Consumer Action INSIDER - August 2018

Table of Contents

 

What people are saying

Consumer Action’s Money Management 1-2-3 training offers a concise program for low-income families to prioritize their spending and live within their means. The training has provided me with the tools and resources I’ve needed for both group and one-on-one peer sessions with clients. It has also been a great training for my staff. Thank you, Consumer Action. — Loistine Herndon, program director for Temple Community Outreach, San Bernardino, CA

Did you know?

European airlines are subject to tougher passenger rights standards than U.S.-based airlines. Under a European Union (EU) regulation known as EC 261, you may be entitled to up to 600 euros (currently about $700) if your flight was canceled or delayed by three hours or more or if you don’t arrive at your final destination within two hours of the scheduled arrival time. The regulation also applies if you’re denied boarding, and covers EU airlines flying to the EU, as well as any airline flying from the EU. Learn more about your rights as an airline passenger in this informative AARP article.

Out & About: Affordable medicines conference highlights costly problem

The national advocacy group Public Citizen held a three-day Washington, DC, conference at the Georgetown University Law Center in June for healthcare, consumer advocacy and grassroots organizing groups to learn not only about how pharmaceutical corporations are making lifesaving medications less and less affordable for consumers, but also how to mobilize and build power to hold Big Pharma accountable. Consumer Action National Priorities Associate Lauren Hall attended the conference and workshops.

At the start of the conference, members of Congress, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D–Texas), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), gave featured remarks on how the call for lower drug prices is being addressed on Capitol Hill. Patient-advocates told their stories of suffering and subsequent advocacy work due to the outrageous costs of life-saving prescription medicines for common conditions—for example, insulin to treat diabetes.

Throughout the conference, attendees were encouraged to participate in training sessions to build and refine skills in media advocacy, campaign strategy development and coalition organizing.

Early on day two of the conference, attendees engaged in an organizing strategy session, breaking off into smaller groups to pick important goals they’d like to accomplish (for instance, lowering the cost of medications for uninsured consumers) and how they would best identify their organizing targets (those who have the power to create change); create strategic tactics to reach key targets; engage constituents and allies; and combat opposition. Participants said they were inspired by Senator Cory Booker’s earlier comment, “The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

Each afternoon, participants joined a series of smaller workshops to dive deeper into specific issues, such as the unique challenges facing people of color and LGBTQ groups, who are often overlooked in health and disability rights movements, and how ableism (discrimination in favor of able-bodied people) pervades health advocacy. As an example, rallies and protest marches often are not accessible to those with chronic pain, physical disabilities and other conditions that limit their mobility.

Other workshops included: how private corporations leverage public research dollars to maximize private profits; innovation and public investment in prescription drug development; how a focus on profits means that certain badly-needed drugs never get created while less critical ones do; and efforts to stop medication price-gouging through state bills. An example of the latter is Illinois’ recent PHARMAbro Act, named after disgraced “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who increased the price of a lifesaving AIDS drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

“Public Citizen’s Affordable Medicines Now Conference provided a unique and powerful opportunity for activists to gain deep knowledge not only about the challenges we’re facing in this country around grossly excessive, prohibitive drug costs, but also in the very real ways we can hold those in power accountable to create the kind of change that literally saves lives,” said Consumer Action’s Hall.

California adopts data privacy law, but is it enough?

The California Consumer Privacy Act ballot initiative was pulled last month in exchange for the passage of state broadband privacy legislation. The deal led to a “gut and amend” for a bill known as AB 375 (the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or CalCPA), which subsequently took some of its provisions directly from the scuttled consumer privacy initiative that would have been on state ballots this fall.

While AB 375 will offer more privacy protections to Californians overall, in some sections, the modifications reduced consumer privacy protections that had been included in the ballot initiative. The new law will not prevent companies from collecting customers’ information, but does give individuals the right to prohibit data sharing and delete some data collected by companies.

The initiative’s backer, Alastair Mactaggart, was central to a deal to drop the ballot initiative if state lawmakers were able to pass AB 375. Mactaggart, a real estate developer who funded the ballot initiative, said in a statement that he was “thrilled” that lawmakers had succeeded in passing “unprecedented” consumer privacy protections. But Mactaggart also warned that there will be ample opportunity during the rulemaking process for big tech firms to water down or erode many of the consumer protections in CalCPA.

