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Consumer Protection

July 12, 2006 | Jeanne Wright, Special to The Times
A new bill of rights for California car buyers provides grace periods for used-car purchases, caps dealer compensation on loans and features other provisions that are some of the strongest consumer protections in the country, according to state legislators and consumer advocates. The law, which went into effect July 1, applies to motor vehicles bought in California from a dealer for personal, family or household use.
March 24, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - Four out of five people who take out a short-term payday loan either roll it over or take out another one within two weeks, pushing them into a cycle of debt, according to a report to be released Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Nearly a quarter of borrowers - 22% - renewed the loan at least six times, causing them to end up paying more in fees than they originally borrowed, the bureau said in an analysis of 12 million loans made by storefront payday loan companies.
When you walk into your neighborhood fish market or grocery store, the display case is filled with "fresh" swordfish, "fresh" salmon, "fresh" shrimp, "fresh" petrale sole. But then you take your catch home and find that your "fresh" filet has a frozen center. Or your fork finds mush instead of firm flesh. How long has your dinner been away from the ocean? And what has happened to it since it left the waves behind?
February 9, 2014 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - Got problems with the company that services your home mortgage - the one that collects your payments, keeps track of your escrow account and lets you know when you're late? So your monthly numbers don't look right? You got blown off by servicing personnel when you tried to get inaccuracies in your account corrected? Well, move over. You've got lots of grumpy company. As of Jan. 31, just under half of the 187,818 complaints filed with the federal watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concerned mortgage foul-ups, and the vast majority of these involved servicing, loan modification and foreclosure activities by servicers.
July 8, 2006 | From the Associated Press
Electronics retailer Sharper Image Corp. agreed Friday to stop selling personal breathalyzers and pay $1.2 million in restitution as part of a settlement regarding the devices. The company incorrectly claimed the digital breath alcohol testers were accurate to 0.001 of a percentage point of blood-alcohol content, according to tests by San Diego's Consumer Protection Unit. Sharper Image also agreed to pay $100,000 in penalties for inaccurately advertising the effectiveness of the testers.
July 21, 2011 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
The federal government is unwrapping its most potent weapon yet in the battle to keep businesses from defrauding consumers: a powerful new agency designed to police nearly every type of transaction in hopes of avoiding another financial crisis. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, opening Thursday, is the first major agency launched in Washington in nearly a decade and the first since the early 1970s that is specifically focused on American consumers. Its controversial creation — still opposed by most Republicans and much of the financial industry — is the culmination of years of efforts by consumer advocates to get the government to play a greater role in overseeing credit cards, mortgages and other financial products.
July 21, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — Richard Cordray has a message for opponents of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Neither he nor the new watchdog agency is going away. The bureau celebrates its first anniversary Saturday with opponents still trying to shut it down — or at least weaken its power. Instead, the bureau flexed its muscle for the first time this week. It joined with another banking regulator to order Capital One Bank to pay $210 million in refunds and fines to settle allegations of deceptive marketing tactics to credit card customers.
August 6, 1998 | Reuters
Trans World Airlines Inc. has agreed to pay $160,000 in penalties and legal costs and to forego collection of about $500,000 in student fees to settle a consumer protection lawsuit. The suit, filed by California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren and Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, alleged that TWA violated state consumer laws when it recruited students, through help wanted newspaper columns, for a reservations sales course.
August 1, 2010 | By Kenneth R. Harney
The financial reform bill signed into law by President Obama may look like a giant cornucopia of helpful changes for home buyers and loan applicants, not the least of which will be the creation of a powerful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ride herd on the mortgage lending industry. But how soon will anyone see hard, tangible results of the law? When will the bureau begin writing new rules and cracking down on problems and abuses in areas such as home real estate settlements, credit scores, "truth in lending" and equal credit opportunity?
June 23, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
House and Senate negotiators closed in on an agreement Tuesday that would create a new consumer protection agency, one of the main components of the sweeping rewrite of financial industry rules. In response to furious lobbying by the nation's car dealers, lawmakers moved closer to a compromise that would largely exempt that industry from the agency's oversight. Legislators also agreed to house the independent agency at the Federal Reserve. The controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the centerpiece of the financial overhaul legislation that President Obama called for last year.
