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January 2015 Archives

Two new auto recalls were announced Wednesday involving nearly 1 million Ford and Nissan vehicles.

Ford is recalling more than 205,000 vehicles because of a problem with interior door handles, and an additional 16,100 vehicles for potential issues with safety belt fasteners, reports The Detroit News. Separately, Nissan announced the recall of about 768,000 vehicles for issues relating to a potential wiring short and problems with a secondary hood latch, Reuters reports.

What should consumers know about these two recalls?

Ford Recall

Ford is recalling 205,000 Taurus, Lincoln, and Police Interceptor vehicles from the model years 2010-13 because of an issue with a spring inside the vehicles' door handles. A defect in this mechanism could cause the door to become unlatched during a crash, increasing the risk of injury for the driver or other occupants of the vehicle.

Ford also announced the recall of 16,100 of its Transit Connect vans, citing an issue with the vehicles' safety belt fasteners. These fasteners may not have been properly tightened, leading to an increased risk of injury in a crash.

According to Ford, no injuries have been reported in connection with these recalls. Even so, owners of these vehicles have the right to a recall remedy, which in this case involves free repairs at a Ford dealership.

Nissan Recall

Nissan also announced recalls related to two different potential defects. Approximately 552,135 of the company's Rogue crossover vehicles from model years 2008 and 2013 are being recalled because of a potential problem caused by moisture seeping through the driver's side floor, causing an electrical short in wiring which could in turn cause a fire.

Another 215,789 Nissan Pathfinder SUVs from model years 2013 and 2014 are being recalled; the problem lies with a secondary hood latch designed to prevent the hood from flying back if the primary hood latch is disengaged. No injuries have been reported in either of these recalls.

How to Determine Whether Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

If you are curious whether your vehicle may be affected by this or any other recent vehicle recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a free online tool that allow consumers to determine whether safety recall repairs have been completed on a specific vehicle.

Consumers can search using their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see whether any required recall repairs are needed. Individual manufacturers are also now required to have recall information searchable by VIN on their own websites.

If you were injured because of a mechanical defect in a recalled vehicle, a products liability lawyer can help explain the legal options for recovering for your injuries.

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'Child Predator Alert' Email Is a Scam, BBB Warns

The Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be on the lookout for a new email scam disguised as a warning about child predators in their area.

According to the BBB, parents have reported receiving an email with the alarming subject line "Alert: There is a Child-Predator Living Near You!" The email goes on to say that, based on your ZIP code, a registered child sex offender has "just moved into your area."

Fortunately, the email's claims are untrue. But parents duped by the email's scare tactics may themselves become victimized by malicious software designed to steal sensitive financial and personal information from their computers.

How the Scam Works

The email provides a link for those concerned by the email's dire warnings to "learn more about this predator alert." And clicking the link provided does lead to a website for "Kids Live Safe," a service that provides reports on sex offenders.

But the emails aren't actually affiliated with "Kids Live Safe." Rather, the link seems to be way to make the scam look more legitimate. In addition to leading to the Kids Live Safe website, clicking on the link also may be enough to allow malware to infect your machine, the BBB warns. This malware will then search your computer for passwords, credit card numbers, and other information that could be used by scammers for identity theft.

How to Spot the Scam

The BBB recommends several ways that consumers can spot this scam and others like it before it's too late. These include:

  • Watch for typos and bad grammar. Scammers are good at making emails look legitimate, with logos and design, but are typically less adept at writing clearly. Look for misspellings, poor grammar, and strange phrasing such as the scam emails use of the term "local area zipcode."
  • If you don't remember signing up for a service, you probably didn't. Scam emails are often disguised as notifications from a service or retailer. But if you don't remember ever having signed up for a particular service or making a purchase from a website, chances are you didn't and the email is a scam.
  • Look for strange email addresses, URLs. Here's another red flag: An email that appears to be from a particular service or business but is sent from an unrelated email address. Also, always be sure to hover your mouse over links in an email to see where they actually lead. A link might say it's going one place, but may take you somewhere different when you click on it.

To learn more about identity theft, email privacy, and online safety, check out FindLaw's section on Online Scams.

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Ikea Recalls Crib Mattresses Over Injury Risk

Ikea has announced a recall of nearly 170.000 crib mattresses because infants may become trapped between the mattress and the crib.

The Swedish furniture retailer is recalling its Vyssa style mattresses, reports CNBC. The recalled mattresses were sold with the model names Vinka, Spelevink, Vackert, Sloa, and Slummer. They were made in Mexico on or before May 4, 2014.

What do consumers need to know about this crib mattress recall?

Reports of Infants Becoming Trapped

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Ikea has received two reports of infants becoming trapped in the gap between the mattress and the crib. Neither of these incidents led to an injury.

But the incidents did lead to the discovery of a defect present in some mattresses. These defective mattresses create a gap between the mattress and the crib that's larger than allowed by federal regulations. In order to prevent potential injuries -- and to thwart any potential defective product injury lawsuits that could follow -- the company is recalling 169,000 mattresses that may have the reported defect.

Did You Buy a Recalled Mattress?

The Ikea Vyssa mattresses subject to the recall were manufactured on or before May 4, 2014. A label attached to the mattress will show the product's model name and manufacturing date.

The CPSC advises consumers who may have purchased a mattress to inspect the mattress, making sure that the gaps between the sides of the mattress and the crib are no larger than the width of two fingers. If a larger gap is found, consumers are advised to stop using the mattress immediately and return the product to any Ikea store for an exchange or refund. Proof of purchase is not required.

