Consumer Rights

Infringements on the rights of Americans as consumers.

Lobbying Showdown Over The Future Of Student Loans

When Sallie Mae, the nation's largest provider of student loans, saw the possibility of its own extinction in a plan advanced by the Obama administration, it did what just about any big corporation would do: It hired the best lobbyists money can buy. That was standard procedure for Sallie Mae, which for two decades has almost single-handedly stymied attempts to reduce or eliminate federal subsidies to the multibillion-dollar private student loan industry.

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Credit Cardholders' Bill Of Rights

Today the House of Representatives passed legislation long overdue in America -- a Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights. For far too long, consumers have had little protection against lenders' unfair credit card practices. This legislation puts Americans first -- not credit card industry special interest lobbyists. The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights will...

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No Retreat From Healthcare Reform

Protest or not, South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler let it be known today he's not backing away from supporting health-care reform that includes a government-run public option.

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The Big Takeover: How Wall Street Insiders Are Using The Bailout To Stage A Revolution

The global economic crisis isn't about money -- it's about power! Here's how Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution...

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Obama Student Loan Plan Wins Support In House

The chairman of the House Education Committee has dismissed a last-ditch plea from the private student loan industry and is throwing his support behind President Obama's plan to end the role of private banks in the federal education lending systems. President Obama's plan remains deeply contentious in Congress, and still faces strong opposition from private banks that for decades have earned big profits for handling federal student loans.

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Tight Mortgage Rules Exclude Even Good Risks

Inna Komarovskaya was ready to do her part to revive the economy: She found a "really cute" condo to buy. Despite a good credit score, a six-figure income and an ample down payment, Dr. Komarovskaya, a recent dental school graduate, could not get a loan. Her mortgage broker told her she ran afoul of new rules requiring two years of sufficient tax returns from some home buyers, instead of only one.

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Credit Card Issuers Raising Rates Ahead Of New Law

Credit card companies are raising interest rates and fees seven months before new rules go into effect that will limit their ability to do so, much to the irritation of Congress and consumer advocates. Banks claimed that they needed time to adjust their computer systems before the legislation barring credit card issuers from unjustly increasing interest rates, but all they really needed was time to gouge as many customers as they could before the ball drops.

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New Benefits Make Student Loan Repayment More Manageable

Today new benefits go into effect that will make monthly student loan payments more manageable and affordable for millions of students and borrowers struggling to stay afloat in this tough economic climate. With the economy against this year's college graduates, this relief couldn't come at a better time.

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College Scholarship Scams Rise As Parents Struggle To Deal With Tuition Increases

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has recently signed a law raising the tuition for state universities by as much as 15% and will increase tuition every year until the tuition for Florida universities matches the national average. With tuition bills skyrocketing, and room and board going through the roof, students and their families are looking for creative ways to finance a college education. Unfortunately, in their efforts to pay the bills, many of them are falling prey to scholarship and financial aid scams.

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Insurers Cancel When Policyholders Get Sick

When she developed aggressive breast cancer, a Texas nurse says, her insurer canceled her individual medical insurance policy. The purported reason was that she had failed to disclose information when she applied for the health coverage -- she had once visited a dermatologist about her acne.

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Tony La Russa Sues Twitter Over Imposter's Page

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has sued Twitter claiming that the microblogging site refused to take down an imposter's page that contained "derogatory and demeaning" remarks. The suit alleges trademark infringement, cybersquatting and misappropriation of likeness and name.

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Senate Passes Bill To Restrict Unfair Credit Card Practices

The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to put new restrictions on the credit card industry, passing a bill whose backers say will make card-issuers spell out their terms in fewer words, using plain English, and treat customers more fairly. "We stood up for consumers and stood up to abusive credit card companies," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said after the vote.

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New Mood In Antitrust May Target Google

Last week, the Obama administration declared a sharp break with the Bush years, vowing to toughen antitrust enforcement, especially for dominant companies. The approach is closer to that of the European Union, where regulators last week fined Intel $1.45 billion for abusing its power in the chip market. In this new climate, the stakes appear to be highest for Google, the rising power of the Internet economy.

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Providence Mayor Wants New Tax On College Students To Ease City's Financial Deficit

The mayor of Providence wants to slap a $150-per-semester tax on the 25,000 full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers. If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled.

