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    Appeals court rules Carfax didn't violate antitrust laws

    The vehicle information company battled car dealers for five years

    Carfax says it has won a lengthy court battle with nearly 500 used car dealers that sued the vehicle information company for alleged antitrust violations.

    In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court ruling, dismissing a lawsuit filed against Carfax by Maxon Hyundai Mazda and approximately 470 used car dealers.

    The dealers filed a $50 million class action suit five years ago claiming that Carfax has exclusive agreements with the most popular used car sites, meaning dealers advertising on those sites must offer Carfax vehicle reports, instead of those offered by competitors.

    The suit said Carfax also had exclusive arrangements with 37 out of 40 used car certification programs and charged more for its services.

    "In our over 30 years of doing business, Carfax has never wavered from our commitment to help dealers increase the success of their business," said Bill Eager, vice president, dealer business unit at Carfax. "Our focus is, and always will be, on providing the innovative products and exemplary services our dealer customers expect and rely on to confidently acquire, advertise, service, and sell used cars.”

    30,000 dealer relationships

    Carmax says it has more than 30,000 dealer relationships, maintaining a database of more than 20 billion records. The reports provide a vehicle history and tell a prospective buyer if the car or truck has suffered damage in an accident.

    In its class action suit, the dealers charged that the reports sometimes contain inaccurate information, causing them to lose sales. Consumers posting at ConsumerAffairs over the years have made similar complaints.

    Credit report for vehicles

    A Carfax report has been likened to a credit report for vehicles. The information comes from a variety of sources and sometimes, just as with credit reports, erroneous information gets into the record.

    Carfax says that among the things its reports check for are major damage, mileage rollbacks, multiple owners, service history, flood damage, estimated miles driven each year, and whether an airbag has been deployed. It also checks to see if the car has ever been totaled by an insurance company or has been branded as a lemon.

    Carfax says it has won a lengthy court battle with nearly 500 used car dealers that sued the vehicle information company for alleged antitrust violations....
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    Loblaw recalls chicken burgers

    The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

    Loblaw Companies Limited is recalling its no name brand chicken burgers that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

    Canada's Public Health Agency is investigating an outbreak of human illness.

    The following product, which was sold at retail stores throughout Canada, is being recalled:

    Brand NameCommon NameSizeCode(s) on ProductUPC
    no nameChicken BurgerskgOuter package: 2019 FE 06
    Inner package: 0378M
    0 60383 16636 6

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it or returned it to the where purchased.

    Consumers with questions may contact the company at (888) 495-5111or by email at customerservice@loblaws.ca

    Photo source: Health CanadaLoblaw Companies Limited is recalling its no name brand chicken burgers that may be contaminated with Salmonella.Canad...
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      Model year 2018-2019 BMW X3 vehicles recalled

      The "Active Lane Keeping Assistant" option may malfunction

      BMW of North America is recalling 51 model year 2018-2019 BMW X3 xDrive30i, X3 sDrive30i, and X3 M40i vehicles with the "Active Lane Keeping Assistant" option.

      The steering wheel may be incompatible with the lane keeping assistant function and may not detect if the driver's hands are off the wheel.

      If the sensors do not properly detect the driver's hands are off the wheel, the driver may not be alerted by one or more warning signals, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the steering wheel, replacing it if necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin July 23, 2018.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

      Photo source: BMWBMW of North America is recalling 51 model year 2018-2019 BMW X3 xDrive30i, X3 sDrive30i, and X3 M40i vehicles with the "Active Lane...
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      Supreme Court ruling deals major blow to unions

      Non-union employees will no longer be required to pay towards collective bargaining

      On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go towards collective bargaining. The decision has massive implications on the financial structure of public sector unions and could be devastating to their future outlook.

      Conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision.

      “It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from non-members and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment,” Alito wrote. “Those unconstitutional executions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

      “The First Amendment was meant for better things,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote, in dissent of the decision. “It was not meant to undermine but to protect democratic governance -- including over the role of public-sector unions.”

      Ramifications for unions

      Those in favor of the decision believe that non-union members shouldn’t be responsible for paying a share of union dues that cover the cost of negotiating contracts. However, union members have previously reported that this exact outcome would cut off an income source, as well as diminish their political influence in the 23 states where they advocate for both members and non-members.

