Philadelphia Consumer Protection Law Blog

Car dealer fraud: rolling back the miles

They say that numbers don't lie. But recent reports suggest that the mileage numbers on the odometer in the car you buy from a Philadelphia dealer might.

There is a reported trend among private auto sellers and small-time car dealers to use an obscure federal regulation as an excuse to roll back odometers on vehicles more than 10 years old. As you undoubtedly know, it is illegal to roll back miles and can be prosecuted as fraud.

Advice for avoiding car repossession

As regular readers of our Philadelphia Consumer Protection Law Blog know, our goal is to share information that can help you protect yourself and your finances whenever possible. To that end, we are going to pass along some tips read recently for people who believe that their car might be repossessed.

Far too often, repossessions are carried out improperly, involving violations of the law, property rights or proper repossession processes. Clearly, it makes sense to try to avoid repossession entirely, which is the point of the advice from the folks at nerdwallet.com.

Sounding off on the price of privacy

Bose Corp is famous for their claims of crystal clear sound that emits from the many audio products they have sold to consumers since 1964. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company boasts that their listening experience is second to none.

What their customers are just finding out is that Bose may be doing their own form of “listening” to gain an equal level of clarity on consumer habits. And for a price.

Auto loan delinquencies and repossessions on the rise

No doubt you remember the financial crisis of 2008. Unprecedented numbers of homes were foreclosed on in Philadelphia and across the nation, unemployment surged, the stock market tanked and President Bush and his advisers openly worried that the U.S. banking system might not survive.

Back then, auto loan delinquencies also skyrocketed, hitting their all-time high value at $23.46 billion in the third quarter of 2008. According to a recent news article, car loan delinquencies of one month or greater recently hit their highest value since 2008: $23.27 billion. The implications of the numbers are clear: car repossessions are also on the rise.

More children's products recalled in 2016

When we shop for things for our children, we think of safety before we consider cost. After all, we while we normally get what we pay for, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice for safety. According to a report provided by the non-profit group Kids in Danger (KID), the number of children’s products that were recalled last year has increased dramatically.  

Using data produced by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), a total of 76 products were recalled. This amounted to more than 66 million units that were removed from store shelves or brought back to manufactures due to defects. More importantly, recalls in 2016 were up 15 percent from 2015. The 2016 recalls were based on a significant number of incidents and injuries. Nearly 5,000 incidents were reported and 394 children were reportedly injured. 

Car repossession device can wreak havoc

She and her husband needed a car to get her to dialysis five times every week. Because the couple did not have a lot of money, they had to go to a car dealer that offered financing regardless of credit history. Unsurprisingly, the terms were pretty painful: a 2007 Chevy with over 100,000 miles would cost the couple more than $21,000. The interest rate was 29 percent, which was almost six times the average.

“But I had to get to dialysis," the woman said, so she and her husband agreed to the terms. She recalls that one day when she left the treatment center and tried to drive the car, it wouldn't start. The dealer had activated a device that made it impossible to start the vehicle.

Congress weighs bill to stop abusive debt collection calls

In recent days, there have been lawsuits filed by consumers seeking to protect themselves from robocalling. Now legislation has been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress to cut robocalling down even more.

The bill is called Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act. The acronym for the legislation is HANGUP. It seeks to repeal the 2015 budget agreement that allowed debt collectors to use robocalls to go after cell phone owners. HANGUP would shut down some of the loopholes debt collectors have been using to go after people.

The investment scam that was, but wasn't

For some of our readers delving into the below scam-related story, a famous quote attributed to President Lincoln might come readily to mind.

To wit: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Loss and redemption in case of abusive debt collection

Frequent readers of our Philadelphia consumer protection law blog know that our focus is on ways in which city residents can be protected from fraud, scams and abuse. We read recently of an abusive debt collector who is being sought by a state's attorney general for using phantom debts to prey on victims.

According to a TV station report, a woman lost $30,000 to the debt collector, believing she might owe money to pay off debts incurred by her former husband. Like many victims of similar schemes, she said she "never thought it would happen to me."

Abusive debt collection can violate crime victims a second time

Identity theft is on the increase in Philadelphia and across the nation. We read recently of an ID theft victim who has not only had to spend much time and energy undoing the damage of the original crime, but is now also having to contend with an abusive debt collector.

The story begins with a bank issuing a credit card in the victim's name to a thief in Florida. The thief then rang up bills, of course. When the credit account went delinquent, the credit card company turned it over to a collection agency who is now zeroing in on the ID theft victim.

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