Consumer Protection

Fraudulent Tax Filings

Fraudulent tax filings

Issue: Fraudulent Tax Filings

Lieff Cabraser has heard from people across the country who have received the shocking news that criminals have filed fraudulent tax returns using their name and identity. Invariably, legitimate tax-paying citizens endure extraordinary inconvenience and stress, incur significant costs to fix this problem, and delays in tax refunds, all of which can persist for years. Lieff Cabraser is dedicated to investigating the potential claims of these victims of tax fraud.

Taxpayers can learn that they were victims of tax fraud in one or more ways. Some taxpayers try to file their tax returns, only to learn from the I.R.S. or their state taxing authority that a tax return had previously been filed for that year under their name or social security number. Others may try filing tax returns using a tax preparation service — like Turbotax or H&R Block — only to be told by the service that someone has already used that very same service to file a return using their identity. Some taxpayers may unexpectedly receive a bill from these tax preparation companies, even though they never used their services, and find out that it’s a bill for the fraudulent tax return. Indeed, most often, victims report learning that the fraudulent returns themselves had been electronically filed through tax preparation services, like Turbo tax or H&R Block.

Fraudulent tax filings cause victims to incur significant expenses and spend hours dealing with the IRS, state tax authorities, their accountants, and others. In many cases as a result of the fraudulent tax filings, victims become ineligible to e-file tax returns, but must instead manually file their returns, for years to come.

Multiple lawsuits were filed in 2015 against one tax preparation company, Intuit, Inc., regarding fraudulent tax returns filed with Turbotax. Those lawsuits allege, among other things, that Intuit maintained inadequate security protocols that enabled fraudsters to open false accounts and file fraudulent tax returns in other peoples’ names through Turbotax. These cases seek monetary relief for the victims, and to force Intuit to make necessary improvements to its security to prevent the fraud going forward. More information about these cases is available here.

As the 2016 tax filing season (for tax year 2015) has gotten underway, Lieff Cabraser continues to receive reports of fraudulent tax filings, including fraudulent filings occurring through electronic tax preparation services.

Contact us

If you have had a fraudulent tax return filed in your name, we are interested in hearing about your experience. Please use the form below or you may call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to talk to a Lieff Cabraser consumer protection attorney. We will review your claim without charge or any obligation on your part.


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Life Insurance Surrender & Hidden Fees Investigation

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Lieff Cabraser is investigating allegations of fraud and other deceptive practices in connection with the sale of universal life insurance policies by the following companies:

  • Accordia (previously called Aviva and briefly called Athene)
  • Aegon USA
  • Allianz
  • Allstate Life
  • Midland National Life
  • Minnesota Life
  • NACOLAH Life
  • National Life Group (which includes LSW)
  • Nationwide
  • Old Mutual Financial
  • Pacific Life
  • Penn Mutual
  • Transamerica
  • Voya

Customers report that they have suffered unexpectedly low returns, and in some cases have lost their entire investments and been forced to surrender their policies, as a result of this alleged deceptive conduct.

We are investigating reports that these companies provide customers with promotional and other materials that are misleading about policy returns and hide significant risks associated with these products. For example, illustrations and graphs provided to customers about future returns fail to disclose or adequately disclose that actual returns are subject to market volatility and that market fluctuations can cause customers to receive significantly reduced returns and even to their lose their entire investments and be forced to surrender their policies. Customers also report being subject to additional deceptive practices by these companies, including being charged undisclosed fees that significantly reduce their returns.

Contact a Consumer Protection Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser is a national law firm that represents consumers throughout the United States in fraud and deceptive practices lawsuits, including cases involving deceptive practices by insurance companies.

If you have purchased an universal life insurance policy and were unexpectedly required to surrender your policy, have lost your investment, or have experienced lower than expected returns that you believe may be the result of undisclosed risks or fees or other deceptive practices, we invite you to complete our contact form below.

The information you provide will assist us in learning the full extent of the alleged practices, obtaining relief for affected customers, and stopping improper conduct by the companies going forward. We will review your complaint for free and without any obligation on your part.


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Starbucks Background Check Investigation

Spilled coffee beans

Lieff Cabraser is investigating complaints by Starbucks job applicants that the company violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by conducting background checks without notifying potential employees of these searches, and without obtaining their legally-required consent. Complaints note Starbucks’ failure to provide applicants with a description of their rights under the FCRA.

