The Biggest Consumer Complaints Of 2013

by Categorized: Consumer Complaints, Uncategorized Date:

This weekend’s Bottom Line column:

Scammers don’ have to file annual reports. The Federal Trade Commission does it for them.

The FTC received more than 2 million complaints in 2013, most frequently about identity theft (290,056). American consumers reported $1.6 billion in fraud losses, according to the FTC’s just-out Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.

In Connecticut, the state Department Of Consumer Protection received more than 6,000 complaints in 2013. With identity theft and fraud complaints typically channeled to the FTC, the state’s Top 10 runs heavy with complaints about fuel and home improvement or new-home construction.
Fuel oil companies were the 2013 complaint leader with 567, many related to the abrupt closing last fall of Ace Oil in Meriden. As usual, people complained about gas pumps (194), even free air (28).

More . . .

Mortgage Rates Dip: 30-Year At 4.28 Percent

by Categorized: Banks Date:

Mortgage dipped slightly in the past week, with 30-year fixed rates averaging 4.28 percent nationally and 15-year rates averaging 3.32 percent, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, 30-year rates were 4.37 percent and 15-year rates were 3.39 percent.

Here are the numbers in New England:

This week
30-year: 4.26 percent
15-year: 3.32 percent

Last week:
30-year: 4.37 percent
15-year: 3.39 percent

A year ago:
30-year: 3.52 percent
15-year: 2.77 percent

How To Get Your Money In $310 Million DRAM Chip Settlement

by Categorized: Consumer Rights Date:

Anyone who purchased an electronic device between 1998 and 2002 that uses DRAM, a memory chip, is eligible to recover money after a federal court’s preliminary approval of multistate antitrust settlements totaling $310 million.
“Connecticut consumers, along with consumers nationwide, deserve the benefits and price advantages of a free and open marketplace when shopping for computers and other electronic devices,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “When companies conspire together to fix prices for a product, they illegally eliminate competition and harm consumers.”

Connecticut, which completed its investigation in 2006, was among several states that settled price-fixing allegations against major DRAM producers Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Winbond Electronics Co.
Other settlements with DRAM manufacturers have been initially approved by a federal district court in San Francisco.
For more information about the settlements, visit or call 1-800-589-1425.

When NOT To Broadcast Emergency Alert System

by Categorized: Cable TV Date:

If you’re going to use the Emergency Alert System, it better be in an emergency.
Viacom, NBCUniversal and ESPN are facing proposed fines totaling almost $2 million, assessed by the Federal Communications Commission, for broadcasting an “Olympus Has Fallen” film trailer that used the Emergency Alert System tones.

Mortgage Rates Slightly Higher: 30-Year Averaging 4.37 Percent

by Categorized: Banks Date:

Mortgage rates pushed higher only slightly in the past week, with 30-year rates averaging 4.37 percent nationally and 15-year rates averaging 3.39 percent, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.33 percent and 15-year rates averaged 3.35 percent.

The numbers in New England:

This week:
30-year: 4.37 percent
15-year: 3.39 percent

Last week
30-year: 4.33 percent
15-year: 3.35 percent

A year ago:
30-year: 3.55 percent
15-year: 2.80 percent

In Search Of The State’s Smartest Consumer (Ages 12 To 18)

by Categorized: Consumer Rights, Uncategorized Date:

OK, young people, exam week is coming up. Here’s your chance to show your consumer smarts by with a state Department of Consumer Protection contest that includes a quiz and a 500-word essay.
What’s in it for you? If you’re one of the three winners, either an iPad, iPod Touch or Kindle Fire.
The contest, for state residents 12 to 18 years old, coincides with Consumer Protection Week March 2 through March 8.
Of course, you’re already familiar with the agency’s website that includes information about scams and fraud, identity theft, payday loads and credit issues. The quiz, accessible by clicking on the banner at the top of the home page, includes 10 multiple-choice questions. Ace that and you move on to the essay. Winners will be announced in April.

Lottery Scam Targeting Seniors Now Includes Violent Threats, Intimidation

by Categorized: Scams Date:


Today’s Bottom Line column:

Scammers have Marvin Goldfarb’s number, and address, and probably know the color of his house.

Two years ago, Goldfarb provided The Bottom Line a stack of scam mail, delivered to his Newington home by the United States Postal Service. Goldfarb, 78, a retired truck driver, has likely landed on a “sucker list” handed from one fraudster to another. He’s still getting mail and phone calls from scammers hoping to find yet another elderly victim.

More . . .

East Hartford Home Mortgage Lender Must Pay $83,000 Penalty

by Categorized: Banks Date:

1st Alliance Lending of East Hartford must pay an $83,000 civil penalty announced Monday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for violating a federal law by splitting real estate settlement fees.
The CFPB says 1st Alliance reported he violations to the bureau, admitting liability, and offered additional information.

“These types of illegal payments can harm consumers by driving up the costs of mortgage settlements,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau will use its enforcement authority to ensure that these types of practices are halted. We will, however, also continue to take into account the self-reporting and cooperation of companies in determining how to resolve such matters.”

The CFPB says First Alliance, beginning in 2010, used a hedge fund to finance its loans and split revenues and fees with the hedge fund’s affiliates. That lasted a year, but 1st Alliance continued to split and origination and loss-mitigation fees with the hedge fund.
1st Alliance last year reported to the CFPB that it believed those payments violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.