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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: August, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, August 15, 2013, 1:54 PM

You may never have heard of Certegy Check Services. But if you ever pay a merchant by check, it's one of the companies likely to be deciding whether your payment is accepted or declined - much like the better-known "Big Three" credit-reporting agencies - and trading in your personal and financial information. And the Federal Trade Commission said today that Cetergy repeatedly ignored requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The FTC says Cetergy has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle the charges at faced as a "nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency" - the second-largest such penalty it has ever imposed. It said Cetergy repeatedly "failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of consumers' report information. Among other things, Certegy failed to adequately track the handling and resolution of consumer disputes, resulting in its failure to promptly delete inaccurate or unverifiable information. This failure led to the retention and reporting of inaccurate consumer report information regarding consumers who may have been denied the ability to pay by check at the thousands of merchants who use Certegy's check authorization services."

You can find the FTC's announcement here. The FTC's in-house blogger, Leslie Fair, says one allegation stood out in the complaint:

POSTED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 11:21 AM
Daniel Ueda, Central High School

Daniel Ueda teaches physics, for now, at Central High School, but he is best-known to the public as the coach of the school's award-winning robotics team. He says both roles are in jeopardy because of our leaders' failures to provide adequate funding to the state's largest school district. He sent me an open letter about the crisis - an overused word that's absolutely appropriate here - and its direct impact on him and his students. It seems worth sharing, and noting, as he does, that similar harm threatens students and teachers throughout the district:

Dear Philadelphia,

The RoboLancers need your help.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 11:42 AM
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, file photo, American Airlines and US Airways jets prepare for flight at a gate at the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia. European authorities cleared US Airways Group Inc.'s proposed merger with American Airlines' parent company, AMR Corp., Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, on the condition that they give up one slot at London's Heathrow airport and take steps to foster competition on the London-Philadelphia route. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Justice Department's antitrust division, joined by Pennsylvania and five other states, filed suit in federal court today to block the planned merger between US Airways and American Airlines. The suit states what consumer advocates say is obvious: Reduced competition will mean higher prices for passengers.

If successful, the lawsuit would block the carriers' plan to create the world's largest airline by merging the two companies as American emerges from bankruptcy.

“If this merger goes forward, even a small increase in the price of airline tickets, checked bags or flight change fees would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of harm to American consumers," Bill Baer, the assistant attorney general who runs the antitrust division, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "Both airlines have stated they can succeed on a standalone basis and consumers deserve the benefit of that continuing competitive dynamic.”

POSTED: Friday, August 9, 2013, 6:14 PM

Prisoners - literally a captive market - are perhaps the biggest victims of phone deregulation's unintended consequences. On Friday, after a decade of complaints from families and advocacy groups, the Federal Communications Commission finally moved to end the price-gouging that has enriched a handful of carriers, private-equity firms, and jurisdictions that controlled the prisons' phone contracts.

Here's how it works, according to the LA Times:

The prison phone market, which brings in $1.2 billion annually, is dominated by two little-known phone companies. Global Tel-Link, based in Atlanta, and Securus Technologies of Dallas, both backed by private equity firms, make up more than 80% of the market, according to Standard & Poor's.

POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013, 1:31 PM

An old phone scam has resurfaced in Pennsylvania: a robocall, claiming to be from the "State Investigations Department," then informs the recipient that his or her name has surfaced in a criminal matter. Typically, the scammer is trying to obtain valuable personal information "to clear the matter up."

Some versions apparently instruct the recipient "to call immediately and provide information or you will be arrested," says the state's actual investigations department, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, which warned about the scam this week.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office says:

About this blog

Jeff Gelles, who writes the Inquirer's weekly Consumer 14.0 and Tech Life columns, takes a broad look at the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas.

Reach Jeff at jgelles@phillynews.com.

Jeff Gelles Inquirer Business Columnist
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