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Holiday Season Is Scam Season

As state and federal consumer protection departments know, the holiday season is ripe for scams. Nothing is sacred when it comes to scammers, and they don't mind taking advantage of people who are trying to do nice things over the holidays.

From online and in-store shopping to shipping, there's a lot to be mindful of when sharing financial information. Here are five of the most common scams to watch out for this holiday season.

FDA to Ban Sales of Flavored Vaping in Convenience Stores

Following through on previous announcements, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on selling flavored e-cigarette products at traditional convenience stores. They will now only be allowed to be sold at age-restricted tobacco stores and online stores that use age-verification checks. The FDA could see carving out exceptions for convenience stores that have a completely separate, age-restricted section.

Nestle's Bottled Water Filled With Microplastics, Lawsuit Claims 

When it comes to healthy living, weight loss, getting in shape, and the like, we're constantly being told to drink more water. But what if even your water isn't good for you?

A class action lawsuit filed against Nestle claims that the company engaged in deceptive marketing because their bottled water, Pure Life, is not so pure and contains microplastics, according to a recent study.

It's a pretty common assumption: you walk into a fast food establishment, see combo meals on the menu, and assume that the meal is less expensive than buying each of the items individually. After all, that's why they're called "value meals," right? But our parents have all told us what happens when you assume, and it's apparently common knowledge that McDonald's Extra Value Meals actually cost more than the individually priced items.

But that didn't stop one Illinois woman from suing McDonald's, claiming the chain is tricking customers into paying more for food they could have bought at a lower cost, in violation of state consumer fraud statutes. But a federal judge disagreed. Here's why:

Tootsie Roll Sued for Consumer Fraud Over Half-Empty Junior Mints Box

Opening a box of candy only to find it half full feels like a cruel joke. It's akin to unwrapping a giant present on Christmas morning, but discovering a lone pair of fuzzy socks enclosed within. It's nice and all, but not what you expected. A similarly unhappy customer is taking her partially-filled box of Jr. Mints to court and suing Tootsie Roll for consumer fraud.

Researchers at Consumer Reports think they've discovered the source of a deadly E. coli outbreak in the U.S. and Canada last week: romaine lettuce. The outbreak began in November 2017 and has sickened dozens, hospitalized five, and killed at least two people.

While the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention was careful not to link the outbreak to a specific source before further inquiry, the Public Health Agency of Canada was confident in identifying romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak. So why are people getting sick, what should they do, and can you file a wrongful death lawsuit for E. coli poisoning?

We all want to reward our very good dogs. We just don't want choking, vomiting, or diarrhea to be part of that reward. And if you're giving your good dog a "bone treat," according to the FDA, that's exactly what they might get.

"Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet," says FDA veterinarian Carmela Stamper. So read this before filling your dog's stocking full of Christmas treats.

For those of us who don't want to be trampled at the door of a box store on Black Friday, there's Cyber Monday, the day we can feed the capitalist consumption machine from the safety of our homes, phones, and cubicles.

And while we may not need to worry as much about our physical wellbeing on Cyber Monday, our online health is at a far greater risk. Shopping scams, Wi-Fi hackers, and data theft can ruin your holiday deal treasure hunt. So before you start getting click-happy this Cyber Monday, here are a few tips to keep your online shopping safe:

We all know that soda is bad for us. The sugar, the high fructose corn syrup, and phosphoric acid (!) can't be too healthy. But diet soda, on the other hand, is better, right? Fewer calories mean diet sodas might actually help us maintain a healthy weight or even lose weight, right?

Wrong, according to three federal lawsuits filed against the three largest makers of carbonated beverages in the U.S. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, are all being sued for their marketing of diet sodas that plaintiffs claim mislead consumers into thinking those beverages are healthy, or at least healthier than regular soda.

When most of us buy a pet, we like to think we're saving it from a horrible life in a pen, or worse. And animal shelters rely on the good intentions of pet owners to place animals in good homes. But in California, those good intentions have become law.

Governor Jerry Brown this week announced the signing of Assembly Bill No. 485, requiring pet stores to sell only rescue animals. The law is aimed at ending the practice of so-called "puppy mills," and makes the Golden State the first to enact such a law. So what does the new law actually prohibit, and what are the penalties?