Current Events in July 2016

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    Groups want funeral homes to post prices online

    FTC urged to update its Funeral Rule for the digital age

    When a family is confronted with the loss of a loved one, whether suddenly or after a lingering illness, it must make final arrangements, either for burial or cremation. Often it's a big expense.

    The Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) say funeral homes, by and large, do not provide enough pricing information online. The two groups this week called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to amend its Funeral Rule to require important funeral price information to be posted on funeral home websites.

    In issuing a joint statement, the two groups noted that this week's Prime Day allowed millions of consumers to compare prices for a huge range of products and save a lot of money.

    “However, the most vulnerable consumers in the marketplace must spend thousands of dollars on a funeral and still cannot compare prices online,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Today, the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America urged the FTC to change the Funeral Rule so consumers can make an informed decision on one of the largest purchases they will ever make.”

    30 year-old rule

    The Funeral rule has been in place for over 30 years and was enacted to give basic price information to consumers planning a funeral. Under the rule, consumers have a right to a general price list when they inquire about funeral arrangements.

    The rule specifically gives consumers the right to choose only the goods and services they want. If state law requires the purchase of a particular item, the price list must state that. A funeral home may not refuse, or charge extra, to handle a casket purchased elsewhere.

    But the groups say consumers still need the ability to price shop when planning a funeral, and they maintain under current practice that that is often hard to do. While it is true that funeral homes are required to provide price information, it usually requires a face-to-face or telephone conversation.

    Antiquated disclosure rules

    “The Federal Trade Commission should update antiquated disclosure rules developed in the pre-Internet 1980s,” said Josh Slocum, Executive Director of Funeral Consumers Alliance. “Almost all funeral home websites feature stories on how the funeral home has been providing caring, compassionate service since the days of the horse and buggy but nothing about how much it actually costs.”

    Today, Slocum says consumers shop for everything online. The fact that consumers are often emotionally vulnerable when they go through the process of shopping for funeral services makes it even more important for price information to be easily accessible.  

    When a family is confronted with the loss of a loved one, whether suddenly or after a lingering illness, it must make final arrangements, either for burial...

    Retailers blame credit card companies for delay in chip roll-out

    Claim industry has been too slow to certify the new card readers

    Why are there so few chip-enabled card readers at retailers around the country? It depends on who you ask. The nation's retailers say they've done their jobs – it's the credit card companies that have dropped the ball.

    The National Retail Federation (NRF) points to a survey that found 48% of retailers have implemented the new EMV chip card system, or are expected to within weeks. A total of 86% said they expected to be EMV compliant by the end of 2016.

    But the NRF said the survey also found that 57% of the retailers who had not yet implemented the new system had installed the card readers, but were waiting for certification by the credit card industry. About 60% said they had been waiting for six months or longer.

    NRF says those numbers are in sharp contract to the statistics issued by the banking industry, which it says has tried to shift blame for the slow start to retailers. The survey, NRF says, found retailers are eager to begin using the chip card system since it protects them from liability connected to fraud.

    Certification process

    The certification process for the chip card system checks out a number of important functions to ensure the new technology is working properly. It can be a complicated process because the system must check out across multiple card platforms, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover.

    The size of the retailer can also complicate things. Big retailers with more point of sale positions take a lot more time.

    Hundreds of tests may be required and the process might take two weeks or eight months. The cost to the retailer might be as little as a few hundred dollars or could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

    Visa says it's helping

    Visa, meanwhile, recently announced steps it said could help speed up the implementation of the chip card technology. It said it has streamlined testing requirements, made the certification process simpler, and made commitments to improve the technology. It also said it is changing its policy to help limit exposure to counterfeit fraud liability for merchants who are not yet chip-ready.

    While retailers might feel frustration at the pace, Visa maintains that progress has been “significant,” with over 300 million chip cards in the hands of consumers and 1.2 million retail locations now equipped to accept them.

    But the NRF said it is disappointed the credit card industry has not provided enough personnel to make sure certification happens in a timely manner. In the meantime, it says consumers are confused as to whether they continue to swipe their cards or begin “dipping.”

    Why are there so few chip-enabled card readers at retailers around the country? It depends on who you ask. The nation's retailers say they've done their jo...

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      Senator joins financial reform advocates on payday loan regulation

      Urge citizens to use comment period to lobby for loophole-free rule

      A U.S. Senator this week threw his support behind efforts to place new controls on payday lenders, which financial reform groups have called “legalized loan sharks.”

