How to Stay Up on Consumer News and Issues

by Chris Bjorklund

Newsletters, blogs and podcasts are great ways to stay informed about consumer issues. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Like most of you, I subscribe to a variety of news feeds, blogs, email newsletters and podcasts, both for entertainment and so I can learn about things I’m interested in. I’m a big fan of Flipboard, my news feed for politics, cooking and music. For local restaurant openings and news, I enjoy reading, and my favorite podcast right now is “On Being” with Krista Tippett, which I learned about from a colleague at Diamond Certified. When it comes to consumer news and issues, here are a few of the resources I use to stay informed.
This website from the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine requires a subscription for detailed product ratings. However, it also has a lot of free content with general buying advice. Under the news tab, you’ll find tips on everything from how to maximize tax deductions for donated items to articles about new model car redesigns. Sign up for their free email newsletter for regular updates.
This free weekly email newsletter is a wonderful mix of news briefs from a variety of sources and some original reporting. One of the features is called “The Bargain of the Week,” which is often a coupon for a new product. To give you an idea of what they cover, the last issue had a story about how to find a good veterinarian and a warning about fake IRS agent scams.
The Consumer Action Insider is a free monthly newsletter that covers topics in more depth. Financial issues are reported on extensively, ranging from actions against banks for bad lending practices to complaints about forced arbitration clauses in contracts. A recent article about used car problems included a helpful list of things to check before you buy a used vehicle.
This bi-weekly newsletter is free and covers consumer news and trends. It’s a subsidiary of Consumer Reports magazine, but rather than focusing on product testing and ratings, its editors write about things that influence the marketplace so consumers can make better decisions. Some timely topics include kickbacks to pharmacies from drug companies; complaints about cable services; consumer problems with hospital data breaches; and fallouts from store closings, mergers, and acquisitions.
You can sign up for a monthly Fraud Alert with this organization. They monitor complaints all year and report the top scams. When a new trend emerges, they can identify it early and warn consumers. For example, after receiving dozens of complaints about fraudulent puppy sales, they issued a detailed report on how the pet adoption scam works along with tips on how to protect yourself.

Don’t forget that a savvy consumer is an informed consumer!