Andrew has a pretty good job, and not a lot of debt. Now he’s ready to start preparing for the next phase of his financial life, and he wants to know what advice Consumerist readers have for him.
Is your colon all gummed up with old food that you can’t seem to get rid of? Well, if you think it is—probably because some advertisement told you so—there are plenty of colon detox products on the market. In the June print issue (and online), Consumer Reports looks at the possible health benefits of colon detoxing and determines that it’s not necessary, mainly because waste doesn’t build up in the intestine in a way that would require some sort of flushing in the first place.
If you aren’t planning on getting a big loan in the next couple of years, you probably shouldn’t be worried about your credit score right? Wrong.
“Who would have thought, after 30 years, that we’d be a flying 7-Eleven,” Becky Gilbert, a three-decade veteran of the industry told me during a break in our training session in Fort Worth.
The ease with which a student was able to reset Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email password highlights a vulnerability of so-called “challenge questions” designed to verify your identity: if the questions are about personal details from your life, there’s a risk that somewhere out there on the web, that info is visible to the public. That might be a realistic risk only for public figures, but it’s also possible that friends or family members could answer your questions with a little guesswork. If you want better security, make up fake answers that you’ll remember.
Thanks to state-sponsored 529 plans, friends and family can finally contribute to college savings funds without drowning under long forms and boring paperwork.
Personal finance blog Free Money Finance suggests that employees can improve their incomes by asking for a raise, but you have to make sure to time it right.
You’d think a credit monitoring service—even one as skeevy as freecreditreport.com—would take great pains to keep up the appearance of security and confidentiality. You’d be wrong. When Brian called to cancel their service he was asked to call out his social security number and his mother’s maiden name, even though it turned out they could easily access his account and cancel his service with only his phone number and birthday. Oh, and the first CSR hung up on him, but (sadly) that’s not really very newsworthy anymore.
Indiana broke its own record for computer security breaches last month, when a server containing personal data on 700,000 people was stolen from the offices of Central Collection Bureau, a debt collection agency. The stolen data included names, personal billing information, last known addresses, and social security numbers of people who hold delinquent accounts with a variety of companies, including utilities and hospitals. The company said the server was behind “three locked doors” and “was protected by two passwords, but was not encrypted.”
The New York Times is reporting this morning that an unnamed employee stole personal data on over 40,000 patients from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The theft “occurred over the past several years and included patients’ names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers.” As we’ve come to grimly expect in these cases, the hospital was made aware of the theft in January, and announced it publicly on Friday after an internal audit. “We obviously deeply regret that this has happened,” said the hospital’s spokeswoman, Ms. Manners. She also said that investigators are “looking into the possibility that the theft could be part of a larger criminal scheme.”
Matthew wrote in to complain about a new website called Spokeo, which sounds like a stalker’s dream: it sucks up all the entries in your address book, then returns a Big Brothery smorgasbord of all the publicly accessible accounts and services linked to each email address, along with updates any time something happens. It might surprise you to see just how easy it is for someone to assemble a picture of your Internet footprint with only an email address.
Don’t like the sound of that? Luckily for you, someone has already been inspired to follow Spokeo’s model and create a tool—Identifight—that lets you track your own email address to see what shows up, so you can patch up privacy leaks.
The “Shine the Light” law passed in California in 2005 requires all businesses to tell customers who they sell their private data to, and to provide a no-cost way to remove your name, address, and phone number from their lists. Unfortunately, it’s not being followed by more than half of the companies tested in a new report: “The California Public Interest Research Group found only one third of the survey participants received responses from companies consistent with the law.”
JustStolen offers a free online database where you can store information about your personal property—”Any descriptive information can be entered into the database including make, model, color, serial number and any thing else you can think of. You can even upload photographs of your items.” The company makes its data available for free to police departments everywhere, so they can locate the owners of recovered items by (for example) typing in a serial number. It’s based in Boston but, since it’s an Internet company, it can be used by consumers and police departments no matter where they’re located.