The FTC has designated this week National Consumer Protection Week, so all scams will be put on hold and businesses won’t overcharge you until next Sunday. What, no? That’s now how it works? Ah… it looks like it’s more about consumer education, which is also a good thing since that will help consumers protect themselves year round. For adults, here’s a whole page of various scam prevention tips, fact sheets, and videos. If you’re an educator, you can enroll in the National Financial Capability Challenge and get an “educator toolkit” to help you teach students how to be smart consumers. There’s a section for businesses too, with information on how to protect customers’ personal info and deter ID theft.
A security company says that one easy way to find recently closed laptops hidden in cars or bags is to search for Wi-Fi radios, because some laptops can take half an hour or more before going into sleep mode. You need a specialized scanner to do sniff out Wi-Fi radios, but NetworkWorld.com says you can get one for about $50. The security company, Credant Technologies, says a group of lottery scammers in Jamaica were using stolen laptops that they found in this way. The solution: disable your Wi-Fi before you close the lid on your laptop.
Harry’s got a problem: the Bank of America card he’s had for years is paid off, but now it’s been set to explode in Harry’s wallet if he ever uses it again because the variable APR will jump to 29.99 percent. What’s worse, his other card has been canceled. Now Harry doesn’t know if he should start using the BofA card or back away quietly from it.
Stacey has an interesting question for the Consumerist hive mind. She wonders: when you are in the middle of a grave consumer injustice, how do you stay calm? How do you hold on to your temper and stay professional, whether on the phone or dealing with a company in person?
I bet if some guy approaches you on the street right as you’re about to walk into your bank or credit union and asks you to cash a check for him, you’d say no. That’s a good idea. Apparently at least two people in Madison, Wisconsin thought they were doing a good deed and helped the man out. It turns out that the checks were drawn on a closed bank account in Atlantic City, NJ.
Adam Baker at Get Rich Slowly suggests you’ll be able to better stick to a budget if you pick one non-essential hobby or interest instead of cutting them all out. The key to figuring out whether or not it’s something worth “wasting” money on is to identify any hidden benefits, and then to make sure there aren’t hidden drawbacks.
The Federal Trade Commission has a website at www.ftc.gov/jobscams with information on the types of scams you’re likely to find in Help Wanted listings. They’ve also put together a short video (below) that describes how scammers try to charge job hunters fees to pay for job certification, or to provide access to executive-level interviews, or to acquire study materials that are supposedly crucial to passing a hiring exam. It’s a good refresher course in what to look out for when you’re answering ads.
If you’re between jobs, underemployed, or just have a lot of extra time on your hands now that you’ve give up expensive hobbies like smoking or shopping, here’s a list of 24 ways you can you earn some extra money. They’re not full time jobs, or sometimes even part-time jobs, but they’re a good starting point if you need some inspiration on how to bring in a little extra cash.
I like flowcharts because they appeal to the part of me that wants to be a robot. I also like them because they make multi-step decision paths incredibly simple to follow, even if you don’t have a lot of insight into the big picture. This flowchart from LoginHelper.com will help even your PowerPoint-slideshow-forwarding relative (yes, that one) shoot down phishers as soon as they hit the In Box.
There’s a lot of snow in parts of the country that don’t seem to get snow that often. Thankfully, The Awl has some f*cking instructions about how to f*cking shovel the snow.
Mass Effect 2 is an awesome game that you should buy immediately. In addition, it also offers solid electronics buying advice in the form of an alien shopkeeper.
You’re mad, you’re annoyed, or you’ve been ripped off. So you decide to take action, and open up your word processor or e-mail client to write a complaint letter. But that doesn’t mean you actually want anyone to take you seriously, or to help you. Follow these tips to make sure your complaint goes nowhere near anyone in power.
Michael S. Rosenwald saved $15 on a pair of shoes at Macy’s, $3 on a steak at Giant, $6 on a DVD set at Best Buy, and $100 off his next Verizon bill (plus a 10% discount on future bills) during one week spent haggling. In this Washington Post article, he describes how it felt to switch from the habit of paying full retail to looking at a price tag as a “suggestion,” in the words of one expert he met with. The executives Rosenwald spoke with repeatedly said that bargaining is not standard practice, but that didn’t stop employees and managers from making deals in order to close the sale.
J.J. Luna, a former security consultant turned author, released a guide ten years ago that showed readers how get rid of paper and digital trails. The subject matter is probably a little too paranoid for most of our readers, but it overlaps with issues we talk about all the time here, like identity theft and online security. He’s just released a revised version, so he’s giving away the 2000 edition in PDF format for free. Well, in exchange for your email address.
An anonymous reader wrote to us to ask what he should do about unexpected bills from a medical clinic. He chose the clinic precisely because he can’t afford hospital bills in the hundreds of dollars, and was led to believe that there’d be no out-of-pocket cost. It turns out there was.
In the wide world of scams, this combination of a phone call and computer malware is sort of a novel twist. Jay likes to string phone scammers along to waste their time, so he managed to get quite a few details about how this particular scam works. If you’ve got naive family members with access to computers, either take away their computers or tell them never to download software from a stranger on the phone.