Consumers with questions can call Ikea toll-free at (888) 966-4532. Consumers are also encouraged to report any incidents involving this product to the CPSC by using the online report filing system.

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Dick's Sporting Goods has started off the New Year with a pair of product recalls.

The company announced late last month the recall of the Fitness Gear Inversion table, a fitness device in which users are flipped upside down. The second recall, announced last week, also involves a fitness product: the Pro Performance SKLZ Recoil 360 All Position Trainer, an elastic band-type device used for resistance training.

What led to these two product recalls and what should consumers who may have purchased these defective products do?

Fitness Gear Inversion Table

Dick's has issued a voluntary recall for the Fitness Gear Inversion Table based on two issues with the product. First, the company has removed potentially misleading medical claims on the product's packaging, as well as on store signage and in online descriptions. These claims included statements that the fitness table reduced back stress by relieving pressure on vertebrae discs, relieved pain by stretching muscles, stimulated circulation to relieve muscle stiffness, and reduced the effect of aging due to gravity. The company states in its recall notice that the Inversion Table is "intended to be a fitness product, and not a medical device."

Dick's also reports that users of the product have been injured after falling from the table. Consumers who may have been injured while using this product may want to consult a lawyer regarding a personal injury lawsuit. But anyone who may have purchased a Fitness Gear Inversion Table from Dick's between November 2011 and September 2014 can return the product to a Dick's store for a full refund.

SKLZ Recoil 360 All Position Trainer

The SKLZ resistance training belt is being recalled after it was discovered that a weld on the device may snap, causing the flexible cord to retract and potentially hit the exercise partner providing resistance. According the Consumer Product Safety Commission, three serious injuries have been reported in connection with the defect.

Those who purchased one of the 52,000 units subject to the recall can contact the product's manufacturer SKLZ, to receive a replacement product. Consumers with questions regarding either of these recalls can call Dick's Customer Service team at (866) 677-4771.

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Consumers are being warned by the Better Business Bureau about a new scam involving an online survey that promises takers a free gift card.

According to the BBB, official-looking posts sent by email or appearing on social media encourage consumers to claim a free gift card to a major retailer such as Walmart. All the consumers have to do in order to receive the card, according to the message, is complete a customer satisfaction survey.

Unfortunately, consumers who attempt to complete the survey may end up the victims of identity theft.

Survey Requests Personal Information

The surveys reportedly begin with seemingly legitimate questions about how often a consumer shops at the store or rates a particular website. But consumers who reach the end of the survey report that the promised gift card doesn't exist. Instead, consumers are offered discounts on suspicious services or junk products.

In a more nefarious version of the scam, consumers have reported that the survey requests personal information such as credit card numbers or a consumer's home address. Consumers who unwittingly provide this information may be providing scammers the information they need to access financial accounts or apply for fraudulent credit cards or loans in the consumer's name.

How Can You Tell If a Survey Is a Scam?

The BBB has a few tips on how to avoid scam surveys. These include:

  • Don't trust your eyes. It's easy for scammers to design an email or social media post to look like it's official by stealing the logos, fonts, and colors of an established company.
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a $100 gift card for answering a couple easy questions sounds like a spectacular deal, right? Maybe... too spectacular? If an offer seems suspiciously generous, that may be a red flag that it's a scam.
  • Do a Web search. If you're not sure whether you're being tricked into something that may be a scam, often a quick Web search can reveal information about potential scams. For example, Walmart has posted an alert regarding survey scams on the company's own website.

Find more tips for avoiding identity theft and online fraud at FindLaw's section on Online Scams.

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GM Recalls 92K Trucks, SUVs Over Ignition Defect

General Motors has issued a recall for 92,000 SUVs and trucks over a potential defect in the vehicle's ignition systems.

The new recall includes nearly 84,000 vehicles in the United States, Reuters reports. An additional 9,000 vehicles were recalled in other countries. The recall is the latest GM recall involving defective ignition switches; previous ignition switch problems in GM vehicles have been linked to at least 42 deaths and thousands of injuries

What vehicles are involved in this most recent GM ignition switch recall?

Recall Includes Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Cadillac Escalade

This new GM recall involves vehicles that may have an ignition lock actuator with an outer diameter that is too large. This may cause the key to get stuck in the "start" position, which in the event of "significant jarring" may cause the ignition to move into the "accessory position," affecting power steering, power breaking, air bag deployment and engine power.

The vehicles included to the recall include certain light- and heavy-duty pickups as well as SUVs from model years 2007 to 2014. The following models are included:

  • Chevrolet Avalanche, Tahoe, Silverado and Suburban;
  • GMC Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL; and
  • Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade EXT.

So far no crashes or injuries have been reported in connection with this latest ignition switch issue.

2 Additional Recalls

GM also announced a pair of other, significantly smaller recalls. One involves about five dozen 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks that may have a faulty hose clamp. The other covers about 11 dozen 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC 1500 pickups that may suffer a fractured rear axle shaft while being driven.

How to Determine Whether Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

Consumers who want to know if their vehicle may be subject to one or more recalls can find out by using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's free online recall search tool. The tool allows consumers to search a vehicle by VIN to determine whether recall repairs have been made to a vehicle.

GM also has its own online recall search tool that allows consumers to search by VIN. Consumers who own vehicles involved in the most recent recalls will also be notified by the automaker within 60 days.

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