      Nearly half of all union members in the United States are government employees, and a recent non-partisan study found that a Supreme Court defeat would eventually cause public employee unions to lose 726,000 members -- which would be a significant blow.

      While Alito noted that unions could “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term,” he believes labor’s problems aren’t as serious as “the considerable windfall that unions have received...for the past 41 years.”

      Despite being in the minority, Justice Kagan continued to reinforce the implications this decision will have moving forward.

      “There’s no sugarcoating today’s decision,” Kagan wrote. “The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this Nation’s law -- and its economic life -- for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy.”

      History in the case

      The debate surrounding the case stems from the decision in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That ruling decided that non-members of public sector unions cannot be required to pay fees for a union’s political activities, but they can be required to pay “fair share” fees that go towards employee grievances, physical safety, and training.

      The current case began with a lawsuit against an Illinois public sector union filed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

      Two years ago, the court was locked in a 4-4 standstill on this same issue when it was presented by a group of California teachers who were opposed to paying the fees. Since then, Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court and provided the fifth vote to end the fees.

      “By requiring unions to represent everyone in a collective bargaining unit without ensuring fair contributions for that representation, unions will be forced to do more with much less -- to the detriment of those they represent,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-California). “The decision today is the latest blow in a decades-long, nationwide effort by conservatives to bust unions that advocate for workers and protect them from employer abuses.”

      On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go towards collective bargaining. The decision...
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      Employers complain of growing 'talent shortage'

      Positions such as electricians, welders, and drivers are going unfilled

      With the unemployment rate hovering just above record lows, employers are complaining that they can't find the talent they need to fill existing jobs.

      But if you spent four years and tens of thousands of dollars getting a college degree, you might not be the workers employers are looking for.

      The latest talent shortage survey from the ManpowerGroup found the most difficult slots for employers to fill are skilled workers, with the shortage at the worst it's been in 12 years.

      In particular, employers said skilled workers -- such as electricians, welders, and mechanics -- are hard to find. They also said many positions as salesmen and drivers are going unfilled.

      College degree not necessary

      Many of the jobs that 46 percent of employers say they can't fill require training, but not a four-year college degree.

      "We continue to see increasing demand for skilled workers across all sectors of the U.S. economy from transport and trade to manufacturing and sales," said Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America. "Employers cannot find the people they need with the right blend of technical skills and human strengths and the problem won't fix itself.”

      To fill the gap, the survey found employers are luring retired workers back to their old jobs and recruiting returning parents and part-timers.

      More than half of the companies in the survey said they are investing in learning platforms and development tools to build their talent pipeline. To make their open positions more attractive, 19 percent of employers are offering flexible work arrangements and other modifications to the jobs.

      Increasing salary

      Pay is also improving for many of these positions. According to U.S. News and World Report, the median salary for an electrician in the U.S. was $52,720 in 2016. Electricians are licensed by the states in which they operate after completing a training course. Most require a high school diploma but not an expensive college education.

      “It's time for a new approach to attract, recruit and retain talent,” Frankiewicz said. “Employers need to buy skills where necessary, borrow from external sources and help people with adjacent skills bridge from one role to another.”

      In other words, employers may have to build their own talent pool because the education system isn't providing it.

      As we reported earlier this month, many college graduates struggle to find jobs, even in this tight labor market. Research conducted for the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows the average college graduate who does not leave school with a job will spend 7.4 months looking for one.

      While jobseekers can focus on jobs where a talent shortage exists, the ManpowerGroup urges employers to develop more training programs to cultivate talent, both inside and outside the organization.

      With the unemployment rate hovering just above record lows, employers are complaining that they can't find the talent they need to fill existing jobs.B...
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      Tesla reveals Model 3 price cuts, changes to design studio

      The company is opening up invites to all remaining Model 3 reservation holders

      On Tuesday, Tesla announced that it will open up orders to all remaining Model 3 reservation holders in the U.S. and Canada.

      The company also gave the Model 3 Performance and Dual Motor AWD version a price cut.

      Tesla was able to trim the cost of the Model 3 Performance by making many of its features optional instead of standard. Now, a base Model 3 Performance will start at $64,000 (down from $78,000). Consumers can spring for optional features such as a white interior or premium paint.

      Model 3’s with dual motors and a Long Range battery pack will cost $53,000, which is $1,000 less than before. The new prices will be applied retroactively for customers who have already placed orders.

