Consumer Health Digest #16-43
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 20, 2016
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Trump University lawsuits settled. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that Donald J. Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits which charged that he had misrepresented the nature and value of real estate courses offered by Trump University. The settlement includes payment of $21 million to settle two California class-action suits and $4 million to New York State to be used to (a) reimburse former students who were not parties to the class-action suits and (b) if funds remain, to pay up to $1 million for costs and/or penalties for Trump University's failure to obtain a license from the New York's Education Department. Trump admitted no liability, but Schneiderman's press release minced no words:
In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.
House passes anti-spoofing bill. The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 382-5 to pass the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2016 (H.R. 2669), which would:
- Amend the Communications Act of 1934 to expand the prohibition of using a caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value to persons outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States.
- Revise the definitions of "caller identification information" and "caller identification service" to include text messages sent using a text messaging service.
- Require the Federal Communication Commission and FTC to develop more educational materials to help consumers guard against robocall scams.
- Require the U.S. Comptroller General to examine trends in the types of scams that use misleading caller ID information and recommend further actions that the FTC and Congress can take.
This bill may have passed too late to get Senate concurrence in this legislative session. It also fails to address the fact that many land-line phone companies have refused to implement blocking technologies that are now available. However, it is a step in the right direction, and the 382-5 vote suggests that combating robocall scams has bipartisan political support. People interested in decreasing robocalls should register their interest with Consumers Union.
Historian's view of quackery 40 years ago posted. Quackwatch has posted previously unpublished observations about quackery written in 1974 by James Harvey Young, Ph.D. [Young JH A historian's view of quackery in 1974 with comments by Stephen Barrett, M.D. Quackwatch, Nov 14, 2016] The article describes how quackery thrived during the previous 100 years and the gradually increasing but insufficient efforts of our government to curb it. Dr. Young, whose books included The Toadstool Millionaires and The Medical Messiahs, was considered the foremost authority on the history of quackery.
This page was posted on November 22, 2016.