Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

December 2018 Archives

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".

Jimmy Dean Recalls Nearly 30,000 Pounds of Sausage

Just when you thought it was safe to eat again after the recent romaine lettuce E. Coli outbreak, Jimmy Dean has recalled nearly 30,000 pounds of its sausage meat after at least five customers found ribbons of metal laced through their links. Though no one has been injured to date, the metal does pose choking, laceration, and even poisoning dangers. Reports of the laced links started hitting the U.S. Department of Agriculture on December 10th, and appear to be in the 23.4-ounce frozen packages of Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original sausage links made with turkey and pork produced and packaged August 4, 2018, with a use-by date of January 31, 2019.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Flushable Wipes False Advertising Lawsuit

The United States Supreme Court refused a request to hear arguments regarding whether or not a consumer can bring a case for false advertising about flushable wipes. The plaintiff had prevailed at the appellate level, and now defendant Kimberly Clark Corporation's hopes are down the drain.

Cryptocurrency Ads on Facebook May Be a Scam

It seems a new scam consumer is born every minute, and a new one has just reared its ugly head on Facebook. Its goal is to get your credit card information. Its method is distraction.