FRAUD ALERT: ONLINE PET SCAMS SOAR DURING THE PANDEMIC - Pet adoptions have skyrocketed during the pandemic, as people stuck at home decided it was a good time to add a furry family member. Scammers are trolling the internet looking for people who will pay hundreds of dollars to buy a pet that doesn’t exist.
AUTO INSURERS PROVIDE 'TINY' REFUNDS WHILE MAKING WINDFALL PANDEMIC PROFITS - The pandemic has been a financial boon for the auto insurance industry. Since the outbreak, Americans have been driving less – resulting in fewer wrecks, fewer claims, and bigger profits. Few companies are sharing their windfalls with loyal customers.
SHOULD YOU UPGRADE TO A 5G PHONE? LET'S CUT THROUGH THE MARKETING HYPE - 5G is breakthrough technology, but right now, in most parts of the country, it hasn’t yet arrived—and it won’t for several years. That hasn’t stopped wireless companies from spending heavily on ads urging their customers to buy new smartphones.
AVOID SKY-HIGH OVERDRAFT FEES ON YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT - We all make mistakes, but overdrawing your checking account is going to cost you more than ever before. The average overdraft fee hit a record high this year, increasing to $33.47. OUCH!
WHY CREDIT CARDS ARE SAFER THAN DEBIT CARDS - Some people find using debit cards, rather than credit cards, help them stick to their budgets and avoid going into debt. But credit cards offer stronger consumer protections, especially important when you shop online.
WHY YOU SHOULD DELETE ONLINE ACCOUNTS YOU DON'T USE - Chances are you have online accounts that you haven’t used for a long time. These old and abandoned accounts can be a major security risk.
HOW TO SHOP SAFELY ONLINE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON - Because of the pandemic more people will do their holiday shopping shop online this year. This increases the chances of falling victim to cybercriminals. Here’s how to protect yourself whenever you shop online.
NEW FTC WEBSITE MAKES IT EASIER TO REPORT SCAMS & FRAUD - The Federal Trade Commission’s new site streamlines the process for reporting scams, fraud and bad business practices. It also provides the next steps to take if you’ve been victimized.
THE PROS & CONS OF TRADITIONAL LAYAWAY AND THE NEW 'BUY NOW, PAY LATER' SERVICES - The holiday shopping season is underway. For people without savings or credit, or who have credit cards maxed out because of the pandemic, layaway or new buy now, pay later plans may be the only way to buy everything on their gift-giving lists.
SAVE ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: PAY LESS BY NOT USING INSURANCE - A variety of websites and apps offer discounts so steep that you might pay less for some prescription drugs if you pay in cash rather than use your insurance.

DATA BREACH IMPACTS MILLIONS OF DONORS AT HUNDREDS OF NONPROFITS - Donors and members of more than 240 organizations recently had their personal information compromised during a breach at Blackbaud, a company hired by many nonprofits to manage their data. Unfortunately, Blackbaud hasn’t shared much info about who was affected.
THINKING OF REFINANCING? IT MAY BE TIME TO GET OFF THE FENCE - Starting December 1, a new 0.5 percent “adverse market fee” will be added to many mortgage refinance loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
GROCERY PRICES ARE UP: HOW TO SAVE $$$$ AT THE SUPERMARKET - If you do the grocery shopping in your family, you’ve probably noticed that the grocery bills keep going up. Blame the pandemic for pushing up the prices of many staples. Here are some simple tips to help lower your food bills.
WHY DID I GET A SMALL, UNEXPECTED PAYMENT FROM THE IRS? - About 14 million taxpayers who filed their 2019 federal income tax returns by the pandemic-delayed July 15th deadline, are owed a refund that may be in an odd amount, like $7.89.
IS THAT EMAIL REALLY FROM THE CENSUS BUREAU OR A CYBER-THIEF - The Census Bureau is emailing more than 20 million households to encourage participation. Top digital security experts interviewed by Checkbook agreed that this is a bad idea that creates an opportunity for cyber-criminals.
DEALING WITH DEBT COLLECTORS: KNOW THE RULES AND YOUR RIGHTS - If you get a call from someone claiming to be a debt collector, it’s not always easy to tell if the caller is a real debt collector or a scammer. That’s why it’s important to go slowly and know your rights.
