The FTC files its first mobile phone cramming case, alerting consumers that this problem continues.
Federal consumer protection officials have filed charges against a company they say collected millions of dollars from consumers through unauthorized charges added to their cellphone bills.
Adding unauthorized charges to cellphone bills is known as cramming -- a longstanding problem that continues, authorities said. The lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission against Wise Media LLC and its owners is the first such case by the agency.
In its case, the FTC asked a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta to freeze the company's assets, to order the operation to stop "deceptive and unfair practices" and to give back money collected via cramming so consumers can get restitution.
The company is accused by the FTC of seemingly randomly adding charges of $9.99 a month to consumers' cellphone bills for "premium" texting services for such things as horoscopes and dating tips. The consumers didn't sign up for these services, the government said.
Relief checks to injured homeowners bounce, while banks are accused of continuing abusive foreclosure practices.
This post comes from MSN Money contributor Marilyn Lewis.
The nation's biggest banks just can't seem to put the nightmare of the housing meltdown behind them.
In an embarrassing incident this week, some long-awaited reparation checks to victims bounced, news outlets report.
More troubling, some banks are still starting foreclosures against borrowers while simultaneously working on modifying their mortgages, despite agreements to stop the abusive practice, a California consumer group charges.
The rubber check incident affected a dozen or more borrowers of the 1.4 million who are expecting compensation in this second big national bank settlement over abusive foreclosure practices.
Led by an increase in maintenance costs, the money needed to own a car is going up, AAA says.
Owning a car increased about 2% from last year and now costs more than $9,000 a year, according to the American Automobile Association.
That figure is based on driving the average sedan. It's quite a bit higher for drivers of SUVs ($11,559) and large sedans ($11,248). For owners of small sedans, the cost was less ($6.967).
The average was based on driving 15,000 miles a year and included such things as maintenance, fuel, insurance and tires. The cost per mile of driving the average sedan was about 61 cents, compared with a cost of 77 cents a mile for an SUV.
Even personal finance writers make money mistakes. Can you top these blunders?
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
I have a confession: I am not a natural-born money genius and I didn't start off working as a personal finance journalist. I used to work part-time gigs -- retail, service industry, even a telemarketing call center.
When I worked those jobs, I managed to spend almost everything I made. Then one day I realized I had to shape up, learn more about personal finance, and stop buying bobbleheads of cult classic film characters (OK, sometimes I still do that).
I'd like to think I've learned a lot, but I learned a lot of it the hard way -- through financial mishap. My biggest mistakes were actually money moves I thought were brilliant at the time.
Here are five things I used to think saved money, and why they were actually costing me:
Customers are complaining that stores have too little help to keep the shelves stocked. Has that been your experience?
This post comes from Karen Datko at partner site Money Talks News.
Everywhere you look, it seems, there's an article about empty shelves and bad service at Wal-Mart. "Hey, Wal-Mart, it's hard to make sales when store shelves are empty," chides a headline for a Brad Tuttle column on Time.
An oft-cited statistic is that while the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer has increased its number of U.S. stores by 13% in the past five years, its workforce has shrunk by 1.4%. A March article by Bloomberg says there are too few workers to reliably move the trucked-in merchandise from the storage area (what Wal-Mart calls "the steel") to the shelves, where people can buy it. That observation is based on interviews with Wal-Mart employees (called "associates" in Wal-Martese).
And, Bloomberg reported: "Last month, Wal-Mart placed last among department and discount stores in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the sixth year in a row the company had either tied or taken the last spot."
It's prom season across the U.S. Check out this money-saving guide before you begin your search for the perfect dress.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
It doesn't take long before scammers try to take advantage of people after a tragedy.
The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance and the BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont issued a warning on Tuesday about scams tied to the marathon attack. It is common to see scams spawned from tragedies of all sorts.
"Tragedies inspire people to give," said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB's charitable giving arm, "but, tragedies –- whether natural disasters or man-made catastrophes –- also inspire scammers to take advantage of that generosity."
Retailers loathe 'showrooming,' or checking out merchandise in-store but buying online. They should be delighted by the newest shopping trend.
An Australian store owner made headlines recently by declaring a $5 charge for shoppers who were "just looking." This was an attempt to curb a consumer tactic called "showrooming" -- researching an item in-store but buying it online.
Fie on that fee, scolded Chris Morran of The Consumerist. If customers aren't buying, then businesses need to figure out why, the blogger says.
"Window-shoppers are part of the retail equation," Morran declares. "It's up to the retailer to either ignore them or turn them from looky-loos into bona fide buyers."
While showrooming may not be as bad as it seems (more on that below), retailers will likely be delighted to hear of a new consumer trend: "webrooming," or browsing online but buying in-store.
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