      Americans for Financial Reform American Federation of Teachers, the NAACP, Democracy for America, and the Center for American Progress were joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in backing stronger provisions of a proposed rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

      The rule, requiring payday lenders to determine that a borrowers can actually repay the loan, is aimed at ending what the groups call an endless cycle of debt. In many cases, the borrower is unable to repay the loan two weeks later, when it is due, and must take out another loan – then another.

      Vicious cycle of debt

      “Americans deserve protection from predatory payday lenders that have trapped many low income families in a vicious cycle of debt,” Brown said. “But the payday loan industry and its lobbyists will spend millions of dollars to try and roll back these protections.”

      Brown joined the groups in urging consumers to take advantage of CFPB's comment period on the proposed rule to urge the strongest possible regulations with no loopholes.

      At a news conference at the Capitol, Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, said low income consumers need some kind of access to credit, but said common sense should prevail. If someone is in need of a loan to meet an emergency expense, how are they expected to have the money to repay the loan two weeks later?

      300% or more interest

      Payday loans normally carry a flat cost per $100 borrowed, with the money due in two weeks – usually when the borrower gets another paycheck. The fee might sound small, but since it is the cost of a loan for two weeks and not one year, the annual percentage rate (APR) is often well over 300%.

      Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Advocacy at the NAACP, says payday loan storefronts tend to be clustered in low income neighborhoods and areas where ethnic minorities live. She said payday lenders target those who can least afford a predatory loan.

      The CFPB rule would place tighter federal controls on payday lenders, but many consumer advocates have argued the rules should be even tighter. After CFPB unveiled the proposal last month, the Pew Charitable Trust said it needed a tweak.

      Nick Bourke, director of Pew’s small-dollar loans project, said additional provisions should include lower prices, manageable installment payments, and quick loan approval.  

      A U.S. Senator this week threw his support behind efforts to place new controls on payday lenders, which financial reform groups have called “legalized loa...

      Wholesale prices post third straight monthly gain

      Energy costs -- primarily gasoline -- were a major factor

      A nearly 10% surge in the wholesale price of gasoline sent the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand higher in June for the third month in a row.

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the advance of 0.5% followed increases of 0.4% in May and 0.2% in April.

      Goods and services on the rise

      Prices for goods one step shy of the retail level shot up 0.8% last month, the largest increase since a surge of 1.2% in May 2015. Over three-quarters of June's increase was due to energy cost, which surged 4.1%. Within that category, gasoline was up 9.9%.

      Prices for meats, jet fuel, electric power, home heating oil, and cigarettes also moved higher, while the cost of chicken eggs plunged 29.9%. Prices for carbon steel scrap and residential natural gas also fell.

      The cost of services rose 0.4% in June, in large part due to a 7.7% hike in prices for services related to securities brokerage and dealing. Also on the rise were prices for automotive fuels and lubricants retailing; machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesaling; traveler accommodation services; airline passenger services; and health, beauty, and optical goods retailing.

      In contrast, the cost of apparel, footwear, and accessories retailing, long-distance motor carrying and residential real estate loans (partial) fell.

      Prices excluding the volatile foods, energy, and trade services categories rose 0.3% after a dip of 0.1% in May. For the 12 months ended in June, this “core rate” is up 0.9%.

      The complete report is available on the BLS website.

      Jobless claims

      It was steady as she goes for initial jobless claims last week, with the Department of Labor (DOL) reporting that first-time applications for state jobless benefits were unchanged in the week ending July 9, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 254,000.

      That makes 71 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average dropped 5,570 from a week earlier to 259,000. This measure is consider a better gauge of the labor market as it lacks the volatility of the weekly headcount.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website.  

      A nearly 10% surge in the wholesale price of gasoline sent the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand higher in Ju...

      Simmons Prepared Foods recalls chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O121

      Simmons Prepared Foods of Van Buren, Ark., is recalling approximately 5,850 pounds of frozen, heat treated, not ready-to-eat (NRTE) chicken products.

      The products may be contaminated with E. coli O121.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions or illnesses.

