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Reversing Net Neutrality
April 3, 2017
When one side or the other in a political debate refused to accept a decision, it used to be simply annoying, but lately it has become dangerous to business and to the economy. The current administration's wants "to jettison the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online," Steve Lohrmarch wrote last week.
Why Are Health Records So Valuable to Cybercriminals?
March 29, 2017
Protecting the data in electronic health records did not start with the advent of HIPAA, as many people think. Protecting health records has been a critical requirement in the healthcare space since the computers became a fixture in hospitals. However, HIPAA added public reports of fines issued for covered entities' failure to properly protect data contained within EHRs.
Trust: Why Financial Services Should Embrace DoL's Fiduciary Rule
March 24, 2017
When the Department of Labor issued its fiduciary rule last year, it set financial advisers, insurers and agents into a mad scramble to meet an implementation deadline. The rule elevates all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to the level of a fiduciary, or someone bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status.
US Rep Likens Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to 'Tyranny'
February 21, 2017
The Financial Protection Bureau has come under increasing fire from Republican lawmakers who now have the Trump administration to back their efforts. Long-time critic Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R.-Texas, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, compared the bureau to a tyranny in a recent interview. Hensarling reportedly is preparing legislation to enact CFPB reforms.
FTC's Lawsuit Should Make You Feel Very Insecure About the IoT
February 14, 2017
Even though D-Link expressly promised that many of its wireless devices had the highest level of security available, the FTC last month filed a lawsuit that alleges otherwise. The FTC filing includes copies of online marketing materials and technical specifications for D-Link's products, and flatly declares that "thousands of Defendants' routers and cameras have been vulnerable to attacks."
EC to Take a Hard Look at E-Commerce Practices
February 3, 2017
The European Commission on Thursday announced three separate investigations into online pricing and other sales practices that may have breached EU antitrust rules. The EC investigations will assess whether consumers were able to enjoy cross-border choice when it came to buying video games and consumer electronics, and making hotel accommodations online.
Calling Facebook Customer Service? Beware of Fraudsters
February 2, 2017
Googling for a Facebook customer support phone number may connect users with fraudsters. A fraudulent number reportedly appeared not only as top result in a Google search, but also as a featured snippet -- that is, highlighted in a box at the top of the search results. An investigator who called the number, posing as a Facebook customer who had been locked out of his account.
Samsung Explains Note7 Failure, Promises to Do Better
January 23, 2017
Samsung has announced new quality assurance protocols to ensure that it won't have a repeat of the catastrophic issues that plagued its Galaxy Note7 handsets. The company last fall issued a universal recall after several of the devices caught fire or exploded. In one incident, an aircraft had to be evacuated after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire and produced thick smoke.
Bill Bolsters Legal Efforts of Wells Fargo Fraud Victims
December 8, 2016
U.S. lawmakers have introduced legislation to stop Wells Fargo from enforcing arbitration agreements with victims of fraud it perpetrated against them. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Rep. Brad Sherman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016.
Angry Customers Likely to Ditch Wells Fargo's Wagon
October 26, 2016
Wells Fargo Bank will lose customers in droves because of the scandal over fraudulently opened accounts and other issues, based on the results of an online survey cg42 conducted last week. More than 85 percent of the respondents -- 1,500 primary customers of the top 10 U.S. retail banks, including 1,000 Wells Fargo customers -- were aware of the scandal.
T-Mobile Fined $48M for Pulling Wool Over Customers' Eyes
October 21, 2016
The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced that T-Mobile has agreed to a penalty of $48 million for misleading customers about restrictions on its so-called unlimited data plans. The company failed to inform subscribers to unlimited plans on its wireless networks and those of MetroPCS, which it owns, that their data bandwidth would be throttled when they hit a preset ceiling.
FCC Slaps Comcast With $2.3M Overbilling Fine
October 13, 2016
The FCC on Tuesday announced that Comcast would pay a record $2.3 million fine to settle its investigation into whether the cable operator improperly charged customers for services and equipment they never approved, a practice known as "zero billing option." Federal law bans cable operators from charging customers for unauthorized equipment or services.
Incentives-Driven Disaster: Wells Fargo's Ethical Implosion
September 21, 2016
Anyone who works with sales people knows that their ultimate incentive is their commission check. Since the first time that "sales" was identified as a profession, we've been paying the people who sell based primarily on their results. This has worked well -- but things are starting to change. The drive for results at the expense of all other considerations is running smack dab into new realities.
Samsung Catches a Small Break in Midst of Note7 Battery Pummeling
September 13, 2016
Samsung stock recovered slightly on Tuesday from the nosedive it took Monday, after regulators urged consumers to turn in more than 2.5 million Galaxy Note7 smartphones. Shares closed 4.2 percent higher on Tuesday, erasing some of Monday's $14 billion loss in market value. The FAA's alert came in response to a small number of reports of the phone's lithium ion batteries catching fire.
CFPB Report: Consumers Have Bones to Pick With Banks
September 1, 2016
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday released its August complaint snapshot, which indicates that consumers across the country have been filing a large number of complaints about access to banking services. Further, many consumers complained that when they tried to open new accounts, they were ambushed with negative reports previously not provided to them.
Consumer Reports Urges Tesla to Pull Plug on Autopilot
July 15, 2016
Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function and change the name of its Autopilot driving assist feature. Questions recently have arisen over whether Tesla's Model S vehicles can operate safely without regular human intervention. Consumer Reports' change request sprang from concerns over a number of recent test crashes, including a fatal accident in Florida.
