Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/all en-US 9 Times You Should Demand a Refund http://www.wisebread.com/9-times-you-should-demand-a-refund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-times-you-should-demand-a-refund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_missed_flight_000066384249.jpg" alt="Man realizing the times he should demand a refund" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you spend your hard-earned money on a product or service, you expect a certain level of quality &mdash; and when that quality falls short of expectations, it's not unreasonable to think you're entitled to a refund. But not every situation qualifies. So when should you stand your ground for your money back, and when should cut your losses? Take a look at these nine times you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/38-ways-to-save-money-without-trying-much">demand a refund</a> &mdash; ever so politely, of course.</p> <h2>1. Departure Taxes on an Unused Flight</h2> <p>I once booked a European vacation around the holidays that was supposed to stop in London, Dublin, and Paris, but the last leg of the trip was cancelled due to &quot;weather conditions&quot; according to the evil discount airline that shall remain nameless. The airline offered to fly my friends and me to Rome as penance &mdash; which was a nice offer in theory, except we couldn't fly on the dates they suggested &mdash; so my flight was essentially a loss since the airline wasn't responsible for acts of God, which, in this case, was fog. I was young and dumb and just accepted the decision.</p> <p>Maybe that wouldn't have happened if I were friendly with Kyle Stewart, travel editor at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.upgrd.com">UPGRD</a>, at the time. He experienced a similar situation, but walked away a little less broke than I did.</p> <p>&quot;We had found a very cheap flight to and from London, but once we were abroad we had to make a change and book an alternative separate flight home,&quot; he says about his one-time travel plans. &quot;Our tickets were non-refundable, but it is unlawful for the carrier to keep revenue they collect for 'taxes' if you do not actually fly the route. The U.K. has a steep departure tax of nearly $250 each on flights leaving the United Kingdom. Because we did not fly those routes but had paid for the taxes, even on a non-refundable ticket we were able to get the departure tax refunded which nearly paid for our alternative transportation home.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Anything Unsanitary or Unsavory in Your Food</h2> <p>There are a lot of gross things I can deal with &mdash; my friends would love to tell you the story about the time I ate an ancient corn chip off the carpet in high school for a dollar &mdash; but as I've evolved out of being an idiot, hair or other yuck in my food isn't one of them. It's hard enough to eat out these days just thinking about the various &quot;things&quot; in my food that I can't see, so you better believe if there's visible, physical evidence of my gag reflex, I'd like my money back, please. And another, fresh meal. I'm willing to give it another go since I understand that accidents happen and I'm usually too hungry to have to start the restaurant search all over again.</p> <h2>3. Items That Break Too Soon</h2> <p>If you've recently purchased an item and it breaks unreasonably soon under normal use &mdash; I'd say less than 90 days, for most things &mdash; take it back to the store for a replacement or a refund. I tend not to buy the same junk twice in a row, so typically I'd just like my money back so I can avoid this problem a second time. This is a situation where store associates and managers like to give you a hard time &mdash; &quot;How do I know how it broke?&quot; &mdash; but don't let them beat you. Stay strong and stage a sit-in to get what you're owed if you have to.</p> <h2>4. Groceries That Are Spoiled, Rotten, or Stale</h2> <p>I think this is a situation where Americans as a collective lose tons of money, but one that is considered perfectly valid refund territory. I would be willing to bet than more times than not when the average supermarket shopper realizes they have a spoiled, rotten, or stale item when they're already home, they just throw it out. What's a few bucks, they think. Plus, they'd have to get back in the car, go back to the store, speak to the manager, blahblahblah. All worth it in my book. Food isn't cheap, and this is America; we shouldn't expect anything less than the highest quality food for which we're paying.</p> <h2>5. Goods That Aren't as Advertised</h2> <p>False advertising is against the law for a reason: You can't trick people into thinking they're getting one thing and then sell them something else. This goes for anything: from kids' toys to electronics to power tools. If the item said it was going to perform a certain way and it fell short of that promise, you deserve a refund.</p> <h2>6. Services That Aren't Performed as Promised</h2> <p>It's not just tangible goods that can fall short of expectations; services, like hair and nail salons, auto body shops, and dog grooming facilities can too. I take services that aren't performed as promised seriously because it's an active-engagement situation, and as an entrepreneur myself I recognize the importance of providing the very best service possible &mdash; and when that's not possible, apologizing and doing whatever I can to make amends. Good costumer service is key, and I expect you to recognize that without putting up a fight if I'm being perfectly reasonable.</p> <h2>7. Erroneous Charges on Your Bill</h2> <p>Mark my words here: This happens ALL the time. From your cell phone bill to you Internet bill to your doctor's bill, there are sometimes strange charges that shouldn't be there. Most of the time they're mistakes, but I'm also not naïve enough to think that the provider isn't sometimes trying to get one over on you, thinking you won't read the bill closely enough or that the fee they're overcharging is so low you won't waste your time fighting it. Read your bills closely and make sure every charge is accounted for.