Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Consumer Protection Websites Are Down as Gov. Shutdown Continues

As the old saying goes, "problems" roll downhill, and at the bottom of The Hill's federal shutdown are consumers. Numerous governmental entities, products, and services that protect consumer interests have been shuttered. None have mentioned any date of reopening soon, as the federal government shutdown now reaches the longest in U.S. history.

Is Technology to Blame for an Increase in Car Thefts?

Some say crooks are stupid, but sometimes it's the victims. Keyless ignitions are on the rise, and so are car thefts. Many believe that the two are tied together, due car owners leaving fobs in the car in order to streamline their morning routine. But few things stall out a morning routine like a stolen car.

Court Tosses Suit Over Microplastics in Nestle Water

Cindy Baker filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles, alleging that there is a high amount of microplastics in Nestle's Pure Life bottled water, in violation of state and federal laws. The lawsuit was seeking an injunction barring Nestle from selling and advertising Pure Life water.

The judge didn't disagree with her, but did agree with Nestle that this is the wrong place to file such a claim, dismissed the suit, and recommended Baker file with the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration (FDA). The judge did grant Baker the right to amend her lawsuit, but said it had to be done in good faith, and not include and deficiencies noted in the first filing. Baker's attorney intends to file an amended lawsuit.

Don't Get Scammed Into Becoming a 'Money Mule'

If you've seen the trailer for "The Mule," starring Clint Eastwood, you pretty much get the idea of the job -- using an unsuspicious person to bring something illegal into a country. In "The Mule," the product is cocaine. But more often than not, the product is money. Money Mules are people that launder money, which means that they "clean" dirty money obtained through illegal means by having it processed in such a way that police have a hard time linking the clean money to the original crime.

Sometimes Money Mules sign up for the job, enticed by the promise of getting to keep a percentage of the money they launder. But often times, people are used unwittingly. And it can happen to anyone -- young or old, educated or not. Money launderers are evolving through trial and error, and their ways are getting trickier by the day.

Wells Fargo Settles Phony Accounts Scandal With $575M

Wells Fargo hopes this is the last shoe to fall in the Phony Accounts scandal unearthed in 2016. The company recently agreed to a $575 million settlement with all 50 state attorneys general over violations of state consumer protection laws tied to the opening of unauthorized bank accounts and unwanted insurance policies in its clients' names.

Without ever admitting or denying fault, the company has now paid out over $2 billion in fines, damages and penalties over the same set of facts. Included in this settlement, Wells Fargo will also require an internal team to review customer inquiries, as well as create a website that describes the bank's remediation efforts. "This agreement underscores our serious commitment to making things right in regard to past issues as we work to build a better bank," according to Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan. That could be a slow stagecoach ride, Mr. Sloan.

Seafood in NY Is Mislabeled Over 25 Percent of the Time

Call it bait and switch, but something's fishy in the New York seafood industry. According to a recent study, over one fourth of the seafood found in New York supermarkets are mislabeled, and what's inside the package is almost always a cheaper species than what's on the label.

The New York Office of Attorney General (OAG) is taking action, but don't expect a solution any time soon. In fact, New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood said, "We're taking enforcement action, and consumers should be alert and demand that their supermarket put customers first by taking serious steps to ensure quality control at their seafood counters." So until some solution is found, it's buyer beware!

Don't Fall for the Netflix Email Scam

'Tis the season for phishing scams, and this one involves Netflix. Many consumers report receiving an email that looks like it's from Netflix, but it is in fact a scam trying to get your credit card information.

Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of lawsuits filed by over 10,000 plaintiffs alleging the company's baby powder contained dangerous levels of asbestos in the talc used to create it. After losing several high-profile, high-damages jury verdicts (and having another overturned on appeal) a bombshell Reuters report shows J&J knew there was asbestos in its baby powder as far back as the early 1970's and spent the ensuing decades misleading customers and U.S. regulators.

Normally, such revelations would lead to a recall of potentially dangerous products. But after years of litigation on the matter (and hundreds of claims still in the courts), Johnson & Johnson maintains that its talc-based baby powder is perfectly safe.

Beware the Holiday Email Shipping Scam

'Tis the season for gifts and Grinches. Email scammers are guessing that you, and millions of your fellow citizens, will be shopping online this holiday season, and have found another way to try to fool you out of your money. According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), scammers are sending out emails, disguised as shipping confirmations, to try to sneak malware into your computer

To scammers, it's a sheer numbers game. "Fake shipping emails are not exclusive to the holidays, but the volume of shopping-related messages during this season opens opportunities for these scams," said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Scammers send these emails randomly to as many addresses as possible, so even consumers who don't shop online need to be on the lookout."

Cheez-It's 'Whole Grain' Slogan Could Mislead Consumers, Court Rules

How much whole grain must be in a Cheez-It cracker to label the box "Whole Grain" or "Made With Whole Grain"? Evidently that's a matter of law, according to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. A three-member panel overruled the district court's decision to dismiss the class action alleging "false and misleading" labeling on Kellogg's Cheez-It whole grain crackers for failing to make a claim. As such, the lower court will hear the case on its merits. Good thing this case isn't about how much cheese is in a Cheez-It. Perhaps Kellogg should label the crackers "Hole Grain".