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  1. Archive

Where to turn for consumer assistance

Today we publish the third installment of the Guide to Consumer Services.

Credit

Consumer Credit Counseling Service offices:

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Florida Gulfcoast: Hernando, toll-free 1-800-741-7040; (352) 754-9675; www.cccsfl.org; Hillsborough, (813) 289-8923;

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Mid Florida: Inverness, toll-free 1-800-245-1865; (352) 637-2227;

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Florida and the Florida Suncoast, Pasco and Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-547-0099.

Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20580; toll-free 1-877-382-4357; www.ftc.gov; for information and complaints on different kinds of credit problems, such as credit repair scams, advance-fee loan scams, home equity scams, file segregation (illegally shielding one's true credit identity) and identity theft.

Credit bureaus: Experian, toll-free 1-888-397-3742; www. experian.com; Equifax, toll-free 1-800-685-1111; www.equifax.com; TransUnion, toll-free 1-877-322-8228; www.transunion.com.

Drugs

Food and Drug Administration, Office of Consumer Affairs, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; toll-free 1-888-463-6332; www.fda. gov.

Dry cleaning

International Fabricare Institute, 14700 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, MD 20707; toll-free 1-800-638-2627; (301) 622-1900; www.ifi.org; will analyze a damaged garment at the request of a member dry cleaner.

Neighborhood Cleaners Association International, 252 W 29th St., New York, NY 10001; toll-free 1-800-888-1622; www. nca-i.com; will analyze a damaged garment for individuals for a fee.

Elder affairs

Administration on Aging, One Massachusetts Ave., Suite 4100, Washington, DC 20201; toll-free 1-800-677-1116; www.eldercare.gov; Eldercare Locator to find services for older persons in their locality;

AoA's National Aging Information Center, (202) 619-0724; for technical information and public inquiries); www.aoa.dhhs.gov, click on "Elders and Families"; provides information for seniors and for links to numerous sites and agencies.

National Institute on Aging, Building 31, Room 5C27, 31 Center Drive, MSC 2292, Bethesda, MD 20892; (301) 496-1752; www.nih.gov/nia; toll-free 1-800-222-2225 to order NIA publications.

Senior helpline: Pinellas (727) 217-8111, Pasco toll-free 1-800-861-8111, all others toll-free 1-800-963-5337; access to information regarding elder services and activities within Florida.

Florida abuse hotline, toll-free 1-800-962-2873.

Employment

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Tampa, (813) 626-1177.

U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour helpline, 4905 W Laurel, Suite 300, Tampa, FL 33607; (813) 288-1242; www.dol.gov; handles complaints about overtime, minimum wage and family medical leave. It does not deal with complaints about paid vacations, coffee breaks, unemployment or workers' compensation.

Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, toll-free 1-800-438-4128, (850) 245-7105; Florida labor laws, workforce and employment opportunity; Re-employment/Emergency Assistance, REACT, (850) 921-1119.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 501 E Polk St., Room 1000, Tampa, FL 33602; toll-free 1-800-669-4000; (813) 228-2310 for complaints.

Environment

Indoor workplace smoking ban complaints, (850) 487-1395; www.state.fl.us/dbpr; for restaurants and bars; Department of Health, toll-free 1-877-969-6775; for businesses besides restaurants and bars.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399; (850) 245-2118; www.dep.state.fl.us.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 3900 Drane Field Road, Lakeland, FL 33811; (863) 648-3203; or 620 S Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600; (850) 488- 4676; www.floridaconservation. org; emergency reports of boating or fishing accidents, poaching or hunting out of season and alligators, toll-free 1-888-404-3922.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Division, (813) 272-2516.

Times editorial assistant Jessica McLuckie contributed to this report.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call (727) 893-8171, toll-free outside Pinellas, 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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