The FTC is a small agency with a broad mission. It works for consumers to prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in most areas of the economy. The FTC's Division of Consumer and Business Education (DCBE) seeks to empower consumers by providing practical, objective, and plain language information in English and Spanish. It helps people understand their rights and spot, avoid, and report frauds. DCBE produces award-winning information on a wide range of issues, including credit, advertising, fiscal responsibility, energy and the environment, online safety, and identity theft prevention and recovery.
Our information is geared to both the general public and targeted audiences, including students, children, parents and teachers, entrepreneurs, job hunters, homeowners, seniors, caregivers, military service members – in short, those who are trying to juggle student loans, credit cards, car loans or leases, medical bills, and other obligations, while managing their savings, being energy efficient, and in general making well-informed buying decisions.
The Commission communicates through print publications; websites that feature video, interactive games, and audio content; the media; and partnerships with other government agencies, industry associations, and non-profits that help it leverage resources, raise awareness, and improve compliance. All these materials are free and in the public domain. In fact, the Commission encourages organizations to customize the information and resources it produces and distribute them under their own "brand." This "wholesale/retail" approach to communication allows a small agency like the FTC to reach consumers and businesses in much greater numbers than it could alone. "Partnering" facilitates a consistent message, which, in turn, reduces consumer confusion and enhances consumer confidence.
Every year, DCBE produces about 100 new or revised publications to alert consumers and businesses to their rights and responsibilities in the marketplace. These publications are disseminated through a network of thousands of intermediaries who order about 12 million copies for their constituents (www.ftc.gov/bulkorder) each year. DCBE also provides design files for organizations that wish to co-brand materials. In addition, the agency generally records more than 30 million accesses of consumer and business information on the FTC website (www.ftc.gov). The "Credit" consumer information index page is consistently one of the most viewed pages on the FTC website.
Specific initiatives in the area of financial literacy and education include:
• ftc.gov/youarehere – This virtual mall is a place where middle school kids can experience the mission of the FTC, learn about advertising and competition, and how to protect their privacy.
• ftc.gov/gettingcredit – This site has tips on shopping for credit cards, using cards carefully, and maintaining a good credit record. It also explains credit reports and credit scores, how to protect your identity and improve your credit record, and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.
• Admongo.gov – The goal of the Admongo campaign is to raise advertising literacy among the nation's tweens. Through Admongo.gov, a game-based website aims to teach kids to recognize commercial messages and prompts them to ask key questions when they see them. Teachers can incorporate the curriculum (tied to national standards of learning in language arts and social studies) into their lessons, use a library of fictional ads for teaching tools and send home activities for parents and kids to do together.
• ftc.gov/MoneyMatters – This site offers short, practical tips, videos, and links to reliable sources on a variety of topics from credit repair, debt collection, job hunting and job scams to vehicle repossession, managing mortgage payments and avoiding foreclosure rescue scams.
• ftc.gov/idtheft – This site is a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft, including detailed information to help people deter, detect, and defend against it.
• ftc.gov/freereports – This site has details about a citizen's right to a free copy of her credit report, at her request, once every 12 months. Reviewing your credit report regularly is an effective way to deter and detect identity theft.
• YouTube.com/FTCvideos – This YouTube channel features videos ranging from 15 seconds to 10 minutes on a variety of financial-related subjects, including dramatic stories of people who have avoided mortgage foreclosure rescue scams, a film featuring a business opportunity scammer telling how he committed fraud, and an animated production outlining the rights of debtors and the rules for debt collectors.
The FTC is looking for partners to help us get the word out about mission-related activities. Your organization might:
• Order free materials from the FTC in bulk at http://bulkorder.ftc.gov, and make them available to your constituents.
• Include consumer messages and tips in your organization's newsletter. To find FTC feature articles on a specific topic, click on a category name from the list at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/resources/articles.shtm. Or use content from FTC materials to write articles of your own.
• Link to www.ftc.gov or any of our mircosites or individual publications. Visitors to your website will appreciate having a direct link to important information from the nation's consumer protection agency.
Senior Project Manager
Division of Consumer and Business Education
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Mail Drop NJ-2267
Washington, DC 20580
202-326-2368; fax: 202-326-3574
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy