Have your consumer rights improved?

December 31, 2008 6:01:32 PM PST
Part of making sure you're not taken advantage of is knowing your rights. Here is a rundown of consumer laws going into effect in the New Year.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled a Dora talking 'Vamonos van' in 2007, yet Frederick Felman found this and other recalled items on sale on the web.

A new law would make the sale of recalled products on the Web or in retail stores subject to a maximum $20,000 fine.

That's something the Consumer Federation of California supports.

"Retailers either have to remove the product from their shelves or post a notice that its recalled and program their computers, their cash registers, not to allow someone to purchase that product," said Richard Holober from the Consumer Federation of California.

If you've ever called a locksmith, you're vulnerable to falling prey to an unlicensed locksmith. There are thousands out there.

Many have been known to drill your lock and then refuse to put in a new one until you pay as much as several thousand dollars above the going rate.

A bill inspired by a 7 On Your Side hidden camera investigation would increase the fine for unlicensed locksmith activity to $10,000 and provide restitution for victims.

"This is a public safety issue. It is also a huge underground economy issue and it's also helping the legitimate small businesses," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D) San Francisco.

Another new law requires most chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus. The law by Senator Alex Padilla is aimed at tackling obesity.

Bottled water companies will now be required to reveal the source of their water.

"Consumers may be surprised to find out that the two largest bottled water companies," said Holobar. Actually get their water from the same place tht we do, a municipal water tap."

And there's new privacy protection for those who carry card keys at work.

"You and I both know that it is illegal if I stick my hand in your pocket and steal your ID card, but it has not been illegal if someone skims or reads by way of radio waves the information on that ID card," said Joe Fimitian.

That's now punishable with up to a year in jail and a $1,500 fine.

All these laws go into effect January 1st -- Except the menu law, which goes into effect July 1st.


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