5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps

5 Things We Learned From The GAO Report On Broadband Caps

Broadband data caps might not be affecting everyone just yet, but that could easily change as the current wave of ISP merger mania continues. A preliminary government report taking a look at data caps, both wired and wireless, was released this week. It finds that ISPs and subscribers are far from being on the same page when it comes to how much data consumers move. [More]

(Source: GAO)

TSA Misconduct Cases On The Rise; Agency Not Following Up On All Complaints

In theory, the Transportation Security Administration is supposed to be a last line of defense against terrorists and other folks who want to do bad things on airplanes. With so many lives on the line, employee misconduct of any kind can’t really be tolerated, but the last few years have seen an increase in bad behavior by TSA staffers. [More]

(stevendepolo)

Many Victims Of Shady Foreclosure Practices Will Only Get $300-$500 Under Government Plan

There’s no doubt that millions of homeowners were the victims of shady foreclosure practices at the country’s biggest banks when the recession hit. So many of those people were likely hoping for a positive resolution to their woes when the government said it was going to figure out how to compensate homeowners with its Independent Foreclosure Review, an investigation into banks’ mistakes in servicing mortgages. But after waiting years for an answer, about three million eligible borrowers will only be seeing checks for between $300 and $500. [More]

Why Do So Many Servicemembers Not Receive Mortgage Protections They Have Legal Right To?

Why Do So Many Servicemembers Not Receive Mortgage Protections They Have Legal Right To?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) includes a number of protections for members of the armed forces who took out a mortgage before going on active duty. But as we have learned in recent years, there are at least 15,000 instances where banks failed to follow those guidelines — and hundreds — perhaps thousands of times where lenders have illegally foreclosed on servicemembers’ homes. [More]

Between 36-122 Million Americans Have Pre-Existing Conditions That Would Restrict Health Insurance Coverage

Between 36-122 Million Americans Have Pre-Existing Conditions That Would Restrict Health Insurance Coverage

Health insurance providers have a long history of telling individual policyholders — and people shopping for individual policies — that their care isn’t covered or their policy is voided because of a pre-existing condition. Starting in 2014, that is all supposed to stop when a condition of the Affordable Care Act kicks in, making it illegal for health insurers in the individual market to deny coverage, increase premiums, or restrict benefits because of a pre-existing condition. Question is: Just how many people are we talking about? [More]

Higher Cigarette Taxes Drove Smokers To Pipe Tobacco & Cigars

Higher Cigarette Taxes Drove Smokers To Pipe Tobacco & Cigars

Among the intended goals of higher taxes on cigarettes is that some smokers will quit rather than deal with the increased cost. While this may happen, newly released numbers show that taxing cigarettes also drove up the sales of forms of tobacco that are taxed at lower rates. [More]

If For-Profit Colleges Want Federal Student Aid, They Have To Prove Graduates Can Get Jobs

If For-Profit Colleges Want Federal Student Aid, They Have To Prove Graduates Can Get Jobs

A 2010 GAO studied showed that federal aid to students at for-profit colleges had tripled over a five-year period from $8 billion to $24 billion and now accounts for 23% of the total aid given out, even though enrollment at for-profit schools only accounts for 8% of college students. Meanwhile, studies continue to show that an inordinately small number of students at these schools ever graduates. In an effort to cut back on the number of people left with mammoth amounts of student loan debt they can’t pay back, the U.S. Dept. of Education has issued a new edict: Show us your college actually prepares students for gainful employment or risk losing out on that lovely loan money. [More]

GAO: Consumers Only Getting $.21 On The Dollar Out Of Credit Card Debt Protection Fees

GAO: Consumers Only Getting $.21 On The Dollar Out Of Credit Card Debt Protection Fees

In 2009, U.S. consumers spent at least $2.4 billion in fees for credit card debt protection products that provide them with the ability to suspend or cancel a part of their debt obligations as a result of things like disability and involuntary unemployment. However, a new Government Accountability Office report finds that the credit card companies are making a substantial profit from these fees. [More]

