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Ways to resolve consumer complaints

Updated on April 12, 2012

Federal agencies-Consumers

The United States Government has a wealth of agencies that help protect consumers from: Deceptive advertising, false claims, bait and switch (it's illegal), unethical practices, harassment, unwanted phone calls (do not call list), spam (CAN SPAM act of 2003. CANSPAM stands for counter acting non-solicited marketing and pornography), collection agencies, credit reporting agencies, identity theft, and even price gouging (charging an overly inflated price for a product or service). The primary entity is the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC accepts complaints from consumers on a wide array of products and services; including retail, Internet, ANY pay service (that's legal), and just about anything related to commerce. The one exception is banks and credit cards. I'll get to that in the next capsule.

The FTC collects the information from consumers, then enters it into a shared law enforcement database. This database is also available to attorneys, specializing in mass tort and class action suits. The FTC regularly sues large companies that break the laws that they enforce. If these suits result in a positive judgement, the money is doled out to consumers that have valid complaints on file. I've personally been awarded hundreds of dollars from some of these suits. But again, the complaint must be valid.

If your number is registered with the National Do Not Call Registry, and a telemarketer cold calls you (after you've been registered for 30 days), you have the right to file a complaint.

If a spammer sends you unsolicited email without an unsubscribe link IN the email, sends offensive material-including, but not limited to pornography, phishing attempts, viruses (these should be forwarded to, too), then that email should be forwarded to . It's important to include the expanded Internet headers with the message. Some email providers require the email headers be copied and pasted to the email. The FTC cannot identify the sender without this information! Many spammers have become savvy enough to forge these headers, but the ISP will have an anti-abuse marker, as well as the SMTP (ESMTP etc). The IP address is easily forged.

Future capsules will talk about banks and credit cards, lawyers, doctors, employers (including discrimination), even, and more. It's important to remember that every state has an attorney general, and that entity will often have a consumer complaint division, too. Best to use both in most cases.

Nevermind the BBB. The BBB is paid by those who belong tto it.

I will go into detail about the best ways to write your complaint in future capsules, too.

Regarding banks in general

I will expound (as time permits)upon this section of my article. Here's a link that should prove helpful to some.


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