The new law will apply to companies (including “edge providers,” like Facebook and Google, as well as internet service providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon) that receive personal data from 50,000 or more California residents, households or devices annually; have $25 million or more in annual gross revenues; or make 50 percent or more of their annual revenue from selling California residents’ personal information. The state attorney general will be the enforcer for most violations. The law gives consumers the right to access personal information that companies have collected about them, provides consumers the right to transfer and delete most data they’ve given companies and requires opt-in consent for the sale of data pertaining to youth under 16.

AB 375 is weaker than the abandoned initiative on privacy rights in that it removes the ability for aggrieved consumers to sue in all but data breach cases where the attorney general declines to prosecute, and it prevents the state’s municipalities and local jurisdictions from enacting stronger privacy protections. The new law contains significant exemptions that allow companies to continue to keep and use the data they collect, even over consumer objections. The law would not seem to stop companies from the kind of unauthorized information sharing that led to the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

“State legislators generally dislike ballot initiatives, as they subjugate the lawmaking process,” said Joe Ridout, Consumer Action’s California legislative advocate.

Sometimes ballot initiatives work for better lawmaking: The Senate, in 2017, allowed tech firm lobbyists to block AB 375 despite overwhelming public support.

“This year, the threat of the ballot initiative and the deal cut with Mactaggart lit a fire under California lawmakers to pass AB 375,” Ridout added. “To sum it all up, if AB 375 goes into effect in 2020 as passed, Californians will enjoy greater privacy rights, especially in regard to downloading their data and disclosures about information purchased from third-party data brokers. Over the next 18 months, however, industry will undoubtedly try to weaken the law.”

Consumer Action will follow the process and alert our followers when there is an opportunity to speak out against weakened standards. To receive our alerts, add your email on our home page.

Hotline Chronicles: When traveling, pay attention to currency conversion

Lulu* contacted Consumer Action’s hotline with a warning for international travelers. When renting cars in 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, and in 2018 in Brussels, Belgium, Lulu dropped off the cars when no staffers were on duty to check them in. While Lulu said her invoice and billing reflected the agreed-upon charges, she took exception with the way the charges were billed.

“It’s generally in my favor when purchases made in euros are billed to my credit card in euros. However many companies will try to make the conversion to U.S. dollars themselves, and charge a higher currency conversion rate than your credit card would.” (This practice is known as “dynamic currency conversion.”)

Last year in Geneva, Lulu found out that the auto rental company Hertz had billed her in U.S. dollars, with a notice on the statement that read: “I have been offered a choice of currency and chosen to pay my rental charges in the currency of my card.” Lulu was affronted because she had never been offered a choice. She told us she scanned her rental agreement, in case she had inadvertently agreed to being charged in U.S. currency, but found nothing mentioned.

Lulu “Googled” the contact info for the head of Hertz in Europe and wrote to him to complain. She also disputed the charge with her credit card issuer. “It was a difference of only $20 in Hertz’s favor, but to me it’s the principle of the thing,” said Lulu. In 2017, Hertz apologized and said it would make sure it didn’t happen again. But, in June, during Lulu’s visit to Brussels, it did happen again!

Once more, Lulu contacted the European head office and disputed the difference in the charge (again, about $20) with her credit card company. “It’s really worth it to take the trouble to complain about things like this,” Lulu told us. “Hertz wrote me back, and seemed appalled that this was still happening. The person writing on behalf of Hertz said they had sent out a staff notice after I complained last year and thanked me for following up. They even credited back a portion of the cost of the rental.”

Lulu said she likes to rent from Hertz because of its partnership with her Automobile Association of America (AAA) motor club membership. “The rates are generally good and the idea of having a third party behind me if something goes wrong is appealing,” she told Consumer Action.

We like Lulu’s persistence—follow-through is often required in successful complaining. What LuLu probably didn’t know, however, is that Hertz had already been sued for being a bad actor in the currency conversion realm. In 2017, a New Jersey citizen commenced a class action lawsuit against Hertz, titled Margulis v. The Hertz Corporation, on behalf of customers who rent vehicles abroad. The court noted that the plaintiff alleged that Hertz was “conducting a broad-ranging currency conversion scheme, labeled ‘dynamic currency conversion’ (DCC) to defraud its customers who rent vehicles abroad” and that “Hertz quotes customer rates for vehicle rentals without including any currency conversion fee, charges the fee directly to customer’s credit card and then falsely claims the customer specifically chose the currency conversion and subsequent overcharge. Plaintiff claims he was the victim of Hertz’s DCC practices in connection with car rentals (in the United Kingdom and Italy) and alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud and violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.”

