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Help Lines

Help-lines are special telephone lines set up, usually on a toll-free basis or for the cost of a local telephone call, to provide public services and information at no charge. Many have to do with consumer protection and health.

As an example, the National Mental Health Information Center of the United States Department of Health and Human Services maintains special toll-free telephone numbers for information on Alzheimer’s disease, children’s mental health, suicide prevention, HIV and AIDS, substance abuse, and other related topics. Many communities maintain special help lines for teenagers. Most communities have help lines that give advice and assistance on the important issue of domestic violence. The federal Internal Revenue Service maintains a help-line to give taxpayers advice on paying their taxes. Gay, lesbian and transgender groups maintain their own help-lines.

Corporations and businesses frequently maintain toll-free help-lines to assist their customers and to facilitate customer service. On the other hand, the Federal Trade Commission, most individual American states and many communities maintain help-lines to help consumers make complaints about businesses, merchants, products or services.

Most help-lines make themselves easy to find. Just look for that toll-free number (which in the United States usually begins with the numerals 800, 888, 877, or 866).

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