      The company also updated its delivery timeline to prioritize the Performance version with a 2- to 4-month delivery window. The Long Range battery pack with rear-wheel drive motor now has a 3- to 5-month delivery window, as does the dual motor version without the performance package.

      Tesla has been working hard on improving its production process in an effort reach its goal of making 5,000 Model 3s a week.

      Although a $35,000 Model 3 still isn’t available, the price cuts and changes to the Model 3 design studio suggest that the company is making headway in achieving its goal of bringing an affordable electric vehicle to mass market.

      On Tuesday, Tesla announced that it will open up orders to all remaining Model 3 reservation holders in the U.S. and Canada. The company also gave the...
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      AAA says smartphone apps are safer than cars' infotainment systems

      Researchers say Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto are less distracting

      Distracted driving remains a significant safety issue on the nation's highways, and drivers who use their cell phones aren’t the only reason.

      Late model cars feature complex infotainment systems that studies have shown draw drivers' attention away from the road. These studies have shown that even hands-free systems, designed for safety, are still distracting.

      "We're seeing more automakers try to address the issue of distracted driving through semi-autonomous features, but we're also mindful of the fact that some of these features could distract drivers even more and often give drivers a false sense of security," said Stephanie Braun, director of the connected car department at Esurance.

      New AAA study

      In a new study, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto are actually less distracting to drivers than most vehicles’ factory-installed infotainment systems.

      Apple CarPlay, available on select models, allows drivers to use voice commands to control their phones by getting information directly from Siri or having it displayed on the car's in-dash screen.

      Google's Android Auto is similar. It displays information on the car's screen and gives the driver requested information verbally via Google Assistant.

      The AAA researchers said CarPlay and Android Auto were 24 percent faster on average than a vehicle's native system when making a call and 31 percent faster when programming navigation.

      Critical difference

      That difference in speed is critical, researchers contend, because drivers who remove their gaze from the road double their risk of an accident. The takeaway, according to AAA, is that cars' infotainment systems can be designed to be less distracting, and therefore safer.

      "Google and Apple are proving that it is possible to reduce the level of demand in-vehicle infotainment technology places on drivers," said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

      Yang says all systems have considerable room for improvement, but he believes that smartphone-based software has the potential to offer a simpler, more familiar design that is less confusing to drivers, and therefore less demanding.

      AAA says drivers should not use in-vehicle infotainment technology to perform non-driving related tasks. Even with increased speeds provided by the smartphone apps, drivers still took up to 33 seconds to complete a navigation task. Still, that's much better than the 48 seconds needed for native systems.

      AAA says distracted driving is responsible for more than 390,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths every year.

      Distracted driving remains a significant safety issue on the nation's highways, and drivers who use their cell phones aren’t the only reason.Late model...
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      Judge dismisses lawsuit against five major oil companies

      Two cities believe the companies should pay for costs related to climate change

      A San Francisco federal judge has ruled in favor of five big oil companies in a lawsuit brought by two California cities, Oakland and San Francisco, over the fossil fuel industry’s responsibility in paying for the cost of climate change.

      Judge William Alsup didn’t dispute the science of climate change, but he said it was a matter of the law. “This order accepts the science behind global warming,” Judge Alsup said in his order. However, “the issue is not over science. The issue is a legal one,” he said.

      Judge Alsup ruled in favor of the defendants -- Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP. The companies argued that the case should be dismissed because the courts were not the proper venue to address climate change.

      “The court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches,” Alsup wrote.

      Public nuisance law

      The lawsuits said that Big Oil created a public nuisance and that the companies should pay for sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against the damage from global warming and sea level rise.

      However, if the courts determined that oil and gas production was a public nuisance, it would “invade the prerogatives of Congress and the executive branch,” Theodore Boutrous, the lawyer representing Chevron, said in a hearing.

      “Earlier attempts to use nuisance claims in lawsuits about climate change have been heard under federal law in cases such as American Electric Power v. Connecticut, but none have succeeded,” the New York Times reports.

      “In a unanimous 2011 decision, the Supreme Court said that the Clean Air Act displaced the federal common law of nuisance, leaving enforcement and regulation to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

      Alsup said that although it's "true" that carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels has contributed to global warming, we have all benefited from fuel and coal. “Development of our modern world has literally been fuelled by oil and coal,” he wrote.