The case is ongoing.

Unfortunately, car rental companies like Hertz are not the only place that international travelers can run into currency conversion issues. Restaurants and hotels may ask travelers whether they would like to be billed in the currency of their cards rather than that of the country they are in. Dynamic currency conversion is done at the point of sale, when a “markup,” or additional fee, is added to the conversion. Generally, travelers should reject a dynamic currency conversion offer and allow their cards to be charged in the foreign currency. This is because credit cards typically offer a more advantageous conversion rate. (But make sure you are using a credit card without a foreign currency conversion fee, which can be up to 4 percent of the amount of the purchase. NerdWallet offers a list of cards without the added fee.)

One exception to our suggestion may occur when dynamic currency conversion makes it easier for business travelers to track purchases because the receipt will show the amount in the traveler’s home currency, instead of having to match receipts in a foreign currency to the amounts on credit card statements.

However, “Due to the markups, opting for dynamic currency conversion almost always results in higher costs for the traveler,” said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action.

*Not this consumer’s real name

Credit Builders Alliance gives credit where credit is due

Over the last year, long-term Consumer Action partner Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) has been ramping up its use of technology and innovation to train financial coaches and educators and to help consumers improve their financial capability and build wealth. Consumer Action first reported on CBA’s Training Institute (which was launched last year) in our October 2017 INSIDER newsletter. The institute has since helped many organizations move consumers from poverty to prosperity by delivering training taught by experienced credit practitioners and by helping staff of member organizations become credentialed to deliver trainings to the communities they serve.

“Credit Builders Alliance has done so much good over the last year,” Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott said. “We’re excited to honor them in October at our 47th anniversary event in Washington, DC. The breadth of CBA’s work embodies the theme of this year’s event, ‘Credit Where Credit Is Due.’” (Learn more about the anniversary event.)

Since launching the institute, CBA has gone on to form strategic partnerships with two major organizations that help consumers financially: the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE) and The Financial Clinic. These partnerships are helping to make financial education training more accessible to financial educators, counselors and coaches and to provide enrollees with continuing education units (CEUs). CBA offers full courses, like Credit as an Asset (approved for six CEUs through AFCPE), and mini-courses, like Building Credit Without a Social Security Number and Making Sense of Free Credit Platforms, all in an e-learning, on-demand format. These self-guided trainings include a mix of lectures, interactive Q&As, mastery quizzes and certificates of completion. The courses also include progress trackers, which make it easy for adult learners to resume the lessons at their own pace, since they often have day jobs and family obligations.

In addition to the many educational opportunities it offers, CBA has also become a community development financial institution (CDFI). These organizations play an important role in generating economic growth and opportunity in some of the nation’s most distressed communities by acting as intermediary lenders and injecting capital into these neighborhoods, which traditionally have lacked access to financing. The name of the CBA CDFI is the CBA Fund.

CBA recently launched a pilot for its CBA Fund alongside four community non-profits located in Florida, Oregon, Texas and Washington State. CBA loaned capital to the non-profits at 0% interest. These non-profits will go on to make loans to underserved consumers at a rate of between 5% and 18% interest. Each non-profit within the cohort is required to make a minimum of 10 loans. The average loan amount is between $500 and $1,000. The non-profits are providing ongoing education and support to consumers receiving loans for causes ranging from: re-entry after incarceration (to pay rental deposits, pay off fines, etc.) in Oregon; assistive technology for persons with disabilities in Washington; and household needs (e.g., rental deposits, monthly expenses, back property taxes, etc.) for low-income populations in Texas and Florida.

Finally, CBA launched a pilot with FinTech innovator Nova Credit in May. The pilot will help non-profit lenders to run foreign credit files on consumers who have recently immigrated from Mexico and India, to help them build credit in the U.S. Opportunities remain for non-profit lenders to participate in this pilot (but first they must become members of Credit Builders Alliance).

