Before you actually plunk down hard-earned cash or plastic for your holiday gifts, check them out beforehand, via your local library's many consumer information resources.
You probably already know that almost every public library subscribes to CONSUMER REPORTS, an excellent place to start your search. But did you know that this magazine is one of the resources available via your local public library's homepage?
Suffolk County Public Libraries, in cooperation with NY State's EmpireLink, make CONSUMER REPORTS available online, 24/7, via the Virtual Reference Collection. If you don't already have a username and password, you'll need to visit the library and get one. It's free, for any Suffolk County public library patron. Nassau public libraries offer a similar service.
CONSUMER REPORTS, however, is just a start. You have access to literally thousands of full text magazines, indexed so that you can find exactly what you need. Some of the magazine titles include: Family PC, Popular Mechanics, Men's Fitness, Ebony, Country Living, Camcorder & Computer Video, etc.
From the Suffolk libraries' umbrella webpage, SuffolkWeb, you can click on a selection of consumer information links, picked by librarians, for accurate, credible, reliable and up-to-date data.
Do you need information on recalls? Try the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This site will allow you to search for recalled products, by name of product or name of company.
The Federal Consumer Information Center's website currently has a great article on how to wisely shop online, including a hotlink to the Better Business Bureau, and cross links to almost everything discussed in this article.
The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection page is also designed to help consumers avoid trouble. Visit this site to find information on: Advertising, Automobiles, Children's Issues, Investments, Pay-Per-Call Services, Diet, Health & Fitness, Privacy, E-Commerce & the Internet, Products & Services, Telemarketing and much more.
The Consumer World website is like Consumer Reports on steroids. Use this site to find product reviews, product test results, compare product features, find best prices and to check the store's reputation.
Whether you're considering purchase of a camera, camcorder, computer, exercise equipment or even diamonds, do your homework ahead of time and become an educated consumer.
If your gift-giving includes a charitable donation, you may wish to consult "Tips on Charitable Giving", courtesy of the NY State Attorney General's Office.