A NEW phone advice service to help consumers starts today.
It offers free, practical advice to people on issues such as how to avoid rip-offs, consumer rights in shops and how to find reputable traders.
The service covers Yorkshire and calls go to a centre in Morley.
If further help is needed Consumer Direct will operate as a gateway to other national and local advice agencies.
Project manager Graham Hebblethwaite said: "This new service is going to bring great advantages to consumers in the region.
"If someone needs our help they are only one quick call away from clear, practical consumer advice."
Clr Malcolm Slater, chairman of the Joint Services Committee - which oversees the work of the local trading standards service - said: "Much of the groundwork developing and designing the new service is based upon the excellent work of our helpline during the pilot phase in West Yorkshire."
Peter Rickard, the regional manager for Citizens' Advice, said: "We are pleased to be recognised as they key provider from the voluntary sector for handling clients whose calls fall outside the scope of Consumer Direct."
Yorkshire is the first English region to benefit from the service.
It can be reached on 08454 04 05 06 or via the website www.consumer direct.gov.uk