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Worried Retail Shoppers Bury Heads in Sand
January 28, 2014
Consumers are getting increasingly nervous over retailers' ability to protect their personal data -- yet they are not changing their shopping habits, according to findings from an AP-GfK poll. In the wake of the Target breach, nearly half of those surveyed expressed extreme concern about their personal data while shopping in stores, and 58 percent had deep worries about online spending.
FTC Delivers Stern Message With Apple's In-App Refund Deal
January 17, 2014
For the second time in less than a year, Apple has agreed to reimburse its customers for purchases within applications made by children without their parents' consent. In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday, Apple agreed to pay at least $32.5 million in refunds to consumers who incurred charges on their iTunes accounts through dubious in-app purchases.
Net Neutrality Takes a Licking
January 15, 2014
Net Neutrality received a body slam from a federal appeals court Tuesday, but the door was left open for resuscitating the policy. In a case brought by Verizon against the FCC, the judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the agency lacked the authority to impose antidiscrimination and antiblocking rules on providers of Internet broadband services.
CFPB Suit Targets Predatory Online Lending Practices
December 19, 2013
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau this week put online finance companies on notice that it will not overlook them merely because they operate in cyberspace. Specifically, the bureau sued CashCall for collecting money consumers allegedly did not owe. In its suit, the bureau charged that CashCall and its affiliates engaged in unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.
Cyber Shoppers Beware! Those Juicy Deals May Be Hot Air
December 07, 2013
This Cyber Monday, retailers of every stripe ran countless ads proclaiming the big shopping day's special deals -- including this one: A Nikon D3200 Two Lens Zoom Kit, originally priced at $799.95, marked down to $499.95. Sounds good, right? We thought so too, but try as we might, we couldn't secure the camera at the deal price. And we tried.
Chinese Web Giant to Reimburse for Search Scams
August 09, 2013
Baidu, operator of China's top search engine, will reimburse users for scams carried out by websites that appear in its search results. This is an extension of a scheme Baidu launched in May, when it promised to compensate consumers who were scammed -- but only up to about $800, and only if the scamming site had paid for placement on Baidu. Now, however, the $800 cap has been lifted.
Apple Takes Charge of 3rd-Party Charger Problem With Special Offer
August 06, 2013
Owners of idevices who are using third-party USB power adapters can now trade them in for Apple adapters for only $10 or the equivalent in local currency -- almost half off the retail price. Users can get one adapter for each device they own, up to Oct. 18. The offer follows reports from China that at least one person died from electrocution when using a third-party USB power adapter on an iPhone.
The Controversial, Toothless, 'Landmark' Mobile Transparency Code
August 02, 2013
Mobile device users' privacy will be safeguarded under a new transparency code of conduct created in an effort involving 40 groups ranging from businesses to advocacy groups and led by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling hailed the code as "a seminal milestone in the efforts to enhance consumer privacy on mobile devices."
Federal Trade Commissioner Tilts at Big Data Windmill
June 27, 2013
A U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner is urging consumers to take more control over their data. The call to action comes as revelations that the NSA is spying on Americans to an unprecedented degree continue to shake the country. Unease has been mounting over the amount of data companies are handing over to the agency. Commissioner Julie Brill has proposed a new program, dubbed "Reclaim Your Name."
Mobile Privacy Laws Are on the Horizon
June 25, 2013
This past May mobile app developers dodged a bullet when a California state court sided with Delta Airlines in a dispute over its mobile app. California's attorney general had sued Delta, alleging that the company violated the state's mobile privacy law, which requires a company to clearly state that users' personal information is being collected.
Google Takes Heat for Illegal Rx Drug Sales Online
June 19, 2013
Mississippi AG Jim Hood has called on his counterparts in other states to join him in confronting Google for not doing enough to prevent illegal online activities including the sale of prescription drugs by rogue pharmacies. Hood invited Google CEO Larry Page to discuss his concerns but did not receive a response, he said. Consequently, the state had no choice but to issue subpoenas.
Ending the US' Cyberwar Against Its Citizens
June 17, 2013
I'm into fixing problems -- in fact, for much of my life I've been employed as someone who is brought in to fix a difficult problem. I don't see much point in just complaining -- either try to fix it, ignore it, or move someplace where it doesn't affect you. The current problem is that the U.S. appears to be conducting a cyberwar against its citizens.
Overdraft Protection May Do More Harm Than Good
June 12, 2013
Overdraft costs on consumer checking accounts vary widely across financial institutions and often result in more costs and more involuntary account closures for consumers who opt into such coverage, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported on Tuesday. "Consumers need to be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary fees on their checking accounts," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
Spreading Your E-Commerce Wings
June 10, 2013
Much has been said of the opportunities that lie in emerging retail markets, especially in countries or regions that have been less affected by recession. For many Western companies, however, a lack of confidence and basic local knowledge is stifling opportunity for international expansion. There are two key markets that I consider to be low-hanging fruit for U.S. merchants: Russia and China.
Microsoft, FBI Flatten Monster Botnet
June 07, 2013
A coalition comprising Microsoft, the FBI, and financial-industry and tech firms has taken out more than 1,400 botnets that used the Citadel Trojan to steal victims' online banking information and information about their identities. Microsoft filed a civil suit last week against 82 alleged botnet operators and cut communications between the botnets and millions of infected PCs they controlled.
How to Silence Telephone Spammers
April 25, 2013
We've been seeing a gradual reduction of spam in our email in-boxes due to efforts by ISPs and email providers, new laws and education. However, the same isn't true for junk phone calls and text messages. Laws provide some protection from marketing intrusions, and it's possible to thwart much of the legally sanctioned bombardment with a few simple steps.
House C'tee Chair Tells Consumer Protection Chief to Take a Hike
April 24, 2013
If CFPB Director Richard Cordray ever imagined that House of Representatives Republicans would eventually warm up to the bureau, that hope has surely been dashed by now. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, on Monday sent a letter to Cordray, saying that he would be barred from testifying before the committee because his appointment as director was invalid.
Finance Companies Bristle at Public Airing of Consumer Complaints
April 02, 2013
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau announced last week that it has expanded the Consumer Complaint Database it launched last summer, increasing the number of complaints about credit card companies from 19,000 or so to 90,000. The added data comes from additional players such as mortgage companies, banks, private student loan providers and other consumer lenders.
FTC Finds Consumer Credit Reports Rife With Errors
February 13, 2013
A Federal Trade Commission investigation of the U.S. credit reporting industry turned up some dismal findings for consumers. The comprehensive study found that 5 percent of consumers identified errors on one of their three major credit reports that were significant enough to affect their eligibility for loans and insurance, as well as the rates they would pay.
BofA Service Outage Opens Window for Small Banks
February 05, 2013
Bank of America's online banking operations crashed last Friday, cutting customers off from their accounts and reportedly disrupting the customer phone service to boot. It was the 1st day of the month -- a day when customers typically access their accounts to make sure paychecks have been deposited and to pay bills. Customers took to social media to gripe.

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