• How Arbitration Screws Customers

    On Thursday December 12, 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will hold a field hearing on Forced Arbitration Clauses, which have been called “Corporate America’s Most Successful Dirty Secret.”As many of you know, Arbitration Clauses are now found buried in the fine print of almost EVERY consumer contract you sign — cell phones, insurance, credit cards, vehicle purchases, etc. When you sign such a contract, Courts now find you have “agreed” to whatever it contains — including giving up the rights given you under state and federal consumer protection laws. That means you ...

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  • Can a data breach hurt me years later?

    May 12, 2013Consumer Protection

    Yes.  In fact, it's far more likely to hurt you then. I've written about the 2012 SC Department of Revenue Breach (in which 3.8 million social security numbers, among other things, were stolen from DOR) and you've heard all about it. Think the worst is over? Think again.  Here are some scary facts: 1) Data Breach victims are 4x more likely to become identity theft victims (ie., to have their names and ID's not merely stolen, but USED to actually DO SOMETHING BAD, ranging from fraudulent accounts to terrorism). 2) Studies from javelinstrategy.com show that, after committing the data ...

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  • Freedom from Choice

    Have you heard the big news? Hasbro, the maker of the Monopoly board game, is getting rid of one of the game’s eight playing pieces. In case you haven’t played for a while, the current pieces are (in order of lamest to coolest) : thimble, iron, wheelbarrow, boot, tophat, dog, battleship and racecar. We, the public, get to decide which piece gets the axe. Obviously, the racecar is totally safe. Everyone loves it. It has wheels - which makes sense in a game that goes in a circuit - and it looks awesome. The battleship is formidable. The tophat is dapper. The boot kind of looks like the ra ...

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  • SCDOR Data Breach

    Saturday mornings as a kid in the 70’s were the best. I’d wake up early, pour myself a giant bowl of Count Chocula and sit down in front of the TV to watch Super Friends. In case you missed it, Super Friends was a cartoon about a team of superheroes (Batman, Superman, etc.) who banded together to fight evil as The Justice League. An oft-repeated scenario was this one: Super Villain X captures Aquaman. He then pretends to be Aquaman in order to wreak havoc and maybe learn the Justice League’s secret handshake. Just when you think all is lost, the real Aquaman escapes to confront fake A ...

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  • Common Consumer Complaints

    October 20, 2012Consumer Protection

    One of the clients in your corporate practice mentions that his daughter just signed a contract for a car that she really can't afford. "I told her not to worry, because she has three days to cancel the contract, right?" he asks you. Your pro bono client tells you that a debt collector is calling his employer. He is worried about getting fired and wants to know if the calls are legal. A longtime client calls you about her apartment lease. "I moved out months ago and have not received my security deposit back from the landlord. Isn't there a law preventing him from doing this?" She asks. ...

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  • Invasion of the I.D. Snatchers

    Most 1950s science fiction films are, let's face it, pretty cheesy. In The Blob, a jello-mold creature absorbs a town. In Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, a very tall woman (in the days before the WNBA) attacks a town. And in Rocket Ship X-M, Lloyd Bridges attempts to seduce every woman in an intergalactic town. But perhaps the worst science fiction movie of all time, and a contender for the worst movie of all time, was Plan 9 from Outer Space, where extraterrestrials team up with vampires to (you guessed it) oppress a small town. An exception to this lame fare was 1956's Invasion of the ...

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  • Home Improvements Contracts

    August 22, 2012Consumer Protection

    One of actor Tom Hanks' more forgettable roles was as a beleaguered homeowner in The Money Pit. Hanks and his wife, played by Shelley Long, move into a "fixer upper" house with plans to renovate it. At one point, water is streaming out of the house in the background. A plumber hands Hanks a huge bill, declares that he is late for his daily golf game, jumps into his Corvette and disappears. While the scene is funny, there may be an eerie familiarity to it if you own a home. And chances are, the scenario is also familiar to some of your clients who are homeowners. Few of them ...

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  • Everyday ERISA

    July 22, 2012Consumer Protection

    It was the winter of 1963 in South Bend, IN, when the last Studebaker automobile built in America rolled down the assembly line. The company, which had begun as horse-drawn wagon maker 111 years before and had survived two world wars and the stock market crash, was effectively wiped out. On the heels of the plant's closure, Studebaker terminated its retirement plan for hourly workers. In his article The Most Glorious Story of Failure in Business: The Studebaker-Packard Corporation and the Origins of ERISA, 49 Buffalo Law Review 683 (2001), Professor James A. Wooten writes th ...

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