Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

October 2016 Archives

Following up on September's Automated Vehicles Policy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued guidance for automakers on cybersecurity. As vehicles are becoming more technologically advanced, the potential for dangerous cyber-attacks increase. Since automakers have been connecting vehicles to the internet through cellular networks, and including sophisticated computers capable of controlling every feature on a car, the NHTSA believed that cyber-security guidance was necessary to protect consumers and the public from vehicle cyber attacks.

In August, the cybersecurity researchers/hackers that famously took over a 2014 Jeep, demonstrated again that although one security flaw was fixed, the vehicle was far from secure. This time, while directly plugged into the vehicle, they were able to engage the brakes and turn the steering wheel via their connected computer, while overriding the security measures that should have prevented their actions. In response, Chrysler representatives explained that the attack was not done remotely, and as such was not as significant as the prior 2014 hack where the same researchers were able to remotely control a Wired magazine writer's Jeep.

St. Jude Medical filed a lawsuit last month against the investment firm and research agency that issued a report in August claiming their cardiac implants were vulnerable to hacking. St. Jude filed suit against Muddy Waters (an investment firm) and MedSec (a security consultant) after it was discovered that Muddy Waters was shorting St. Jude stock, and that they have a deal with MedSec to split the profits made by shorting. This information calls the report's truthfulness into question due to the fact that Muddy Waters and MedSec both have a strong financial incentive to make claims against St. Jude to cause the stock price to fall.

Most recently, Muddy Waters filed a third party research firm's report in court validating MedSec's initial report's findings. The report, by BishopFox, states that the initial report's findings are accurate. BishopFox also claims to have been able to repeat the cyber attacks on the devices that the initial report described.

New Rules being implemented by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) require airlines that charge fees for baggage handling to refund those fees for lost bags, as well as bags that are delayed. While the bill passed by congress advises that bags delayed more than 12 hours (or 15 hours for international flights) should qualify passengers for a refund of any bag fees, DOT may be able to adjust the hours when the final regulations are written.

Along with the new rules on baggage fees, airlines are now required to report all incidents of mishandling wheelchairs. In addition to this good news, measures are being considered that would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose all additional fees when listing out ticket prices for consumers.

For those who haven't yet heard of it, Venmo is a handy app that facilitates payments, not unlike PayPal. It's especially useful for friends to pay each other for bills, like splitting a dinner check, putting in your share of the rent, and paying a buddy back for spotting you a few beers. Just find your friend, type in the amount you want to send, and voila -- they're paid.

The only problem is, the payment doesn't quite happen as instantaneously as the app says. There can be a delay between getting that "cheery green plus sign" in the Venmo app and getting the funds into your bank account. And scammers are taking advantage of that loophole to take advantage of trusting sellers.

Some of us can't afford a brand new car, and some of us are just looking for a better deal. Either way, buying a used car can present a host of financial, mechanical, and legal questions.

Here are seven of the biggest legal questions you might have before buying a used car, and where you can find the answers:

If you or a loved one takes Sun Pharmaceuticals' generic brand of Wellbutrin, the well known antidepressant drug, be advised that the manufacturer has issued a recall ahead of the FDA. Over 30,000 bottles of the generic medication are being recalled due to problems with the dissolution specifications, or how quickly the drug dissolves.

The medication being recalled is sold under the generic name of bupropion hydrochloride extended-release. The recall only applies to the 150mg tablets that were produced in the company's manufacturing facility in Halol, India. Although a recall has been issued, the recalled drug is not likely to cause injury.

The Drumstick -- second only to the Choco Taco in terms of ice cream bin impulse buys -- is in trouble. Drumstick maker Nestle announced a nationwide recall of the treat after equipment at a California factory tested positive for Listeria.

While the company asserts that no illnesses have been reported yet, some of the products were headed to convenience stores like 7-11. Here's what you need to know.

One of the most feared phone calls or pieces of mail an American can get is one from the IRS. A call center in India has recently been taking advantage of this fear by posing as the IRS in order to scam unsuspecting U.S. citizens.

The scam worked like this: U.S. citizens would receive a voicemail from the call center, claiming to be the IRS, the message would state that a lawsuit had been filed against them for tax issues, and that they needed to call back urgently. The automated message used a method known as "spoofing" in order to display the actual IRS's phone number on the receiver's caller ID. When a person called back, they were advised that they owed a certain amount of money and that if they did not pay right now, their home would be raided within half an hour.

Believe it or not, countless people fell for this scam. The call center was boasting income of over $150,000 per day. Each scammer would demand as much as they thought they could get away with, sometimes $500, often in the thousands, and in one case $60,000.

Since the dawn of the Internet Age, world wide web users have been concerned about their digital privacy, but what about the digital privacy of the deceased? While there is a new trend for internet accounts to allow users to select account successors, will your BFF or best bro really be able to fulfill your last dying wish of deleting your web history before your mother sees it? Unless your friend knows or can crack your password, or you've left specific instructions on how this can be accomplished, and those instructions aren't locked away behind a password secured email account, your bestie isn't going to be able to delete that embarrassing web history.

The good news is that if you haven't left instructions outside a locked email account or computer, it is unlikely anyone else will be able to, unless the law changes -- as it recently did in Delaware.

Samsung has a history of being a premier brand that consumers love and revere for quality, but lately, the brand name is becoming known for products that literally blow up. Last month, numerous reports of the newest Samsung smartphone exploding and catching fire kept the brand in the press. More recently, it has come out that even the replacement devices may be defective. And now, this past week, the brand's washing machines are making headlines for exploding.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal government agency charged with protecting the public and consumers from the risk of injury or death caused by dangerous products, has issued a warning to the owners of Samsung washing machines produced between 2011 to 2016.

News broke Tuesday morning that J&J’s Animas OneTouch Ping insulin pump has security vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit. There are currently no reported cases where a hacker has maliciously taken control over a person’s insulin pump, however the manufacturer wanted users to be aware of the risk.

Granted, the likelihood that a hacker would want to take control over a person’s insulin pump is extraordinarily low, but it is still not beyond belief that some malicious person would attempt to do so. The device allows users to easily have insulin injected into their bloodstream, which means that a hacker could force the device to give multiple doses of insulin, which could potentially trigger a fatal event.