Consumers have a better chance than ever to stay in touch with government actions that affect their lives thanks to the rapid growth of toll-free telephone hotlines at several federal agencies.
In a year-end statement this week, consumer advocate Ralph Nader praised several federal agencies and commissions for making themselves more accesible through the use of "800" exchange toll-free lines that allow consumers to contact the agency long-distance at no cost to the caller.
"During the past several years, the consumer movement has sensitized these agencies to the need for such toll-free telephone hotlines. Peopel want to be able to dial their government in Washington directly from their home," Nader said.
But the pointed out that, "Unfortunately, the availability of these hotlines is not as well known to Amercians as it should be."
Nader's Washington-based consumer group has compiled a list of toll-free hotlines which is avilable free to consumers. The list can be obtained by sending a self-addressed business envelope to Pulbic Citizen, P.O. Box 1904, Washington D.C., 20036.
The tool-free telephone hotlines listed in the by Public Citizen are:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which accepts reports about auto safety problems and answers questions about recalls.Washington, D.C. 426-0123. Contintental U.S. 800 -- 424-9393.
The Interstate Commerce Commission, which takes complaints about moving household goods and rail or bus passenger problems. It also gives information on independent truckers. Washington 275-7301. Continental U.S. 800 -- 424-9312.
The Federal Election Commisson, which offers information about federal election fund-raising regulations and provides financial records on candidates for federal office. Washington 523-4068. Continental U.S. 800 -- 424-9530.
The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Hotline, which takes complaints on race, religious or sex discriminatin. Washington 755-5490. Continental U.S. 800 -- 424-8590.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which helps people evaluate the safety of products and takes reports on injuries or deaths related to manufactured products. Maryland 800 -- 492-3937. Continental U.S. 800 -- 638-2666.
The National Flood Insurance Hotline, funded by HUD, which provides information on federally subsidized flood insurance. Washington 755-9096. Continental U.S. 800 -- 424-8872.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which accepts reports about hazardous working conditions. 800 -- 555-1212.
The National Runaway Hotline, which gives runaways and parents confidential advisory information 24 hours a day illinois 800 -- 972-6004. Continental U.S. 800 -- 621-4000.
National Solar Heating and Cooling Information Center, which gives information about solar heating and cooling devices. Pennsylvania 800 -- 462-4983. Continental U.S. 800 -- 523-2929.
The Educational Grants Hotline, which gives information about federally subsidized higher education. Continental U.S. 800 -- 638-6700. For application processing, continental U.S. 800 -- 553-6350.
The Federal Crime Insurance Hotline, which provides information about applying for low-cost residential and commercial crime insurance. Available in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Washington 652-2637 (Maryland residents should call the Washington number collect). Continental U.S. 800 -- 638-8780.
The Venereal Disease Hotline, which gives confidential and anonymous information and referral services. Pennsylvania 800 -- 462-4966. Continental U.S. 800 -- 523-1885.
The federal tax information number, which offers help on federal tax questions. Call foll-free directory assistance for the regional number. 800 -- 555-1212.
The Travel Hotline, which answers questions about lodging, transportation and tourist attractions in the United States.Illinois 800 -- 942-4833. U.S. 800 -- 323-1608. Alaska and Hawaii 800 -- 423-4182.
The Veterans Information Number, which answers questions about the wide range of benefits available to veterans and their families. Call foll-free directory assistnace for the regional number in your area. 800 -- 555-1212.
Operation Peace of Mind, which offers a free 24-hour message relay service so parents and runaways can keep in touch. It also provides counseling and confidential referral services to runaways. Texas 800 -- 382-3352. Continental U.S. 800 -- 231-6946.