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Ford, Nissan Recall 989K Vehicles: What Consumers Need to Know

Two new auto recalls were announced Wednesday involving nearly 1 million Ford and Nissan vehicles.

Ford is recalling more than 205,000 vehicles because of a problem with interior door handles, and an additional 16,100 vehicles for potential issues with safety belt fasteners, reports The Detroit News. Separately, Nissan announced the recall of about 768,000 vehicles for issues relating to a potential wiring short and problems with a secondary hood latch, Reuters reports.

What should consumers know about these two recalls?

Ford Recall

Ford is recalling 205,000 Taurus, Lincoln, and Police Interceptor vehicles from the model years 2010-13 because of an issue with a spring inside the vehicles' door handles. A defect in this mechanism could cause the door to become unlatched during a crash, increasing the risk of injury for the driver or other occupants of the vehicle.

Ford also announced the recall of 16,100 of its Transit Connect vans, citing an issue with the vehicles' safety belt fasteners. These fasteners may not have been properly tightened, leading to an increased risk of injury in a crash.

According to Ford, no injuries have been reported in connection with these recalls. Even so, owners of these vehicles have the right to a recall remedy, which in this case involves free repairs at a Ford dealership.

Nissan Recall

Nissan also announced recalls related to two different potential defects. Approximately 552,135 of the company's Rogue crossover vehicles from model years 2008 and 2013 are being recalled because of a potential problem caused by moisture seeping through the driver's side floor, causing an electrical short in wiring which could in turn cause a fire.

Another 215,789 Nissan Pathfinder SUVs from model years 2013 and 2014 are being recalled; the problem lies with a secondary hood latch designed to prevent the hood from flying back if the primary hood latch is disengaged. No injuries have been reported in either of these recalls.

How to Determine Whether Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

If you are curious whether your vehicle may be affected by this or any other recent vehicle recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a free online tool that allow consumers to determine whether safety recall repairs have been completed on a specific vehicle.

Consumers can search using their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see whether any required recall repairs are needed. Individual manufacturers are also now required to have recall information searchable by VIN on their own websites.

If you were injured because of a mechanical defect in a recalled vehicle, a products liability lawyer can help explain the legal options for recovering for your injuries.

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'Child Predator Alert' Email Is a Scam, BBB Warns

The Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be on the lookout for a new email scam disguised as a warning about child predators in their area.

According to the BBB, parents have reported receiving an email with the alarming subject line "Alert: There is a Child-Predator Living Near You!" The email goes on to say that, based on your ZIP code, a registered child sex offender has "just moved into your area."

Fortunately, the email's claims are untrue. But parents duped by the email's scare tactics may themselves become victimized by malicious software designed to steal sensitive financial and personal information from their computers.

How the Scam Works

The email provides a link for those concerned by the email's dire warnings to "learn more about this predator alert." And clicking the link provided does lead to a website for "Kids Live Safe," a service that provides reports on sex offenders.

But the emails aren't actually affiliated with "Kids Live Safe." Rather, the link seems to be way to make the scam look more legitimate. In addition to leading to the Kids Live Safe website, clicking on the link also may be enough to allow malware to infect your machine, the BBB warns. This malware will then search your computer for passwords, credit card numbers, and other information that could be used by scammers for identity theft.

How to Spot the Scam

The BBB recommends several ways that consumers can spot this scam and others like it before it's too late. These include:

  • Watch for typos and bad grammar. Scammers are good at making emails look legitimate, with logos and design, but are typically less adept at writing clearly. Look for misspellings, poor grammar, and strange phrasing such as the scam emails use of the term "local area zipcode."
  • If you don't remember signing up for a service, you probably didn't. Scam emails are often disguised as notifications from a service or retailer. But if you don't remember ever having signed up for a particular service or making a purchase from a website, chances are you didn't and the email is a scam.
  • Look for strange email addresses, URLs. Here's another red flag: An email that appears to be from a particular service or business but is sent from an unrelated email address. Also, always be sure to hover your mouse over links in an email to see where they actually lead. A link might say it's going one place, but may take you somewhere different when you click on it.

To learn more about identity theft, email privacy, and online safety, check out FindLaw's section on Online Scams.

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Ikea Recalls Crib Mattresses Over Injury Risk

Ikea has announced a recall of nearly 170.000 crib mattresses because infants may become trapped between the mattress and the crib.

The Swedish furniture retailer is recalling its Vyssa style mattresses, reports CNBC. The recalled mattresses were sold with the model names Vinka, Spelevink, Vackert, Sloa, and Slummer. They were made in Mexico on or before May 4, 2014.

What do consumers need to know about this crib mattress recall?

