Articles Tagged with consumer rights

The Department of Justice is reporting an additional multi-million dollar fine against banking giant Wells Fargo for the illegal seizure of motor vehicles from active military service members.debt defense lawyer

Federal law mandates that any bank seeking to repossess the vehicle of an active duty service member must first get a court order. Wells Fargo didn’t in hundreds of cases – and it’s not the first time.

Last September, CNN Money reported the banking institution would pay $24 million in order to settle allegations that it had unlawfully repossessed the vehicles of nearly 415 soldiers, absent a court order, in direct violation of federal statute. These repossessions took place between 2008 and 2015, with the initial complaint coming from an Army National Guardsman who alleged his car was repossessed as he prepared to deploy to Afghanistan. The vehicle was later auctioned and the bank attempted to collect $10,000 from the serviceman’s family. Continue reading

Mark one victory in the fight to hold accountable violators of consumer rights under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. A federal judge in Illinois agreed to certify a class-action lawsuit against a telemarketing firm accused of repeatedly calling people without their authorization – even after the company had been asked to stop.consumer rights

The case, Toney v. Quality Resources Inc., will proceed as a class action after the U.S. District judge ruled named plaintiff’s arguments were persuasive. The calls in question were reportedly automated, and began only after the individual’s in question provided their phone number when making a a purchase of children’s slippers from a third-party online vendor. That contact information, it now seems, was sold to the telemarketing firm, which then used it to target for telephone solicitations. This had allegedly been going on since 2009.

Named plaintiff, who filed her claim originally in 2013, claimed defendant telemarketing firm called her cell phone time after time after she ordered the slippers. Her phone number was on the National Do Not Call Registry. After the telemarketer purchased the information from the slipper company, the telemarketer called those individuals under the guise of confirming customer’s child slipper orders. In fact, the real reason for the call was to convince those consumers to purchase online coupons from a discount retail site, which had contracted with the telemarketer. That discount retail operator was later added to the consumer rights lawsuit, and later settled for $2.15 million. Continue reading

An investigation into Wells Fargo’s unauthorized account scandal is now apparently worse than initially believed. The financial institution says it has uncovered approximately 3.5 million potentially fraudulent bank accounts created by employees under intense sales pressure without consumers’ knowledge. That figure involves the 2.1 million accounts that were previously uncovered between 2011 and 2015, plus more that were revealed in an in-depth probe that stretched back to 2009 through 2016.consumer rights

This is the latest development in a scandal for the bank that started a year ago – one of many the bank has been facing down in recent years, marring consumer trust in its practices.

Of those accounts discovered, the CEO now says nearly 200,000 customers were hit with fees from these accounts that were unnecessary. That’s up from the previous estimate of 130,000. On top of that, approximately 530,000 customers were unknowingly signed up for an online bill pay. Continue reading

Spotting a single cockroach scurrying across the kitchen floor when you flip the light on is disconcerting enough. What’s even worse is the knowledge there are almost certainly more you can’t see, lurking in dark crevices, part of a systemic problem (of your own creation or otherwise). The same is true of the consumer rights violations uncovered at Wells Fargo. consumer rights

As billionaire investor Warren Buffet recently commented to CNBC, Wells Fargo’s recent woes are indicative not just of issues within that institution, but are likely reflective of more widespread problems within then banking industry as a whole. When this issues are spotlighted – as is currently being done with a third-party review of the bank’s most recent sales scandal – we’re likely to be seeing more of the same. Even the bank’s CEO in an internal message warned workers to brace for the potential onslaught of negative headlines as the independent review nears a close.

Buffet commented that anytime an organization with thousands of employees is heavily scrutinized, issues will be uncovered. This is especially true when there have already been notable systemic problems. Such issues highlight the culture of a place, which can set the tone for other shady practices.  Continue reading

It’s well-established that free and open markets are the foundation of a vibrant economy. When competition is aggressive among open-market sellers, both businesses and individuals are supposed to benefit from higher quality services and goods as well as lower prices. The laws that enforce the rules of a fair, open market are called antitrust laws. Consumer rights attorneys know that these laws are important not just to businesses, but to individuals. consumer rights lawyer

Recently, journalism outlet Vox delved into whether the economic gap of income inequality between the coastal cities, which are overall thriving, and Middle America, may be blamed on lack of antitrust enforcement.

This all started with President Ronald Reagan, and a policy to mute the impact of antitrust oversight. The idea was to make it easier for large companies to merge. In so doing, however, large companies became extremely powerful, consolidating market power and trampling their competition. Prior to Reagan’s antitrust policies, monopolies were largely prevented from forming. Now though, we see such mega-firms commonplace in almost every industry, from pharmaceuticals to technology to retail. Yes, they are bad for competition, but it’s being speculated that they are also largely to blame for the decline of a number of cities across the country.  Continue reading

Tort reform supporters in Congress are fired up, gaining significant traction in recent weeks with a number of proposed measures that could substantially undercut consumer rights. people

One of the most troubling bills takes aim at class action lawsuits.

Misleadingly dubbed the, “Fairness in Class Action Act,” H.R. 985 passed 220-201 (largely along party lines), the measure might be more aptly named the Class Action Elimination Act.

The reality is this bill creates procedural and evidentiary burdens that some opine are so high, it will be nearly impossible to pursue class action litigation. That would be a huge blow for consumer rights because it’s a key tool consumers have to level the playing field against large companies for unfair dealings.  Continue reading

The U.S. Senate recently took one major step toward protecting the rights of consumers and the integrity of capitalism in the 21st Century with its passage of the Consumer Review Freedom Act (S. 2044, H.R. 2110). The bill targets so-called “gag clauses” or “non-disparagement agreements,” which some companies use to curb criticism online.enterkey

Although many companies have argued that competitors or others are unfairly using online tools to spread falsehoods or maliciously damaging their reputation without cause, the flip side is that consumers have been penalized thousands of dollars for posting negative – but honest – online reviews. These reviews are widely used by prospective customers to determine whether to buy a service or patronize a location, so there is a lot at stake on both sides.

These dubious non-disparagement clauses are often tucked into the fine print of the purchase agreement, and have been found on even the most seemingly inane purchases, such as cellphone accessories. Others have been found in rental agreements with landlords, wedding contractors or sellers of weight loss products. Continue reading