      "The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case," Judge Alsup concluded.

      A San Francisco federal judge has ruled in favor of five big oil companies in a lawsuit brought by two California cities, Oakland and San Francisco, over t...
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      Child finds loaded gun in IKEA couch

      A shot was fired, but no one hurt

      It sounds like an urban legend: a child finds a loaded handgun in the cushions of a sofa at IKEA and fires a shot.

      But it's no urban legend. Police say it actually happened at an IKEA store in suburban Indianapolis. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

      According to a local police report, a shopper carrying a handgun sat down on the sofa and did not realize that the weapon slipped out of his pocket and lodged between the cushions.

      Minutes later, a child sat on the sofa and discovered the gun. Pulling it out, the child played with it for about a minute before apparently pulling the trigger, firing off a round into the back of the sofa.

      At that point, police say the gun's owner heard the shot, checked for his weapon, and discovered it was missing. Police say the man identified himself to alarmed store employees as the gun's owner.

      No arrests

      Police were called to the store but no arrests were made. The man had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

      IKEA has a policy against bringing guns into its stores, but the store policy does not have the force of law. However, Indianapolis television station WTTV said a police investigation of the incident is still underway.

      Fishers, Ind., Police Sgt. Tom Weger told the station that the incident is an example of why gun owners must be responsible and keep their weapons under control at all times.

      For its part, IKEA apologized to the child's parents.

      “The safety and security of customers and co-workers is the top priority," the company said in a statement. “Ikea has a no-weapon policy in our locations to prevent exactly these types of situations."

      It sounds like an urban legend: a child finds a loaded handgun in the cushions of a sofa at IKEA and fires a shot.But it's no urban legend. Police say...
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      Land O’Frost recalls Black Forest Ham

      The package contains labeling discrepancies

      Land O’Frost of Madisonville, Ky., is recalling approximately 4,944 pounds of ham.

      The front of the package is accurately labeled as Black Forest Ham; however the back of the package is incorrectly labeled as Honey Smoked Turkey Breast.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the product.

      The following item, produced on April 27, 2018, is being recalled:

      • 1-lb. plastic gas-flushed resealable packages containing a single ham labeled “Land O’Frost PREMIUM Old World Style Black Forest Ham” with Lot 8117D and a sell-by date of August 10, 2018 on the label.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “Est.500K” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to a retail locations in Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Dar Gautreaux at (800) 762-9865.

      Land O’Frost of Madisonville, Ky., is recalling approximately 4,944 pounds of ham.The front of the package is accurately labeled as Black Forest Ham; h...
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      Toyota recalls Lexus IS and GS vehicles

      The vehicles may develop a fuel leak

      Toyota Motor North America is recalling about 115,000 model year 2006-2013 Lexus IS 350s, model year 2010-2014 IS 350Cs and model year 2007-2011 GS 350s, and GS 450h vehicles.

      The diaphragm material in the fuel pulsation dampers in certain 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engines may harden over time and crack, causing fuel to leak.

      A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source can increase the risk of a vehicle fire.

      What to do

      Lexus notify all known owners and dealers will replace the fuel delivery pipe with a new one containing improved pulsation dampers at no cost.

      Owners may contact Lexus at (800) 255-3987.

      Toyota Motor North America is recalling about 115,000 model year 2006-2013 Lexus IS 350s, model year 2010-2014 IS 350Cs and model year 2007-2011 GS 350s, a...
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      Whole Foods discounts now available to Amazon Prime members nationwide

      The company has expanded its discounts beyond just select states

      Starting June 27th, Amazon Prime members will receive 10 percent off certain sale items, as well as other discounts, at Whole Foods stores across the country.

      Customers have two ways to activate the new Amazon Prime-related discounts. One way is to get the Whole Foods app, sign in with your Amazon Prime account, and then scan the app’s Prime code at checkout at a Whole Foods store. Another option is to enter your mobile phone number at checkout to verify your Prime membership.

      When the rollout is complete on June 27th, yellow stickers will indicate items that are 10 percent off, and blue stickers will show additional deals just for Prime members. Some items customers can expect to see discounted right off the bat include:

      • Baby back pork ribs, $4.99/pound (regularly $9.99/pound)

      • Sockeye salmon, $13.99/pound (regularly $19.99/pound)

      • Organic yellow peaches, $1.99/pound (regularly $3.99/pound)

      • Mochi ice-cream, including chocolate, salted caramel, and green tea flavors, five for $5

      • 32-ounce organic Honest Lemonade, two for $3

      “Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive -- in fact, Prime members have adopted this benefit at one of the fastest rates we’ve seen,” said Cem Sibay, Amazon’s Vice President. “Since starting this rollout in mid-May, Prime members have already saved millions of dollars.”

