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Pennsylvania Consumer Rights Blog

Do you feel cheated by the extra space in your snack's packaging?

There are some circumstances when so-called "slack fill" -- the space in a product's packaging that isn't filled with product -- seems reasonable. Chip bags, for example, aren't filled top-to-bottom with chips, but instead have a buffer of air that helps keep the chips from getting broken. In other cases, however, slack fill seems to make the packaging misleading to consumers. If the problem is significant enough, it could be a classic case of consumer deception.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules allow a certain amount of empty space in packages to protect the product or as the result of settling. When consumers sue over excessive slack fill, courts are required to determine whether the manufacturer has a legitimate reason for it. They must also decide if it's reasonable for consumers to feel deceived.

3 consequences of having bad credit

Low wages, a shortage of full-time jobs, skyrocketing living expenses and a range of other factors have all made living in America a financial struggle for millions of people. Such complications lead many to go into debt, and debt can damage your credit if you accumulate too much. The cycle never seems to end, and, needless to say, you are not alone if you have wound up with a less-than-ideal credit score as a result.

According to CNBC, scores that fall in the range of 300 to 649 are generally considered poor. Your credit score is calculated based on a variety of factors, and your score has an impact on many aspects of your life. Consider the following three consequences of having poor credit as well as your potential options for debt relief: 

HUD accuses Facebook of enabling housing discrimination

"When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face," says a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The agency recently filed a complaint against Facebook accusing it of allowing landlords and home sellers to limit prospective tenants and buyers by race and other characteristics that are protected in the Fair Housing Act. It is illegal to discriminate in housing against members of protected groups, which include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Familial status (having children and seeking non-senior housing)

Will your bank tell Facebook your account balance?

You probably assume that banking is more or less private. Your account balance, how much you spend on lattes and how much you owe on credit cards are your own business. Yes, credit rating agencies can get some of that information, but you wouldn't think advertisers could.

That could be changing, especially if you bank with one of America's biggest banks. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook has approached major banks like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank. According to the Journal, Facebook wants access to customers' financial data -- including their account balances and credit card transactions.

Wells Fargo refunding customers for inappropriate add-on products

If you were charged monthly fees by Wells Fargo for pet insurance, a legal services program or identity theft services, those fees may be refunded. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating the scandal-ridden bank to determine if customers were deceived, confused by, or even aware of the products and how to use them.

According to a Wall Street Journal reporter, Wells Fargo is "working with our regulators on the ongoing review" and is "reviewing add-on products sold to consumers by the bank or its service providers and if issues are found during this review, we will make things right with customers in the form of refunds or remediation."

What practice areas does legal malpractice occur in most often?

What activities are high-risk for legal malpractice? Are there certain practice areas where malpractice claims are more common? An insurance broker called Ames & Gough recently performed an annual survey of professional liability insurers to find out.

The biggest risk factor for malpractice claims is inadequate safeguards against conflicts of interest. Actual and perceived conflicts of interest have been the first or second leading cause of legal malpractice claims each year the survey has been performed.

Some Equifax data breach victims winning in small claims court

In March of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security alerted Equifax to a critical software vulnerability in its online consumer dispute portal. Unfortunately, a combination of human error at Equifax and the company's ineffective scanning software apparently conspired to leave the unpatched hole open. That site was vulnerable to a data breach, and hackers managed to obtain personal financial details about nearly half the U.S. population.

Worse yet, Equifax was slow to report the breach to consumers and, once it did, it mistakenly directed them to a fake website that further compromised their data. The breach had cost Equifax nearly $243 million as of the first quarter of 2018.

Woman hit by lawyer's flung pasta wins over $102,000

Today's post is not technically about legal malpractice but it could still be instructive for lawyers and their clients. A Connecticut woman sued an attorney for $85,000 after she was hit by pasta an attorney had flung during an argument with another man. The pasta, covered in a spicy sauce, struck the woman in the face and eyes, causing her to trip, fall and seriously injure herself.

According to the ABA Journal, the woman was eating in a Connecticut restaurant, as was a 65-year-old real estate lawyer who practices in New Jersey and Maryland. That lawyer allegedly "picked up a bowl or dish full of pasta with fra diavolo sauce and threw it" at his dinner companion, with whom he was arguing.

Another shakeup at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Mick Mulvaney, interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has essentially dismantled an important part of the agency: its Consumer Advisory Board. The Board was set up to help the CFPB work with consumer groups in an effort to identify situations where consumers are being treated unfairly by banks and lenders.

In a letter to members of the board, the CFPB said it plans to "reconstitute" the board into one or more new, smaller consumer advisory groups. This, the agency said, is to facilitate streamlined, productive discussions about policy priorities and needs.

What constitutes debt collector harassment?

Millions of people around the United States receive calls from debt collectors on a regular basis. For many people, it becomes such a way of life they do not even realize when the phone calls turn into legitimate harassment. You should be aware that you have rights as a debtor

Some forms of harassment are easy to spot, such as the caller using threatening or obscene language. Other tactics may seem normal to you, but in actuality, they are in direct violation of federal laws all debt collectors must follow. Here are examples of harassment to stay on the lookout for. Do not hesitate to consider legal action if a debt collector commits any of these acts. 

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