If At First Your Health Insurer Denies Your Claim, Try Try Again

If At First Your Health Insurer Denies Your Claim, Try Try Again

Among the items on recent list of things your health insurer won’t tell you was the fact that you shouldn’t give up if your insurance claim is initially denied. Now a new report from the Government Accountability Office says that upward of 50% of appealed claims ultimately get paid. [More]

Rising Cotton Costs Make Paper Money More Expensive To Print

Rising Cotton Costs Make Paper Money More Expensive To Print

Even though it’s referred to as “paper” money, most of the material used to produce U.S. banknotes is actually cotton. And with raw cotton costs at a 140-year high, it’s costing more money to print money. [More]

GAO To Feds: Replace Dollar Bills With Coins

GAO To Feds: Replace Dollar Bills With Coins

While many other global economies — including the European Union — have ditched their low-value paper banknotes in favor of coins, the U.S. continues to churn out dollar notes while $1 coins take a backseat. But a new report by the Government Accountability Office urges the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to give renewed thought to the idea of making dollar bills extinct. [More]

Federal Student Aid To For-Profit Schools Has Tripled In Recent Years

Federal Student Aid To For-Profit Schools Has Tripled In Recent Years

Back in August, the Government Accountability Office released the findings of their hidden-camera investigation that caught employees at several for-profit colleges encouraging applicants to lie in order to get more federal financial aid. Today, the GAO released a report that sheds some light on just how much money these schools have been getting from the government. [More]

For-Profit Colleges Caught On Video Encouraging Financial
Aid Fraud

For-Profit Colleges Caught On Video Encouraging Financial Aid Fraud

According to the Dept. of Education, enrollment in for-profit colleges has exploded in recent years, growing nearly 500%. Last year alone, students at for-profit colleges received more than $4 billion in Pell Grants and more than $20 billion in federal loans. With all that money floating around, the Government Accountability Office was asked to investigate — and their findings will probably not please taxpayers. [More]

Your Complete Big-Ass Guide To Annoying Airline Fees

Your Complete Big-Ass Guide To Annoying Airline Fees

As reported earlier today, the Government Accountability Office thinks airlines could do a lot more to be transparent about the fees they charge. And buried about 45 pages deep in the GAO’s report are two very helpful tables detailing fees for checked bags and other items that U.S.-based airlines charge extra for. [More]

Government Study Says Airline Fees Should Be Disclosed To Consumers

Government Study Says Airline Fees Should Be Disclosed To Consumers

A new study from the Government Accountability Office says that the “optional” fees that airlines have invented for checked and carry-on bags; meals; blankets; early boarding; and seat selection are not adequately disclosed and consumers are not able to easily compare the total cost of flights offered by different carriers. [More]

Wireless Industry Needs Better Oversight From FCC, Says Government Audit

Wireless Industry Needs Better Oversight From FCC, Says Government Audit

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just completed a survey of wireless customers and a review of the “tens of thousands” of complaints made to the FCC every year, and they’ve reached a verdict: the FCC needs to step up and provide a better way for consumers to get help. [More]

Govt Report: Swine Flu Will Crush The Internet

Govt Report: Swine Flu Will Crush The Internet

While most people have been worrying about the obvious effects of an H1N1 epidemic — you know, stuff like people dying, vaccine shortages, overcrowded hospitals, that kind of thing — the Government Accountability Office has identified a terrifying new threat linked to the flu: It will bring the Internet to its knees, as millions of bedridden patients spend all of their idle hours online.

Is Bottled Water Safer Than Tap Water? Please…

Is Bottled Water Safer Than Tap Water? Please…

Bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water, and could actually be more dangerous, according to a report from the Government Accounting Office. The big difference lies in the government regulator: tap water is covered by the Safe Water Drinking Act, administered by the aggressive and powerful Environmental Protection Agency, while bottled water falls under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act overseen by the powerless anything-goes industry-lovers over at the Food and Drug Administration.