DCA case leads to conviction in foreclosure rescue scam
A real estate investigation by Consumer Affairs has led to the conviction of a phony foreclosure consultant. Denise Williams, 52, illegally took thousands of dollars upfront from a homeowner in need, promised to get them a loan modification, then could not be contacted. DCA and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated and Williams was arrested in 2010. She was recently convicted and will face civil penalties. For more background information, see the original DCA press release.
June 5, 2012
Skechers to offer refunds for misleading advertisements
If you bought "Shape-Ups" toning shoes from the company Skechers you might be eligible for a refund. The company has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that they deceived consumers by claiming their shoes would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their muscles. For more information, go to the FTC's press release. (Also in Spanish). You can file for a refund at SkechersSettlement.com.
May 17, 2012
Settlement brings refunds to some LCD purchasers
Did you buy an LCD computer, TV, phone, etc. between 1999 and 2006? Then you might qualify for a refund from a price-fixing class action lawsuit settlement. You can file your claim and get more information at www.lcdclass.com. You can also call (855) 225-1886, or write to LCD Class, P.O. Box 8025, Faribault, MN, 55021-9425. The information is available in Spanish here.
Feb. 24, 2012
Scam Alert! D.A.'s office warns of robo-call banking scam
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley warned consumers of a new “robo-call scam” aimed at getting confidential banking information from unsuspecting victims. See the D.A.'s release for more information.
Dec. 28, 2011
Independent foreclosure review shows unfair practices
The Office of the Comptroller of Currency, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of Thrift Supervisions recently conducted a review of the foreclosure practices of many federally-regulated servicers. They concluded that these mortgage servicers committed unfair and unsound practices. You can request an independent review of their foreclosure if they believe they suffered financial injury as a result of the servicers’ errors, misrepresentations, negligence. See DCA's full article for more information.
Dec. 27, 2011
From L.A. Times: Bank of America to pay $335M settlement
Bank of America has agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that Countrywide Financial, which it now owns, systematically discriminated against minority homebuyers at the peak of the housing boom. The $335 million will be distributed to alleged Countrywide victims. An independent monitor will be appointed to contact potential recipients and distribute the proceeds to them. See The Times' story for more information.
Dec. 21, 2011
Your opinion: What would you want from a DCA mobile app?
To help better serve and inform the public, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs is considering developing a mobile application for smartphones.
Our question to you: What features would you like to see in a Consumer Affairs mobile app?
To send your opinion, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Nov. 30 , 2011
Crooked photographer goes to jail after DCA investigation
Photographer Alan Brent Carruth on Friday, Oct. 21, was sentenced to 510 days in county jail for failing to deliver photos to dozens of couples. A Consumer Affairs investigation found many victims, who paid him $1,900-5,000 each to photograph their weddings. Some victims have been asking for their photos since 2003. Carruth, owner of Alan Brent Photography in West Lake Village, pleaded no contest to eight misdemeanor counts of grand theft in June. For more information, see stories by the Los Angeles Times and KTLA News.
Oct. 24, 2011
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in L.A. County
The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has declared October 2011 as Cyber Security Awareness Month in the county. The Board of Supervisors encourages all Los Angeles County citizens to learn more about cyber security. For information on protecting your identity, visit our Identity Theft section.
Oct. 11, 2011
Reebok to pay settlement to consumers for misleading ads
Consumers who purchased the popular Reebok toning shoes may be eligible for a refund. They were sued by the FTC for false and misleading advertisements since there is no scientific proof to prove that the shoes actually tone your lower body as they claim. They settled the case for $25 million. The FTC has set up a webpage where consumers can apply for a refund.
Oct. 5, 2011
Scam Alert! from Yahoo/Tecca: Phony red-light camera fines
A telephone scam is becoming more frequent. A scammer calls your phone number at random and, once you answer, tells you that you have an overdue red-light camera fine. The only way to avoid a significant late fee, a court case, or even jail time is to pay the bill right then and there over the phone. Do not get tricked into giving away your personal and financial information. For more details, read the Yahoo/Tecca story.
Sept. 21, 2011
From Consumer Action: WellPoint/Anthem ID theft -- act now
If you applied for health insurance through WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross before March 10, 2010, you could be eligible for benefits in the settlement of a class action lawsuit involving the possible or potential breach of applicants’ personal and financial information. Victims of the ID Theft breach have less than three weeks to sign up. See Consumer Action's story for more information.
Sept. 8, 2011
FTC refunding auto warranty robocall victims
The Federal Trade Commission is mailing approximately 4,450 refund checks to consumers who were tricked by illegal robocalls into buying bogus auto “warranties that were actually extended service contracts. Almost $3.2 million is being returned to consumers; the amount of payment will vary from a few dollars to more than $7,000, depending upon how much the consumer paid for a warranty. For more information, read the FTC press release.
Sept. 1, 2011
L.A. County offers cooling centers during heat wave
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will have cooling centers available during this weekend's expected heat wave. Go to the Public Health website to find a center near you.
Aug. 26, 2011
Small Claims Court limits changing in 2012
Starting January 1, 2012, recent legislation will allow individuals and individual-owned businesses to sue for up to $10,000 in Small Claims Court. However, you will only be able to sue for up to $10,000 twice in any calendar year. Any businesses owned by more than one person or corporations will still be limited to $5,000. You can contact our Small Claims Court Advisory program for more information.
