Welcome to Consumers’ Notebook, where we feature news-you-can-use and other timely information to help you become a more informed consumer. Check back often to read the latest pieces in our Notebook.
Amazon and Microsoft Charged with Violating Children's Privacy Law
The federal government is putting tech companies on notice that it plans to go after them if they violate federal rules protecting children’s privacy.
Here Is What Airlines Must Do If Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed
In the U.S., if your flight is delayed or canceled, or if your baggage gets lost or damaged, unfortunately airlines aren’t required to do much for you. But it’s important to know your rights—however limited—if an airline strands you, delays you for hours, or loses your stuff.
Americans Are Keeping Their Cars Longer Than Ever
Unable to get decent deals on new vehicles, or find used ones they can afford, millions of motorists are keeping their cars longer.
New FCC Rule Requires Phone Companies to Block Some Robotexts
After years of focusing on illegal robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to stop the flood of spam robotexts.
Travel Trouble: Don’t Let Passport Problems Wreck Your Trip
If you’re planning a trip outside the U.S. this summer and don’t already have a valid passport—or have one that will expire soon—you may have a problem. The current passport processing time is 10 to 13 weeks.
Why Car Prices—Both New and Used—Keep Going Up
With inventory abnormally low, prices historically high, and interest rates continuing to go up, it’s become harder for many Americans to afford a new set of wheels.
FTC Sues Company for ‘Unfairly Thwarting’ Consumers Trying to Reverse Disputed Credit Card Charges
Federal regulators say the company helped scammers stay in business and defeat chargeback attempts by victims hit with fraudulent charges.
IRS Makes Significant Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2023
With the 2022 federal tax filing season behind us, it’s time to look at the major changes that will impact next year’s returns. We describe the key provisions that will affect most taxpayers.
FTC Rule Would Make it Easier to Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
The FTC plans to soon require companies to provide a “click to cancel” option. The goal is to eliminate the frequent hassles involved with ending unwanted subscription payments.
Some Airlines Finally Offer Free ‘Kid-Friendly’ Seat Assignments
One of the biggest challenges when flying with children is trying to book adjacent seats. Some major U.S. airlines have finally promised to guarantee family seating—if possible—at no additional cost.
Check Washing Makes a Comeback; Here’s How to Protect Yourself
Check washing has been around for decades, but it’s made a comeback in the last few years, with victims reporting losses ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
Expert Advice: Seven Tips to Help You Be a Better Consumer
This is National Consumer Protection Week (March 5-11) and to celebrate Checkbook asked five experts to share some of their wisdom. Their advice will help you be a better consumer all year.
FTC Warns Eye Doctors to Provide Prescriptions for Free, as Required by Law
In late February, the FTC sent cease and desist letters to 24 eye care prescribers warning them that, based on customer complaints, they appear to have violated the Contact Lens Rule, and in some cases, the Eyeglass Rule.
Should You Give Up Your Privacy to Save on Auto Insurance?
Many auto insurers offer to reduce customers’ premiums by as much as 30 or 40 percent if they agree to allow companies to monitor how, when, and where they drive, with little oversight on how they can use the data.
FTC Charges GoodRx with Illegally Disclosing Customers’ Health Information
Millions of Americans have saved money on their prescription drugs by using coupons from GoodRx. But at what cost? Federal regulators have accused the discount drug and telehealth provider with violating federal law by “failing to notify consumers” about its “unauthorized disclosure” of their health information to other companies.
Proposed Rule Would Curb Excessive Credit Card Late Fees
On Feb. 1, the bureau proposed a rule that would cap ever-increasing credit card late fees at $8 and require financial institutions to justify future price hikes.
Report: Data Breach Notices Lack Key Details, Enable Identity Theft ‘Scamdemic’
There’s a good chance you received a data breach notice last year—possibly more than one. Unfortunately, last year only 34 percent of breach notices included details about what was obtained from attacks, the lowest number in five years.
Federal Regulators Cracking Down on Hidden Fees
Many companies use hidden fees to obtain bigger payments from customers without having to increase their advertised prices. These bait-and-switch schemes cost consumers “tens of billions of dollars each year,” make comparison shopping difficult, and “leave consumers feeling powerless and cheated,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Tax Season Is Officially Underway; Here’s What You Need to Know
Millions of Americans will be disappointed that they’ll get less money back than last year—or even owe money—as they prepare their federal tax returns for 2022.
Avoid Getting Stuck with a Flood-Damaged Used Car
Buy a used vehicle that’s been inundated by flood waters, and you’re going to have problems down the road—no matter how nice it looks.