South Dakota: Loan Shark Capital of the World

December 9, 2009

By Terry Smiljanich:

Why this State is to Blame for your

High Credit Card Interest Rates

Bank of America, among others, charges up to 36% interest on credit card debt. How can financial institutions get away with charging consumers such historically high interest? Isn’t it criminal to do so? Isn’t it “usurious?” If not, who’s responsible for letting banks get away with this? Remember when 18% interest was considered high on consumer debt? Remember finance charges of 6%? How did we get from there to here? Enter South Dakota.

Click here to learn the lame excuses South Dakota is offering up for why it’s the loan shark capital of the world. Read more

DirectTV Charges Customers for Unwanted Movie

December 8, 2009

DirecTVConsumer Warning Network received two inquires concerning “pay for view” fees showing up on DirectTV statements for movies that were not ordered.  We looked into it and learned what the problem was.

Warning, apparently there is a glitch in DirectTV’s system that downloaded the movie “Angel and Demons” to receivers automatically whether you ordered the movie or not.  Here is the catch; if you watch the movie you will be charged for it.  Delete it and you will be o.k. There is no warning that you are about to be charged.  You look at your play list and, lo and behold, there is the movie “Angels and Demons”.  Hey, it’s on my play list so it must be ok to watch.  NO!  You will be charged.

DirectTV is working on this problem, but until it is fixed – Beware.  Thanks to Consumerist for first reporting this.

CWN Welcomes New Facebook Fans

October 27, 2009

FB logo

As part of our 2nd birthday celebration, the Consumer Warning Network created a new fan page on the social-networking site, Facebook. To become a fan, click HERE.

Connect with other CWN fans, share your stories and ideas and get the latest consumer information you need to mange your life. From foreclosure help to consumer products reviews, CWN gives consumers the knowledge big companies don’t want you to have, so you can fight back!

Join the Facebook revolution and connect with our Consumer Warning Network Facebook fan page. Tell your friends!

Consumer Warning Network Celebration

October 19, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of Consumer Warning Network. Click here for a special behind the scenes look at our team and what we do.

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5 Ways Drug Companies Put Profits Before Patients

September 10, 2009

By Terry Smiljanich:

When it comes right down to it, drug companies don’t look at us as patients, they look at us as consumers. Their primary goal is not to discover new drugs to make us healthier, but rather to make their shareholders happy by keeping short term profits up.

Unfair, you say? But unfortunately, quite true. Let’s look at some big ways the major drug companies put profits ahead of patients.  Here are five drug industry tactics that serve to put their bottom lines above the country’s welfare:

Read more

Fight Foreclosure: Make ‘Em Produce the Note

September 1, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

Using the “produce the note” strategy is something all homeowners facing foreclosure can do. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, fight back. We have created templates for a legal request, a letter to your lender and a motion to compel to help you through the process.  Read the step by step “how to” under the videos.

Special note:  In some states, a lender can foreclose on your home without going to court.  These are called non-judicial foreclosure states.  You can still use the “Produce the Note” strategy in these states, but it takes a few more steps on your part.

Produce the Note – Steps To Follow:

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The Foreclosure Judge Who Gets It

August 31, 2009

foreclosure judgeA State Supreme Court Judge in Brooklyn, New York is on a mission to force mortgage companies to stop foreclosing on homeowners unfairly. Judge Arthur Schack has become a friend to the little guy.  Instead of rubber stamping and waving foreclosure cases through his court, he is standing up to mortgage companies who try to foreclose on homeowners without proper standing or proof.

He’s not a pushover, but is diligent about enforcing the law.  As a result, he’s tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years.

Read more

Which Airplanes and Airlines are the Safest?

July 10, 2009

Air France Tail SectionBy Terry Smiljanich:

The June 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 in Brazil, killing 228 passengers and crew, renewed questions about airline safety in many people’s minds.  On October 14, the FAA proposed fines of $9.2 million against domestic carriers US Airways and United Airlines for operating planes that violated FAA and company maintenance requirements.

How safe is flying? Which airlines have the best track record? What airplane models have fewer fatal crashes? [For an update to this story as of August, 2010, please read our new posting].

Flying safety

Last year alone, U.S. airline passengers traveled 798 billion miles. During the same period, Americans traveled about 3 trillion miles in automobiles. Using comparative figures, it has been calculated that the chances of a fatality in driving between Boston and Washington, D.C., is 8.5 times greater than the chances of an airline fatality for that same trip. So there is no question that airline safety still beats driving risks by miles.