Consumer Action, Credit Builders Alliance and Nova Credit are all members of the FinTech & Nonprofit Partnerships Working Group, which is administered by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with the support of the Financial Solutions Lab, a program managed by CFSI with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co. All three organizations have been busy serving the community: In June, they joined a panel to share best practices with other working group members at the FinTech & Nonprofit Partnerships Working Group pre-conference session of CFSI’s EMERGE Financial Health Forum in Hollywood.

CBA’s Credit as an Asset course costs $225, but is discounted to $75 for CBA members. The mini-courses are $15, and are free for CBA members. CBA also has arranged for a 30-percent discount for AFCPE members and Change Machine subscribers. Finally, CBA is hosting master trainer sessions on Credit as an Asset, giving groups the ability to charge others for the trainings and earn revenue to sustain their financial education programs.

“Credit isn’t just about getting a loan or a better interest rate. It is about stabilizing lives. It also is about knowing how the rules work and using them to improve quality of life,” CBA Deputy Director Sarah Chenven said.

If you’re interested in learning more about CBA and its classes, click here.

U.S./EU group eyes ‘Consumer Protection in a Connected World’

The 18th Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) annual public forum, “Consumer Protection in a Connected World," took place in June in Brussels, Belgium, bringing together attendees from the U.S. and European Union (EU), consumer groups and regulators from both sides of “the pond.” The event addressed the impact of technology on consumers in an ever more connected world, with a focus on trade, food, addictive technologies, financial services, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Consumer Action has been a TACD member since 2005. Consumer Action’s Linda Sherry attended the main forum as well as the TACD’s internal meeting the previous day. A member of the information society and financial services subcommittees, Sherry presented an update on predatory lending in the U.S. during the financial services committee meeting.

“It is striking how different the EU and U.S. practices surrounding consumer protection and redress are,” Sherry said. “The EU has some of the strongest rules in the world on consumer protection. As much as we would like U.S. laws to become stronger as well, many of the mechanisms, products and services we know in the U.S. don’t have exact counterparts in the EU. This is why gathering with our EU colleagues and sharing our differences and perspectives is not only eye-opening but also instructive on the fundamental changes that U.S. products and services would need to undergo to become more consumer-friendly.”

Other U.S.-based consumer organizations in attendance included Consumers Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Knowledge Ecology International, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, U.S. PIRG and the World Privacy Forum. Click here for a full list of TACD members.

Brussels-based journalist Jennifer Baker moderated the public forum. She did her best to keep question-and-answer periods from running over, but the audience’s enthusiasm and desire to participate often left people’s hands waving when it was time to move on to the next panel. Live activity for Twitter hashtag #TACDFORUM2018 was ongoing, and the day’s top tweets have been compiled here.

TACD EU co-chair Monique Goyens, head of the European consumer organization BEUC, outlined a new EU proposal for collective redress (a form of class action lawsuit). The proposal is part of an initiative being billed as “a new deal for EU consumers.” Goyens discussed how the proposal would differ from the U.S. class action system, which is generally reviled in Europe (due in part to Europeans witnessing the large legal fees earned by trial attorneys in the United States). Collective redress is often avoided even in the few EU member states (countries) that do allow it because of “loser-pays” rules that dictate that the parties who lose in litigation must pay the winners’ legal expenses (often including their attorneys' fees). Under the “new deal” proposal by the European Parliament, only pre-approved “qualified entities,” such as consumer organizations, would be allowed to seek collective redress and compensation, replacement or repair on behalf of those consumers who were harmed by commercial practices that were determined to be illegal.

Most of the participating U.S. groups, including Consumer Action, defended our country’s class action system, which allows consumers who cannot afford to bring legal action to band together, often without paying upfront legal fees until the case is concluded or settled and the consumer lawyers finally get paid. Panelist Rob Weismann, president of Public Citizen, allowed that the new deal may let consumers enforce their rights without the problems perceived in U.S.-style class actions, but called it “unbelievably modest.”

The new deal also has a component for strengthening consumer rights online and ensuring that consumers in all member states would have the right to equivalent remedies (such as financial compensation) if they were affected by unfair commercial practices, like aggressive or misleading marketing.

The final session of the day addressed whether artificial intelligence (AI) is undermining consumer protection laws. The topic of algorithms—the formulas that allow computers to learn for themselves and build upon that knowledge—dominated the conversation.

