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Consumer Alert

FEDS CALL DAY TRADING A SUCKER BET
Government studies reveal that day-trading firms bait novice investors with promises of easy riches, when in fact over 75% lose money.  42% of one firm’s clientele, for example, was found to consist of people 26 or younger, with median net assets of $30,000. Last fall, Mark Barton of Atlanta went on a shooting spree in a day trading firm after losing $450,000. The mother of a 30 year old day trader whom Barton killed is suing the firm on grounds that her son should never have been accepted as a client: He was  unemployed and investing with borrowed money.

Attention Shoppers!

AG SCRUBS UNILEVER’S “FALSE MARKETING”
New York’s attorney general announced a detergent maker will pay $90,000 and clean up its ad claims. Unilever advertised its “All Free Clear with Allergen Fighters” as “The Allegy Medicine for your Laundry.” The company made similar claims in literature distributed to doctor’s offices and even listed the product in the Physician’s Desk Reference. Actually, All Free Clear “has no proven effect on symptoms associated with allergies,” the AG said.

LUTHERANS LUSTING FOR LUCRE?

The Lutheran Brotherhood, a fraternal organization, has been accused of insurance “churning” in eight separate lawsuits. Churning occurs when agents convince policy- holders to trade existing policies for so-called “vanishing premium” policies that the agents claim will carry no premium, because the policy’s investment returns will supposedly pay for the policy. Usually the premiums never “vanish,” and policy owners often end up losing built-up cash value and gaining higher premiums they can’t afford.

WEBSITE REAPS FARMERS’ LAWSUIT

A website that posts news of so-called David vs. Goliathlawsuits and lets visitors vote on who should win has been sued for defamation by Farmers Insurance. Citizens for Justice published a report about a suit between an elderly man and another person insured by Farmers. Visitors reportedly were allowed to vote on whether the insurer was guilty of “elder abuse,” in that case, and 52,760 voted in the affirmative. Farmers alleges that the slur is libelous.

DON’T LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER

Mardi Gras may never be the same, thanks to Playboy.  Last year the magazine’s bunnies showed their assets at carnival in New Orleans, and Playboy  published titillating pictures of their hi-jinx, along with written portrayals of the Big Easy as (shocker!) a wide-open party town. Local politicos were not amused and this year announced a crackdown: No flashing and no bead-tossing from French Quarter balconies. Consumerama, a New Orleanian in exile, is mortified. What next: No booze on Bourbon St.?