If you applied for a job at Starbucks within the last five years and were turned down, that decision may have been made based on a consumer background or credit check performed by Starbucks in violation of your legal rights. Indeed, because Starbucks does not properly notify applicants that it conducts background checks, applicants who were denied jobs at Starbucks may not know if an illegal search caused them to lose the job. (One reason that the law requires that individuals know about background checks is to get an opportunity to correct potential misinformation that can appear in such reports.)

Contact a Consumer Protection Attorney at Lieff Cabraser

If you were denied a job at Starbucks within the last five years, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your experience and determine if this kind of illegal background check was a factor in Starbucks’ decision not to hire you. The information you provide will help us in learning the full extent of the alleged conduct and in potentially obtaining damages for victims of the behavior. We will review your case for free and without any obligation on your part.


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Annuity Fraud

Finance and Annuities

Lieff Cabraser is a national law firm that represents consumers throughout the United States in fraud and misrepresentation lawsuits, including cases where consumers are subjected to unfair or deceptive practices relating to annuity products.

We are currently investigating reports of undisclosed sales commissions being charged in annuity financial products, as well as allegations of other unfair and deceptive practices by certain insurance companies, including EquiTrust Life, American Equity, Midland National Life, and North American Company for Life and Health, all marketers of annuity products. Customers may not be aware that they have been subjected to commissions and other fees insufficiently, incompletely, or deceptively disclosed in annuity sales and marketing materials. These alleged deceptions can significantly reduce customers’ earnings in the annuity products they purchased.

Contact a Consumer Protection Attorney at Lieff Cabraser

If you have purchased an annuity issued by EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, American Equity, Midland National Life Insurance Company, or North American Company for Life and Health, and believe you may have been charged unexpected commissions or fees or been subjected to other unfair practices that may have reduced your annuity earnings, we invite you to complete our contact form below.

The information you provide will assist us in learning of the full extent of the alleged fraud and in obtaining damages for affected customers, including all profits that may have been unjustly earned by the companies. We will review your complaint for free and without any obligation on your part.


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Hello Kitty SanrioTown

Data security digital privacy

Hackers have obtained information on more than 3 million people who use Hello Kitty websites including SanrioTown.com, hellokitty.com, hellokitty.com.sg, hellokitty.com.my, hellokitty.in.th, and mymelody.com. The hackers obtained names, birth dates, genders, and email addresses. Even worse, the disclosure includes lightly-protected passwords, as well as the forgotten password questions and answers.

Why Many Allege that Sanrio is Liable

The Hello Kitty websites are operated by Tokyo-based Sanrio Company. Organizations such as Sanrio that hold personally identifiable information — particularly when it relates to children — owe a duty to safeguard this information and protect such information from being compromised, stolen, or misused.

Lieff Cabraser represents parents in nationwide class action lawsuits against device, app, and software creators for compromised and stolen personal data, including children’s private personal data, in the wake of serious failures to properly secure the data. If you fear your child’s private data was stolen or misused as a result of the Hello Kitty data breach, we would welcome a chance to talk to you about your legal rights. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.


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Rosetta Stone Subscription Renewal Overcharging Complaints Investigation

Rosetta Stone Subscription Fraud Complaints

Lieff Cabraser is a national law firm that represents consumers, including in cases where the consumer was sold services at illegally inflated prices or that were deceptively advertised or marketed.

We are currently investigating complaints of alleged unfair and deceptive practices by Rosetta Stone, the foreign language education company, relating to automatic subscription renewals. Users report being subjected to hidden, inflated auto-renewal subscription charges that are far higher than the charges indicated and paid at the time of their initial subscription purchases. Consumers have also complained that the they were not sufficiently notified that their subscriptions would be renewed at all.

Contact Us

If you have purchased a subscription through Rosetta Stone and experienced unanticipated or inflated renewal charges, or other problems with your account, we invite you to complete our contact form below. The information you provide will assist us in learning of the full extent of the alleged fraud and in potentially obtaining damages, including all profits that may have been unjustly earned, from Rosetta Stone for their subscribers. We will review your complaint for free and without any obligation on your part.


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Google Message Scanning

Apps

Year:  2018
Result:  $2.2 million settlement

In Matera v. Google Inc., No. 5:15-cv-04062 (N.D. Cal.), Lieff Cabraser represented consumers in a digital privacy class action against Google Inc. over claims the popular Gmail service scanned outgoing user email messages to build marketing profiles and serve targeted ads.