DROWNING IN DEBT? YOUR OPTIONS: GOOD & BAD - The number of people saddled with excessive debt is growing. Help is available in the form of debt management, debt settlement, consolidation loans, and bankruptcy attorneys. Some are good choices; others could make your financial situation worse.
FRAUD ALERT: SCAMMERS POSE AS COVID-19 CONTACT TRACERS - Contract tracing is one of the critical tools state and local health departments are using to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, it’s also given criminals a new way to scam people.
FINANCIAL TOOLKIT: HOW TO SURVIVE THE COVID-19 RECESSION - Stimulus payments, expanded unemployment benefits, government loans, and payment accommodations from lenders have helped keep many families and businesses afloat so far. But as these programs end, millions will find their budgets stretched to the breaking point.
IS THAT REALLY CUSTOMER SERVICE...OR DID YOU JUST DIAL AN IMPOSTER? - Fraudsters have created fake customer service numbers for many well-known companies and wait for you to slip up and call them, so they can steal your money or personal information. This scam is often difficult to spot.
HOW TO AVOID A MOVING HORROR STORY - Hire a mover and you’re trusting them to get your possessions from here to there on time, without damage, and at the agreed upon price. All too often that doesn’t happen, especially for long-distance interstate movers.
CONSUMER ADVOCATES BLAST FEDS FOR 'GUTTING' PAYDAY LENDING RULES - At a time when American consumers need more protection than ever from predatory loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a final rule on payday loans that rolls back important protections.
BE SAFE IN THE SUN: TOP-RATED SUNSCREENS - A good sunscreen, used properly, can dramatically lower your risk of skin cancer. Here are the latest sunscreen ratings from Consumer Reports.
COMPLAINTS SOAR ABOUT COVID-19 PAYMENT ACCOMODATIONS - Many lenders let their customers make reduced payments or skip payments altogether, without damaging their credit histories. But, in many cases, companies haven’t held up their end of the deal.
THE TOP 10 CONSUMER BRANDS CRIMINALS SPOOF IN PHISHING ATTACKS - Phishing is one of the most popular techniques used by cyber criminals because it’s simple and effective. The typical phishing attack involves creating an email that appears to be from a reputable company or organization and encourages potential victims to click on a link.
GETTING HOME REPAIRS DONE DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK - For months now, you’ve been limiting the number of people coming into your house. But life happens, and at some point, you’ll need a pro to come to the house to fix something. Having someone breach your safe space is not without risk, so it needs to be done carefully.
IS THIS A GOOD TIME TO BUY A NEW OR USED CAR? - Car manufacturers and dealers are promoting some steep discounts and special financing right now. Here’s how to get the best deal on that new set of wheels.
A RETAILERS RESPOND TO COVID-19 BY EXPANDING RETURN WINDOWS - As stores across the country reopen, customers will soon be able to return some unwanted merchandise they’ve been stuck with during the coronavirus shutdown. Some retailers have already made changes to accommodate the inconvenience.
A NEW RELIGIOUS TWIST TO THE OLD GIFT CARD SCAM - Warning: Con artists are sending out email and text messages that look as if they originated from someone at your church, synagogue, or mosque asking you to buy some gift cards to give to needy congregants or others in the community.
YES, THE GOVERNMENT IS MAILING OUT DEBIT CARDS LOADED WITH STIMULUS MONEY - Nearly 4 million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of a check, in a plain envelope. Why is this being done?
THE BEST (AND WORST) CELL PHONE COMPANIES - Every wireless company claims to be the best, but consumer surveys tell a different story – some carriers are clearly doing a better job of delivering network quality, customer service, and value.
MY GYM IS CLOSED & STILL BILLING ME. CAN IT DO THAT? - What happens when your gym is forced to close because of a pandemic? Should you get a refund for the time you were locked out? And what can you do if the company wants to keep your money and credit your membership account, instead of processing a refund?
LOOKING TO SAVE MONEY? AUDIT YOUR DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS - Subscription-based digital services are the ultimate in convenience, but their fees can add up to hundreds of dollars in wasted money if you don’t cancel unused or unwanted ones.
CREDIT CARD COMPANIES CUT CREDIT LIMITS AND CANCEL CARDS - To deal with the ongoing economic crisis, the banks that issue credit cards are taking defensive action by closing accounts and reducing credit limits. This could have a negative impact on your credit scores.