Statistics show that on average in the U.S. a person dies in a plane crash for every 4 million flights taken.  These are the kind of odds faced in winning the lottery with a single ticket. You are more likely to die from stumbling while walking, an accidental firearms discharge, or suffocating in bed while sleeping than from perishing in a plane crash.

Which Airlines Have the Best Safety Record?

The top eight airlines in the United States (those having more than 2 million flights per year) all have good safety records. Their rank, based on the number of fatal events per million miles traveled, is as follows:

  1. Southwest Airlines           0.00 (no fatalities in its history)
  2. Delta Airlines                   0.17
  3. Northwest Airlines           0.21
  4. Continental Airlines         0.24
  5. US Air                              0.28
  6. United Airlines                 0.31
  7. Alaska Airlines                 0.33
  8. American Airlines             0.40

This is an average of 0.24 fatal events per million flights.

How does that compare to the airlines of other countries? The sixteen airlines based in other countries with flights exceeding 2 million per year average 1.10 fatal events per million flights, or more than four times worse than the U.S. average. The top 5 safest foreign airlines are:

  1. British Airlines                 0.17
  2. SAS                                 0.19
  3. Lufthansa                        0.22
  4. All Nippon Airlines          0.22
  5. Air France                       0.72 (not including the 6/1/09 crash)

The foreign airlines with the worst fatality records are:

  1. Turkish Airlines               3.60
  2. Indian Airlines                 3.53
  3. Aeromexico                     1.76
  4. Japan Airlines                  1.36
  5. SwissAir                          1.20

It should be noted that the official airline of China, Air China, does not release mileage or accident statistics. It is a good bet that if China does not want the world to know the answers to these questions, it must not like the answers.

There is no doubt that the American airline industry is on average the safest in the world.

What Airplanes Have the Best Safety Records

The top 5 airplanes currently in production and flown in more than 10 million flights per year rank as follows:

  1. Airbus A320                     0.13
  2. ATR 42/72                       0.33
  3. Boeing 737                      0.36
  4. Boeing 767                      0.40
  5. Boeing 747                      0.76

Other airplanes no longer in production but still flying include the Boeing MD80/90 (0.26), the Boeing 757 (0.30), the Boeing 727 (0.49) and the Airbus 300 (0.54).

What about the Airbus A330 involved in the Air France disaster? This airplane came into production in the late 90’s. 1,021 planes have been ordered, but only 609 have actually been delivered.

Compared to the Airbus A320 (6,321 ordered, 3,893 delivered), comparatively few of the A330 planes are in the air. The fatality statistics kept on this plane are currently unavailable, perhaps due to the lack of a sufficient track record, but the Air France crash will obviously push this model nearly to the top of the list.

This might be considered an unfair comparison, since only one accident can seriously skew the statistics. Take the Concorde SST, the supersonic airline in operation from 1976 to 2003. It only had one fatal accident in its entire history, but because it flew less than 100,000 flights total, its fatal events per million flights is 11.36, the highest of any aircraft model.

It could be argued that statistics such as these are misleading, since so few airline crashes occur, making them susceptible to the vagaries of chance occurences. What can be gleaned from these statistics, however, is that the major airplane models in current use have good track records, and that the air safety regulations in a few other countries are suspect.

AG’s Take Action on CWN Reports of Foreclosure Abuse

April 29, 2009

Several Attorneys General nationwide are taking action in response to information readers provided to Consumer Warning Network.   CWN recently reported that it sent to state prosecutors in 39 states complaints it had received from victims of mortgage fraud throughout the country. CWN asked that the fraudulent mortgage lenders be held responsible for the terrible consequences contributing to the skyrocketing foreclosure rate.

Some states have already started taking action.

Read more

Time for Action: CWN Notifies AG’s of Foreclosure Fraud

March 27, 2009

39 State Prosecutors Alerted to Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud

The Consumer Warning Network is giving voice to the email complaints readers have been sending to us.  We’ve compiled the emails and will deliver an alert regarding these concerns to the Attorneys General in 39 states – from Maine to California, from Florida to Hawaii.  For each AG, we’re including the citizen complaints of mortgage fraud from each of their respective states and asking them to take action.

It’s time the fraudulent mortgage lenders be held responsible for the pain and tragedy caused by their deceptive and dishonest lending practices.  These practices not only lured homeowners into bad loans, but then magnified the problems by their callous lack of response to pleas for help. Apparently, the lines of bail-out communication are open between the banks and the government, but consumers only get a busy signal.

Read more

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