Reports of Infants Becoming Trapped

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Ikea has received two reports of infants becoming trapped in the gap between the mattress and the crib. Neither of these incidents led to an injury.

But the incidents did lead to the discovery of a defect present in some mattresses. These defective mattresses create a gap between the mattress and the crib that's larger than allowed by federal regulations. In order to prevent potential injuries -- and to thwart any potential defective product injury lawsuits that could follow -- the company is recalling 169,000 mattresses that may have the reported defect.

Did You Buy a Recalled Mattress?

The Ikea Vyssa mattresses subject to the recall were manufactured on or before May 4, 2014. A label attached to the mattress will show the product's model name and manufacturing date.

The CPSC advises consumers who may have purchased a mattress to inspect the mattress, making sure that the gaps between the sides of the mattress and the crib are no larger than the width of two fingers. If a larger gap is found, consumers are advised to stop using the mattress immediately and return the product to any Ikea store for an exchange or refund. Proof of purchase is not required.

Consumers with questions can call Ikea toll-free at (888) 966-4532. Consumers are also encouraged to report any incidents involving this product to the CPSC by using the online report filing system.

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Dick’s Recalls Inversion Tables, Resistance Cords After Injuries

Dick's Sporting Goods has started off the New Year with a pair of product recalls.

The company announced late last month the recall of the Fitness Gear Inversion table, a fitness device in which users are flipped upside down. The second recall, announced last week, also involves a fitness product: the Pro Performance SKLZ Recoil 360 All Position Trainer, an elastic band-type device used for resistance training.

What led to these two product recalls and what should consumers who may have purchased these defective products do?

Fitness Gear Inversion Table

Dick's has issued a voluntary recall for the Fitness Gear Inversion Table based on two issues with the product. First, the company has removed potentially misleading medical claims on the product's packaging, as well as on store signage and in online descriptions. These claims included statements that the fitness table reduced back stress by relieving pressure on vertebrae discs, relieved pain by stretching muscles, stimulated circulation to relieve muscle stiffness, and reduced the effect of aging due to gravity. The company states in its recall notice that the Inversion Table is "intended to be a fitness product, and not a medical device."

Dick's also reports that users of the product have been injured after falling from the table. Consumers who may have been injured while using this product may want to consult a lawyer regarding a personal injury lawsuit. But anyone who may have purchased a Fitness Gear Inversion Table from Dick's between November 2011 and September 2014 can return the product to a Dick's store for a full refund.

SKLZ Recoil 360 All Position Trainer

The SKLZ resistance training belt is being recalled after it was discovered that a weld on the device may snap, causing the flexible cord to retract and potentially hit the exercise partner providing resistance. According the Consumer Product Safety Commission, three serious injuries have been reported in connection with the defect.

Those who purchased one of the 52,000 units subject to the recall can contact the product's manufacturer SKLZ, to receive a replacement product. Consumers with questions regarding either of these recalls can call Dick's Customer Service team at (866) 677-4771.

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BBB: Beware 'Customer Survey' Scams Offering Free Gift Cards

Consumers are being warned by the Better Business Bureau about a new scam involving an online survey that promises takers a free gift card.

According to the BBB, official-looking posts sent by email or appearing on social media encourage consumers to claim a free gift card to a major retailer such as Walmart. All the consumers have to do in order to receive the card, according to the message, is complete a customer satisfaction survey.

Unfortunately, consumers who attempt to complete the survey may end up the victims of identity theft.

Survey Requests Personal Information

The surveys reportedly begin with seemingly legitimate questions about how often a consumer shops at the store or rates a particular website. But consumers who reach the end of the survey report that the promised gift card doesn't exist. Instead, consumers are offered discounts on suspicious services or junk products.

In a more nefarious version of the scam, consumers have reported that the survey requests personal information such as credit card numbers or a consumer's home address. Consumers who unwittingly provide this information may be providing scammers the information they need to access financial accounts or apply for fraudulent credit cards or loans in the consumer's name.

How Can You Tell If a Survey Is a Scam?

The BBB has a few tips on how to avoid scam surveys. These include:

  • Don't trust your eyes. It's easy for scammers to design an email or social media post to look like it's official by stealing the logos, fonts, and colors of an established company.
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a $100 gift card for answering a couple easy questions sounds like a spectacular deal, right? Maybe... too spectacular? If an offer seems suspiciously generous, that may be a red flag that it's a scam.
  • Do a Web search. If you're not sure whether you're being tricked into something that may be a scam, often a quick Web search can reveal information about potential scams. For example, Walmart has posted an alert regarding survey scams on the company's own website.

Find more tips for avoiding identity theft and online fraud at FindLaw's section on Online Scams.