SCAMMERS CASH-IN ON COVID-19: HERE'S HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF - The coronavirus pandemic is a dream come true for con artists across the globe: Millions of people are afraid of getting sick and struggling to make ends meet, just as trillions of dollars in stimulus funds make their way into the economy.
NOW YOU CAN CHECK YOUR CREDIT FILES WEEKLY FOR FREE - During the coronavirus crisis, the three major credit-reporting agencies are making it easy for you to track what’s happening to your credit history in real time. Here’s what to look for when you check your credit reports.
HOW TO CREATE & EASILY STORE SECURE PASSWORDS - Password management software helps you create strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts. Consumer Reports tests some of the most popular password managers and recommends a few of them.
STIMULUS PAYMENT GLITCH: MONEY DELAYED FOR MILLIONS OF TAXPAYERS - Millions of Americans who filed their tax returns via tax preparation services haven’t received their stimulus payments yet. How the IRS plans to deal with the problem.
YOUR CAR NEEDS SOME TLC DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK - Driving patterns have changed dramatically because of the coronavirus outbreak. While you’re staying safe at home, your car sits for long stretches of time, and that can cause some mechanical problems.
AIRLINE PASSENGER RIGHTS DURING CORONAVIRUS CRISIS - What are the airlines required to do for you if they cancel your flight? Plus a complete list of airline COVID policies.
IS YOUR AUTO INSURER OFFERING HELP DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK? - Before you do anything rash – like cancel your policy or let it lapse, call your insurance company and see if you qualify for any of their COVID-19 relief programs. Also, see if your company is offering automatic refund or credits.
AIRLINES ORDERED TO PROVIDE REFUNDS FOR CANCELLED FLIGHTS - The federal government told the airlines they must provide refunds for all flights that are canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, or when a “significant schedule change” is made and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative.
WHAT WEARING A HOMEMADE FACE MASK CAN AND CANNOT DO - That homemade mask protects other people from getting infected by you, if you’re infected and don’t have symptoms. It does not replace social distancing.
ANSWERS TO 5 MONEY QUESTIONS YOU'RE PROBABLY ASKING RIGHT NOW - Worried about your bank account, 401(k) and credit card bills? Should you file your taxes now or wait? Here are the answers to common coronavirus-related financial questions.
CAN'T PAY YOUR BILLS? HELP IS AVAILABLE, IF YOU ASK. - Millions of Americans now out of work because of the coronavirus will soon run out of money. Here’s how to deal with bills you can’t pay.
CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT CAN KILL THE CORONAVIRUS - Many common household disinfectants will kill the coronavirus, if you use them properly. Here’s what to clean, what to use and how to do it correctly.
NEW TO TELECOMMUTING? HERE ARE 8 RULES YOU SHOULD FOLLOW. - We asked some of the country’s top digital security experts what precautions they suggest first-time telecommuters should follow.
IMPOSTER SCAMS ARE ON THE RISE. HERE'S HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF. - Con artists ripped off Americans to the tune of $667 million last year, according to the FTC. Security experts warn to be on the lookout for census imposter scams.
HERE ARE AMERICA'S FAVORITE ONLINE AND BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES - American consumers continue to do more of their shopping online – and those who do are increasingly happy with the experience. Still, most people still prefer going to a traditional supermarket for their food.
THE BEST TAX PREPARATION SOFTWARE OF 2020 - Filing your 2019 taxes yourself? NerdWallet evaluated the most popular tax preparation software packages so you don’t have to. You might even be able to do it for free!
HOW TO AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO A CORONAVIRUS PHISHING EMAIL ATTACK - A global health disaster like coronavirus is a golden opportunity for criminals looking to steal your personal information or money through email attacks. The first wave of this malicious email is already being sent.
LOOKING FOR ROMANCE ONLINE? ROMANCE SCAMS ON THE RISE - Romance scammers steal your heart to steal your money. These fraudsters stole more than $200 million last year. Before you fall head over heels, beware of these red flags.
STUDY: STRESS CAN HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR FINANCIAL DECISIONS - Researchers find that that 77% of Americans say they feel anxious about their financial situation. This stress hurts our ability to save money, budget and pay off debt. There are ways to deal with this.
