Consumer Action Handbook



Cathy Bowen, PhD, CFCS Professor of Consumer Issues Pennsylvania State University

There is no shortage of financial information and resources. Private companies, financial institutions, professional organizations and non-profit organizations, to name a few provide financial education materials and educational programs. One source secondary teachers should not overlook is the federal government. A primary advantage of government provided financial education resources is the objective presentation of facts and information with no subtle selling by branding of products.

Consumer Action HandbookOne longstanding publication, The Consumer Action Handbook (CAH), has been produced yearly since 1979. If you are looking for one resource to introduce students to consumer and financial resources provided by the federal government, the CAH is your go-to guide. It covers practical information on matters consumers face daily such as banking, getting started with utility services, food and nutrition, credit, privacy and identity theft and buying big-ticket items such as cars and homes. Other topics included are the basics related to investing, employment, insurance, healthcare, and telecommunications (internet, phone, TV). Although the content of the guide has changed to reflect the changes in the marketplace and problems consumers face, a few consistencies have remained. For example, one section included over the years is a list of federal agencies with a short description of the agencies’ roles and contact information. Another section contains a list of consumer protection offices by state and counties in states that have freestanding consumer protection offices. The CAH is an excellent resource to introduce students to government resources supported by tax dollars.

Printed copies of the Consumer Action Handbook are free and can be ordered online or if you are a totally-tech teacher, the online version can be accessed on the web.

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