</p> <h2>8. One-Time Late Fees if You're a Loyal Customer</h2> <p>Just hours before I started writing this post, I called J. Crew to dispute a late fee on my bill. I didn't receive the bill in time as it arrived at my other home, so I missed the payment due date. Because I'm a very loyal customer to J. Crew, and I always pay my bill in full each cycle, I called to kindly request that the late fees be waived for this circumstance. The customer service agent was perfectly willing to do it, and it saved me $50.</p> <h2>9. Hotel Rooms That Aren't Sufficiently Clean</h2> <p>I stayed in a Red Roof Inn once that had not one but two bugs in it (not the bed variety, thank God); a hair on the towel; and no cold water in the sink, only boiling hot. I sent a message through the customer service portal on the hotel's website asking for a refund but my claim was dismissed. I stayed at the same hotel a week later and coincidentally they gave me the exact same room with the exact same issues, just no bugs this time. Again I requested a refund. I got a credit for a free night's stay &ndash; which is sort of moot, because why would I go back there after they failed me twice? &ndash; but it's better than nothing from a company that obviously doesn't put much stock in customer service.</p> <p><em>Are there other times we should demand a refund? Tell me one of your personal experiences in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-times-you-should-demand-a-refund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-effectively-complain-to-the-manager">How to Effectively Complain to the Manager</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable">Last night I threatened to disconnect my cable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-idea-for-papa-murphy-s-make-the-pizzas-in-order">Great idea for Papa Murphy’s – make the pizzas in order.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company">How to Score More Loyalty Perks From Your Credit Card Company</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs customer service poor quality refunds Wed, 15 Jul 2015 11:00:17 +0000 Mikey Rox 1484619 at http://www.wisebread.com The 9 Everyday Products With the Biggest Markups http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-everyday-products-with-the-biggest-markups <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-everyday-products-with-the-biggest-markups" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_glasses_000040702534.jpg" alt="Mother and daughter wearing glasses with biggest markup" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Products with ridiculously high markups exist because somebody, somewhere, is willing to pay that price. Whether it's because of convenience, perceived value, or simple ignorance, is up for debate. The good news is that with a little forethought, most of these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">markups can be avoided</a>, or at the very least lessened. Here are nine of the biggest, along with some common sense solutions and workarounds.</p> <h2>1. Bottled Water</h2> <p>If you're buying designer bottled water brands like AquaDeco or Fine, you're getting nailed by an unbelievable&nbsp;<a href="http://thebillfold.com/2013/07/the-280000-percent-markup-on-bottled-water/">280,000% markup</a>. Although, if you're reading Wise Bread, I'm guessing you probably don't buy designer brand water. But you probably do buy bottled water from the grocery store or warehouse club on occasion, in which case you're paying a 4,000% markup compared to tap water.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GNGID0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004GNGID0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=H46WVRH4FM7SFVP3">Brita Water Filter Pitcher</a> from Amazon and filter your tap water from home. You can then take the filtered water with you when you're on-the-go by using a reusable&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;fst=as%3Aoff&amp;keywords=bpa%20free%20water%20bottle&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1431699611&amp;rh=n%3A3375251%2Cn%3A10971181011%2Cn%3A3394801%2Cn%3A3395091%2Ck%3Abpa%20free%20water%20bottle%2Cp_n_feature_keywords_four_browse-bin%3A6147374011&amp;rnid=6147363011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=SJ2G4SOTINGNR5CV">BPA-free water bottle</a>.</p> <h2>2. Pre-Cut Vegetables/Fruit</h2> <p>Veggies and fruit that are cut up and ready to go are definitely convenient, especially for busy families. But did you know that you're easily paying a hefty 40% markup on the pre-cut varieties?</p> <p>Solution: Shop your local farmer's market and grocery store for deals on fresh vegetables and fruit. Solve the convenience aspect by cutting them all up at once and store them in Ziploc bags. This is a great way to save money and have healthy snacks ready to go for school lunches and quickly-thrown-together family meals.</p> <h2>3. College Textbooks</h2> <p>According to CollegeData, the average student spent over&nbsp;<a href="http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064">$1,000 on textbooks</a> and supplies for the 2014&ndash;2015 school year with markups hovering around 200% for brand new textbooks.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: If you plan on reselling your textbooks at the end of the semester, you should consider renting, instead of buying, from websites like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chegg.com/textbooks/">Chegg</a> an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.textbookrentals.com/">TextbookRentals</a>. Also, if you plan on buying them, always ask for used textbooks at the college bookstore, or buy them in gently used condition from websites like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.abebooks.com/books/Textbooks/">AbeBooks.com</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.half.ebay.com/textbooks">Half.com</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-places-to-buy-or-rent-textbooks?ref=seealso">20 Places to Buy or Rent Textbooks</a>)</p> <h2>4. Designer Handbags</h2> <p>The average name brand handbag carries a markup of well over 100%. Brands like Coach, Dooney &amp; Bourke, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors have built a luxury brand reputation based solely on consumer perception.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Always buy handbags on sale. Because of the 100% markup, you'll often see 50% off sales on handbags at department stores. Also, shop at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls for name brand handbags at heavily discounted prices. You might not find Coach or Louis Vuitton, but you'll still find very high quality brands at good prices.</p> <h2>5. Designer Jeans</h2> <p>According to the Wall Street Journal, designer jeans often&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303365804576429730284498872">come with a markup</a> in the 260% range. For example, the fact that someone would spend&nbsp;<a href="http://www.7forallmankind.com/The_Straight_in_Air_Blue/pd/np/1218/p/9868.html">$208 on a pair of jeans</a> from 7ForAllMankind, tells me that for some people, being fashionable at any price is the number one priority when it comes to covering your legs with denim.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Shop&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/discount-designer-clothing-17-places-to-get-name-brands-for-less?ref=internal">discount clothing stores</a> and thrift shops for denim. On several occasions I have found designer denim on the rack at thrift stores for pennies on the dollar. Sure, they were a little worn, but most of the designer jeans bought brand new are quite worn, or even have holes in them. Some even have paint all over them like <a href="http://www.neimanmarcus.com/PRPS-Demon-Allover-Paint-Splatter-Slim-Denim-Jeans-Blue/prod176960464/p.prod?srccode=cii_17588969&amp;cpncode=45-52470518-2&amp;ecid=NMCI">these $575 jeans</a> from Neiman Marcus.</p> <h2>6. Prescription Drugs</h2> <p>Prescription drugs can be incredibly expensive, especially if you have sub-par health insurance and get stuck footing most of the bill. According to AHIP Coverage, the <a href="http://www.ahipcoverage.com/2012/04/30/cost-spotlight-a-443-markup-on-prescription-drugs/">price markup on prescription drugs</a> is at a whopping 443%.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Ask for free samples while at the doctor's office. A few years ago I was prescribed Lamisil, an expensive prescription drug, which at the time cost $30 a pill and had no generic equivalents. On a whim, I asked the nurse on the way out of the office it they had any free samples. She went and looked and returned with a bag full of Lamisil samples. She told me to come back when I ran out as she didn't have enough for a full treatment plan. Simply by politely asking she saved me over $500 on prescription drug costs.</p> <p>Also, when approaching the pharmacy window, always ask about generic alternatives to your prescription. Often times the doctor will unknowingly prescribe the name brand drug, and by switching to the generic, you can save significant money.</p> <h2>7. Eyeglass Frames</h2> <p>Eyeglass frames have a ridiculously high markup in the 500% range. I recently discovered this when I needed a new pair of glasses and decided to buy them directly from the optometrist as my vision insurance was going to pay for them. But after looking through my choices, and the hefty price tags, I quickly realized that you'd be crazy to buy directly from the doctor if you have little or poor insurance. The frames I eventually chose were close to $350, and after doing some research, I could have gotten them online for $125.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: To avoid the markup as much as possible, always shop eyeglass frames and lenses online as well as warehouse clubs like Costco and BJ's Wholesale.</p> <h2>8. Coffee and Tea</h2> <p>When you hit the Starbucks or local coffee shop, know that you're getting hit by a markup in the 250% to 400% range. Sure it's a nice treat from time to time, but visiting everyday can really be a budget buster.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Start brewing at home and take your morning cup of joe with you.</p> <h2>9. Furniture</h2> <p>According to CBS Money Watch, most furniture stores <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/guid/dbc03806-309a-11e0-b7f5-072128040cf6?page=2">markup their prices</a> in the 80% range. This is especially true at boutique shops and high-end department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom.</p> <p><strong>Solution</strong>: Because of the high markups you should always try to negotiate a deal, even if the price is already discounted, as the majority of furniture stores have plenty of room to come down in price and still make a profit. This is especially true if you're paying with cash as the store won't have to pay credit card fees.</p> <p>By knowing what products have the highest markups, you can learn to avoid them whenever possible. Sure, you'll get stuck buying a $5 bottle of water on occasion, or splurge on a $4 cup of coffee, but by developing smart long-term spending habits you can really save significant money. Money that can serve you much better by paying down debt, building that emergency fund, or saving for retirement.</p> <p><em>What product markups drive you crazy and how do you avoid them?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-everyday-products-with-the-biggest-markups">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys">These Secrets of Amazon&#039;s Pricing Strategy Will Help You Find the Best Buys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-all-that-stuff-the-police-seize-and-its-cheap">How to Buy All That Stuff the Police Seize. And It&#039;s Cheap.