03/06/2015 - Federal Trade Commission

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) educates consumers about issues that affect their daily lives, including their financial well-being, health, and privacy. Within the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Division of Consumer and Business Education (DCBE) seeks to educate and empower consumers by providing them with simple and practical information adapted for particular audiences. This information helps people understand their rights and recognize, avoid, and report frauds.

DCBE produces, promotes, and disseminates educational messages and materials to the widest possible audience through multi-faceted communications and outreach programs. These efforts involve the use of print, broadcast, and electronic media, the Internet, special events, and partnerships with other government agencies, consumer groups, trade organizations, and businesses.

In addition, a consumer and/or business education component accompany virtually every FTC law enforcement action.

To maximize its outreach efforts, DCBE aims to be a wholesaler of information, rather than a retailer. FTC staff works with an informal network of about 10,000 community-based organizations and other interest groups that order FTC products and distribute FTC information to their members, clients, and constituents. Most of the 13 million or so print publications the FTC distributes each year are disseminated through these trusted local partners that include libraries, police departments, schools, non-profit organizations, banks, credit unions, and other companies, and government agencies. Staff offers instructions on how to share FTC materials by linking, reprinting, and co-branding. In addition, the FTC logs more than 1.5 million visitors to its sites every year, and has more than 84,000 subscribers to the Consumer Center Blog, English and Spanish combined.

The FTC encourages you to share its resources with your constituents, friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. There are many ways to let others know about the FTC, and about making smart choices when they shop: share tips, use your social networking skills, or, order free publications to hand out at events or conferences — or just to give out in your community.

Here are a few ways to share:

In 2014, the FTC launched the Every Community Initiative to increase the FTC engagement with diverse communities. FTC wants to make sure that diverse communities are able to connect with the FTC to teach the staff about what types of fraud they are experiencing and how the FTC can help. In turn, the FTC wants to know that it is targeting law enforcement efforts and providing appropriate resources and assistance to protect every community.

The FTC has enhanced Consumer.gov to reach audiences with lower literacy levels and limited English proficiency. It features a bank of basic materials on a variety of topics, including: making a budget, opening a bank account, using credit and prepaid cards, the importance of a credit report, and how and why to protect personal information. The materials are easy-to-use and direct, suitable for students in their teens or adult years. Consumer.gov has videos and audio read-alongs to support people with different learning styles, and includes free resources for teachers, librarians, and other community leaders.

Admongo, the FTC advertising literacy campaign, aims to educate “tweens” (children between the ages of 8-12) about how to identify, read, analyze, and understand advertisements. A central feature of the campaign is Admongo.gov, an interactive website that teaches core ad literacy concepts through an entertaining game with multiple levels. Other important elements of the campaign include in-school curricula and marketing initiatives developed with Scholastic. The campaign emphasizes learning and applying critical thinking skills.

The FTC You Are Here site targets middle level students who are learning about the role of government agencies. Set in a virtual mall, the site uses an experiential approach to teach youngsters and their teachers about the mission of the FTC. Students experience the market from their own perspective as consumers and learn about advertising, competition, privacy, identity theft, and common frauds and scams, as they play games, design ads, and foil alien invaders bent on stealing their personal information.

The FTC takes a lead role in organizing the annual National Consumer Protection Week. This coordinated campaign encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. NCPW 2015 is taking place March 1 through March 7, 2015.

Colleen Tressler
Senior Project Manager
Division of Consumer and Business Education (DCBE)             
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW                  
Washington, DC 20580                                          
202-326-2368; fax: 202-326-3574                                  
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