No Halloween is complete without the federal government warning us about dangerous candy and spooky products that harm us.
Those with peanut allergies should beware possibly peanut-tainted Raisinets in the Fun Size Bags distributed at Target and bearing a production code of 02015748/UPC number 2800010255. Customers should contact Nestlé Consumer Services at 1-800-478-5670 for a refund. The maker of Mega Pops lollipops is also recalling certain lots of the candy because they may contain "foreign particles." Look for Mega Pops in 14-ounce and 28-ounce cellophane bags containing watermelon, cherry, orange and grape flavors with lot numbers 1240695, 1209708 and 1209796. The lollipops were mainly sold at Family Dollar and Dollar General stores and can be returned to store locations for a credit or refund.
Then there's the recall of 682,000 skull, pumpkin and ghost lanterns sold by Dollar Tree stores that can overheat and burn trick-or-treaters.
At its website, www.cpsc.gov, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has a host of tips on how to avoid getting bruised, burned or lacerated on Halloween.
Beware advance fee loan offers
Consumers shouldn't be tempted by phone offers for loans if they hinge on an up-front payment, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota warned. More than a dozen consumers contacted the BBB after receiving a call from Greenbay Financial Services, which told them they qualified for a loan but would need to pay first. That violates the Federal Trade Commission's rules governing loan companies that operate over the phone.
The consumers told the BBB that they received the calls after being turned down for loans from other companies. BBB spokesman Dan Hendrickson said he knows of at least two people who paid $950 to Greenbay and received nothing in return. Representatives of Greenbay Financial Services reportedly told consumers that the company had an office in downtown Minneapolis.
When Hendrickson contacted Greenbay Financial Services, he said he was told that the company was based in New York, but had a virtual office in Minneapolis. Whistleblower could not reach anyone at Greenbay Financial.
Fraud recoveries top $3 billion
In the last fiscal year, the federal government recovered more than $3 billion, mostly from pharmaceutical and health care companies, as the result of fraud-related lawsuits, according to Taxpayers Against Fraud, a Washington-based advocacy group.
The group analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Justice to derive a top-10 list of settlements under the False Claims Act, a law that rewards whistleblowers who report suspected fraud by government contractors. Topping the list: Allergan, Inc., the California-based maker of Botox, which agreed last month to pay a whopping $600 million to settle allegations it marketed the drug for unapproved uses.