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping markups overpriced rip-offs Thu, 28 May 2015 11:30:09 +0000 Kyle James 1432585 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/for_rent_sign_000018543162.jpg" alt="Man learning how to apartment hunt on craigslist without getting scammed" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Using Craigslist to find an apartment is not a novel idea. As a matter of fact, it's by far the most popular way for prospective renters to find a new place. But it doesn't come without its drawbacks, the biggest being fraud and scams designed to separate you from your hard-earned money. Here are a few of the biggest scams currently going and some tips on how to protect yourself from them.</p> <h2>1. Always Verify the Owner</h2> <p>One of the most popular <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">Craigslist scams</a> these days involves a crook gaining access to the apartment or home, and showing it to you under the guise of being the real landlord or owner. To sweeten the pot, and get you to bite, they might even offer a deal on the deposit, or pick up some of the fees. As you can imagine, this has the potential of ending badly with you losing significant money. They'll end up taking your first month's rent and security deposit and you'll never see them &mdash; or your money &mdash; again.</p> <p>When looking at Craigslist listings, always make sure you verify the owner of the apartment or home. Most counties and cities have websites in place that allow you to look up public records to determine the real owner of the property. If this is not a possibility, drive by the property and look for signs showing that it's actually for rent. Be sure to call the phone number listed at the physical address and verify the owner, as well.</p> <h2>2. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is</h2> <p>When scanning through Craigslist listings, be cautious of apartments that seem too good to be true, as they probably are. Often these listings are fake and designed to pull you in with the lure of a &quot;fantastic deal.&quot; Also, if a listing sounds terrific, but is chock full of misspellings and bad grammar, proceed with extreme caution as it could be a sign of a fraudulent or fake ad.</p> <p>Do some research ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the local housing market and the going rents and fees. Do this by scanning local classified ads and utilizing websites like <a href="http://hotpads.com/">Hotpads</a> and <a href="https://livelovely.com/">Lovely</a>. Once you do this, you'll be able to easily spot red flags like unusually cheap rent, small security deposits, and lack of tenant screening.</p> <h2>3. Never Give Personal Information Upfront</h2> <p>Another way scammers use Craigslist to try and entice potential victims is by convincing you it's a really hot property, typically via e-mail, and insisting you &quot;act fast&quot; to reserve it. The most typical scam is asking you to submit a rental application before you view the property. This is done in an effort to get your personal information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.</p> <p>Avoid this situation by always making sure you view the unit and verify the owner <em>before</em> you fill out a rental application. The only thing that a landlord can legally ask you for prior to showing the place is a valid photo ID.</p> <h2>4. Never Trust an E-mail</h2> <p>Unfortunately, scammers are&nbsp;<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/story?section=news/consumer&amp;id=9513869">hacking into the e-mail addresses</a> of landlords and property owners on Craigslist and defrauding prospective tenants by posing as the real owners. The scam typically starts by answering your e-mail inquiry with a hard sell on why they need your personal information (or a deposit) before showing you the place. Because of this, it's always smart to talk to a real person to verify the property. Most scammers don't want to talk to you on the phone and will try to get your money without doing so. If the listing has a phone number, call it, and verify the rental and all the ad details. If all of your phone calls go unanswered, and unreturned, you should move on to the next prospective listing.</p> <h2>5. Never Wire Money</h2> <p>If a landlord or property owner insists on you wiring money to secure a property, it's probably a scam. There is absolutely no solid reasoning to ever pay with a wire transfer. Sending money by wire transfer is essentially the same thing as sending cash and once it has been sent, it's nearly impossible to get it back.</p> <h2>6. Beware of the Middleman Scam</h2> <p>The &quot;<a href="http://info.stevebrownapts.com/blog/bid/292049/9-Ways-to-Avoid-Apartment-Rental-Scams">middleman scam</a>&quot; is when a scammer pretends a property is available for rent on Craigslist and claims to be handling, or managing, the place for the &quot;real&quot; owners. They'll often claim the owner is out of the country and has trusted the place to them. This middleman will attempt to collect rent, a security deposit, and various fees and then will quickly disappear with your money. Typically, they'll use photos and property information copied directly from a real estate website and create a completely fake listing on Craigslist. Avoid this scam by insisting on seeing the property first and verifying that the place is actually for rent by talking directly to the landlord or neighbors.</p> <p>The bottom line is to always trust your gut instinct, especially in terms of the professionalism of the Craigslist listing and the ease (or lack thereof) of reaching the property owner directly. If something about the deal just doesn't seem right, then move on to the next apartment or rental home and avoid the strong potential for a scam. There will always be plenty of legit listings to meet your needs.