According to the Center for Digital Democracy, “Some of the most crucial determinations affecting our livelihoods—such as whether a person is qualified for a job, is creditworthy, or is eligible for government benefits—are now partly or fully automated [made through algorithms]. In the worst-case scenario, automated systems can deny eligibility without providing an explanation or an opportunity to challenge the decision or the reasoning behind it.”

Session speakers, including the World Privacy Forum’s Pam Dixon, called for ethical guidelines on artificial intelligence. New Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra questioned if and how AI will notch into existing laws on discrimination and consumer protection. Dixon suggested that how we interpret the findings of algorithms is just as important, if not more so, than what is fed into them in the first place.

To learn more about the forum, visit the TACD website.

Coalition Efforts: Opposing a horrible health insurance tax (and more)

Health insurance tax would hit seniors hard. An approximate $22 billion health insurance tax (HIT) is scheduled to impact 20 million seniors and disabled individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage in 2020. (Medicare beneficiaries can join Medicare Advantage HMOs voluntarily and may see significant savings and additional benefits by joining these managed care plans.) In a letter, coalition advocates urged Congress to delay the HIT for 2020, lest millions of American seniors and others with health insurance coverage face a major premium increase, including $500 in additional annual premiums for the typical Medicare Advantage couple. Learn more

Keep for-profit school dollars out of the VA. An ethics law that prohibits Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees from receiving money from or owning a stake in for-profit colleges that rake in millions in GI Bill tuition has "illogical and unintended consequences," according to the VA, which is pushing to suspend the 50-year-old statute for some of its employees. Consumer Action joined advocates in urging the VA to abandon this plan, since financial entanglements between VA employees and for-profit schools that seek GI Bill payments would lead to the for-profit industry recruiting and exploiting its biggest “cash cow”: veterans. Learn more

Protecting Pell Grants in 2019 spending bill is critical for strong, diverse economy. As Congress works to finalize the education spending bill for FY 2019, advocates call on appropriators to support a robust Pell Grant fund (providing government money for students who demonstrate need). At a time when a postsecondary credential or degree is an increasingly necessary gateway to a meaningful career, a strong Pell Grant fund is critical to ensuring that students from all financial backgrounds are able to participate and help grow our economy. Consumer Action is urging Congress not to reduce the fund, but to continue the same support for the Pell Grant that it demonstrated in its final fiscal year 2018 spending bill. Learn more

The CFPB’s consumer financial education programs must be protected. In open comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), advocates urged the federal agency to keep its financial education programs functioning. The CFPB’s programs have been under attack by the temporary acting director since his appointment by President Donald Trump in November 2017. The advocates’ comments insisted that other Bureau responsibilities, including its enforcement and rulemaking authority, must also be used to fully protect consumers in accordance with the CFPB’s mission, which is, in large part, to “protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law.” Learn more

FCC’s Lifeline program critical to victims of domestic violence. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Lifeline program provides support to nearly 10 million subscribers, who need phones or a broadband connection to find or maintain employment, connect with schools and access emergency services. This support is particularly important for survivors of domestic violence, whose access to affordable communications can be a matter of life and death. Despite this, the FCC is proposing to changes to the program that could impact 70 percent of Lifeline subscribers. This proposal would remove many wireless service providers from the Lifeline program, raising the costs of service and putting affordable, essential communications out of reach of the most vulnerable among us. Learn more.

CFPB Watch: Temporary CFPB chief fines debt collectors; forgets consumers

Last month, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney imposed an $800,000 penalty on National Credit Adjusters (NCA) and its chief executive. NCA collects on debts owed from payday and other loans using a network of collection companies that “engaged in frequent unlawful debt collection acts,” according to the Bureau.

The consumer bureau charged NCA with inflating the amounts consumers actually owed and threatening them with lawsuits and arrest if they didn't pay up. In some cases, NCA impersonated law enforcement officials. In a highly unusual move for the CFPB (but not for its current temporary director, Mick Mulvaney) the Kansas-based debt collection company was not required to also reimburse consumers for the harm it caused.

Mulvaney decided not to obtain the $60 million in debt forgiveness and restitution that the CFPB was seeking when the Bureau was under the leadership of Richard Cordray, according to Reuters. No mention has been made as to why Mulvaney chose not to compensate injured consumers.

