Is Consumer Information True?

How many times have you read some information and wondered if it is true? You read an item and it sounded too good to be true. How can you make sure the information is correct? With articles in the media, newspaper, magazines, or even the Internet, look to see who wrote the article. Sometimes articles give Internet addresses.

On the Internet, you can tell what type of agency published the document by the
address. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) creates the address. A URL will have one of the following items in the address:
.com – commercial
.edu – educational institutions
.gov – governmental agencies
.mil - military organizations
.net – network
.org – non-profit agencies

Governmental agencies are a reliable source. Educational institutions give correct information. Commercial sites are in the business to sell or promote a product. Network sites require the user to evaluate each site. Look at the information, and answer these questions:

  • Is there an author and resource information?
  • Does the agency provide unbiased information?
  • What is the intent of the material?
  • Is the information organized, logical, and uses good grammar?
  • Is the material timely?

Keep in mind there is not a web cop. Anyone can put information on the Internet. The web is like a virtual library at your keyboard. You need to be critical of what you read. Check to see how current the information is. Using the web, you can find information. You can evaluate information. You can process information. Use it to make decisions in your life.

On commercial websites, look for a privacy policy. Check your questions about accuracy, too. What are your access, security, and control of personal information? Check to see if a company sells your name and information to third parties.

If you have small children at home, set rules about going online. You can use filters to control off limit sites to your child. Filters are not foolproof, but they help. Explain to your children the contrast between a commercial and entertainment. Help your children understand that a cartoon is not real.

Readers need to assess all information, whether in print or by byte. Look at the source. Is it proper? Use other personal criteria for value. If you find information that is "too good to be true," it probably is.

Never use information that you cannot prove. Like your eyes, you need to filter
information. Question it and trust your instincts.

Prepared by: Susan Taylor, Extension Educator
Consumer and Family Economics
University of Illinois Extension
Matteson Extension Center

Edited by: Katherine Reuter, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics, University of Illinois Extension. Countryside Extension Center.

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