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been the victim of a Craigslist housing scam? If so, how did it go down?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-common-apartment-hunting-mistakes-to-avoid">9 Common Apartment Hunting Mistakes to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing apartments craigslist renting scams Wed, 27 May 2015 15:00:09 +0000 Kyle James 1431269 at http://www.wisebread.com These Secrets of Amazon's Pricing Strategy Will Help You Find the Best Buys http://www.wisebread.com/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_thinking_000059983456.jpg" alt="Woman finding best buys on amazon through secret pricing strategy" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It can be easy for Amazon customers to assume they're always getting the best price. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what the marketing geniuses at <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-shouldnt-order-on-amazon">Amazon</a> want you to do. They don't want you to compare prices with Walmart; instead they want you to perceive them as always having the lowest price.</p> <p>They do this by pricing a few, popular items lower than Walmart does in an effort to build your perception of them as a low-price leader. By knowing which items undercut Walmart's pricing &mdash; and which don't &mdash; you can become a more informed shopper and save money in the process.</p> <h2>Items That Are Cheaper at Amazon</h2> <p>Spotting the loss leaders at Amazon is not hard. After all, they <em>wan</em>t you to find the lower prices for their marketing to work.</p> <h3>Items With a High Customer (Star) Rating</h3> <p>A recent study from Boomerang Commerce showed that, in an effort to be perceived as a low price leader, Amazon <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/boomerang-commerce-introduces-price-perception-index-for-online-retailers-300019677.html">purposefully undercuts the Walmart price</a> on products with a high star rating. (A high rating is anything over four stars.)</p> <p>By analyzing millions of orders over the years, Amazon has realized that a great way to build loyal customers is to beat the competition on products that people are gobbling up due to the glowing opinions of fellow shoppers. Use this to your advantage by gravitating toward products with at least a four-star rating, especially when there are at least 50 reviews. It's a bit of a follower's mentality, but you'll find it really does hold true, especially when shopping for small electronics, toys, and video games.</p> <h3>Highly Visible Products</h3> <p>Another category of products that Amazon sells cheaper than Walmart is highly visible and popular items. In other words, items that have a lot of buzz around them and are often featured on the Amazon homepage or highlighted on specific product category pages. Again, the perception of having the lowest price means a lot to Amazon, so when a product has a lot of eyes on it, Amazon will tend to price it lower than Walmart. Examples of some popular and highly visible items that consistently beat Walmart include the popular <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;fst=as%3Aoff&amp;keywords=Fitbit%20Charge%20activity%20wristband&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1431703039&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AFitbit%20Charge%20activity%20wristband%2Cp_89%3AFitbit&amp;rnid=2528832011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=42WLZJFPNJZAUQMH">Fitbit Charge Activity Wristband</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=Dyson%20vacuum%20cleanerDyson%20vacuum%20cleaner&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3ADyson%20vacuum%20cleanerDyson%20vacuum%20cleaner&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=PBDXWU3XBHNYR2PJ">Dyson vacuum cleaners</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;fst=as%3Aoff&amp;keywords=Keurig%20brewer&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1431703152&amp;rh=n%3A1055398%2Cn%3A284507%2Cn%3A915194%2Cn%3A7740213011%2Cn%3A2474054011%2Ck%3AKeurig%20brewer%2Cp_89%3AKeurig&amp;rnid=2528832011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=S77OLKFBQ7V2NDDM">Keurig coffee makers</a>, and the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;fst=as%3Aoff&amp;keywords=Jawbone%20wireless%20speaker&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1431703218&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AJawbone%20wireless%20speaker%2Cp_89%3AJawbone&amp;rnid=2528832011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UAR2FRJOBTDAWQXX">Jawbone Wireless Speaker</a>.</p> <h2>Items That Are Bad Buys at Amazon</h2> <p>Amazon obviously can't undercut the Walmart price on every product. With Walmart's enormous buying power, and reputation for pressuring suppliers to lower prices, it simply can't be done. This means Amazon often raises the prices on other products to make up the difference. These &quot;other products&quot; are items that are not very glamorous in nature and tend to be more &quot;needs&quot; than &quot;wants.&quot;</p> <h3>Consumer Electronic Add-Ons</h3> <p>If you score a great deal on a HDTV from Amazon, beware of add-ons like cables, wall mounts, and screen cleaners, as they're typically marked-up. Other examples of add-ons that can be marked up include things like a wireless mouse when buying a laptop, and a protective case or charging station for your new Kindle. In many cases, Amazon will try to pad their profits on these add-ons making them not such a great deal for shoppers.