NCA collected approximately $40 million in debts from 80,000 consumers between 2011 and 2016, according to the CFPB’s consent decree.

Another debt collection settlement nets consumers nothing

The CFPB settled a suit with Security Group, Inc. last month for using unlawful tactics to collect debt on installment loans and contracts. Security Group was fined $5 million for “physically preventing consumers from leaving their homes” and stalking them at work, knowing this would endanger their employment. The debt collection company was also charged with providing inaccurate information to the three major credit bureaus.

While the debt collector was required to correct the false information it furnished to the credit bureaus, no refunds to consumers were imposed. As in the National Credit Adjusters case above, no explanation was given as to why this settlement failed to offer restitution.

Security Group operates 900 locations in 20 states. Click here to review the consent decree.

Citi forks over millions in restitution for cheating credit card customers

The CFPB—which appeared disinclined to take action against financial firms since Mulvaney took over in November—charged Citibank with failing to reevaluate and reduce interest rates on 1.75 million credit card accounts (as required by the 2009 CARD Act in certain circumstances). Under the settlement, Citi must return $335 million to consumers and correct its practices. Consumers will receive letters from Citi detailing the refund plan.

Reconvene the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board

A group of 25 Democratic Senators has called on temporary CFPB director Mulvaney to immediately reinstate the Bureau’s legally mandated Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), which he abruptly disbanded in June.

“By dismissing the CAB, the CFPB is deliberately rejecting statutorily required advice from qualified professionals who are volunteering their services to the American public, with no credible explanation as to why the present CAB members are not capable of fulfilling their responsibilities,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Mulvaney. “Importantly, you took these actions without ever meeting with the advisory board.”

As we reported last month, Mulvaney has said he plans to replace CAB members with people who have “specialized knowledge” in specific topic areas he wants the Bureau to address next.

Class Action Database: You’d have to be born yesterday to believe this one

A class action settlement involving Mazuma Federal Credit Union and the overdraft fees it charged customers was among 14 new settlements added to the Consumer Action Class Action Database during July.

One notable class action is Mollicone v. Universal Handicraft.

The plaintiffs filed a class action against Universal Handicraft regarding the labeling, advertising and marketing of its Adore Organic Innovation product line. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant falsely advertised that the Adore products use the highest concentration of a plant stem-cell formula “proven to restore youthful appearance by protecting your skin’s own stem cells.” Adore products contain the ingredient PhytoCellTec™, which is manufactured by Mibelle Biochemistry of Switzerland.

Plaintiffs alleged that the defendants continued to falsely advertise the anti-aging benefits of Adore even after a Mibelle research director published a statement saying that “the anti-aging benefit for the skin after topical application could not be confirmed in clinical trials.”

The defendant denied any violations of law but agreed to a settlement to avoid the burden, expense and risk of continuing the lawsuit.

Consumers who bought the products listed on the class action website (under “who’s eligible”) between Sept. 29, 2012, and April 13, 2018, may be eligible to choose either $25 in cash or an Adore Cosmetics electronic gift card valued at 50 percent of the price paid for the product (with a maximum gift card value of $200).

The claims deadline is Aug. 21, 2018.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial and consumer literacy and advocating for consumer rights in both the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.

Consumer education. To empower consumers to assert their rights in the marketplace, Consumer Action provides a range of educational resources. The organization’s extensive library of free publications offers in-depth information on many topics related to personal money management, housing, insurance and privacy, while its hotline provides non-legal advice and referrals. At Consumer-Action.org, visitors have instant access to important consumer news, downloadable materials, an online “help desk,” the Take Action advocacy database and seven topic-specific subsites. Consumer Action also publishes unbiased surveys of financial and consumer services that expose excessive prices and anti-consumer practices to help consumers make informed buying choices and elicit change from big business.

Community outreach. With a special focus on serving low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of nearly 7,000 community-based organizations. Outreach services include training and free mailings of financial and consumer education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Consumer Action’s network is the largest and most diverse of its kind.

Advocacy. Consumer Action is deeply committed to ensuring that underrepresented consumers are represented in the national media and in front of lawmakers. The organization promotes pro-consumer policy, regulation and legislation by taking positions on dozens of bills at the state and national levels and submitting comments and testimony on a host of consumer protection issues. Additionally, its diverse staff provides the media with expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data and victim testimony.

 

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