      The following frozen, heat treated, not ready-to-eat (NRTE) chicken tenderloin items, produced on January 25, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 30-lb. net-weight case containing six, 5-lb. bags in clear film of “Simmons UNCOOKED CHICKEN TENDERLOIN FRITTERS,” with a case code 31473, packaging date code of 6025, and a Use-By date of 01/25/17.
      • 30-lb. net-weight case containing six, 5-lb. bags in clear film of “Simmons UNCOOKED CHICKEN BREAST TENDERLOIN FRITTERS,” with a case code 62331 and a packaging date of 6025.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “P-5837” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were distributed in Arkansas for institutional use.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Vicky Goodman at (479) 215-2296.

      Simmons Prepared Foods of Van Buren, Ark., is recalling approximately 5,850 pounds of frozen, heat treated, not ready-to-eat (NRTE) chicken products. ...

      Evie's Cheddar Potato Salad recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hearn Kirkwood is recalling Evie’s Cheddar Potato Salad.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled items to date.

      The recalled product is packaged in 6.0-oz. clear plastic containers with the name “Evie’s Cheddar Potato Macaroni Salad,” UPC code 6637511772” and “use by” dates of 04/15/16 to 06/20/16.

      It was sold through Amazon Fresh in the locations Bellevue, Wash., area between April 8 and June 13, 2016.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it and contact Amazon Fresh at (866) 380-0525 from 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM (EST) for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may call Hearn Kirkwood at 410-799-4444, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (EST).

      Hearn Kirkwood is recalling Evie’s Cheddar Potato Salad. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There are no reported...

      Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles recalled

      The certification labels may have incorrect tire/rim size and cold tire pressure information

      General Motors is recalling 17 model year 2016 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles manufactured October 16, 2015.

      The certification labels may have incorrect tire/rim size and cold tire pressure information. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, "Tire Selection and Rims."

      If the information on the certification labels is incorrect, the operator may install incorrectly sized tires or rims or may improperly inflate the tires, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the certification label, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1050, or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM's number for this recall is 46600.

      General Motors is recalling 17 model year 2016 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles manufactured October 16, 2015. The certification labels m...

      The reason why your diet may not be working out

      Focus on the foods you enjoy when making your plan, researchers say

      What is the most important aspect of making a successful diet plan? Many people might say that it has to do with avoiding unhealthy foods and substituting them with well-known, healthy options. However, new research shows that this line of thinking may actually lead to failure more often than not.

      Instead, researchers from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business say that consumers should focus on adding healthy foods that they actually enjoy to their diet.

      “Our research shows that instead of creating rules to avoid one’s favorite treats, dieters should focus on eating healthy foods that they enjoy. . . Dieters who restrict themselves from consuming foods they love most may be setting themselves up for future failure,” said Dr. Meredith David, assistant professor at Baylor and lead author of a study on the subject.

      Approach dieting differently

      The study analyzed data on 542 participants who answered questions related to creating a successful diet plan. The focus of the study was to gauge participants’ level of self-control and see how that affected their choices.

      When asked about diet rules that they would create, a majority of respondents said that they would add in provisions that restricted or avoided certain foods. This was especially the case amongst individuals who were considered to have low levels of self-control and low levels of success with dieting.

      Additionally, low self-control individuals were more likely to think of foods that they really enjoyed when listing unhealthy foods that they should avoid. On the other hand, high self-control individuals were more likely to list foods that they liked, but ones that they could reasonably give up.

      Low self-control participants were also most likely to think of foods they didn’t like when trying to create a list of healthy foods that they should eat, like Brussels sprouts. High self-control individuals were more likely to think of healthy foods that they also enjoyed eating, such as fruits like strawberries.

      Focus on foods you enjoy

      These findings show that consumers who have low self-control may be approaching dieting in the wrong way.

      “In coming up with plans to enhance one’s health and well-being, low self-control individuals tend to set themselves up for a harder pathway to success by focusing on avoiding the very goods they find most tempting. . . Our data reveals that individuals who are generally more successful at reaching their goals tend to develop more motivating plans regarding the inclusion of healthy, well-liked items and the exclusion of unhealthy items that are not one’s favorites,” said David.

      The researchers believe that more success could be achieved by dieters if they adopt plans that focus more on foods that they enjoy instead of focusing on what they will be missing out on.

      “The next time you decide to go on a diet or seek to improve your health by altering your food consumption, opt for strategies that focus on including healthy foods in your diet, and focus specifically on those healthy foods that you really enjoy eating,” said David.

      The full study has been published in the journal Psychology & Marketing.

      What is the most important aspect of making a successful diet plan? Many people might say that it has to do with avoiding unhealthy foods and substituting ...