</p> <h3>Household Items</h3> <p>Amazon has the reputation of being up to <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-06-22/wal-mart-beats-amazon-prices-including-glee-dvd-set">20% more expensive than Walmart</a> when shopping for household items like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, and the like. While this margin is definitely getting smaller in recent years, you'll still typically end up paying more compared to Walmart and Costco. If you are going to shop for household items at Amazon, I highly recommend signing up for their&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/subscribe-and-save/details/">Subscribe &amp; Save</a> program, which allows you to get items sent on a monthly schedule with free delivery. The best part is you'll get 15% off your total when you have at least five items in your monthly subscription plan. The extra 15% savings brings Amazon very close in price, or in many cases, under the Walmart price for identical products.</p> <h3>Clothing</h3> <p>The problem with buying brand name apparel from Amazon is they rarely mark down prices and seldom have coupons. You'll typically score a much better deal by shopping at discount clothing stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls.</p> <h3>Shoes</h3> <p>When shopping for brand name shoes, especially online, you'll find much better prices at websites like Shoebuy, 6PM.com, and ShoeMall. Not only do all three sites offer free shipping, but they also regularly have coupon codes in the 25% off range. For example, a new pair of top of the line women's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UVNE9S/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005UVNE9S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=6OPCHDMFUUS3DULF">New Balance 990V3</a> running shoes is selling for $149.95 at both Amazon and Shoebuy, with free shipping. But with a little digging, I found a 20% off coupon code for Shoebuy, bringing my total down to $119.96 &mdash; a price Amazon can't touch.</p> <p>While having the perception of being a low price leader is something Amazon strives for, it's up to us, as smart consumers, to see through the charade and always do our due diligence when making significant purchases. This means always price comparing, looking for coupons that'll beat Amazon pricing, and understanding the types of products Amazon purposefully prices higher than the competition. Do that and you're guaranteed to always find the lowest price.</p> <p><em>Have you noticed Amazon offering certain items cheaper than the competition?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filler-strategies-for-amazon-s-free-super-saver-shipping">Filler Strategies for Amazon’s Free Super Saver Shipping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-discount-stores-that-are-more-expensive-than-you-think">5 Discount Stores That Are More Expensive Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-sales-insanity-this-time-from-walmart">More Sales Insanity, This Time From Walmart</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-amazon-deal-hacks-you-may-not-already-know">16 Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-all-that-stuff-the-police-seize-and-its-cheap">How to Buy All That Stuff the Police Seize. And It&#039;s Cheap.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping Amazon online shopping price comparison retail WalMart Mon, 25 May 2015 13:00:13 +0000 Kyle James 1429809 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Products That Cost More for Women Than for Men http://www.wisebread.com/6-products-that-cost-more-for-women-than-for-men <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-products-that-cost-more-for-women-than-for-men" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mens_womens_hygiene_products_000053383074.jpg" alt="Couple using products for women that have cheaper alternatives" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever noticed that men's versions of some products are really cheap compared to the women's versions? Sometimes the price difference reaches a whopping 50%! I'm talking things like soap, deodorant, shampoos, razors, and the like. If you're female (and not a picky shopper), it just may be worth your while to consider the following men's versions of these products.</p> <h2>1. Razors (Disposables and Refillables)</h2> <p>Razors from brands like Gillette, Schick, and Bic have models for both men and women. Aside from the pink and purple packaging, there is very little difference between them, except for price. In the example below, the women's version of the Schick ST Disposable Razor costs a few cents more compared to the men's alternative, even when buying in bulk. Save a few bucks and buy the men's version of razors &mdash; your legs won't know the difference, but your wallet will.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=Schick%20ST%20Disposable%20Razor%2C%2012%20Count%20men&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3ASchick%20ST%20Disposable%20Razor%5Cc%2012%20Count%20men&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=5OFD2FFH2IGRNBKE">Schick ST Disposable Razor, 12 Count</a> &mdash; from $6.58 ($0.55 each)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001URL3DA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001URL3DA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UQGGL7C2BDF44NYL">Schick ST Disposable Razor, 12 Count</a> &mdash; $6.88 ($0.57 each)</li> </ul> <h2>2. Shaving Cream</h2> <p>In terms of saving money with little noticeable effect, shaving cream is probably the best example of buying men's versions to save money. It's a product you only use for a couple minutes before washing off, with very little lingering odor. In other words, it's a highly disposable item, so if you're a female, why would you pay the huge markup associated with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-old-school-beauty-products-we-want-back">women's shaving cream</a>? After examining a bunch of different brands, my example below is a fair representation of a top tier shaving cream for both sexes. Notice the women's version is several times the price &mdash; not worth it in my humble opinion.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BIL9HZE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00BIL9HZE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=A4YNHS7TUUE2CGKW">NIVEA for Men Sensitive Shaving Gel, 7 oz.