The complaint alleged that Google routinely scanned email messages that were sent to non-Gmail users by Gmail subscribers, analyzed the content of those messages, and then shared that data with third parties in order to target ads to Gmail users, an invasion of privacy that violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

In February 2018, the Court granted final approval to a $2.2 million settlement of the action. Under the settlement, Google made business-related changes to its Gmail service, as part of which, Google will no longer scan the contents of emails sent to Gmail accounts for advertising purposes, whether during the transmission process or after the emails have been delivered to the Gmail user’s inbox. The proposed changes, which will not apply to scanning performed to prevent the spread of spam or malware, will run for at least three years.

Lawyers Dedicated to Preserving Privacy

Lieff Cabraser is committed to ensuring that the fundamental right to privacy is respected and endures even as technology evolves. Our attorneys possess extensive experience and the requisite technological background to successfully assert and litigate all manner of privacy claims. We represent individuals in precedent-setting cases impacting tens of millions of Americans against prominent technology, social media, and entertainment corporations for alleged violations of digital privacy rights and the failure to protect critically-sensitive employee data.

Online Identity Protection

Abstract program code

Lieff Cabraser is investigating consumer complaints about paid identity protection services offered by IdentityForce and Metlife Defender. We also represent consumers who subscribed to LifeLock’s identity theft protection services in a nationwide class action lawsuit charging that LifeLock defrauded them.

Identity theft protection companies typically promise, in exchange for their fees, “complete protection” that gives consumers “the power to act before the damage is done” and “the power to prevent identity fraud.”Many consumers allege, however, that they received no value for their payments. The identity theft protection promises were untrue, the companies do not protect the personal information of their subscribers from hackers or criminals, and that these companies do an inferior job of providing the same theft protection services offered by banks and credit card companies, often for free.

The lawsuit against LifeLock specifically alleges that, contrary to its advertisements and statements, LifeLock:

  • Lacks a comprehensive monitoring network; and
  • Fails to provide “up-to-the-minute” alerts of suspicious activity.

Contact Us

Please contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser to report your experience with any of these online privacy protection companies. The information you provide will assist us in learning of the full extent of the alleged fraud and in obtaining damages, including all profits unjustly earned, from these companies for their subscribers. There is no charge or obligation for our confidential review of your case.


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IdentityForce Privacy Protection

Abstract program code

Lieff Cabraser is investigating consumer complaints about IdentityForce’s paid identity protection services. IdentityForce promises “complete protection” that gives consumers “the power to act before the damage is done.”

Consumers complain that these promises are untrue, and that IdentityForce does not protect the personal information of its subscribers from hackers or criminals. Consumers further complain that IdentityForce does an inferior job of providing the same theft protection services that banks and credit card companies provide, often for free.

Contact Us

Please contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser to report your experience with IdentityForce’s services. The information you provide will assist us in learning of the full extent of IdentityForce’s alleged fraud and in obtaining damages, including all profits unjustly earned, from IdentityForce for its subscribers. There is no charge or obligation for our confidential review of your case.


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MetLife Defender Privacy Protection

Abstract program code

Lieff Cabraser is investigating consumer complaints about MetLife Defender’s paid identity protection services. MetLife promises that it can “stop identity theft before it occurs,” and “detect any exposure of data associated with health records, medical insurance, Medicaid and Medicare information and more.”

Consumers complain that neither promise is true, and that MetLife Defender does not protect the personal information of its subscribers from hackers and criminals. Consumers further complain that MetLife Defender does an inferior job of providing the same theft protection services that banks and credit card companies provide, often for free.

Contact Us

Please contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser to report your experience with MetLife Defender’s services. The information you provide will assist us in learning of the full extent of MetLife’s alleged fraud and in obtaining damages, including all profits unjustly earned, from MetLife for its subscribers. There is no charge or obligation for our confidential review of your case.


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Verizon Mobile Privacy Complaints

Pile of different modern smartphones.

Issue: User data tracking & profiling

Numerous news outlets and security experts have reported that Verizon mobile subscribers’ web browsing was subject to tracking and profiling due to unique ID headers Verizon injected into its users’ browsing sessions. According to these reports, at least one third-party advertising firm used these codes to build consumer profiles for use in targeted advertising, without users’ knowledge. These codes effectively allow Verizon and third-party vendors to keep tracking visitors even after they work to delete their digital footprints, for example by deleting their cookies. These “supercookies” or “zombie cookies” appear to circumvent the data privacy settings that exist to protect consumers’ privacy online.