      Amazon reports record orders on Prime Day

      Consumers snapped up two million toys and a million pairs of shoes

      Amazon.com says Tuesday's second annual Prime Day was bigger than last year and set a record for orders worldwide.

      The online retailer says global orders were 60% higher than last year while U.S. orders rose 50%. Amazon says it also set a record for orders for Amazon devices, including Fire TV, Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers and Alexa-enabled devices. The company did not release any sales or revenue figures.

      Amazon launched the promotion for the first time in 2015, picking a day in July to serve as sort of a precursor to Black Friday. The purpose is to capture consumer holiday shopping dollars before they are spent anywhere else.

      It also serves to promote Amazon Prime, since shoppers had to be members to take advantage of the deals.

      Devices big sellers

      The company said it sold over two and a half times more Amazon Fire TV devices Tuesday than it did on last year's Prime Day. It said the Fire TV Stick was the best-selling Amazon device.

      It said Prime customers bought more than two million toys and more than a million pairs of shoes. It took orders for 90,000 TV sets and hundreds of thousands of e-readers.

      In the U.S., it was also the biggest single day for sales of Amazon Echo, the retailer's voice-controlled audio system.

      How good were the deals?

      The holiday shopping site BestBlackFriday.com live blogged Prime Day as it unfolded, comparing the deals to the savings consumers can get on Black Friday itself. Here is some of what it found:

      By selling the Kitchen Aid 6-quarter mixer for $248.99, it beat Black Friday by $151. By selling the Kindle Paperwhite for $89.99, it beat Black Friday by $10.

      It sold the XBox – One 1TB Console with The Division Bundle, a $50 Amazon Gift Card, Rainbow Six Siege, the Xbox One Special Edition Dusk Shadow Wireless Controller, and Forza Horizon 2 for $299, beating Black Friday by $50.

      But there were a few items where Prime Day prices were not lower. The TCL 32D2700 32-Inch 720p LED TV went for $99.99 on Prime Day, $25 more than Black Friday. It sold the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W for $69.99, $20 more than JC Penney's Black Friday last year.

      Amazon.com says Tuesday's second annual Prime Day was bigger than last year and set a record for orders worldwide.The online retailer says global order...

      Mortgage applications post second consecutive weekly gain

      Interest rates moved lower once again

      Mortgage applications rose for a second straight week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The survey for the week ending July 8, which included an adjustment for the Fourth of July holiday shows applications jumped 7.2% from the previous week.

      The Refinance Index shot up 11%, with the refinance share of mortgage activity increasing to 64.0% of total applications from 61.6% the week before.

      The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity slipped to 5.2% of total applications, the FHA share was 10.0%, the VA share of total applications dropped to 12.1% from 12.8% the previous week, and the USDA share was unchanged at 0.6%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) fell six basis points to 3.60% -- its lowest level since May 2013 -- from 3.66%, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dropped from 3.67% to 3.61%, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA was down three basis points to 3.53%, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs dipped to 2.88% from 2.96%, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell seven basis points to 2.78%, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

      The survey covers over 75% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.

      Mortgage applications rose for a second straight week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The survey for the week ending July 8, whic...

      Foreclosure inventories plunge in May

      Completed foreclosures were lower as well

      The inventory of foreclosed homes fell sharply during May according to the CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report.

      The property information provider says the number of homes at some stage of the foreclosure process was down 24.5% from the same month a year ago, while completed foreclosures fell by 6.9% year-over-year.

      The decline in completed foreclosures nationwide works out to 38,000 last May from 41,000 in May 2015. That represents a drop of 67.9% from the peak of 117,813 in September 2010.

      Since the financial meltdown began in September 2008, there have been approximately 6.3 million completed foreclosures nationally, and since homeownership rates peaked in the second quarter of 2004, there have been approximately 8.3 million homes lost to foreclosure.

      "The foreclosure rate fell to 1% in May, which is twice the long-term average of 0.5%. However, this masks the underlying progress at the state level," said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Twenty-nine states had foreclosure rates below the national average, and all but North Dakota experienced declines in their foreclosure rate compared to the prior year."

      Mortgage delinquencies

      CoreLogic also reports the number of mortgages in serious delinquency (defined as 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure or Real Estate Owned) declined by 21.6% from May 2015 to May 2016, with 1.1 million mortgages, or 2.8%, in this category. The May 2016 serious delinquency rate is the lowest since October 2007.