      Benefits of Prime Membership

      Since acquiring Whole Foods last June, Amazon has made its presence in the grocery chain known to the public.

      Discounts at Whole Foods for Prime Members started out in Florida in early May. By month’s end, Amazon extended the offers to 12 more states. Just last month, Amazon announced another 10 states were being added to the mix, and the rest of the country was not far behind.

      “We’re excited that Prime savings will be available at nearly half of our Whole Foods Market stores, giving more Prime members access to great deals just in time for summer,” said A.C. Gallo, President and CEO of Whole Foods, last month.

      Amazon Prime members receive other perks when shopping at Whole Foods, like free two-day grocery delivery on orders over $35 and access to Amazon products like the Echo and Kindle in Whole Foods stores.

      Additionally, members who choose to have their groceries delivered still see the same storewide discounts at checkout. In certain markets, Prime members can get their Whole Foods groceries delivered for free in just two hours. Members with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa also receive five percent back when shopping at Whole Foods stores.

      Starting June 27th, Amazon Prime members will receive 10 percent off certain sale items, as well as other discounts, at Whole Foods stores across the count...
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      Uber wins 15-month provisional license to operate in London

      The rideshare company is looking to restore its reputation overseas

      This past September, London’s transport regulator rejected Uber’s request to renew its license to operate in the city. Now, nine months later, Uber has won an appeal to operate on a provisional license in the city for the next 15 months.

      Today, the judge hearing the case allowed Uber to operate in the city on the grounds that the company continues to work on past issues and applies for a five-year license.

      “While ULL was not a fit and proper person...it is now a fit and proper person, and I grant a license,” said chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in her ruling.

      According to the justice, she feels that Uber has provided substantial evidence of modifying its practices and is committed to adhering to her final decision. ULL will also be paying £425,000 in court charges for the case.

      A rocky past

      Uber’s license was initially declined to operate in London primarily because of concerns surrounding customer safety.

      Transport for London (TfL) -- the city’s transport regulator -- argued that Uber “demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility” in reporting serious incidents, and the agency deemed the company not “fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.”

      Other reasons for denying Uber’s license included:

      • Uber’s approach to obtaining medical certificates and Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

      • Uber’s use of Greyball -- software that can block regulatory agencies from gaining full access to the app and/or undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

      “The attitude of the previous managers appeared to be grow the business, come what may,” Arbuthnot said of the company’s previous operation.

      One of the major issues that was discussed during the two-day trial was Uber’s system of monitoring and reporting complaints, and how it relays those issues to the police when they are related to criminal activity.

      However, according to the company’s lawyer, Tom de la Mare, the company now has a new reporting procedure in place that includes six-month checkups on the process to ensure its success.

      “Uber is committing to report every complaint that could be construed as criminal, “ De la Mare said.

      Changing for the future

      Despite the past issues between Uber and TfL, the company appears to be making changes to ensure a positive relationship in London moving forward.

      In addition to making changes to its business model, Uber has also been reporting crimes on a daily basis and limiting drivers’ working hours.

      “Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to put right past mistakes as we’ve gone through a much-needed period of reflection and change,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s U.K. general manager. “We are pleased with today’s decision. We will continue to work with TfL to address their concerns and earn their trust, while providing the best possible service for our customers.”

      TfL is also optimistic about Uber’s future in London.

      “As a result of our action, Uber has made a number of commitments to reform, including implementing a new governance structure and changing how it deals with allegations of criminal activity,” the agency said in a statement. “The short-term license with conditions allows us to closely monitor Uber’s adherence to the regulations and to swiftly take action if they fail to meet the required standards.”

      This past September, London’s transport regulator rejected Uber’s request to renew its license to operate in the city. Now, nine months later, Uber has won...
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      Robocalls hit an all-time high in May

      As the calls continue to mount, the FCC ups its efforts to crack down on the nuisance

      Robocalls shattered a U.S. record in May, with more than 4 billion calls placed -- a 40 percent increase since January. Over a quarter of those calls were scams.