Google Boots Ads for Predatory Payday Lenders
May 12, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it would ban advertising for payday loans in its ad systems. Starting July 13, the company will prohibit ads for payday loans and related products where funds are due within 60 days of the date of issue, as well as ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent, said David Graff, Google's director of global product policy.
Hospitalized Stossel Bemoans Sorry State of Healthcare Customer Service
April 22, 2016
Fox News journalist John Stossel, who recently underwent an operation for lung cancer, on Wednesday wrote that although New York-Presbyterian Hospital's medical care is excellent, "the hospital's customer service stinks." Doctors "keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say 'I'm running late,'" Stossel said. He doubted all the tests he was given were needed.
Facebook Exec's Brazilian Misadventure Signals Bigger Problem
March 10, 2016
The jailing last week of Facebook Regional Vice President Diego Dzoda in Brazil may have been the tip of an iceberg. Frustrated police made the arrest after Facebook failed to produce WhatsApp messages connected to a drug trafficking case. The incident is one of a growing heap of examples that highlight the difficulties law enforcement agencies face when trying to collect digital evidence.
FCC Chief Proposes End of Set-Top Box Rule
January 28, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday announced that he'd shared with colleagues a long sought-after proposal to loosen the set-top box's grip on home entertainment. The proposal seeks to spur competition and consumer choice in an arena dominated by large cable and satellite television providers. Wheeler's proposal would provide a mechanism for creating new ways to access video content.
Bad Batteries May Cause Hoverboard Craze to Flame Out
December 14, 2015
Amazon has pulled some of this holiday season's most popular gifts from its website amid safety concerns, according to reports that surfaced Monday. It apparently stopped selling several brands of electric self-balancing scooters -- aka "hoverboards" -- including the Swagway. The move comes on the heels of last week's news that several airlines no longer would allow the devices on flights.
The Trouble With Hoverboards and Lithium-Ion Batteries
December 14, 2015
As I'm writing this, a few more hoverboards have caught fire, and they now are banned on most domestic airlines, suggesting that shipping these things fast could be a problem. Australia even has put out a specific warning on hoverboards. The biggest problem is that a lithium ion fire in a large battery pack like this could burn down your house, and that would be an ugly end to holiday festivities.
Report: Botnets Help Bump Cyberattack Attempts by 20 Percent
November 17, 2015
ThreatMetrix last week reported that it had detected and prevented more than 90 million attempted cyberattacks in real time across industries from July to September. The attempted attacks covered fraudulent online payments, logins and new account registrations, and represented a 20 percent increase over the previous quarter, according to ThreatMetrix Cybercrime Report: Q3 2015.
Citibank Dinged $700M for Scamming Credit Card Customers
July 27, 2015
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week ordered Citibank and its subsidiaries to pay about $700 million in relief to eligible consumers and a $35 million civil penalty for, in essence, scamming consumers into paying for unwanted credit card add-on products and services. This is the 10th action the bureau has undertaken against banks for deceiving consumers.
CFPB: Mortgage Servicers Still Rooking Consumers
June 29, 2015
Mortgage servicers got a bad name during the subprime mortgage crisis, but despite that reputation damage, and despite new laws designed to get them on the straight and narrow, they're still up to their tricks, the CFPB has found. Between January and April, many servicers violated Regulation X, which spells out requirements for soliciting, completing and evaluating loss mitigation applications.
Supreme Court to Hear 'Non-Injury' Privacy Class Action
May 6, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court last month granted a request from Spokeo, a data aggregator, to consider whether the legal basis litigants must meet to file a claim in federal court should be broadly or narrowly defined. In the case, Spokeo, Inc. v. Thomas Robins, Thomas Robins is a resident of Virginia acting individually and as representative of a class.
FTC Upgrades IT to Protect Consumer Privacy, Data Security
April 8, 2015
The FTC, which is at the forefront of regulating the impact of information technology on consumers, is bolstering its technical resource capabilities through a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation. The FTC is concerned about the failure of commercial entities to make adequate disclosures or to properly address data breaches and privacy issues.
Banks' Arbitration Clauses May Hurt Consumers: Report
March 16, 2015
Tens of millions of American consumers use consumer financial products or services governed by predispute arbitration clauses that may put them at an unfair disadvantage, suggests a CFPB report released last week. In some cases, the arbitration clauses are mandatory. Larger banks often include arbitration clauses in their consumer checking account and credit card contracts.
FTC Goes to Bat for Duped DirecTV Customers
March 16, 2015
The Federal Trade Commission last week charged DirecTV with deceptive advertising practices in a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. DirecTV, which has been in discussions over a potential merger with AT&T, currently has more than 20 million subscribers across the United States.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 5, 2015
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made great strides in carrying out its mission, which is to ensure consumers are fairly treated in the financial marketplace, Director Richard Cordray said Tuesday at a House Financial Services hearing. The bureau's qualified mortgage rule put new measures in place to prevent the sloppy underwriting that led to the subprime mortgage problem.
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What best sums up your attitude toward Facebook?
It's a wonderful communications tool if used responsibly.
It has way too much power for any one company.
It does a lot of good beyond connecting people.
It has changed the world for the worse.
Can't live with it, can't live without it.
I don't have time for it.
I have no interest in it.