      "Delinquency and foreclosure rates continue to drop as we experience the benefits of a combination of tight underwriting, job and income growth and a steady rise in home prices,” said CoreLogic President and CEO Anand Nallathambi. “We expect these factors to remain in place for the remainder of this year and for delinquency and foreclosure rates to decline even further."

      Report highlights

      • On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures increased by 5.5% to 38,000 in May 2016 from April. As a basis of comparison, before the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.
      • On a month-over-month basis, the foreclosure inventory was down 3.0%.
      • The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures were Florida (63,000), Michigan (45,000), Texas (27,000), Ohio (23,000), and California (23,000).These five states account for almost half of all completed foreclosures nationally.
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the lowest number of completed foreclosures: the District of Columbia (139), North Dakota (323), West Virginia (494), Alaska (648) and Montana (690).
      • Four states and the District of Columbia had the highest foreclosure inventory rate: New Jersey (3.6%), New York (3.2%), Hawaii (2.1%), the District of Columbia (2.0%), and Maine (1.9%).
      • The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory rate were Alaska (0.3%), Arizona (0.3%), Colorado (0.3%), Minnesota (0.3%), and Utah (0.3%).

      The inventory of foreclosed homes fell sharply during May according to the CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report.The property information provider says...

      ConAgra Foods recalls frozen chicken and beef products

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      ConAgra Foods of Russellville, Ark., is recalling approximately 3,806 pounds of frozen chicken and beef entrée products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials -- specifically metal.

      The metal fragments range in size between 2 and 9 millimeters (mm) in diameter, are curled, malleable and shiny, and may be embedded in the sauce contained within the frozen entrée products.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions or injuries due to consumption of these products.

      The following frozen chicken and beef entrée items, produced on June 13, 2016, and June 22, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 22-oz. plastic bagged meal packages of “P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand Signature Spicy Chicken.” with “Use By” date of 6/08/17 and case code 5006616500.
      • 22-oz. plastic bagged meal packages of “P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand Mongolian Style Beef.” with “Use By” date of 6/17/17 and case code 5006617400.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “EST. 233” or “EST. P-115” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were shipped to distributors and retail locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Wisconsin.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may call 1-800-252-0634.  

      ConAgra Foods of Russellville, Ark., is recalling approximately 3,806 pounds of frozen chicken and beef entrée products that may be contaminated with extra...

      Nissan recalls model year 2016 LEAF and Sentra vehicles

      The wiring harness connector may disconnect from the dual-stage passenger air bag

      Nissan North America is recalling 4,355 model year 2016 LEAF vehicles manufactured February 24, 2016, to March 23, 2016, and Sentras manufactured February 9, 2016, to March 4, 2016.

      The wiring harness connector may disconnect from the dual-stage passenger air bag. As a result, the passenger air bag may not to deploy during a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wiring harness connector for proper engagement and, if necessary, replace the passenger air bag module and main body harness, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in late July 2016. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261.

      Nissan North America is recalling 4,355 model year 2016 LEAF vehicles manufactured February 24, 2016, to March 23, 2016, and Sentras manufactured February ...

      Kawasaki USA recalls recreational off-highway vehicles

      The front floor cover can be punctured by a foreign object

      Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 28,000 Mule Pro side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles.

      The front floor cover can be punctured by a foreign object, posing an injury hazard to riders.

      The company has received two reports of debris coming up from the floor cover, including one report of debris striking an operator’s leg.

      The recall involves 2015, 2016 and 2017 model year side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles. The recalled models are 4-wheel side-by-side seating for three to six people and automotive style controls. The vehicles come in various colors. The model name is printed on the right and left front fender. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right front lower A-arm mounts.

      The following vehicles are being recalled:

      2015

      2016

      2017

      Model Name

      Model Code

      Model Name

      Model Code

      Model Name

      Model Code

      MULE PRO-FXT™

      KAF820AFF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™

      KAF820AGF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™

      KAF820AHF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™EPS

      KAF820BFF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS

      KAF820BGF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS

      KAF820BHF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™EPS LE

      KAF820CFF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS LE

      KAF820CGF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS LE

      KAF820CHF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™EPS Camo

      KAF820DFF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS Camo

      KAF820DGF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ EPS Camo

      KAF820DHF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ Ranch Edition

      KAF820JGF/L

      MULE PRO-FXT™ Ranch Edition

      KAF820JHF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™

      KAF820EGF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™

      KAF820EHF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™ EPS

      KAF820FGF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™ EPS

      KAF820FHF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™EPS LE

      KAF820GGF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™EPS LE

      KAF820GHF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™EPS Camo

      KAF820HGF/L

      MULE PRO-FX™EPS Camo

      KAF820HHF/L

      MULE PRO-DXT™

      KAF1000AGF

      MULE PRO-DXT™

      KAF1000AHF

      MULE PRO-DXT™ EPS

      KAF1000BGF

      MULE PRO-DXT™ EPS

      KAF1000BHF

      MULE PRO-DXT™ EPS LE

      KAF1000CGF

      MULE PRO-DXT™ EPS LE

      KAF1000CHF

      MULE PRO-DX™

      KAF1000DGF

      MULE PRO-DX™

      KAF1000DHF

      MULE PRO-DX™ EPS

      KAF1000EGF

      MULE PRO-DX™ EPS

      KAF1000EHF

      MULE PRO-DX™ EPS LE

      KAF1000FGF

      MULE PRO-DX™ EPS LE

      KAF1000FHF

      The off-highway vehicles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Kawasaki dealers nationwide from July 2014 through June 2016 for between $12,000 and $16,900.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact their local authorized Kawasaki dealer to schedule a free repair.

      Consumers may contact Kawasaki toll-free at 866-802-9381 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.kawasaki.com and click on “Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. of Foothill Ranch, Calif., is recalling about 28,000 Mule Pro side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles. The fro...

      Sundae Shoppe Ice Cream Dipped Variety Cones recalled

      The product may contain peanuts an allergen not declared on the label

      Mister Cookie Face is recalling Sundae Shop Novelty Ice Cream Dipped "Variety" Cones.

      The product may contain peanuts an allergen not declared on the label

      The recalled product, with the best before date November 14, 2017, is packaged in a 32-oz. box containing eight ice cream cones, has the UPC code: 041498191962, and the plant code 34-2036 located next to the "best by" date.

      It was distributed only through ALDI Inc.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it immediately or return it to their local store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-333-0805 x2270.

      Mister Cookie Face is recalling Sundae Shop Novelty Ice Cream Dipped "Variety" Cones. The product may contain peanuts an allergen not declared on t...

      Debt collector calling? Here's what to do

      First, know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

      Some consumers are caught off guard when a debt collector calls and may take actions or make statements that are damaging to their position. The law, after all, gives consumers rights when it comes to dealing with creditors.

      The law in question is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which spells out clearly what debt collectors can and can't do. That's why consumers should be familiar with the law, especially when an account is turned over for collections.

      No one is arguing that consumers should try to weasel out of paying legitimate debts, but there is also no reason to allow yourself to be exploited by a debt collector who is skirting around the law.

      Under the law, you do not have to talk to a debt collector, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says you might want to, at least once, to see if you can resolve the issue.

      Stopping contact

      But at any time, you can request the debt collector stop contacting you. Here's how:

      Write a letter instructing the collector not to make further contact. Send a copy to the collector by certified mail and pay for a return receipt. After that, a debt collector may contact you only to tell you there will be no further contact, or to tell you the creditor plans to file a lawsuit.

      Keep in mind, cutting off communication with a debt collector increases the likelihood of litigation. If the debt is illegitimate, maybe that's not a concern. Remember, cutting off contact does not make a legitimate debt go away.

      If a debt collector calls about a debt that you know you do not owe, you can stop the calls by sending a letter – again by certified mail – stating you don't owe the money and asking for verification of the debt. You must send it within 30 days of receiving a validation notice. The collector may resume contact if it can prove you owe the money.

      Old debt can be new again

      In recent years debt collectors have purchased old debt from credit card companies for pennies on the dollar and attempted to collect it, even though in many cases the statute of limitations had expired and the credit card company had written off the debt.

      The credit card site Credit.com warns consumers they should be very careful should they receive one of these debt collector calls. By saying the wrong thing – like admitting to owing the money – or making even a small payment, can start the clock again. 

      Sometimes a debt collector will hound a consumer over a debt that doesn't exist, or belongs to someone else. When that happens, the consumer should consider legal action if the hounding persists.

      Last year a debt collector sued a Missouri woman for a debt she insisted was not hers. When the jury heard her story, it not only dismissed the case, it awarded her $83 million from the debt collection company in punitive damages.

      Some consumers are caught off guard when a debt collector calls and may take actions or make statements that are damaging to their position. The law, after...