Category Archives: Good news

Lifelock Loses Court Battle and Two Bullet Points

Lifelock was sued by Experian for placing fraud alerts for anyone and everyone when the alerts are supposed to be set by individuals themselves and only when they feel they are at risk for ID theft. While I think the whole fraud alert system is bogus and it doesn't really matter if you set one or not, I can't help but snicker that the courts ruled that the practice of a 3rd party company setting them for customers (like Lifelock does) is not legal.

Considering that the first 2 bullet points on Lifelock's "what we do" page is "set fraud alerts" and "set them again after they expire", their list of what you supposedly get for the money you pay is going to look quite anemic indeed.

Senate Passes Credit Reform Bill

That bill that everyone's been talking about a while just passed with most of the good protections still in tact (go figure). Essentially, the bill is a shinging example of regulation at its best and industry at its worst as it mandates that credit companies stop doing things that are dishonest and one-sided.

Wow. Who knew that without laws to prevent it, companies would stoop to one-sided and dishonest policies for the sake of money… hmmm.

Some of the major points:

  • Plain-English contracts
  • Can't raise interest rates on existing balances unless the card holder is 60 days behind, then the rate has to be restored if payments are on time for six months.
  • 45 days advance notice required for rate increases.
  • Credit card companies can't charge a late fee if they themselves are late processing a payment.
  • Statements have to get mailed 21 days before the payment is due.
  • Harder to give credit cards to people under 21.
  • Rates can be increased within the first year
  • Promotional rates have to last at least 6 month
  • The FTC Strikes Back Against “Freecreditreport.com”

    In a direct slap across the face to the barely legal Freecreditreport.com, the FTC has released a spoof video of the pirate restaurant ad to highlight that there's only ONE place to get free credit reports and the rest are all pay services in disguise.

    The original ad
    The original ad
    The FTC version
    The FTC version



    Beware of the others,
    There's always a catch,
    They claim to be free,
    But there are strings attached,

    Brilliant!

    It's so very rare that regulatory agencies actually get it right! Send this link to everyone you know and make sure they see it too.

    Obama at it Again, Poking Holes in Golden Parachutes

    Obama's administration is calling for a cap of $500000 per year maximum for any executive of a company that's receiving federal bail-out money. So, if you suck at your job and had to ask the government for a handout, you can't be making bonuses and millions per year. They must be so sad.

    Read about it at the New York Times.

    (H/T to The Consumerist for the link)

    Credit Card Companies Eat New Regulation

    Ha!

    Regulators have handed down new rules that will curb some of the more abusive practices of the credit card industry.

    They also restrict such lender practices as allocating all payments to balances with lower interest rates when a borrower has balances with different rates

    Did you know they did that? Think store cards with those various interest rate deals that you have to pay off by a certain time or get slapped with fees. What if the store doesn't apply any of your payment to that PART of your debt? What happens? Yeah… it's not good.

    The new rules prohibit:

    _Placing unfair time constraints on payments. A payment could not be deemed late unless the borrower is given a reasonable period of time, such as 21 days, to pay.

    _Placing too-high fees for exceeding the credit limit solely because of a hold placed on the account.

    _Unfairly computing balances in a computing tactic known as double-cycle billing.

    _Unfairly adding security deposits and fees for issuing credit or making it available.

    _Making deceptive offers of credit.

    Good start. Too bad we have to constantly be watching companies to prevent them from ripping us off, but that's capitalism…

    Microsoft Malware Scanner Detects Almost 1 Million Fake Virus Scanners

    One of the best and most revolting ways to get people to install your nasty software is to tell them that it's actually security software. Thus is the case with many anti-virus products which are actually viruses themselves. The worst part about this scenario is that people won't ever detect the malware because they would need an anti-virus to do that and they think they've already got one.

    Fortunately, rather than just push out unwanted software to people through Windows update, Microsoft has added the very useful and surprisingly responsible function of scanning, detecting, and removing known malware from users' systems.

    Not only does this help a lot of people, it hurts the scumbags who try to scam them while at the same time increasing the over-all security of the Internet. Nice move.

    Transunion to Offer Free ONLINE Credit Freezes!!

    Most credit reporting companies have made it as difficult and cumbersome as possible to get a credit freeze because they desperately hope that by putting barriers in your way, they can discourage you from doing it (in my opinion). That said, Transunion has suddenly decided to offer FREE freezes to everyone, even people who live in a state that allow them to charge a fee. Not only that, but they are also allowing you to do it through an ONLINE system rather than a cumbersome certified mail system.

    I'm so shocked I had to to confirm it and here it is:

    Free AND online. It's real!
    Free AND online. It's real!

    There's no telling how long this will be the case so make sure you get it done now while you can.