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GM Recalls 92K Trucks, SUVs Over Ignition Defect

General Motors has issued a recall for 92,000 SUVs and trucks over a potential defect in the vehicle's ignition systems.

The new recall includes nearly 84,000 vehicles in the United States, Reuters reports. An additional 9,000 vehicles were recalled in other countries. The recall is the latest GM recall involving defective ignition switches; previous ignition switch problems in GM vehicles have been linked to at least 42 deaths and thousands of injuries

What vehicles are involved in this most recent GM ignition switch recall?

Recall Includes Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Cadillac Escalade

This new GM recall involves vehicles that may have an ignition lock actuator with an outer diameter that is too large. This may cause the key to get stuck in the "start" position, which in the event of "significant jarring" may cause the ignition to move into the "accessory position," affecting power steering, power breaking, air bag deployment and engine power.

The vehicles included to the recall include certain light- and heavy-duty pickups as well as SUVs from model years 2007 to 2014. The following models are included:

  • Chevrolet Avalanche, Tahoe, Silverado and Suburban;
  • GMC Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL; and
  • Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade EXT.

So far no crashes or injuries have been reported in connection with this latest ignition switch issue.

2 Additional Recalls

GM also announced a pair of other, significantly smaller recalls. One involves about five dozen 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks that may have a faulty hose clamp. The other covers about 11 dozen 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC 1500 pickups that may suffer a fractured rear axle shaft while being driven.

How to Determine Whether Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

Consumers who want to know if their vehicle may be subject to one or more recalls can find out by using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's free online recall search tool. The tool allows consumers to search a vehicle by VIN to determine whether recall repairs have been made to a vehicle.

GM also has its own online recall search tool that allows consumers to search by VIN. Consumers who own vehicles involved in the most recent recalls will also be notified by the automaker within 60 days.

Related Resources:

Top 10 Consumer Protection Legal Stories of 2014

As you probably know, 2014 was a big year for consumer protection legal stories.

From wide-reaching recalls to an uptick in the number of online scams being perpetrated by internet criminals, there were a number of news stories that hit home for consumers concerned with protecting their finances, privacy, and safety. And FindLaw's Common Law covered it all.

What were this year's most popular Common Law blog posts? Here are the Top 10:

  1. 'Cold Water Challenge' Warning: Injuries, 1 Death Reported -- Before the "Ice Bucket Challenge," there was the "Cold Water Challenge," in which teens recorded themselves jumping into frigid bodies of water. One Minnesota teen died while taking part in the challenge after jumping into an ice-cold lake.
  2. 'Court Case' Email Scam: Don't Click on Attachments -- Consumers nationwide were warned about a scam in which emails that appeared to be from court clerks or law firms actually contained malware or were attempts to scam consumers into paying nonexistent fines.
  3. Craigslist Scam Alert: 5 Signs a Con Artist Is Replying to Your Ad -- There are a few tell-tale signs that the person answering your ad on Craigslist may be up to no good.
  4. 'Gas Station Scam' Fueled by Fear of Prosecution -- Another scam reported this year involved scammers posing as gas station owners. The scammers spin a tale involving a declined credit card on the consumers' last visit to a local gas station and threaten legal action if the consumer fails to provide his or her credit card info.
  5. Was Your Car Recalled? Look Up Your VIN to Find Out -- NHTSA rolled out a new online database this year, allowing consumers to search by VIN to see if their vehicle is in need of any recall repairs.
  6. 5 Things You Shouldn't Keep in Your Car -- Although vehicle break-ins are never a good thing, consumers can make them slightly less painful by keeping essential or valuable items out of their cars.
  7. 'One Ring' Cell Phone Scam Rings Up Unwanted Charges, BBB Warns -- The BBB issued an alert regarding the so-called "One Ring" scam, in which automated calls are made to random cellphone numbers, ringing once before disconnecting. Consumers who called back incurred huge cellphone charges or got conned into a telemarketing scheme.
  8. Black Pepper, Chia and Flax Powders Recalled Over Salmonella Fears -- Among the foods recalled in 2014 were Costco's Kirkland brand black pepper and Organic Matters' sprouted chia and flax seed powder.
  9. Apple Security Flaw: Update Software to Thwart Wi-Fi Hackers -- Apple was forced to release a security update after a bug was discovered in the company's software. It potentially gave hackers the ability to trick Apple devices into thinking they were connected to a secure connection.
  10. Facebook Shortens Its Data Policy: 5 Things Users Should Know -- Social media company Facebook trimmed more than 6,000 words from its Data Policy in order to make the company's terms of use more understandable to users.

