Helpful Legal Organizations and Government Agencies

Part of the Law For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If paying your bills is becoming difficult and you want help negotiating lower monthly debt payments, contact a nonprofit credit counseling office (most are known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service) affiliated with the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). To find a NFCC-affiliated office, go to www.nfcc.org or call 1-800-388-2227.

If information in your credit record causes a denial of credit, housing, employment, or insurance, request a free copy of your credit report from whichever national credit reporting agency caused the denial. The three national credit reporting agencies are:

  • Equifax (Disclosure Department, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374)

  • Experian (National Consumer Assistance Center, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013-2104)

  • TransUnion (Consumer Disclosure Center, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
    800-888-4213)

If a mortgage lender denies you a loan or a seller refuses to sell you a home and you believe that you’re being discriminated against, file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD by going to the department’s Web site, http://www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm or by calling 800-669-9777. File your complaint within one year of the incident.

Is there an unsafe or unhealthy situation at your workplace? Bring it to the attention of your employer or contact the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 1-800-321-6742.

When you want to apply for Social Security benefits — retirement, survivor, or disability benefits — call 800-772-1213 or go to the Web site of the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov.

If a telemarketer contacts you with an offer that sounds too good to be true, or if you receive such an offer via the Internet, check out the offer by contacting the National Fraud Information Center/International Internet Watch Center at 1-800-876-7060. You can file a complaint if you are a fraud victim at the Center’s Web site, www.fraud.org.

The Auto Safety Hotline maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides information about auto safety and new and used vehicle recalls. Call the hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.nhtsa.gov to find out about safety recalls, to file a defect report, and much more.

For a fill-in-the-blanks living will that is legally-valid in your state, contact Partnership for Caring at: www.partnershipforcaring.org

If you are a small business owner, take advantage of the Small Business Advisor Web site, www.business.gov, a collaborative effort among various federal agencies and managed by the Small Business Administration. The site provides information to help you start and grow a business and to make it easier to weave your way through the maze of federal rules and regulations.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center offers a wide variety of informative publications and fact sheets about the laws that the FTC administers. Read them online, or order hard copies at www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-382-4357.

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