HOW TO SELL GIFT CARDS FOR CASH SAFELY ONLINE - You won’t get full value, but for some popular cards like iTunes, Target and Walmart, you can get up to 92 percent of what it’s worth.
MOST AMERICANS CAN FILE THEIR TAX RETURNS FOR FREE. DO YOU QUALIFY? - Anyone with an adjusted gross income of $69,000 or less will qualify for at least one of the IRS Free File software packages available this year. You may also be able to have your state income tax return prepared and filed for free.
LOOKING TO RENT A PLACE TO LIVE? THAT ONLINE LISTING COULD BE A SCAM - A Better Business Bureau investigation finds a ‘massive’ fraud problem – millions have been burned. Here are some tips on how to avoid the scammers when renting an apartment, house or vacation property.
CONSUMER REPORTS' FIRST-EVER PILLOW RATINGS - Consumer Reports did the testing so you don’t have to — and when it comes to pillows, you get what you pay for. MyPillow did not make CR’s recommended list.
HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT AND SAVE MORE MONEY IN 2020 - Wishing won’t do it; you need a plan. Personal financial experts share tips on how to make your financial resolutions a reality this year.
THE WORST PASSWORDS OF 2019: ARE ANY OF YOURS ON THE LIST? - Cybercriminals have upped their game in recent years, and it’s time you did, too. Experts recommend setting up multi-factor authentication on your most sensitive accounts.
HOLIDAY GIFT PERIODS AT SOME MAJOR RETAILERS ARE SHORTER THIS YEAR - A new survey shows that several major retailers have "significantly shortened" their return periods. In some cases, stores that had no return deadline just a few years ago are now down to 90 days or less.
ARE THE SMART DEVICES IN YOUR HOME SPYING ON YOU? - Smart devices are cool and convenient, but they also erode your privacy. These devices collect a lot of data for the manufacturer. And they’re an inviting target for hackers. Here’s how to reduce the spying and limit the data sharing.
WANT TO SPEND LESS WHEN SHOPPING? DITCH THE CELLPHONE, STUDY SUGGESTS - New research shows that talking, texting, checking social media or listening to music while at the store is distracting. And distracted shoppers tend to buy more impulse items and forget things they wanted to buy.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST DEALS ON BLACK FRIDAY AND CYBER MONDAY - Here are 8 tips from the pros on how to cut through the hype, save money and find the best deals..
THESE SITES LET YOU GET PAID TO SHOP - Cash back portals let you make money on the things you buy. Rebates average 7 percent, but many online retailers are boosting their cash back offers for holiday shoppers.
THE PITFALLS OF LENDING MONEY TO A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND - A recent study found that doing this ends badly almost half the time. If the borrower doesn’t repay, you can lose your money and damage an important personal relationship.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR PET SAFE AND STRESS-FREE THIS HALLOWEEN - Candy, costumes and trick-or-treating is fun for humans, but it can be rough for your pet. Veterinarians share 6 tips on how to keep dogs and cats safe this Halloween.
WHEN A HOTEL BOOKING SITE SAYS 'ONLY 1 ROOM LEFT' - IS THAT TRUE? - Despite warnings about low availability on hotel booking sites, researchers found there were plenty of rooms left. Consumer advocates accuse websites of using “dishonest’ advertising to rush people into booking a room with them.
TEEN DEBIT CARDS: A REAL-WORLD WAY TO TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT MONEY - How do you teach your kids about money in an increasingly cashless society? These app-based cards put parents in control, but let kids make mistakes without getting into serious trouble.
FAKE NEWS ABOUT CELEBRITIES USED TO SELL DIET PILLS & WRINKLE CREAMS - Scammers hijack the look of the TODAY, CNBC, CNN, ESPN and other legitimate news websites to trick you into buying bogus diet pills and beauty products. If you know what to look for, there are various ways to tell these fabricated news stories are really ads in disguise.
BUYING A USED CAR? BETTER MAKE SURE IT'S SAFE - Car dealers say it’s OK to sell a used car subject to a recall, as long as the customer is told. Consumer groups call that a ‘dangerous’ and ‘unethical’ practice.
'CAN YOU DO ME A FAVOR?' SPOTTING BUSINESS EMAIL SCAMS - Crooks send an email designed to look like it’s from the CEO, who is out of the office, telling an employee to handle an “urgent matter” by making an immediate wire payment or buying gift cards needed for presents. These spoofed email scams result in more losses than any other type of fraud, the BBB says.
FORMER CONMAN SHARES TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM FRAUDSTERS - Scammers have upped their game. We need to be smarter and do more to protect our money and our personal information. Here’s how to spot the red warning signs of a fraud.
7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AUTO INSURANCE POLICIES - Many car owners are confused by common misconceptions and unfamiliar terms. Here’s how to find the best coverage (and the best price) for your vehicle.
DOES THE NEW APPLE CARD LIVE UP TO ALL THE MARKETING HYPE? - Credit card experts surveyed by NBC News BETTER aren’t wowed by the new Apple credit card, but it does boast some innovative features.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ROUTER AND HOME SECURITY CAMERAS FROM HACKERS - Your router is a singular point of vulnerability, the one pathway for all your home’s wireless devices that connect to the internet via your home Wi-Fi. A hacker who breaks in can access your entire internet life.
HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG FOR A KID TO HAVE A CREDIT CARD? - Some parents now give their elementary school-age children one. Experts say it can be a powerful tool to teach financial responsibility, if they’re ready for it.
IN CREDIT CARD DEBT? SIMPLY SKIPPING LATTES ISN'T ENOUGH - A new survey finds that people with credit card debt spend more on nonessential purchases than those who are debt free. Here’s how to cut back on the stuff that matters.
CONSUMER REPORTS: POTENTIALLY UNSAFE BIKE HELMETS ARE 'WIDELY AVAILABLE ONLINE' - They look nice and are bargain-priced, but don’t count on a counterfeit or knockoff helmet to protect your head in a serious crash. Here’s how to avoid buying one of these dangerous helmets.
WHAT'S A ROTH 401(K) AND SHOULD YOU HAVE ONE? - A Roth 401(k) is the other employer-based retirement plan that lets your savings grow tax free. Most companies now offer it, but few employees have one. Maybe you should have one of each?
NEW FROM SALLIE MAE: CREDIT CARDS FOR MILLENNIALS & GEN Z - Sallie Mae launches three new credit cards aimed at college students, recent graduates and young adults already in the workplace. These are rewards cards that have no annual fee. And you don’t have to be a Sallie Mae customer to apply.
PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL LIFE FROM HACKERS & CRIMINALS WHEN YOU TRAVEL - Most travelers don’t realize the risk of cybercrime increases when they’re on the road. You can significantly reduce your chances of having a problem by doing a few simple things.
SCAMMERS HAVE DISCOVERED P2P PAYMENT APPS LIKE VENMO & ZELLE
Many users don’t know that P2P payment services have limited, if any, fraud protection. Once the money is sent, it’s gone. Here’s how to protect yourself from the scammers.
AMERICA'S FAVORITE (AND LEAST FAVORITE) WIRELESS COMPANIES AND SMARTPHONES
T-Mobile leads the pack of big providers, but Consumer Cellular is the clear winner. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is now America’s favorite smartphone, survey finds.
SCAMMERS MANIPULATE CALLER ID - HERE ARE THE BEST WAYS TO BLOCK ROBOCALLS
Robocall scammers have a devious way to take their calls. They "spoof" the number that appears on caller ID to make it look like their call is coming from your area code or local prefix – or both. Various apps, may of them free, call help you fight back.
HERE'S WHERE TO FIND THE LOWEST PRICES ON PLANTS & SHRUBS
Some stores charge five times more than lowest-priced stores, new survey finds. But those that offer really high-quality plants and great advice tend to charge higher prices.
THE NEW PETAL CREDIT CARD: NO CREDIT SCORE NEEDED TO APPLY
The Petal card is designed for those who don’t have a credit score, but pay their bills on time. Applicants give the company access to their bank account transactions. Credit limits go as high as $10,000. Cash-back goes up for on-time monthly bill payments.
SHOP ONLINE? WATCH OUT FOR COUNTERFEIT EVERYTHING
Just like you, counterfeiters are online, trying to sell you their inferior copycat products: electronics, cosmetics, clothing and more. A new Better Business Bureau report calls it an ‘epidemic’ problem.
AMERICA'S FAVORITE (AND LEAST FAVORITE) AIRLINES AND HOTEL CHAINS
Customer satisfaction with airlines rises from last year, while hotels decline. Alaska Airlines takes the top spot in the new American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. American and United rate below-average.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST PRICES ON DOG AND CAT FOOD
Are you paying too much for pet food? A new survey finds that comparison shopping can save you up to 40 percent on dog and cat food. Here's how to find the product you want for the lowest price.
HOW TO RECYCLE, RESELL AND BUY USED ELECTRONICS
Throwing old cellphones in the trash can lead to harmful chemicals and toxins ending up in landfills. Refurbished electronics are good for the earth and your wallet. You can save hundreds of dollars on a smartphone or laptop.
IS A TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD RIGHT FOR YOU?
Many people greatly overestimate the value of the points or miles they accumulate. These cards are not for everyone and unless you choose wisely, they could cost you money.
DARK WEB MONITORING: FRAUD FIGHTING TOOL OR MARKETING HYPE?
Many consumers are confused about what 'dark web monitoring' can really do. It cannot remove stolen information from this criminal marketplace or stop fraudsters from using it. So why pay for this service?
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
You have insurance, so you assume you're getting the best price for your prescription drugs. Not necessarily. Sometimes, because of high deductibles or high co-pays, it's cheaper to skip the insurance and pay the 'retail' price. Coupons and other discounts can also help you save more.
CONSUMER REPORT REVIEWS POPULAR ONLINE TAX-PREP SERVICES - AND FINDS A FEW PROBLEMS
Editors found at least one glitch in each of the services. These problems included outdated information, incomplete advice, and program designs that, in a couple of instances, could affect a taxpayer's bottom line due to a missed tax break.
HOW SECURE ARE THOSE AUTOMATED VISITOR CHECK-IN KIOSKS?
High-tech check-ins are fast and efficient, but who can access your information? Researchers with IBM X-Force Red tested five popular visitor management systems and found 19 previously undisclosed vulnerabilities.
OWE THE IRS A LOT OF MONEY? WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN'T PAY YOUR TAX BILL
One in five U.S. taxpayers could owe the IRS money this year. If you can’t pay in full on time, take a deep breath – there are things you can do to avoid getting into a big penalty situation.
TRIP INSURANCE: SHOULD YOU BUY BEFORE YOU FLY?
Trip cancellation and interruption policies sold by airlines and travel websites typically provide ‘pretty thin coverage,’ a recent analysis concludes. It may also duplicate coverage you already have from your credit card.
RETAIL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION DROPS AGAIN: AMERICA'S FAVORITE & LEAST-FAVORITE STORES
When it comes to satisfying their customers, most U.S. retailers — both brick-and-mortar and online — are losing ground, according to an annual consumer satisfaction survey. Shoppers say they are not happy with the “lackluster” and “underwhelming” customer service they so often experience.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET'S TEETH
Good oral health is just as important for your dogs and cats as it is for the other members of your family. Typically, they should have a yearly oral checkup and cleaning. And you should be brushing at home, too.
SHOULD YOU APPLY FOR A REFUND ADVANCE FROM YOUR TAX PREPARER?
Some of the big-name storefront tax preparers – H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax – offer zero interest and no fee programs that can get you some of your refund in a day or two – but watch out for fees on the back end.
SOME EQUIFAX CREDIT FILE LOCKS HAVE EXPIRED. DID YOURS?
If you were a victim of the massive Equifax breach in 2017 and signed up for their free TrustedID Premier credit lock, your subscription expired on Jan. 31. Here’s what happened and how to make sure your file is secure.
NEW PROGRAM OFFERS A WAY TO INSTANTLY BOOST YOUR CREDIT SCORE
The new credit assessment program could help millions of Americans instantly improve their credit scores by adding data from their checking account. For people with limited credit history, Experian Boost will provide a second chance to prove themselves trustworthy borrowers.
YOU'VE BEEN BREACHED: HACKERS STOLE NEARLY HALF A BILLION PERSONAL RECORDS IN 2018
Hackers stole nearly 447 million consumer records containing sensitive personal information last year, according to a year-end report from the Identity Theft Resource Center. That’s a jump of 126 percent from 2017. “Data breaches are now a normal, everyday occurrence," the report concluded.
THE GOV'T SHUTDOWN WAS A REMINDER OF JUST HOW LITTLE AMERICANS ARE SAVING
We can all learning something from the government shutdown – the importance of a rainy-day savings fund. This story also has tips on how to get started, plus important information for any federal workers or government contractors struggling because of the shutdown.
ONE MORE PROBLEM FOR FURLOUGHED GOVERNMENT WORKERS - SCAMMERS
The government shutdown has created a golden opportunity for scammers, who are targeting desperate federal workers struggling to pay their bills — and the people who want to help. Watch out for fake job listings, bogus loan offers and charity scams.
GETTING DIGITAL BILLING STATEMENTS? HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
A new Consumer Action survey shows that the way you receive a billing statement can significantly impact your behavior — such as how likely you are to review that bill.
HOW TO CREATE STRONG PASSWORDS YOU CAN REMEMBER
Here are the worst passwords of the year. Are yours on the list? While cyber criminals are good at what they do, poor password hygiene –having a few simple passwords that open all your online accounts – makes their job even easier.
7 RESOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL WELL-BEING
The new year is a good time to assess your finances and resolve to do better. Here are seven financial resolutions that can make a big difference for you and your family in 2019 and beyond.
STORES WITH THE BEST AND WORST RETURN POLICIES
2018 Holiday return policies: Some naughty, most nice. But these three big retailers — Amazon, Walmart and Target — make holiday gift returns easier.
WARNING: RISK-FREE TRIAL OFFERS CAN WIND UP BEING VERY COSTLY
2018 Holiday return policies: Some naughty, most nice. But these three big retailers — Amazon, Walmart and Target — make holiday gift returns easier.
PARENTS, YOU DON'T NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING ON YOUR KIDS' WISH LISTS
Don't shop 'til you drop for the kids. They can't have everything they want, financial planning and parenting experts caution. So what do you do?
5 TIPS TO AVOID SCAMS AND MAKE SMART DECISIONS WITH YOUR CHARITABLE DOLLARS
We like to assume every charity that asks for money is legitimate - and that's just not true. Here's how to deal with the barrage of year-end charitable solicitations.
ON BLACK FRIDAY, HOW TO CUT THROUGH THE HYPE AND SAVE MONEY
In one recent survey, 14 percent of Black Friday sale items had the same price or were more expensive when compared with their pre-Black Friday prices. There are plenty of bargains out there, but you’ve got to do your homework.
CONSUMER GROUP CLAIMS MOST U.S. CANCER CENTERS USE MISLEADING ADS
A consumer watchdog group claims the ads for some of the country’s biggest and most prestigious cancer treatment centers are misleading because they don't disclose that the results are atypical for someone with this form of cancer.
THE PROS & CONS OF GETTING A STORE CREDIT CARD
Expect to get pitched to open a store credit card every time you’re at the checkout counter this holiday shopping season. You’ll get rewarded for the loyalty, but watch out for the sky-high interest rates.
SAVE FOR YOUR RETIREMENT OR YOUR KID'S COLLEGE, WHICH ONE TAKES PRIORITY? HERE'S THE MATH
You want to help your kids – especially with the staggering cost of college – but if you delay contributing to your retirement savings in order to fund their higher education, you could run out of money in your golden years. What then?
BANK FEES COSTING YOU HUNDREDS? HERE ARE SOME EASY WAYS TO AVOID THEM
You work hard for your money. Don’t waste it on needless bank fees. Three of the most common ones — monthly checking account maintenance fees, overdraft charges and out-of-network ATM fees — can all be avoided.
WHY NEW & SAFER VAPING DEVICES (THAT DON'T EXPLODE) WON'T BE SOLD IN U.S.
The first vaping products designed to prevent fires and explosions — and safety certified by UL — are scheduled to hit the market in a few weeks. While these redesigned electronic cigarettes will be available in Canada, they won’t be sold in the United States. Why?
THE BEST WAY TO FINANCE YOUR NEW IPHONE XS OR XS MAX
Shelling out $1,000 or more for a smartphone isn’t something everyone can afford, but you don’t have to pay full price. The major wireless carriers are aggressively promoting these new iPhones. Here’s are some of the deals currently available.
WORRIED ABOUT DATA BREACHES? NOW YOU CAN FREEZE YOUR CREDIT FOR FREE
Freezing your files at the big three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — is one of the best ways to protect yourself from financial identity theft. It stops criminals from opening new accounts in your name. And now, you can do this for free.