      According to robocall-blocking software developer YouMail and its Robocall Index, the first place trophy for most scam calls placed goes to the Interest Rate Scam, a swindle that offers zero-percent interest rates to trusting consumers in exchange for their personal financial details.

      Now, with summer vacations and the upcoming school year being top-of-mind, there are new scams lurking. Those include the Student Loan Scam which guarantees student loan forgiveness to hopeful graduates, and the Travel Scam, which offers free trips to naive vacationers. Travel scams are the robocall du jour, increasing 162 percent in the last two months alone.

      “Despite the best efforts of regulators, industry groups, service providers, and app developers to stop scam robocalls, we are warning consumers to remain vigilant by not picking up any calls from unfamiliar numbers, using robocall blocking apps, and researching numbers before calling them back,” commented YouMail CEO Alex Quilici to ConsumerAffairs.

      Is there an end in sight?

      While there seems to be little progress in the 27 years since Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are trudging forward in their battle with robocall bandits via lawsuits and million dollar fines like the one levied on the Dish Network. Nonetheless, there are consumer groups shouting that the rules don't go far enough.

      In response, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the agency is working to “stop the scourge of illegal robocalls” and is soliciting consumer input for an upcoming report on robocalling. The focus of that report is the success of combating illegal calls and the hurdles still to be cleared.

      In his comment to the FCC, attorney Victor Wandres aired his feelings on the matter, saying “Everyone knows that robocalls are out of hand. I receive several per day, interrupting my work. Just because a consumer provided his cell phone number once to a company does not mean that she shouldn't be able to tell that company to stop calling her if the calls from the company are getting out of hand.”

      “A consumer should only have to tell a company ONCE that they have the wrong number and not to call him again without having to deal with a computer constantly calling him back looking for someone else,” Wandres said.

      Steps consumers can take

      Besides using robocall-blocking phone apps and simply not answering a call from an unfamiliar phone number, FCC chief Pai offers consumer tips to avoid scam robocalls and spoofing.

      Consumers wishing to comment on the FCC’s latest inquiry into robocalls can find out how to express their opinion here. Comments are due July 20, 2018.

      Robocalls shattered a U.S. record in May, with more than 4 billion calls placed -- a 40 percent increase since January. Over a quarter of those calls were...
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      Apple launches special news section ahead of midterm elections

      The tech giant is aiming to present readers with reliable news ahead of this year’s crucial races

      Apple has unveiled a new 2018 Midterm Elections section in Apple News, which gives U.S. readers access to important political content through November.

      The news section will offer coverage from Fox News, Vox, and other selected outlets, along with special exclusives like The Washington Post's Election Now dashboard, a weekly briefing from Axios, and Politico's Races to Watch.

      Apple says the goal of the section isn’t to censor politics, but to present consumers with a selection of top stories from trustworthy sources.

      “Today more than ever people want information from reliable sources, especially when it comes to making voting decisions,” said Lauren Kern, editor-in-chief of Apple News. “An election is not just a contest; it should raise conversations and spark national discourse.”

      “By presenting quality news from trustworthy sources and curating a diverse range of opinions, Apple News aims to be a responsible steward of those conversations and help readers understand the candidates and the issues.”

      Combating false news

      Apple isn’t the first tech giant to implement efforts to fight false news in the wake of the 2016 election and ahead of the November elections. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have also taken steps to stem the spread of misinformation on the web.

      Facebook recently announced that it is expanding the scale and scope of its third-party fact-checking program, which relies on a combination of technology and human editors to make news from less reliable sources less visible. The company also announced that it would begin fact-checking photos and videos in addition to text.

      In March, Google launched a new effort called Google News Initiative, which aims to combat the spread of misinformation during elections and breaking news moments. Google said it was working with Harvard University’s fact-checking organization First Draft for the program, which identifies inaccurate news stories and removes them from Google News rankings.

      Twitter announced earlier this year that it would notify nearly 678,000 users that may have inadvertently interacted with now-suspended accounts believed to have been linked to a Russian propaganda service called the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

      Apple’s news section for the 2018 Midterm Elections is now available to U.S. readers and will remain up through the elections in November.

      Apple has unveiled a new 2018 Midterm Elections section in Apple News, which gives U.S. readers access to important political content through November....
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