Consumer Confidential: Bank Transfer Day, hoodia settlement
--Have any plans for Saturday? How about sticking it to your bank? Nov. 5 is Bank Transfer Day, organized by Kristen Christian, an art-gallery owner in California who is using Facebook to invite people to shift their funds from for-profit banking institutions to not-for-profit credit unions. As of Thursday, nearly 36,000 Facebook users "like" the concept while more than 73,000 indicated they will be taking matters into their own hands. An estimated 650,000 consumers have joined credit unions nationwide since Sept. 29, according to a statement from the Credit Union National Assn., a credit-union advocacy group. That’s the day Bank of America announced its now-aborted $5 debit-card fee.
--If you've been thinking about taking hoodia to help lose weight, don't bother. The Federal Trade Commission says it's settled a case against two companies which hyped weight-loss products based on hoodia, a substance derived from the Hoodia gordonii cactus of southern Africa. The FTC complaint alleged executives at Nutraceuticals International and Stella Labs falsely marketed hoodia products as effective weight-loss and appetite-suppression supplements, even though there was no scientific evidence of such benefits. David Romero, a principal at both companies, was assessed a $22.5-million fine for his role in the marketing claims. Romeo forfeited to the FTC a Vermont vacation home and $635,000 in business loans as part of his settlement. A $4-million judgment was also assessed against Deborah Vickey, a marketing executive at Nutraceuticals International.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Frustrated consumers are being encouraged to switch banks on Nov. 5. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press