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If you’ve ever been scammed or battled a corporate giant over a policy you think is unfair, you know how easy it is to feel trapped or powerless to change things. It’s hard when it’s just you against them. But when consumers band together, it is possible to shut down scammers or to pass laws that protect individuals. The Credit Card Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are proof of that.

I’ve chosen to highlight five consumer groups that are working hard to help protect our pocketbooks. All of them have helped spearhead important consumer initiatives with limited resources and budgets. I’ve had the opportunity to work with members of these groups on projects, and to tap their expertise over the years and I can tell you they are dedicated and resourceful. And they have your back.

National Consumer Protection Week (March 4-10, 2012) is the annual campaign among government and non-profit entities that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions in the marketplace. In honor of NCPW, Credit.com’s experts are rounding up the best advice for consumers to take all year round.

[Related Articles: More consumer protection tips]

Consumer Action

Consumer Action describes itself as “a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971.” One of the things that makes the group unique is its efforts to provide multilingual consumer education and advocacy tools. Their website drop down menu offers English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese as options, and they also offer publications in Russian, Japanese, Tagalog, Armenian, Cambodian, Hmong, and Laotion!

How Consumer Action Can Help You

Have a consumer problem or question? Use their free Consumer Services Guide, a searchable national directory of resources to help consumers find answers to questions, access educational resources and resolve disputes. If you need one-on-one help, call their free hotline at 415-777-9635.

Find free financial information (some in multiple languages) on topics like sound financial planning debt management, saving for emergencies and retirement, and avoiding frauds and scams at Managing-Money.org.


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Consumer Federation of America

There are nearly 300 non-profit consumer organizations that participate in the Consumer Federation of America, making it a leader in consumer research, advocacy and education. While many are bemoaning the corporate influence in Washington, CFA representatives are often there with solid research, trying to make sure consumers’ voices don’t get drowned out in the legislative process.

How CFA Can Help You

While a lot of CFA’s work serves organizations that in turn serve consumers, they have founded the America Saves campaign and it’s available to everyone. Join and use their free savings calculator, plus additional resources, to help reach your savings goals.

Consumers Union

You may know Consumers Union as the organization that publishes the Consumer Reports magazine and website, and tests hundreds of products to provide in-depth ratings. But you may not realize how much advocacy work Consumers Union does. Founded in 1936, Consumers Union has a staff of lobbyists, grassroots organizers, and outreach specialists who fight for pro-consumer legislation and consumer protections.

How Consumers Union Can Help You

Visit their action center to find out about the campaigns they are working on, and to share your views.  Subscribe to Consumer Reports and you’ll get access to detailed, independent product reviews, as well as support their advocacy efforts.

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