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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.

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.

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.

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".

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.

Beware 'Deceptive' Online Lingerie Subscription Service

Subscription service revenue models have been on the rise. After all, what's more reliable to a company's bottom line than a monthly subscription revenue stream? But this practice has taken a drastic turn lately, as online consumers unknowingly default into monthly subscription services, and many fail to see the small check box to opt-out. What seems like a one-time purchase can surreptitiously become a non-refundable recurring monthly fee. And many consumers have only been able to recover their losses by filing a lawsuit.

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.

Woman Sues Disneyland Hotel for Bedbug Bites

A hotel guest was quite literally bugged by a few things during a recent stay at Anaheim's Disneyland Hotel in April 2018. In a lawsuit she filed in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, Dr. Ivy Eldridge claims the Disneyland Hotel failed to provide her with a bedbug-free room, and as a result, ended up with welts and bites on her face, ears, neck, arms and back. Walt Disney Co., Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Disneyland Hotel are all named defendants in the negligence lawsuit. The plaintiff seeks punitive damages as well as damages for physical and mental suffering.

Your dishwasher is overflowing; your clothes dryer is on the fritz; your refrigerator isn't running. A malfunctioning appliance can turn your home upside down, and worse, cause more damage than some dirty dishes. So, we trust that when we call a business calling itself "A Plus Appliance Repair" or "Rescue Appliance," that we'll get a competent repair person who can fix what's wrong.

But that's not what was happening in Cincinnati, according to a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General. The suit claims Terry Haynes was taking payment from prospective customers, then never delivering on the repairs.

What Are Consumer's Rights in a Data Hacking Incident

Every week, there seems to be another announcement of consumer data breach. We've all gotten those letters in the mail saying that the company will pay for a year's worth of identity theft services, which generally cost consumers about $10 per month. However, these hacks have become so commonplace that most consumers have already purchased this service, as a prophylactic measure, since identity theft can be so financially damaging.

In addition to applying for these services, what rights do consumer's have when their data is illegally mined?