Consumer Rights: Common Law

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A Colorado study found that children and young adults with cancer were more likely to live near an oil and gas well. The study looked at hundreds of cases and discovered that subjects aged 5 to 24 with acute lymphocytic leukemia were over four times as likely to live among the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells.

At this point the findings indicate a correlation between well proximity and certain cancer rates rather than causation between them, and conclude "further study is clearly needed to substantiate both our positive and negative findings."

Consumer concerns have clearly shifted since the new administration took office. Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission's chairman, Elliot Kaye, stepped down, following other democratic leaders facing pressure from the Republican administration. Although it is unclear why exactly Mr. Kaye stepped down as chairman, he still retains his tenacity as well as his position as a commissioner and key decision maker.

Kaye headed the commission during an exciting time where it finally was able to enforce significant fines against businesses that violate consumer protection laws. Under Kaye, the CPSC was able to achieve numerous multi-million dollar settlements from companies that ignored consumer safety issues. The new chairman, Ann Marie Buerkle, is a former Republican congress woman, and current commissioner as well. However, she opposes the CPSC's new found ability to fine businesses heavily.

The FCC and 'Zero-Rating'

The phrase 'zero-rating' might sounds like the worst news a business can get from customers on Yelp. Instead, recent news coming out of the Federal Communications Commission might be the best that media companies offering sponsored data programs have heard recently.

Zero-rating actually refers to the practice of data carriers not counting certain data usage against their customers' caps, allowing some companies to pay those carriers to exempt their data. While net neutrality advocates and even the former FCC Chairman aren't fans of certain zero-rating plans, it looks like the new FCC won't mind.

There are hearts breaking wide open all over the world. It was recently discovered that the nearly 60-year-old Sophie the Giraffe children's chew/teething toy could potentially be dangerous due to mold. While the moldy chew toy problem is not unique to Sophie the Giraffe, owners of the $25 piece of rubber are up in arms after the recent discovery. The toy has been heralded by celebrities, including Madonna, and was even featured in the Tom Selleck, 80s classic, "Three Men and a Baby."

Basically, toys like Sophie the Giraffe, which have air trapped inside with virtually no air circulation inside, can easily develop mold if water finds it way inside the toy. Frequently, and extremely commonly, anytime you give anything to a baby, they're going to put it into their mouths. If it falls on the floor, parents frequently will wash a toy that gets frequently chewed on. However, all that exposure to water increases the risk of water getting inside and mold forming.

FCC Rules on Robocalls

In the battle against unwanted sales calls, it's nice to know the government is on your side. The Do Not Call Registry was a good start, but in the age of cell phones, emails, and text messages, regulatory agencies can struggle to keep pace with tech-savvy telemarketers.

So the Federal Communications Commission recently issued some new advice on stopping unwanted calls, texts, and even faxes. (Remember those?) The FCC also published their telemarketing rules, establishing restriction on robocalls. Here's what you need to know:

Email Scam Du Jour: Netflix

The most recent email scams making the rounds involve everyone's favorite movie streaming service, Netflix. While email scams are nothing new, the new Netflix scams, like the newest Gmail scam, have learned from the mistakes of past scams.

Scammers, in their usual style, utilize a phishing campaign, which involves sending out mass emails hoping that a couple people don't recognize the deception. However, unlike most phishing scams, where it is usually pretty easy to spot the tell-tale signs of a scam, the newest Netflix scam is much more sophisticated and difficult to detect.

Unfortunately, the cost of legal help can often be prohibitive for most people. Consumers are often forced to forgo legal help because they cannot justify the immediate high cost, despite the potential for even higher costs over the long term. In order to capitalize on this insecurity of consumers, businesses have popped up offering consumers access to legal forms and legal services using low-cost subscription models. However, these services can often hurt consumers more than they help.

While many service industry jobs can easily be replaced by automation and outsourcing, legal services require a professional's touch. That is because each legal situation is different, and standardized documents and services frequently fail to account for individualized situations.

A major household brand name in small appliances, Cuisinart, issued a voluntary recall this week that affects approximately 8 million of the company's food processor units. The recall applies to all units sold between 1996 and 2015 that have the four-rivet blade. Consumers have been warned to stop using the four-rivet blades immediately due to concerns that the product can cause injury.

The company issued the recall after it had received nearly 70 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the food processor's blade in their food. Shockingly, a little less than half of these reports included individuals discovering the broken pieces of blade in their mouths. These types of blades break down over time and can break apart, leaving small fragments of metal blade in food.

Stories about scammers asking for payment in gift cards, a relatively new trend, seem to be increasing in frequency. Gift cards, believe it or not, are a relatively untraceable method for scammers to steal money from victims. Generally, if a person is asking you to provide them with payment via a gift card over the phone, you are being scammed (that is unless you're legitimately shopping by phone using a gift card).

Recently, the story of John Gutz made headlines after his daughter saved him from giving a scammer $10,000 in gift cards. Mr. Gutz was able to walk into a Sam's Club and purchase the pile of gift cards, and luckily, his daughter inquired into what he was doing before he started reading off the numbers to the scammer over the phone.

Despite the numerous warnings we hear every year from local fire departments, police, news stations, family, friends, neighbors, and even bloggers, unattended Christmas trees cause hundreds of home fires every single year. Generally, tree fires are the result of a combination of factors, including bad lights, bad wiring, improper placement, and letting the tree dry out. If you are careless with your tree and it catches fire, not only can you potentially ruin your own family's Christmas, you could be legally liable for ruining your neighbors or whole neighborhood's Christmas.

Below, you'll find four important safety tips to prevent a Christmas tree fire.