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FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
Can I Get My Reputation Back?
July 9, 2014
Ray Donovan was U.S. Labor Secretary under Ronald Reagan and a colorful figure. During his tenure he was indicted by a Bronx, N.Y., grand jury on corruption charges stemming from a contract to build a subway line. The trial involved unions and the mob and was automatically sensational. The verdict turned on whether a construction company got a contract due to mob influence.
Shame on Facebook
July 3, 2014
Do you remember those snotty little kids who didn't seem to understand the difference between right and wrong? You know, the little brats who thought the rules didn't apply to them. The kids who thought they could get away with whatever they wanted -- rules were for somebody else. Well, that seems to be a fitting description of Facebook, as it repeatedly breaks customer trust.
Card Fraud Hits 1 in 4 Consumers Worldwide: Report
June 25, 2014
As many as a quarter of the world's consumers were victimized by card fraud in the past five years, and financial institutions are losing customers as a result, suggests a new study. ACI Worldwide and the Aite Group, which jointly surveyed more than 6,100 customers in 20 countries, found that 23 percent of consumers hit by card fraud changed financial institutions because they were dissatisfied.
AT&T, DirecTV Merger Could Hamper Cord-Cutting
June 13, 2014
AT&T's planned merger with DirecTV is far from a done deal. Among the objections that have been raised is one stemming from a filing this week with the FCC. There is now concern that the merger would make it more difficult for consumers to cut their cable-TV cords. The companies told the FCC in a public interest statement that the merger is the only way they would be able to compete.
On-Premises Banks Stick It to Walmart Customers
May 12, 2014
Walmart customers who use the banking services provided inside the chain's stores are among the highest payers of fees -- especially overdraft fees -- in the U.S., an analysis of federal filings concluded. The five banks with the most Walmart branches reportedly ranked among the top 10 U.S. banks in fee income as a percentage of deposits last year, compared to other U.S. banks.
ISPs Put the Squeeze on Content Distributors, Level3 Charges
May 6, 2014
Six major ISPs providing residential broadband services are refusing to augment their networks unless content providers pay more, according to Level3. Five of them are in the U.S. and the last in Europe. While Level3 has not named them, it has repeatedly mentioned writing to AT&T about broadband throttling. The six "are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers.
Mobile CRM May Widen the Big Data/Privacy Divide
May 6, 2014
The White House last week added to the ongoing national discussion about online privacy and tracking with the release of a review counselor John Podesta conducted on Big Data and privacy issues. Among other things, privacy advocates hope the findings will spotlight the role of mobile in the gathering of consumer data by companies. Mobile technologies have a particularly voracious appetite.
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 7, 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 9, 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 6, 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 2, 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 7, 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 2, 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 5, 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.
EMC Grabs Silver Tail
October 31, 2012
EMC has announced it is acquiring Silver Tail Systems, a provider of real-time Web session intelligence and behavioral analysis. When the acquisition is closed, which is expected in the fourth quarter, Silver Tail will be part of EMC's security division, tasked with extending RSA's enterprise security portfolio.
Hacking by the Books: Barnes & Noble PIN Pads Bugged
October 27, 2012
Barnes & Noble revealed this week that PIN pad devices at 63 of its stores nationwide were hacked, putting some of its customers at risk. The company discovered the hacking in September, and for the past month, the FBI has been investigating the case. Fewer than 1 percent of Barnes & Noble PIN pads reportedly were affected, but those who were could have had important data stolen.
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What should be done about UFOs?
World governments should cooperate to address a potential planetary threat.
The DoD should investigate -- they could signal a hostile nation's tech advances.
The government should reveal what it already knows.
The government probably has good reasons for secrecy and should be trusted on this.
Wealthy corporate space-age visionaries should take the lead.
Nothing. Studying UFOs is a waste of resources.
Keep the stories coming. People love conspiracy theories, and it's fun to speculate.