Valuable Info from Consumer Services Agency

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

This is the fifth of seven columns on good resources for consumers.

Have you been called by a charity that is new to you? Is it legitimate? Will most of your contribution go to the needy? Or is this a scam?

Florida's Division of Consumer Services has compiled a list of charities and key financial data. It's called the Gift Givers' Guide. It is available in book form or on the agency's Web site (www.800helpfla. com). The 2004-05 edition will be the last printed version of the Gift Givers' Guide. It provides financial information about charitable organizations that register with the state.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for consumer complaints. If the agency does not regulate a business, then they direct the consumer to the appropriate place.

The Division of Consumer Services functions as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's agent in Florida regarding product recalls, inspections and investigations.

The toll-free, Florida-only hotline is 1-800-435-7352 (1-800-HELP-FLA). …