Consumer Protection Updates

Today's unanimous Supreme Court decision in United States v. Jones (docket 10-1259), read most narrowly, merely says: "We hold that the Government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a “search.” That means the government should be careful to obtain valid warrants and comply with the Constitution's 4th Amendment limits on "unreasonable searches and seizures. But the Court offered tantalizing clues to its thinking that, in the modern electronic age, reasonable expectations of privacy warrant a review of Government -- and even third party -- collection of information.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and powerful music, film and publishing titans have gone too far in demanding that the Internet as we know it -- an engine of innovation, freedom, democracy, commerce, idea-sharing and entrepreneurship -- be throttled down so that their legitimate problems with offshore pirates can supposedly be solved. They think every problem is a nail but their only tool is a hammer, a sledgehammer. Their bills won't hammer the nail, but they will hammer you, me and the Internet.

To lessen online banking risks, lessen consumer liability risks

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

In addition to a story on the Zappos' hack, the New York Times also has an editorial "Convenient, but How Secure?" on the growth of online banking and new regulations being implemented that should lessen fraud loss risk.

FTC settles claim with Rx monopolist CVS Caremark

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced (news release) that CVS Caremark Corporation (pdf of the complaint) will "pay $5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented the prices of certain Medicare Part D prescription drugs – including drugs used to treat breast cancer symptoms and epilepsy – at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies."

WSJ: Bank of America Ponders Retreat

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Today's Wall Street Journal offers the story "Bank of America Ponders Retreat." It discusses a BofA emergency plan for retrenchment that would include further branch shrinkage than currently-expected reductions.

Free tax prep at Walmart? It isn't really free, for some 84% or so of you

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

I've been quoted recently (Reuters via Baltimore Sun)  warning consumers that getting your taxes done for "free" in an HR Block kiosk at Walmart and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart, which "is not your friend."

Yesterday the Supreme Court, Inc. - with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting -- took away consumer legal rights in Compucredit vs. Greenwood. The court said disputes needed to be resolved in arbitration proceedings -- not court. The company issues subprime "fee harvester" credit cards with upfront fees that swallow the teeny credit limits. It's previously been sued by both the FDIC and the FTC.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

New Report Highlights Reasons for New Consumer Protections

The report outlines predatory financial practices that hurt consumers and led to the collapse the economy, costing us eight million jobs, millions of foreclosed homes and trillions of dollars in lost home and retirement values.

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