</a> &mdash; $1.69 ($0.24/ounce)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000URD53C/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000URD53C&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=3YZ4Y7MS6BLIIS4Q">Skintimate Skin Therapy Shave Gel, 7 oz.</a> &mdash; $6.51 ($0.93/ounce)</li> </ul> <h2>3. Deodorant</h2> <p>Deodorant, also known as &quot;pit putty&quot; in my house, is another item where the women's version is noticeably higher in price than the men's equivalent. In my example, a pack of six women's Degree deodorants will cost you almost $4 more than the men's. If odor is an issue for you, and you're a female worried about saving a few bucks (but also concerned about smelling like Tom Selleck), then shop for odorless men's deodorants and antiperspirants. Besides Degree, other men's versions worth shopping for include Sure, Arrid, and Dove.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MANVWW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000MANVWW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HEMOIGMWQQQPMMKF">Degree Dry Protection Antiperspirant &amp; Deodorant, (Pack of 6)</a> &mdash; $16.01 ($0.99/ounce)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ET76WG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001ET76WG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NXJGH72JHG2SIRK7">Degree Dry Protection Antiperspirant &amp; Deodorant, (Pack of 6)</a> &mdash; $20.30 ($1.30/ounce)</li> </ul> <h2>4. Shampoo and Conditioner</h2> <p>Women's shampoos and conditioners also have a premium price point when compared to men's versions. While not as radical a price difference as some of the other products listed here, it's still smart to consider men's hair products, or at the very least unisex shampoos and conditioners like Pert Plus and Head &amp; Shoulders. The Dove shampoo example below showed a 20% higher price for a women's product.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=Dove%20Men%2BCare%20Shampoo%20%2B%20Conditioner%2C%2012%20oz.&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3ADove%20Men%2BCare%20Shampoo%20%2B%20Conditioner%5Cc%2012%20oz.&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=LOCNV7AR2IZBW5XB">Dove Men+Care Shampoo + Conditioner, 12 oz.</a> &mdash; from $3.77 ($0.31/ounce)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=Dove%20Pure%20Care%20Shampoo%2C%2012%20oz.%20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=GVHTXVDF5FZE7HYI">Dove Pure Care Shampoo, 12 oz.</a> &mdash; from $4.73 ($0.39/ounce)</li> </ul> <h2>5. Soap</h2> <p>Women's soap, with its higher perfume and moisturizer content, is usually significantly more expensive. As a matter of fact, it's twice as expensive in my example below. If you really don't care what your soap smells like, you should always buy a men's or unisex bar, as you'll save a big chunk of change over the course of an entire year. Let's say you use two bars per month &mdash; this would translate to just under $30 in <em>savings in one</em> year if you always opted for men's or unisex bars of soap. Pretty decent savings for doing very little.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BKZQJHW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00BKZQJHW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=Z6OXB6332HLE73RK">Dial for Men Odor Armor Bar, 3 count, 4 oz. bar</a> &mdash; $3.49 ($1.16/each)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0076XMEVW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0076XMEVW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=G5IGU4IWXR6GD2WU">Caress Beauty Bar, 4 count, 4 oz. bar</a> &mdash; $9.28 ($2.32/each)</li> </ul> <h2>6. Hair Spray</h2> <p>Hair spray marked for men is pretty darn cheap compared to the women's version. From Amazon, you can get a men's bottle that is about twice as big as the women's for darn near the same price. The women's variety is actually marked as &quot;unisex,&quot; but I'm calling it a female product as the bottle is bright pink. It's the same brand as well, so we really are comparing apples to apples making the men's version a much smarter buy.</p> <ul> <li>Men's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002RS6JW6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002RS6JW6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=L7MQCKR5CDCPSQN7">TIGI Bed Head Hard Head Hair Spray, 10.6 oz.</a> &mdash; $15.12 ($1.43/ounce)</li> <li>Women's Version: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VZDWB8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000VZDWB8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NOHWBM2PPUJNRK5F">TIGI Bed Head Head Rush Shine Mist for &quot;Unisex,&quot; 5.07 oz.</a> &mdash; $11.90 ($2.34/ounce)</li> </ul> <p>By keeping a keen eye peeled for men's versions of products that are cheaper, and do the same thing, you can definitely save some money. In many cases, you can also find unscented or &quot;unisex&quot; scented items if odor is an issue for you, making this a really smart way to save.</p> <p><em>Any other &quot;women's&quot; products you've discovered to be expensive when compared to the male alternative?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-products-that-cost-more-for-women-than-for-men">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping gender marketing mens products womens products Thu, 21 May 2015 21:00:11 +0000 Kyle James 1424470 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 "As Seen on TV" Products Actually Worth the Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-as-seen-on-tv-products-actually-worth-the-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-as-seen-on-tv-products-actually-worth-the-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_thumbs_up_000018083430.jpg" alt="Woman buying as seen on TV products that are worth the money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My first experience with an &quot;As Seen on TV&quot; products was the mid-'90s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DU5ARH8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DU5ARH8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ICHNPPOB7BEQERXJ">Miracle Thaw Defrosting Tray</a>. The infomercial claimed you could defrost completely frozen steak and chicken in minutes. When we finally received our Miracle Thaw, we discovered that it was in fact, miraculous &mdash; when we were melting ice cubes. Defrosting meat, not so much.