    Verizon Drops Mandatory Contracts

    Brilliant:

    First off, Verizon is doing away with contracts under certain conditions. Let's face it, contracts are for cowards. Carriers had to default to them because of the industry's spotty record of customer service. It was their way of preventing you from fleeing.

    That aside, the news is that Verizon has decided to no longer force contracts on people who already have a Verizon phone and will only use them when people want to buy a phone at the subsidized rate (in other words, those penny phones that actually cost several hundred dollars).

    It's hard to believe that a company like Verizon would do such a thing, but the Wall Street Journal confirms it. They say that there will be an activation fee, but no termination fee. Finally!

    NSA Cryptokids Get a Taste of Privacy Invasion

    Y.R. Tap - The reject Cryptokid
    Y.R. Tap - The reject Cryptokid
    The NSA has been working on their public image and trying to market itself as a cool place to work partially with their "Cryptokids" campaign. Their goal is to teach kids about what the NSA does in a fun, kid-friendly way.

    But that's not what I'm posting about.

    I ran across this interesting comic about the unpopular little-know cryptokid, Y.R. Tap, the NSA domestic spying fly. The fly shows the Cryptokids what can happen when civil liberties are violated.

    Make sure you find and click the "Next Comic–>" link at the bottom to see all of them

    One-sided Agreements Don’t Always Survive in Court

    I really hate the kinds of things companies pull in their contracts and terms of service. Even more I hate when people say, "you signed it so quit complaining!" What they don't seem to understand is that even if the information is there, that doesn't mean that people can understand it or its implications.

    Thus was the case in a Washington supreme court ruling that mightily smacked and slapped around the one-sided AT&T service agreement.

    The court had the option of determining that some portions of the contract were legally valid and could be enforced. Instead, the ruling determined that unconscionable conditions pervaded the agreement, rendering it invalid in its entirety

    Ha ha ha! Suck it AT&T!

    Seriously though, it's nice to know that at last someone is standing up to these companies with their completely bogus one-sided agreements.

    Judge Rules that Cellphone Early Termination Fees are Illegal

    Just to prove once again that California is one of the most progressive states for protecting consumers, a judge there has ruled against Sprint in a class-action lawsuit involving Early Termination Fees.

    The lawsuit claimed that the fees did not offset the cost of phones and were instead used only to lock people into a contract. The judge agreed.

    Go California!

    Retarded Congressional Neanderthals Mess Up Big

    Warning! Warning! You have found a RANT. Articles in this section are sounding boards for my frustrations. They usually (more like always) lack impartiality and may include arguments and "facts" that may not be supported.

    With time I may calm down and make this a real article, but for now, you have been warned...

    Breaking news, Congress is full of quarter-witted imbeciles and corrupt sychophants. Wait… we knew that already. What is new is that now we have a roster of the members of the House who either have no clue about what's going on or have gone to the dark side (cue Darth Vader-like breathing).

    Yesterday the House passed a FISA amendment act which includes a provision shielding telecommunications companies from any liability. In the coverage of the situation by Ars Technica, they were able to quote Nacy Pelosi as being an idiot:

    (Bold text in parenthesis is mine)

    The most extended apologia came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who urged that the compromise be judged by comparison with the Senate bill, which she characterized as the only realistic alternative (So we can't ask for a good law, only a less bad one? That's a great standard to live to). She outlined several ways in which the current legislation is preferable to the Senate's version. First, the compromise bill reasserts that FISA is the "exclusive means" for conducting electronic surveillance, which would require the president to ignore such language twice in order to launch an extralegal surveillance program, rather than only once, as under traditional FISA rules (So if the President breaks the law, now it would violate two laws instead of just one. The next time someone breaks a law, I wonder if it will result in jail time if it only breaks the law "once"). Second, it preserves prior judicial review of surveillance authorizations, except in "very, very rare" circumstances, such as when the attorney general asserts that waiting for a judge would entail delay (I think that recent history has shown how much we can trust to the "rarity" of the Attorney General approving anything a president might ask. Has she even been awake in the last decade?). Third, it contains specific provisions barring the use of authorizations targeting parties abroad as a pretext for targeting U.S. persons, presumably to be enforced by a board of psychics. Finally, it provides for an internal investigation of the extent of past surveillance, which Congress will act upon with the same legendary zeal for civil liberties it has displayed over the past seven years (Brilliantly summarized. Ars has some great writers.).

    So in one day, the House voted to expand powers of the Judicial branch that they didn't need and shield their conspirators from liability against justice.

    Don't get me wrong, if I got a letter from the Attorney General of the United states that required my company to do something and my lawyers said to do it, I would have and maybe that's what happened to the telcos. But if there is no accountability for the Attorney General, the President, and the involved Agencies, then the whole things tastes like Congress cooked us up some chili made of poo.