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Senate Will Weigh Risks Of Bonus Taxation

The fight over bailout bonuses shifts to the Senate this week as lawmakers gauge whether the cost of quelling public outrage with new taxes on the big paychecks could damage efforts to stabilize the financial industry by discouraging bank executives from participating in federal programs. This kind of a clawback legislation has to balance between the need to address the anger of the Congress and the American people and the need to pursue financial stability.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Credit Card Arbitration

In a victory for consumers, the Supreme Court held today that credit-card holders can sometimes fight mandatory arbitration agreements, giving them a better prospect of victory in claims brought by banks and creditors.

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AIG Paying $160 Million In Bonuses

American International Group is giving its executives tens of millions of dollars in new bonuses even though it received a taxpayer bailout of more than $170 billion dollars. The large bulk of the payments at issue cover AIG Financial Products, the unit of the company that sold credit default swaps, the risky contracts that caused massive losses for the insurer.

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Big NYC Landlord Found To Have Wrongly Raised Rents

Tenants at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the sprawling middle-class apartment complexes on the East Side of Manhattan, won a major victory over their landlord on Thursday when an appeals court ruled that the company had wrongfully raised rents and deregulated thousands of apartments after receiving special tax breaks. The decision, issued by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, could ultimately cost the landlord, Tishman Speyer Properties, $200 million if it is required to repay residents of more than 3,000 apartments for improper rent increases over the past four years, said a lawyer for the tenants.

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NY Landlords Fight As Rent Refunds Loom

The real estate industry in New York City is mobilizing with an intensity not seen in years as it faces an almost unheard-of possibility: a court order that it may have to return hundreds of millions of dollars in rent. The state appeals court decision bars New York City landlords from deregulating apartment rents while receiving a popular tax break meant to encourage building renovations. Industry officials say the decision could affect as many as 80,000 apartments in the city, trigger widespread defaults on loans, eliminate construction jobs and reduce property tax revenues for the city.

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Michael Phelps Takes A Hit

Almost half of America is guilty of lighting up, so lay off. It's hell being a celebrity, especially if you're young and find yourself at a party, where marijuana and cameras should never mix. Thus it is that Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps and Sheriff Leon Lott of South Carolina's Richland County are being forced to treat seriously a crime that shouldn't be one.

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Parker Dismissed From FSU Seminoles

Preston Parker's troubled football career at Florida State is over after his second arrest in less than a year.  Arrested for DUI, the police report said Parker admitted he had been drinking and smoking marijuana.

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Tougher Border Can't Stop Mexican Marijuana Cartels

Despite huge enforcement actions on both sides of the Southwest border, the Mexican marijuana trade is more robust -- and brazen -- than ever, law enforcement officials say. Mexican drug cartels routinely transported industrial-size loads of marijuana in 2008, excavating new tunnels and adopting tactics like ramp-assisted smuggling to get their cargoes across undetected. But these are not the only new tactics...

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The Madoff Ponzi

The Securities and Exchange Commission said late Tuesday it would open an investigation into its oversight of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, after repeated warnings since 1999 failed to lead it to uncover an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in a statement Tuesday that initial findings in its investigation into the Madoff case were "deeply troubling."

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Alan Fabian Bankrupt

Bernie Madoff isn't the only rip-off artist that's in trouble these days. On the eve of a nine-year prison term for perpetrating a years-long, multi-million-dollar fraud, Alan B. Fabian, the Hunt Valley consultant who stole from investors to support his charity work and extravagant personal lifestyle, declared bankruptcy Wednesday, estimating he owes more than $52 million to more than 100 creditors.

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Water Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink

Your water bill may be going up 15 percent to make up for all the money utility companies are losing because you are obeying the water restrictions.

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Is Bank Of American Abusing Credit Card Customers?

Bank of America abruptly notified cardholders in good standing their rates would skyrocket if they didn't opt out fast. Is BofA greedy or needy?

Credit-card issuers have drawn fire for jacking up interest rates on cardholders who aren't behind on payments, but whose credit score has fallen for another reason. Now, some consumers complain, Bank of America is hiking rates based on no apparent deterioration in their credit scores at all.

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