Centurylink is a giant, scammy telco notorious for larding its customers' bills with fraudulent charges, and instructing its customer service reps to do everything possible not to waive those charges; they also open fake accounts in their customers' names, a la Wells Fargo, and then rack up charges against them.
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A class action suit by some of the 3,500,000+ Wells Fargo customers defrauded in the company's fake account scam was foundering in Utah, thanks to the company's insistence that its binding arbitration clauses also applied to the accounts it fraudulently opened (that is, by agreeing not to sue the company for defrauding you over the accounts you opened, you were also agreeing not to sue them if it opened a bunch more accounts and forged your signature on the papers).
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (previously) is practically the only US regulator we can be proud of -- founded by Elizabeth Warren before she ran for the Senate, the CFRB is a consumer protection agency that has been at the forefront of reining in criminal activities like Wells Fargo's nationwide frauds and Equifax's dox attack on the USA, as well as being the best defense Americans have against predatory loan-sharks masquerading as "payday lenders," abusive debt-collectors, racial discrimination in lending, and the student loan racket.
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Katie Van Fleet has suffered 15 identity thefts since the Equifax breach and she believes the criminals who've targeted her are using information from the breach to open credit cards in her name; she's started a class-action suit against Equifax.
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Senators Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and John McCain talk a big game about not letting the GOP be the handmaiden of trumpist corruption, but when the chips were down last night, they voted with their party and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Handmaid's Tale to pass legislation that lets financial institutions take away your right to sue them when they defraud you.
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One of the major triumphs of Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a rule that banned the finance industry from using binding arbitration clauses to prevent defrauded customers from joining in class action suits to sue crooked banks. Read the rest
During the five weeks after hackers stole 143 million Americans' data from Equifax, and while its execs were selling off their stock by the millions, the company sprang into action, producing an insecure site for checking whether your own data was breached that produces the same output no matter what name and SSN you input. Read the rest
Before Equifax doxed 143 million Americans (but after it had suffered repeated smaller breaches that should have alerted the company to deficiencies in its security), it directed its lobbying body, the Consumer Data Industry Association, to pressure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to exempt credit-reporting bureaux from a soon-to-begin rule banning binding arbitration clauses in user agreements. Read the rest
AT&T, which has successfully lobbied state governments and the FCC to ban any broadband competition in the markets where it operates, says that its forced arbitration "agreements" aren't really forced, because people in the markets it serves could just not use the internet. Read the rest
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services barred nursing homes from forcing their residents into accepting binding arbitration agreements that would move all legal claims into business-friendly fake courts where the proceedings are often secret, and where the presiding fake judges draw their pay from the companies that are accused of malfeasance. Read the rest
Wells Fargo got caught ripping off millions of customers by setting up fake accounts in their names, then billing them for "services" related to those accounts, sometimes tanking their credit-ratings, costing them jobs, even their houses -- but the company says you're not allowed to sue them because their employees fraudulently signed your name to a "binding arbitration" agreement that forces you to take your case to a fake judge whose salary they pay. Read the rest
Wells Fargo admits that its employees opened more than 2,000,000 fake accounts in order to run up fraudulent charges against its customers (employees who balked at committing fraud were fired and blacklisted for life from the banking industry); it also says that the customers it stole from can't sue the company because fake account paperwork bearing their forged signatures includes a promise to enter into binding arbitration rather than suing. Read the rest
When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest
When you sign up for a Wells Fargo account, you're required to sign an arbitration "agreement" giving up your right to sue the company, and requiring you to have your case heard by an arbitrator paid for by -- and dependent on -- Wells Fargo instead. Read the rest
Even though disgraced Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has left the building, his most outrageous legal theories live on: on Wednesday, the company filed a motion in a federal court in Utah seeking dismissal of a class action suit by the customers it defrauded -- the bank argues that since customers sign a binding arbitration "agreement" when they open new accounts, that the customers whose signatures were forged on fraudulent new accounts should be subject to this agreement and denied a day in court. Read the rest
Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins. Read the rest
In my latest Locus column, The Privacy Wars Are About to Get A Whole Lot Worse, I describe the history of the privacy wars to date, and the way that the fiction of "notice and consent" has provided cover for a reckless, deadly form of viral surveillance capitalism. Read the rest