Connect with us

News

Vehicle issues top list of most common consumer complaints for 2019

Published

on

Photo
Photo (c) Tashatuvango – Getty Images

Hassles with vehicles and home improvement lead the way in the latest annual survey from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

Thirty-one agencies from 19 states were part of the research mix. Each was asked to report the most common, fastest-growing, and worst complaints they received in 2019. In addition, the survey dug a little deeper into areas like new consumer problems and new laws enacted in an agency’s jurisdictions to protect consumers.

The Top 10 complaints

The CFA reports that the top problems reported to state and local consumer agencies last year were:

  1. Auto: Exaggerations or falsifications in advertising or sales of both new and used cars, shady financing practices, defective vehicles, faulty repairs, car leasing and rentals, and towing disputes.

  2. Home Improvement/Construction:Second-rate work, failure to start or finish the job, and neglecting to have required licensing or registration.

  3. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, faulty merchandise, failure to deliver, and problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards, and gift certificates.

  4. Landlord/Tenant: Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, failure to make repairs or provide amenities promised to the renter, deposit and rent disagreements, and illegal eviction tactics.

  5. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage issues, credit repair and debt relief services, predatory lending, and illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

  6. (Tie) Communications: Misleading come-ons, installation issues, service problems, billing disputes with telephone and internet services. Services: Misrepresentations, poor workmanship, failure to have required licensing or registration, and neglect.

  7. Health Products/Services:Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, and billing issues.

  8. Utilities: Complaints about everything that powers a consumer’s life — gas, electric, water and cable billing and service.

  9. (Tie) Fraud: Sweepstakes and lottery shams, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, as well as imposter scams and other common frauds; Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to follow-thru, and repairs issues in connection with furniture and major appliances.

  10. Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver purchases made online.

While many of these scams continue to be a huge problem for consumers today, experts want to remind consumers that there are ways to address and settle these issues.

“Many complaints can be resolved through mediation, and some consumer agencies can also take formal legal action when that is warranted,” wrote Susan Grant, CFA Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “But when it comes to fraud, prevention is the key since the money and the culprits often disappear without a trace.”

New scam wrinkle

Grant said that the CFA’s survey also uncovered a new scam new trend that fraudsters are trying to capitalize on. When pulling off some sort of phone fraud on consumers, scammers are now trying to get a willing target to carry their phone with them to the bank to withdraw funds or to stores to buy gift cards in order to make payments. 

“This enables the crooks to essentially hold the victims captive and tell them how to respond if a bank teller or cashier becomes suspicious and starts asking questions,” said Grant. “The public education that state and local consumer agencies provide is crucial for preventing fraud and abuse.”

One important note about the survey: since the data is derived from 2019, there’s no coronavirus-related results. Given the pickle consumers are in thanks to the pandemic, it’s a sure shot that next year’s survey results will be, at least, a little different.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

California’s vague new financial regulation law

Published

on

California Capitol. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

In summary

California has a new financial regulation law but its reach is vague and awaits more definition.

Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

Although the new state law is said to mirror the Dodd-Frank law, it contains at least one significant difference. When federal regulators levy fines for what they consider to be bad conduct, the money goes into the federal treasury. When state regulators impose their fines of up to $1 million a day, the money will be retained by the new agency to finance more activity.

Will that give the new agency a financial incentive to skip over minor consumer issues and go after big companies? It’s a question that only time will answer.

Significantly too, the new investigative and regulatory mechanism contained in AB 1864 specifically does not usurp the authority of the attorney general to also target companies under the state’s equally vague “unfair competition” law.

From its inception a decade ago, Dodd-Frank has attracted criticism from business executives for regulatory overkill. Will California’s new version be less controversial? We won’t know until the new agency puts some definitional meat on its bones.



Source link

Continue Reading

News

California’s vague new financial regulation law – Whittier Daily News

Published

on

Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

Source link

Continue Reading

News

397 people register to vote on deadline day at Duval Supervisor of Elections – 104.5 WOKV

Published

on

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Monday, Oct. 5 at midnight, is the deadline to register to vote in Duval County.

But the Supervisor of Elections helped hundreds of people get registered today.

Robert Phillips, the chief elections officer of the Duval Supervisor of Elections, told Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole that 397 people came down to the Supervisor of Elections in downtown Jacksonville to get registered.

Supervisor of Elections staff assembled tents outside to allow people to register to vote without having to go through the COVID-19 prescreening necessary to enter the building.

“Again, 2020 has thrown us some challenges,” Phillips said.

There was even a little rain thrown into the mix today, but it didn’t stop folks from coming out.

“Out here, we have a lot of activity. We’ve been going since first thing this morning,” Phillips told Action News Jax.

There were people of all ages from all walks of life — some even registered for the very first time like Lemark Jamison.

Monday, Oct. 5, is a day he will always remember.

“It feels awesome, you know? It feels awesome,” Jamison told Cole.

Today, Jamison had the opportunity to register to vote for the first time in Florida.

“I’ve worked for voter registration companies. I’ve done advocating for Amendment 4, but I was never able to vote because of my prior background. But now I can,” Jamison said.

Jamison, the owner of a tax and credit repair business, told Cole his prior felony conviction held him back in the past.

In November 2018, more than 60% of Floridians voted to restore voting rights to more than 1 million people who completed their sentences.

But several months later, legislation was passed that required them to pay all financial penalties, which means thousands lost the right as quickly as they gained it.

“I’ve been contributing to society. I’ve been able to have several businesses. And I pay taxes. But I haven’t been able to, when it comes to voting, whether in a local level or any type of legislature — I haven’t been able to vote,” Jamison said.

The 35-year-old told Cole even though his wife helped him fill out his voter registration form — to which he exclaimed, “Thank God for wives, right?” — he told Cole it was pretty easy.

Now, he has this advice to share with other people who may be in his shoes:

“Get out and vote. Take advantage of this opportunity, regardless of who you plan on voting for.”

Here’s a breakdown from the Supervisor of Elections of how the 397 people registered today:

-56% registered as Democrats.

-21% registered as Republicans.

-22% registered as nonparty affiliates.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending