Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

May 2017 Archives

Nearly every internet user has encountered some form of the tech support scam in their browsing history. Although these tech support scams are rather common, the level of sophistication can vary as the majority of these are just online phishing scams.

The most common tech support scams involve a user getting a pop-up window, or redirected to a webpage, that warns the user that their computer is or may be infected by a virus. From there, the user either downloads software recommended by the warning, or calls a phone number. In either scenario, a scammer will be trying to either get the user to send them money, or steal bank account information, or other sensitive data.

Last Friday, Fiat Chrysler announced a rather serious recall for their Dodge Ram pickup trucks. The problem has been linked to one death and two other injuries. The newest recall comes just one month after a rather minor recall was announced due to incorrect warnings on the sun visors of the 2014-2017 Ram ProMaster vehicles.

The latest recall however is not so minor and can lead to fatal injuries. The problem was discovered after the company was sued as a result of a rollover accident. The software on a computer control module linked to the collision safety system is prone to malfunction. The malfunction can cause air bags to not deploy, and seat belts to not tighten up, during an accident. This is of particular concern because pickup trucks are generally more prone to dangerous rollover accidents.

In yet another undeclared food allergen recall this year, Trader Joe's announced last week that one of their mochi ice cream products may contain undeclared peanuts. The company issued a voluntary recall on the "Chocolate Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream" produced by Mikawaya and sold nationwide in their stores. 

Since the recall, all affected products have been removed from store shelves. Consumers who may have purchased the mochi affected by the recall can return the product to any Trader Joe's store for a refund. However, individuals who do not have allergies to peanuts are free to consume the product as it poses no other health risk (other than being ice cream).

In 2015, it was discovered that Volkswagen had been cheating consumers and regulators worldwide when it came to the emissions testing of their Turbo Diesel Injected (TDI) engines. The aftermath of the discovery led to mass recalls, several lawsuits, negative PR, and worldwide controversy.

The most recent settlement for $1.2 billion, which is set to be approved by a federal judge, means that all affected US consumers who purchased or leased vehicles with the TDI 3.0L engine will be compensated as a result of the deception. In addition to VW being required to repair these vehicles to bring them into compliance with existing emissions standards, owners and lessees will be entitled to compensation for being defrauded. The per consumer compensation being awarded by this settlement can range from $5,000 to $7,500 or more. Additionally, lease holders will be entitled to terminate their leases without paying a cancellation penalty.

We live in a 21st century digital world. That means that parents need to watch out for what their kids are doing, digitally. The apps of today have taken technology a step further towards the danger zone.

Below is a list of five types of apps that could actually be really dangerous to kids, and even adults. However, for parents, there is an added layer of difficulty, and this comes from "Vault" apps. Vault apps are designed to hide other apps, photos, videos, and other content, that a phone's owner might want to keep hidden from others.

A product that was being marketed as an opiate withdrawal remedy that promised to ease the associated pains has settled claims brought by the FTC against it. The company that makes Withdrawal Ease and Recovery Ease will no longer be able to make claims about the products' health benefits unless the claims are supported by actual evidence.

These products were marketed toward individuals seeking help recovering from the withdrawal symptoms of opiate addiction, and made specific claims that the product was effective, despite there being no scientific evidence to support those claims. In addition to the settlement preventing the company from making certain claims when marketing their products, the settlement also called for a $6.6 million dollar payment. However, the payment has been suspended due to the company's inability to pay.

For those that drink Bombay Sapphire gin, whether socially, recreationally, or professionally, a recent recall prompted by the company is bound to raise some flummoxed eyebrows. Apparently, one unhappy customer and gin connoisseur noticed that his bottle of gin did not meet his expectations (which clearly were not to get drunk quickly and cheaply) and he contacted the company to let them know.

What happened next probably isn't going to shock you as you probably could've guessed based on the title: it was discovered that Bombay Sapphire had inadvertently messed up the mixture on a small batch of bottles. Rather than the usual 40 percent alcohol content, the special mis-mixed batch came out at an ultra-flammable 77 percent alcohol, or 154 proof.

With the increased societal reliance on the internet, it is increasingly rare in this day and age to see scammers resort to classic, in person, confidence tricks like the fake driveway paving scam. However, a pair of scammers are being sued in Ohio as a result of over 30 separate complaints alleging illegal business practices tied to a driveway paving scam.

While many home improvement con artists use fake names, fake businesses, and vanish into thin air once they receive any cash, the Ohio pair tried to cover up the scam by performing "minimal and shoddy" work. All in all, investigators have found that the Ohio driveway paving scammers made nearly $70,000 as a result of the 30 separate complaints reported.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued multiple warning letters to the manufacturers of several unapproved, deceptively advertised, alleged 'cancer treatments.' The warning letters were issued alongside a public notice which warned consumers of the dangers of buying non-FDA approved products that claim to cure cancer.

Particularly worth noting is that the FDA's warning to consumers advised individuals to be wary of social media advertisements for cancer treatments, particularly if there is not a clear indication that the product has received FDA approval for their claims. The FDA noted a rise in social media advertising for these false cures. Additionally, the warning advised that individuals seeking cancer treatment, or prevention, should seek advice from medical doctors before beginning any course of treatment or action.