Product polls to try, Web scammers to defy in latest edition of Net Notes

Web sites helping with total recall for consumer recalls and a survey to test your phishing knowledge highlight this version of Net Notes.

Every time you tune in, turn the page or click the mouse there seems be another product recall story. From toothpaste to tires to toys, keeping track of what needs to be returned or pulled from shelves is no easy task.

Two of the best sites to help track recalls are from the U.S. government:

U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission


This agency decides what needs to be pulled from the shelves. Last week it was five types of toys manufactured in China. Next week it will be something else. Visit often and pay attention to the "Recent Recalls" section.

You can also sign up for e-mail newsletters and report products you feel are unsafe. The "What's Popular" section tracks new topics and is the starting point for those interested in participating in consumer opinion surveys. It's your chance to help improve the recall process.

The site invites people older than 18 years who are willing to provide their "opinions, perceptions and experiences with various consumer products through a Consumer Opinion Forum." There is no cost to join and you will have the opportunity to provide feedback on product safety issues.

Topics covered might include how you use a product, what a warning means to you, or how a recall notice could be better written.


The site bills itself as "Your online resource for recalls."

It includes information on recalls involving consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics and environmental products. It's also a portal to search the recall databases of six U.S. government agencies, making it another go-to site if you suspect an item has ever been recalled.

You can also search by product type, description or company or subscribe to an e-mail list to get the latest recall information.

On Guard Online


Phishing is one topic I cannot write about too often, as my in-box is still infiltrated with messages and links to sites that appear to be real but instead are scams designed to collect personal information.

Take the five-question, Flash-based quiz from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission site to see how much you know about protecting yourself from scammers and what to do if you find yourself as the victim of identity theft.

McAfee, an industry leader in computer-user safety, said 109 million Americans received phishing messages in 2006, resulting in a per-victim loss of more than $1,200. Shame on the phishers, and, those who took the bait.

Share your Internet story with me at