Aug. 24, 2011
Neighborhood Housing Services to host homeownership fair
Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County will hold a Help & Hope Homeownership and Foreclosure Counseling Fair on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar. Homeowners in need can get help and learn important real estate information. For more information, visit the Neighborhood Housing Services website.
Aug. 22, 2011
Scam Alert! Fake protection plans in online car shopping
Online vehicle shoppers are being victimized by fraudulent vehicle sales and false claims of vehicle protection programs. In fraudulent vehicle sales, criminals attempt to sell vehicles they do not own at low prices. They attempt to rush the sale. To make the deal appear legitimate, the criminal tells the victim to send full or partial payment to a third-party agent via a wire transfer payment service and to fax the payment receipt to the seller as proof of payment. The criminal pockets the payment but does not deliver the vehicle. They make their scams appear valid by misusing the names of reputable companies and programs. For more information, visit the FBI's website.
Aug. 18, 2011
From MoneyTalksNews: Protect the dead from ID theft
If your loved one dies, it can take up to six months for banks and government agencies to learn of the death on their own. Some criminals use that window to steal a dead person’s identity. MoneyTalksNews.com recently offered some tips you can follow to help prevent this crime. Full story here.
Aug. 17, 2011
From CBS2: Fraudulent photographer to be sentenced
An investigation by Consumer Affairs' staff will soon result in a criminal sentence for a unlawful wedding photographer. Alan Brent Carruth, who operated Alan Brent Photography, is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 26 on eight counts of grand theft.
Consumer Affairs received dozens of complaints in which newlyweds paid Alan Brent Photography up to $6,500 for wedding pictures, but never received them. CBS2 News recently aired this story about the case.
Aug. 15, 2011
From MSNBC: Five ways to lower your summer power bill
A recent story on msnbc.com offered five simple tips to keep your power bill low during the summer months. Their suggestions: unplug your devices, use your thermostat, wash full loads in cold water, don't overdo air conditioning and spend more time away from electronics. Read the full story here.
Aug. 10, 2011
Scam Alert! Don't pay for pre-paid legal services
Companies are currently selling pre-paid legal services, which promise "protection" in case you have legal problems. They charge a one-time fee of around $75, plus monthly charges of $10-20.
Our view: This is a bad deal. When you try to get legal representation from these companies you just get discounts for attorneys or perhaps no help at all because of a long list of exclusions. If you've had trouble with this kind of business, file a complaint with Consumer Affairs at the link on the right side of this page.
Aug. 9, 2011
Car registration due? Don't wait by the mailbox. Pay now.
As of July, the state DMV no longer has to send you advance notice for vehicle registration. If you're not sure when your registration is due, check your license plate for the correct month. If your registration is due in August or September, you are risking late fees if you are waiting for a bill to arrive in the mail. Go to the DMV website to find out what you owe and ways to pay your bill.
Aug. 8, 2011
Scam Alert! "New owners" target renters in a foreclosure
When a home goes into foreclosure, renters are often affected just as much as a homeowner. Scammers are often targeting renters with many tricks to try to make a quick buck. One common trick involves people who claim to be the new owner of the property. Recently, Consumer Affairs has received complaints involving supposed new owners using fake letters from IRS to try to get renters into giving over their rent money.
Our view: Consumer Affairs wants to remind you to always read a document closely and never to sign anything or turn over money without make sure it's legitimate. Read our tipsheet Renters in Foreclosure for more information.
Aug. 4, 2011
Fed fines Wells Fargo; Consumers to get settlement money
The Federal Reserve recently fined Wells Fargo $85 million for allegedly steering borrowers into subprime loans when they would have qualified for better loans. The bank also allegedly used false income information to get borrowers loans they could not afford.
If you received a Wells Fargo "cash-out mortgage" between Jan. 2004 and June 2008 you might be eligible to get some money from the settlement. If you have questions about the settlement, call Wells Fargo at
Aug. 3, 2011
DCA foreclosure fraud investigation leads to 26 felony charges
The State Attorney General's office recently filed 26 felony charges, including violations of the foreclosure consultant act and grand theft by embezzlement, against Dean Toro and Jose Arturo Abad Vega (aka Pepi Abad).
Investigators from Consumer Affairs' Real Estate Fraud Division received complaints from homeowners in 2008 and 2009 alleging they paid a company called Homeowners Assistance (aka First Housing of America) to save their home from foreclosure. Consumers paid advance fees, totaling up to $3 million, but did not receive any help from the company.
Abad and Toro plead not guilty to the charges. Pre-trial proceedings are scheduled for Sept. 7.
Need help paying for college? Let Uncle Sam answer the call
The new college year is just around the corner. Make sure you take advantage of all the financial programs the U.S. Government has to offer. This includes grants, work-study programs and low-interest loans for those who qualify. Visit the U.S. Government's student aid website for all the information.
Aug. 2, 2011
Homeowners to get refunds from Countrywide settlement
The Federal Trade Commission recently reached a $108 million settlement with Countrywide that will bring refund checks to many affected homeowners. The FTC sued and alleged that Countrywide charged homeowners in default excessive fees and mismanaged their loans. For more information and to find out if you are eligible for a refund, check the FTC's website.
Aug. 1, 2011
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