PET INSURANCE: HOW TO GET THE BEST PRICE AND COVERAGE
More people are buying pet insurance. Be advised: Policies and premium vary greatly from company to company. Checkbook.org analyzed the the offerings from 9 major insurance companies and found two that were the picks of the litter. (Picture is my dog, Sam)
SCAMMERS USE FAKE CHECKS TO STEAL TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EACH YEAR
Check fraud is a huge problem: As many as 500,000 Americans were burned by fake check scams last year, with the average victim losing about $1,200, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau. Here's how they do it and how to protect yourself.
THE HIGH COST OF MISSING YOUR CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
Some people don’t have the money to pay their credit cards bills on time, but more than a third simply forget to pay, according to a new survey. Besides getting hit with a sizable late payment fee and interest, your credit score could take a big hit.
MISPLACE YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD? SOME BANKS LET YOU TURN IT OFF FOR A WHILE
A growing number of financial institutions are empowering their customers to fight fraud by giving them an on/off switch for their debit and credit cards. By using an app or going online, customers can temporarily turn off their cards, so they can't be used for new purchases.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT FRAUDULENT SECURITY ALARM SALES ARE ON THE RISE
Fear sells, so scammers and unscrupulous alarm companies often use alarming (and sometimes false) crime statistics and other scare tactics in their high-pressure sales pitch. Sign the contract and you could be out thousands of dollars.
ARE PEER-TO-PEER (P2P) MOBILE PAYMENT SERVICES SAFE TO USE?
About 90 million Americans use mobile pay apps. Consumer Reports just tested the major P2P services and the top three (whether iOS or Android versions) only received “fair” scores for data privacy.
MILLENNIALS RAID RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS TO BUY A HOUSE - THERE ARE BETTER WAYS
About 90 million Americans use mobile pay apps. Consumer Reports just tested the major P2P services and the top three (whether iOS or Android versions) only received “fair” scores for data privacy.
SATISFACTION WITH SOCIAL MEDIA DROPS
Intrusive ads and privacy concerns are driving down satisfaction with social media. Facebook slips, Instagram drops and Twitter tumbles in a recent nationwide customer satisfaction survey. Pinterest bucked the downward trend.
INTEREST RATES ARE GOING UP - IS IT TIME FOR MORE CASH INVESTMENTS?
Maybe you've noticed: Interest rates at some banks and credit unions are going up. The last time we saw some of these rates on CD and Savings accounts was back in 2009. So should you put a little more of your money into cash investments?
THE TOTAL COST OF A DATA BREACH, INCLUDING LOST BUSINESS - KEEPS GROWING
The financial damage caused by a data breach has spiked by more than 6 percent since last year and now costs a company an average of $3.86 million, according to a new study. The cost of a mega breach was estimated to be $350 million.
BOOKING A HOTEL ROOM ONLINE? THERE IS ONE WAY TO GET A GREAT DEAL
Travel websites promise deals and discounts for hotel rooms, but a new survey by Checkbook.org, an independent non-profit consumer group, shows those deals are hard to find. For significant discounts you need to book “mystery” rooms.
NEW SURVEY: RESTAURANTS SCORE HIGHER FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
Americans are spending more dining out and apparently enjoying the experience more. Why? Better food quality, improved menu selections and new technologies that speed up the ordering process are boosting customer satisfaction.
MORE THAN 1 MILLION CHILDREN WERE VICTIMS OF ID THEFT LAST YEAR
We think of identity theft as an “adult” problem, but no one is immune from this crime. According to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, two-thirds of the 1 million ID theft victims in the U.S. last year were under the age of eight. How do parents protect their kids?
MAJOR CREDIT CARD COMPANIES ARE CUTTING SOME OF THEIR PERKS
After years of offering an ever-expanding menu of perks to their cardholders, several major credit card companies are going in the opposite direction. They're eliminating or reducing the value of some of these extras. Is your card one of them?
GOOD NEWS: CREDIT FREEZES WILL SOON BE FREE FOR EVERYONE
Starting this fall, the big three credit reporting agencies will be required to let you freeze your credit file for free. A freeze can help prevent identity thieves from applying for credit cards, opening bank accounts or taking out loans in your name.
ConsumerMan