Contact National Consumer Attorneys About Your Verizon Privacy Violation

Lieff Cabraser is a national law firm that represents consumers in Internet privacy violation cases. As noted, it has been widely alleged that Verizon made its mobile subscribers vulnerable to covert tracking and profiling by third parties by injecting unique codes into subscribers’ browsing sessions. Security experts have reportedly found that at least one third party online advertising firm, Turn, Inc., has allegedly been tracking Verizon mobile subscribers using these unique codes.

If you had a Verizon data plan for your phone or tablet at any time from 2012-2014, we would be happy to provide you further information on your rights and remedies under the law. Please contact us by using the form below, or call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your Verizon privacy violation case.


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Student Loan Servicing Complaints

classroom chairs

Issue: Allegedly deceptive loans

Lieff Cabraser is investigating complaints by borrowers of student loans concerning loan servicing companies.

Borrowers have alleged that certain companies — when they took over the servicing of the repayment of the loan — cancelled promotional interest rates the borrowers were entitled to, or refused to honor borrowers’ rights to pre-pay on their loans.

Contact Us

If you have or had a student loan and experienced these or similar problems with your loan servicing company, please use the form below to submit your complaint to us. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your complaint.


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Lexus Air Conditioning Mold Complaints

Mold

Issue: Vehicle air conditioner system mold problems

Lieff Cabraser is investigating consumer complaints about mold in the air conditioning units of Lexus vehicles. It has been alleged that the air conditioners are prone to developing mold, particularly in humid climates, and then giving off a bad/moldy odor when the AC units are turned on.

Complaints have included the following Lexus models: RX350, CT200H, ES300H and LS460.

Lexus’ website notes in numerous places that Lexus models are luxury vehicles, and specifically that “The pursuit of perfection starts at our core.”

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you own a Lexus vehicle and have experienced unpleasant odors coming from the air conditioning/comfort control system, we would like to hear about your experience. Please use the form below to contact an automotive defect attorney at Lieff Cabraser.

The information you provide will be important in assisting us to learn of the full extent of the alleged defects in Lexus vehicles. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your complaint.


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Hospital Overcharging and Doctor Excessive Billing Complaints

hospital

Issue: Alleged overcharging

Consumers Allege Overcharging by Hospitals in Balance Billing Cases

Some doctors and hospitals engage in a practice known as “balance billing,” where they will bill an unexpecting patient for extra or “out-of-network” amounts that the patient’s HMO or PPO insurer will not cover. Lieff Cabraser is investigating widespread patient complaints about this practice.

Submit Your Hospital Overcharging/Excessive Billing Complaint

If you had a surgery or other procedure at a hospital and you received a bill for medical services not covered by your HMO or PPO insurer, please use the form below to contact a consumer protection attorney at Lieff Cabraser. We will review your case for free and without any obligation on your part.


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Google In-App Purchases Investigation

Apps

Issue: Insufficient purchase authentication

Google In-App Purchase Deceptive Marketing Complaints

Lieff Cabraser is investigating claims that Google engages in deceptive marketing practices to sell in-App purchases to children playing games on Google phones, without requiring a PIN or password to complete the transaction. Popular games, such as Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, are free or inexpensive to download. However, while playing these games, users may easily make in-App purchases for virtual currency or other virtual items by (1) using credit card information stored in Google Wallet from previous transactions, (2) without entering a PIN number or password.

One parent summarized the steps their child made to purchase $100.00 worth of virtual acorns without the parent’s knowledge:

I was shocked at how they are using these games to prey on children and their unsuspecting parents. The game is called Bug Village and apparently they use “acorns” as currency in the game. When you click on the little acorn bar, a box pops up with pictures of acorns with the quantities underneath. In tiny print on the bottom of the box, it tells you that you will be charged real money for this purchase. Obviously most kids either can’t read at all or wouldn’t bother to read any fine print. All he had to do was click on the box with the biggest number of acorns and the money came directly out of my account due to the fact the Android market is linked to my Google checkout, which has my information already stored in it. … These apps do not require any sort of confirmation password or anything to yank the money from your account. Anyone who has your phone could run up hundreds of dollars in a matter of seconds.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you or your child has made any inadvertent in-App purchases while playing an Android game, please use the form below to contact us for a free case review.


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This website is sponsored by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, a national plaintiffs’ law firm, and is not affiliated in any way with Google.

Google Play Store Complaints

Pile of different modern smartphones.

Issue: Unfair & deceptive practices

Lieff Cabraser is a national law firm that represents consumers, including in cases where the consumer was sold services that were not provided or charged for goods or services that they did not order.

