Consumer Confidential With David Lazarus
Firms should stop pretending that high-profile mergers will benefit consumers

The script has become a familiar one for consumers.

First a company announces that it's acquiring a rival firm. Both businesses declare this will be great for customers.

Federal regulators, in most cases, then say that they've looked closely at the deal and don't see any problem.

The buyout goes through and — what do you know? — prices eventually go up and the quality of the product or service shows...

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How to build, or rebuild, credit

Taylor Hutchinson acknowledges that she should have known better than to run up about $3,000 in debts.

"I was working a part-time job and not making enough," Hutchinson, 25, told me. "Then the debt collectors started calling."

The Indio resident, like many others still struggling during the long recovery from the Great Recession, now wants to get her financial house in order. She wants to improve...

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Cutting the cable cord and embracing a digital media world

I have seen the future, and it doesn't have cable TV.

Our house is undergoing some repairs, so we've been staying elsewhere for the last week. I've been using my tablet computer for online access to HBO, Showtime and the other premium networks that make up the bulk of my TV viewing.

And you know what? It hasn't been the eye-straining, no-fun experience I'd been expecting. In fact, watching movies...

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CVS takes high road in clash with business group

CVS Health did something the other day that we don't see enough in the business world.

It stood up for its principles.

The pharmacy giant announced it was quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after reports that the influential business organization was lobbying against anti-smoking laws around the world.

CVS said last year that it would no longer sell tobacco products in its stores. The company declared,...

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As health insurers merge, consumers' premiums are likely to rise

As leading health insurers scramble for market share through a series of multibillion-dollar mergers, consumers are no doubt wondering if their premiums are bound to skyrocket.

Short answer: Probably.

"That's what usually happens when you have less competition," said Erin Trish, a researcher at USC's Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. "At the same time, though, consolidation among insurers...

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A consumer victory over sleazy debt collectors

About $4 million worth of checks are now in the mail to partially compensate thousands of consumers who lost money to a group of sleazy Southern California debt collectors.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the checks close the book on a settlement reached last year with Asset and Capital Management Group, a debt-collection firm that purchased people's financial obligations from creditors...

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