Citizens' Issues
Samsung, Philips, among others penalised by EU for forming cartel
The EU has fined Infineon, Philips and Samsung 138 million euros or about $181 million for forming a smartcard chip cartel in Europe
 
The European Union (EU) has fined Infineon, Philips and Samsung 138 million euros (about $181 million) for forming a smartcard chip cartel in Europe. 
 
According to the European Commission, the German, Dutch and South Korean companies “colluded through bilateral contacts that took place in the period between September 2003 and September 2005”. 
 
Japan’s Renesas was granted immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel, the statement from the Commission said. 

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Maharashtra panel calls for complete ban on dance bars
The Committee appointed by state government has recommended complete ban on dance bars and a policy to check social networking sites such as Facebook
 
The Justice CS Dharmadhikari Committee, set up to recommend measures to curb crimes against women, has asked Maharashtra Government to enforce a “complete ban” on dance bars and frame a policy to check “vulgarity” on social networking sites such as Facebook.
 
These suggestions by the state government-appointed panel are contained in its fourth and fifth interim reports submitted to the Bombay High Court on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking measures to ensure safety and security of women.
 
The Committee, while recommending a complete ban on bar dance, has noted there was a drop in cases of atrocities against women when the state had banned dance bars.
 
“This committee is of the view that there should be a complete ban on bar dancers in hotels and restaurants. We recommend that a new law many be introduced after considering the suggestions given by the Supreme Court in its judgement.”
 
In 2012, the Supreme had held the ban on dance in bars as unconstitutional.
 
Maharashtra Assembly had on 13 June 2014 passed a Bill to extend the ban on dance performances at high-end hotels and a host of other public premises, bringing to end a protracted legal battle over the issue which had generated a heated debate on moral policing.
 
In 2005, in a controversial decision, dance performances in the bars in the state had been banned, but performances at three-star and higher-standard hotels had been exempted. The government could not defend this discrimination when the ban was challenged in the Supreme Court, which had called it discriminatory.
 
The committee also said that social networking sites such as Facebook are responsible for increase in divorce cases and harassment of women, besides developing violent tendencies among the youth.
 
“Vulgar activities on Facebook and such other social networking sites, mobiles and computers should be monitored and tackled urgently as it was observed the world over that divorce cases are on rise in marriages taking place through such medium.”
 
“Such sites fuel violent tendencies among the youths and as such there is increase in cases of crime against women,” the Dharmadhikari panel said in its report.
 
It said criminal tendencies among children are also increasing because of this and recommended that the state should a frame a policy in this regard.
 
Among the 22 recommendations in its fourth interim report and six suggestions in its fifth report submitted to HC by the government two days ago, the panel has advised that at the time of registration of marriage, the bride must be asked to disclose on oath whether dowry was demanded and that all the laws for protection of women were followed.
 
“Also, the bride must declare whether all gifts and cash received by her were kept in her name by the family,” the committee said.
 
These measures would go a long way in making the anti-dowry law more effective, the panel, which was set up in 2010, said. 

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6 Ways to Protect Yourself from a Mortgage Scam
Borrowers should be wary of so-called promised interest rates when shopping for a mortgage or loan
 
Mortgages are enough of a headache without unscrupulous lenders who lock you in with costly upfront fees for interest rates that they can’t — nor even intend to — deliver. 
 
But that’s exactly what Amerisave Mortgage Corporation did in a scheme that snared tens of thousands of consumers between 2011 and 2014, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), which recently fined the online mortgage lender and an affiliated company about $20 million over the deceptive advertising allegations.
 
“By the time consumers could have discovered the advertised low rates were too good to be true, they had already committed to pay hundreds of dollars to Amerisave,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.
 
The bureau said Amerisave employed a bait-and-switch scheme that lured consumers to apply for a mortgage by advertising inaccurate interest rates on third-party websites, and by providing “misleadingly low quotes” based on inaccurate credit score calculations on its own website.
 
In addition, consumers had to give consent to be charged for the loan and lock in payment schedules before they even received the details of the total costs in the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), the bureau said. By setting consumers up for payments before providing the GFE, the bureau said Amerisave violated the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
 
About $15 million of the $20 million will go toward consumer refunds for those who were harmed when Amerisave failed to honor its advertised rates. In the bureau’s consent order, Amerisave neither admitted nor denied the allegations.
 
How to protect yourself from a mortgage scam
So, the takeaway here is that consumers should be wary of so-called promised interest rates when shopping for a mortgage. Here are six pointers from the bureau that could help prevent you from becoming a victim of a mortgage scam:
 
You can’t be charged any fees — outside of a credit report fee — until you get the GFE form listing the basics of the mortgage loan for which you’ve applied.
 
You may be able to reduce your interest rate at closing by paying “discount points,” or prepaid interest, on your mortgage loan. Conversely, you may also be able to opt out of upfront fees in lieu of accepting a higher interest rate. But before you decide to do one or the other, talk to a trusted financial advisor other than your lender.
 
Beware of the risky features associated with some loan offers, such as negative amortization and interest-only periods. Both features do not decrease the amount that you borrowed, and negative amortization actually increases your balance by not having you pay interest on what you owe.
 
Know the difference between a fixed-rate mortgage, in which the interest rate will not change, and an adjustable-rate mortgage, in which the interest rate may fluctuate. While an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) may start at a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate mortgage, it’s likely to go up after an introductory period ends.
 
Look at the annual percentage rate in addition to the interest rate. The annual percentage rate, or APR, incorporates the interest rate as well as discount points, fees, and other charges. But the bureau warns to take care when comparing the APRs of adjustable rate mortgages where interest rates may go up and down.
 
Go offline in your mortgage search and contact banks, credit unions, and other lenders. Build a list of current interest rates for available loans and find out when they were quoted. Get as many details as possible, including what type (fixed or adjustable) and what discount points and fees are tied to the mortgage.
 
For more tips to remember when shopping for a mortgage, click here or visit consumerfinance.gov/mortgage
 

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