We are currently investigating alleged unfair and deceptive practices by the Google Play Store relating to automatic subscription renewals. If you have purchased subscriptions through the Google Play Store and experienced unanticipated charges or other problems with your account, or have another complaint concerning the Google Play Store, please complete our contact form. We will review your complaint for free and without any obligation on your part.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Please use the form below to help us determine if you are eligible to bring a claim against the Google Play Store. We will review your complaint promptly and without any charge or obligation.


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Car Hacking

Cars on sales lot

Car Monitoring Device Hacking & Security Risks

Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports that a device that can be plugged into the dashboard of cars and trucks to facilitate performance monitoring and location monitoring can be used by hackers to take remote control of a vehicle’s critical systems including brakes, and, with reasonably anticipatible further adaptation, steering and transmission.

The vulnerable device is a plug-in or “dongle” connected to a vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostic Port II, hence known as OBD-II dongles. The devices connect to a vehicle’s dashboard, and some of these devices, in addition to transmitting monitoring data, can receive SMS messages that can then communicate with the vehicle’s computer systems.

As noted by PC Magazine, “these devices have been around for several years and let owners of vehicles manufactured after 1996 with an ODB-II port add connectivity. They are offered by companies ranging from large auto insurers to a dozen or so start-ups for everything from monitoring driving styles and fuel economy to tracking teenagers while they’re behind the wheel.” In addition to rental car companies and private drivers, some Uber drivers have installed OBD-II dongles as part of a discount insurance program.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego recently sent specially-crafted SMS messages to an OBD-II dongle manufactured by French firm Mobile Devices (the company’s devices are distributed in the U.S by Metromile, a San Francisco-based car insurance start-up). Through the Mobile Devices dongle, the researchers were able to transmit commands to the car’s internal network, allowing them to take remote control of the vehicle’s windshield wipers and brakes.

“As more and more technology becomes inter-connected,” Wired magazine observed, “we have to apply pressure on manufacturers to ensure that they get their code right in the first place, rather than rush out patches later after a serious vulnerability has been found.”

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you own or have rented a car equipped with a dongle to track the vehicle, or are a Uber or other commercial driver using a Mobile Devices-made dongle or similar dongle, and are concerned about your safety and privacy, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you.

Please call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 or use the email form below for a free, no-obligation review of your rights.


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The material on this web site has been prepared and is copyrighted by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP (“Lieff Cabraser”). The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The material is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date. Information provided by or cited to third parties does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Lieff Cabraser or any of its attorneys or clients.

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Lieff Cabraser has offices in San Francisco, New York and Nashville. Members of the firm practice in federal district courts throughout the United States. Members of the firm are licensed to practice in California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Tennessee, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. We also have affiliations in particular cases with attorneys licensed to practice in almost every state court in the United States. Individual Lieff Cabraser attorneys are licensed to practice in the state(s) enumerated on their individual attorney profiles.

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Lieff Cabraser represents clients in certain cases on a contingent fee basis. In such cases, no fee will be charged in the absence of recovery. However, in the event of an adverse verdict or decision, the contingent fee litigant may be responsible for court costs.

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To the extent the State Bar rules require us to designate a principal office and/or single attorney responsible for this site, Lieff Cabraser designates Steven E. Fineman, Lieff Cabraser, 275 Battery Street, 29th Floor, San Francisco, California 94111, (415) 956-1000, as the attorney responsible for this site.

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  5. You are entitled to have your questions and concerns addressed in a prompt manner and to have your telephone calls returned promptly.
  6. You are entitled to be kept informed as to the status of your matter and to request and receive copies of papers. You are entitled to sufficient information to allow you to participate meaning fully in the development of your matter.
  7. You are entitled to have your legitimate objectives respected by your attorney, including whether or not to settle your matter (court approval of a settlement is required in some matters).
  8. You have the right to privacy in your dealings with your lawyer and to have your secrets and confidences preserved to the extent permitted by law.
  9. You are entitled to have your attorney conduct himself or herself ethically in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility.
  10. You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.

Notice to Mississippi Residents

This website is not intended for the purpose of soliciting any prospective clients residing in the State of Mississippi for the commencement of any civil action in the State of Mississippi filed solely by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. If Lieff Cabraser were to file a civil lawsuit in the State of Mississippi, the firm would do so in association with a member of the Mississippi Bar who would serve as co-counsel in the litigation.

Image Notice

No persons pictured on this website are clients of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.