut energy bills and increase comfort in your home.

Checklist & Tips for Safe Winter Driving from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides tips for winter car care and winter driving.

December 2005

Returns: Prepare to be challenged from Consumer Reports describes some of changes to return policies many retailers are implementing.

Holiday Fire Prevention: A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety is a factsheet from the U.S. Fire Administration. It has tips for preventing holiday tree fires, and safety with holiday lights, holiday decorations, and candles. has lots of good information about numerous types of Internet scams and fraud. Categories include Identity Theft, Financial Fraud, Auction Fraud, Sweepstakes/Lottery Fraud, and Counterfeit Payments Fraud. It also has victim stories, FAQs/Tips, and Consumer Alerts. The site was developed and is maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force.

November 2005

A Consumer Guide to Handling Disputes with Your Employer or Private Health Plan
This guide from Consumers Union and the Kaiser Family Foundation describes what you need to know about your health plan coverage and rules, how to prepare for informal and formal reviews and whether your state has an external review program.

OnGuard Online
This site from the federal government offers tips to help you guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer and protect your personal information. Topics covered include Identity Theft, Spyware, Phishing, Spam Scams, Online Shopping, P2P File-Sharing and VoIP.

Fuel Economy Guide
This guide is a useful tool for comparing vehicles but not for acurately predicting the miles per gallon a consumer will get when driving. This guide and additional information is available at

October 2005

Reservation Rewards — and Rebate Risks
from Consumer Reports WebWatch describes risks associated with some online rebate offers and rewards.

Storm & Emergency Guide
A special section from Consumer Reports offering articles on rebuilding, personal finance, cars, security & safety, and travel.

AAA Fuel Cost Calculator
Use this site to calculate the estimated fuel cost of your trip. The site also lists regional gasoline averages.

Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
This guide from FEMA provides detailed information on disaster preparedness with basic information and in-depth information for specific hazards.

September 2005

Back-To-School Safety Tips
These tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission covers getting to school safetly, safety on playgrounds and athletic fields, and safety within schools.

Where There's a Will, There's a Way
This article from Consumer Reports WebWatch describes a fresh spin on '419 Fraud', aka Nigerian Fee Scam, involving fake wills.

Consumer Action's 2005 Credit Card study shows that anyone could face much higher universal default and penalty interest rates.
This study describes various practices that are taking more money out of consumer's pockets.
This site has a world clock, time zone converter, calendars, date calculators, and more.

August 2005

Cell Phones & Service Decision Guide
The guide from Consumer Reports has information to help you choose a plan, phone, or headset.

"Flash Cookies" — another way to track you online
This page from the Electronic Privacy Information Center describes Local Shared Objects also knows as "Flash Cookies". It also provided pointers on how to control them.

Be Smart About Ordering Federally Mandated Free Credit Reports
This alert from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse warns about web domains trying to misdirect consumers from the official site.

July 2005
Consumer Health WebWatch is a project of Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Health Improvement Institute. It's purpose is to provide a one-stop destination to help consumers determine if a health web site is credible and reliable. Detailed ratings include overall score, site strenghts, site weaknesses, and special notes.

Wi-Fi Woes—Wireless Networks Offer Flexibility, Potential Snooping
This consumer investigation from Consumer Reports WebWatch describes security issues with wireless networks and offers some simple safety solutions.

Taking Control of Your Finances: A Special Guide for Young Adults
This guide, from the FDIC, has numerous articles for those just beginning to manage money on their own and as a refresher for those who've been managing money for some time.

Fight the Bite!
Mosquito Season is here. This site from the Centers for Disease Control provides steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your community from mosquito born diseases such as the West Nile virus.

June 2005

Planning a summer roadtrip? Then you may want to check out the National Traffic and Road Closure Information site. Click on a state to find links to numerous state and local information sites.

Graduates Cautioned to Avoid Online Job Scams from the Better Business Bureau describes some of the more common online job scams.

Did you know that May was Stroke Awareness Month? Did you know that stroke strikes on average every 45 seconds in the U.S.? Now and anytime is the right time to learn to recognize a stroke. The warning signs are simple. You'll find good information on recognizing and preventing strokes from the American Stroke Association, the National Stroke Association, and theNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

May 2005

Federal Reserve Education is provided by the Federal Reserve System and has many tools and articles for personal financial education. You can also learn more about the Federal Reserve System through FED101.

Afraid to Bank Electronically? Read these tips from the FDIC. from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture can help you choose the foods and amounts that are right for you. You can also tour the new pyramid and find tips and resources.

April 2005

Medical Powers of Attorney & Living Wills from has various articles about various types of advance health care directives including living wills and powers of attorney for health care.

For the last minute