Is this a scam? A surprise “foreign transaction” fee

Joanna Au bought roundtrip plane tickets to Hong Kong through Singapore Airlines’ website. Even though the tickets were purchased in the United States, in dollars, she’s being charged a three percent “foreign transaction fee” by her bank. Au feels scammed.
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7 lessons consumers learned in 2011

2011 was quite a year, wasn’t it?

As the economy struggled to recover from the Great Recession, consumers felt as if they had great big targets painted on their backs whenever they went to the store. That frustration led to the “Occupy” protests that took root in many American cities this fall.

What did we learn from 2011 and what does it mean for this year?
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Is this a scam? Are airlines really giving away “free” flights?

Dick Jordan became suspicious when he received the first postcard offering “two round-trip airfares to anywhere Southwest flies.” He’s a loyal Southwest customer, but this seemed too good to be true – and he thinks it might be a scam.

After Jordan received the second postcard offering the same deal, he decided to contact Southwest Airlines. Maybe they were rewarding him for his continued business? After all, the postcard had the trademarked logo on it, so it seemed legit.

Instead of dialing the “888” number on the card, Jordan contacted a customer service representative at Southwest, who quickly informed him that this was not a deal offered by Southwest Airlines.
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Is this a scam? Even a “cleared” check is never really cleared

Bob Dolan thought the $1,750 check he received from a stranger had cleared with his bank. He thought wrong — and now he believes he’s been scammed.

Has he?

Here’s the backstory: Dolan’s son wanted to sub-lease his apartment and decided to post it on Craigslist, the popular online classified site.
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Time to get political? Yes, and here’s how

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts and across the country, the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken hold as a grassroots consumer movement. Of course, there’s also Ralph Nader, who has made two unsuccessful presidential bids.

Add it all up and you can’t help but wonder if the time has come for consumers to get political.

Before I give you the answer, let’s consider a few facts about how businesses influence the legislative process. Corporate America and other special interest groups, including unions and trade groups, spent a record $3.51 billion on lobbying in 2010, according to, which is more than twice the $1.56 billion spent just a decade earlier. That’s a whole lotta money.
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