February 5, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer
A Wisconsin man has agreed to pay $10,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that he sent millions of unwanted and misleading text messages to consumers with bogus offers of "free" gift cards and electronics. The FTC had accused Jason Q. Cruz of West Bend, Wisc., of sending texts that offered $1,000 gift cards to major retailers or free iPads to those who clicked on links in the messages. A typical message read, “You have been selected for a $1,000 Walmart GiftCard, Enter code 'FREE' ... to claim your prize: 161 left!
January 12, 2014 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - The federal government has a real estate question for consumers who have bought or refinanced homes that's certain to generate more than an earful: Were there any problems when you went to close the deal? Any last-minute glitches or surprises that delayed the settlement, required unexpected negotiations or, worst of all, blew up the sale or refinancing? Did you get your settlement sheet in advance so that you could review the documents intelligently? Were there any errors or discrepancies that popped up - charges that were considerably higher than you had expected, loan-related fees or an interest rate that differed from what you thought you had signed up for?
December 2, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton
Students who get the runaround from companies handling their college loans soon may get help from the federal government. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will begin regulating the nation's largest student-loan servicing firms, which manage student accounts, process monthly payments and respond to borrower questions. Though they don't make the loans, the companies are the main point of contact for borrowers. They effectively serve as gatekeepers that have enormous influence over requests for deferments or loan modifications.
November 29, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - As they prepared to launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in early 2011, Obama administration officials settled on its permanent headquarters: a vacant government building a block away from the White House. They planned to turn the former home of the defunct Office of Thrift Supervision into a showplace befitting the first new federal agency created in decades to focus specifically on protecting American consumers. The 35-year-old building would be renovated to include a state-of-the-art public lobby with "interactive kiosks and 21st century learning centers," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
November 20, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - In its first enforcement action against a payday lender, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined Cash America International $5 million and ordered $14 million in refunds for overcharging customers, robo-signing documents in debt collection lawsuits and impeding an investigation. Almost all the refunds go to consumers in Ohio, where lawyers for a subsidiary, Cashland Financial Services Inc., signed documents without reviewing them in violation of state and court rules, the bureau said Wednesday.
November 19, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - The federal government's consumer financial watchdog will require lenders to issue shorter, easier-to-understand mortgage disclosure forms to home buyers that more clearly show the costs and terms of the loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to issue the rule Wednesday, following through on what was an initiative launched in 2011 as the then-fledgling agency's first major action. The early Know Before You Owe forms were welcomed by consumer and industry groups as an improvement over the more complex disclosures required under federal law for more than 30 years.
January 8, 1989 | United Press International
Dexter Masters, a pioneer in consumer protection who initiated the monitoring of nuclear radiation in milk, died Wednesday of bronchial pneumonia. He was 80, Consumers Union announced Thursday. A writer and editor, Masters from 1958 to 1963 headed Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. Under his leadership, the magazine examined concerns ranging from the health hazards of smoking to nuclear fallout in milk.
September 14, 2000 | KENNETH REICH
One of the most telling observations about the California Legislature I can recall came in 1988 from then-state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles). Faced with a deadlock over auto insurance reform, Rosenthal remarked that unless the rival lobbies, the trial lawyers and the insurers--both stupendous campaign contributors--could agree on what the lawmakers should do, they would not be able to do anything.
September 19, 2013 | David Lazarus
Michael Barr served as the U.S. Treasury Department's assistant secretary for financial institutions in 2009 and 2010. He oversaw the Obama administration's dealings with Congress in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And he's still smarting from the experience. "The banks fought against the bureau tooth and nail," Barr told me. "They were in an all-out war with the administration over this. " But he makes no effort to hide his satisfaction with how things turned out. "The financial sector lost that fight," Barr said.
July 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Less than two years after Congress enacted a long-awaited overhaul of patent law, President Obama is pushing lawmakers to address more problems in the patent system. This time the target is "patent trolls," companies that exist solely to buy obscure patents and then collect money from manufacturers, retailers and even consumers for allegedly infringing them. The challenge is how to stop the trolls without leaving small inventors at the mercy of big manufacturers. The U.S. patent system is almost as old as the republic, dating back to 1790.
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