Learn more about protecting yourself from online scams, defective products, and retail fraud at FindLaw's section on Consumer Protection.

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Caramel Apples Recalled After Listeria Outbreak

The Missouri company that makes Happy Apple brand caramel apples has issued a recall after the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers that the apples could be linked to a deadly outbreak of listeria.

Happy Apple Co. announced the recall Wednesday involving caramel apples with a "Best Used By" date of between August 25 and November 23, reports The Washington Post. The apples were sold in grocery stores and at other food outlets in packs of one, three, four, and eight.

29 Infected by Listeria, 5 Dead

According to the CDC, as of Monday at least 29 people in 10 states have been infected by the strain of Listeria monocytogenes causing the latest outbreak. All 29 have been hospitalized, with five later dying, although only three of those deaths have been confirmed to be linked to listeriosis, the disease caused by listeria infection.

Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with listeria and primarily affects pregnant women, newborn children, and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. In pregnant women, listeriosis can lead to miscarriages, still births, and severe infections in newborn children.

Apples No Longer Available in Stores

The apples subject to the recall are no longer available in grocery stores, but were sold in 31 states. Consumers who have recalled apples can return them to the store where the apples were purchased, or destroy them. Consumers with questions can contact the company by phone at (800) 527-7532 during normal business hours or by email at customercare@happyapples.com.

At least one product liability lawsuit has been filed related to the outbreak. Grocery store chain Safeway is being sued for the wrongful death of an 81-year-old California woman who died from listeriosis after purchasing a caramel apple from a Safeway store.

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Keurig Recall: 5 Things Consumers Should Know

Keurig has announced that the company is recalling more than 7 million of its MINI Plus Brewing systems after consumers reported being burned by hot liquid spraying from the machines.

The company has received 90 reports of burn injuries caused by the malfunctioning coffee makers, Reuters reports. Seventeen of those injuries occurred in Canada, which is included in the recall issued jointly by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada.

What are the facts behind this Keurig recall? Here are five things consumers should know:

  1. The recall is for the K10 MINI Plus Brewing System. The recall does not affect all Keurig brewing systems, only the MINI Plus Brewing System with the model number K10 marked on the product's packaging.
  2. Recalled units can be identified by serial number. The recalled brewers can be identified using the serial number printed on a white sticker on the bottom of the brewer. The recalled brewers have an identification number starting with 31. A full range of serial numbers included in the recall can be found at the CPSC website.
  3. The recall includes nearly 7.2 million units. About 6.6. million units are being recalled in the United States, with an additional 564,000 in Canada. The products were sold online and at major retailers including Walmart, Target, Kohl's, and Kmart.
  4. The injuries were caused by hot water escaping the brewer during use. The injuries that led to the recall were caused by hot water escaping the brewer during use. According to the recall notice on the Keurig website, the company has determined that this is more likely to occur when the system is used to brew more than two cups in quick succession. The company recommends that users avoid brewing more than two cups in succession until the unit can be repaired, and that users maintain an arm's length distance from the machine during the brewing process.
  5. Keurig is providing a free repair kit. Consumers with a recalled brewer can obtain a free repair kit by contacting Keurig. Consumers can call the company toll-free at (844) 255-7886 or email keurig@inmar.com.

Learn more about your legal rights for injuries caused by defective products at FindLaw's section on Product Liability.

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When Do Gift Cards Expire?

Gift cards have become a popular holiday gift. But what happens if you don't use a gift card right away? Do gift cards expire?

Uncertainty regarding hidden fees, expiration dates, and other restrictions on gift cards led the federal government to establish rules for gift cards in 2010 as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act.

Gift Cards Good for Minimum of 5 Years

Under the federal rules established in 2010, gift cards cannot expire earlier than five years after the date of purchase or the last date on which additional money was loaded onto the card. For cards with an expiration date earlier than either of these dates, any money on the card can be transferred to a replacement card at no additional cost.

The federal rules do permit businesses to charge inactivity fees. But these fees, also called dormancy fees, may only be charged after a card has not been used for at least one year and may only be charged once a month. Fees also may be charged to replace a lost or stolen card.

Both the card's expiration date and any fees that may be charged to consumers must also be disclosed on the card or the card's packaging.

State Law May Provide Additional Protections

In addition to federal rules, individual states may have rules that provide consumers further protection for money on gift cards. In California, for example, most gift cards issued for use with the gift card seller or its affiliates cannot contain an expiration date or charge a dormancy fee except under limited circumstances, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs. California law also requires that gift cards with a cash value of less than $10 be redeemable for their cash value.

Learn more about your legal rights as consumer, including product warranties, defective products, and canceling a sale at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Consumer Transactions.

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