</p> <p>Even today, it can be difficult to separate the works-in-real-life wheat from the infomercial chaff. Here are four &quot;As Seen on TV&quot; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-home-buys-you-should-never-skimp-on">products that actually work</a> &mdash; and that you can feel comfortable purchasing:</p> <h2>1. The Forearm Forklift</h2> <p>No less an authority than Consumer Reports touts the <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/november/home-garden/forearm-forklift/overview/index.htm">utility of the Forearm Forklift</a> &mdash; a product consisting of two adjustable straps that you place underneath heavy furniture and appliances, and then hook over your forearms in order to more easily move heavy objects of up to 700 pounds, according to the claims.</p> <p>The biggest benefit of this &quot;As Seen on TV&quot; wonder is that it allows you to lift and carry large and bulky items without having to hunch over, stretch, or hurt your hands on rough edges. Anyone who has ever had a tough time moving a couch up a flight of stairs can appreciate how much easier it could be to have a product that more evenly distributes the weight of what you are carrying.</p> <p>But while the Forearm Forklift's infomercial claims that the product &quot;employs leverage to make the pieces you carry feel lighter,&quot; the fact of the matter is that it's just a set of straps, and not a superhero cape. If the furniture you are trying to move is too heavy for you, then the Forearm Forklift will not fix that problem.</p> <p>However, for any individual who will be handling his or her own move, owning a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008ASBLJI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008ASBLJI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NYKNTMXDXGH24DUA">Forearm Forklift</a> can potentially make your moving day both less painful &mdash; and less damaging to your stuff. At a cost of only about $20 (or the amount U-Haul charges for the rental of a furniture dolly), the Forearm Forklift is a good buy. (Just stick to purchasing it from a traditional retailer. Infomercial websites are notoriously difficult to navigate without buying extra crap you don't want.)</p> <h2>2. The Pasta Boat</h2> <p>Oh, Pasta Boat, where were you when I was in college? This product was made for the dorm-dweller, whose only cooking option is the microwave. The Pasta Boat is a microwaveable plastic bowl that measures, cooks, strains, serves, and stores pasta all in one place.</p> <p>The Pasta Boat chef merely throws her Italian carbohydrate of choice into the boat, fills it with water, and microwaves the whole shebang for approximately 18 minutes. When the timer dings, simply strain the water out using the strainer built right into the lid.</p> <p>But wait! There's more! You can also steam vegetables and potatoes in the Pasta Boat, using the included steamer tray. Also, the handles do double-duty as measuring tools for spaghetti.</p> <p>All that said, this is not a perfect product. Though My Daily Finance reviewer Lisa Kaplan Gordon <a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/01/06/pasta-boat-review-forget-the-pot-use-the-boat/">gives the Pasta Boat high marks</a>, she does note that it can be easy to scald yourself while removing the cooked pasta from the microwave.</p> <p>Sadly, the Pasta Boat is a little difficult to hunt down these days (its heyday was 2011), but it can be found through <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XS32OW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003XS32OW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YGQTALVPBU6QL5N5">third-party sellers on Amazon</a> for about $13.</p> <h2>3. The Ped Egg</h2> <p>At first glance, the Ped Egg seems like nothing more than a cheese grater for the scaly parts of your feet. It claims to gently remove dead skin and callouses from your feet without pain or mess, since the &quot;egg&quot; part of the product is designed to catch the flaky skin detritus you are removing.</p> <p>By all accounts, the pain-free claim is totally borne out. According to the website <a href="http://doesitreallywork.org/ped-egg-review/">Does It Really Work?</a>, &quot;...if you try to use [the Ped Egg] on areas that aren't dry, flaky, and callousy, it doesn't do anything.&quot;</p> <p>However, the product is not as good at containing the mess as it claims to be. Not only does it not catch all of your powdery skin flakes, but it's possible for the Egg to split apart mid-callous removal and rain dead skin all over your floor. So it's a good idea to use your Ped Egg over a towel.</p> <p>Like the Pasta Boat, the Ped Egg is not as widely available as it once was, but you can <a href="http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=184309&amp;catid=196087&amp;aid=338666&amp;aparam=184309&amp;kpid=184309&amp;CAWELAID=120142990000005159&amp;CAGPSPN=pla&amp;kpid=184309">find it on drugstore.com</a> for $6.99.</p> <h2>4. The Ninja Master Prep Professional</h2> <p>Late-night infomercials have been promising easier slicing and dicing in the kitchen since almost before the invention of television. The Ninja Master Prep Professional is only the latest in the long line of blender/processor/chopper technology, and you can be forgiven for assuming it's just as much a waste of money as the Veg-o-Matic once was.</p> <p>However, Consumer Reports finds that the Ninja Master Prep Professional <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/video-hub/appliances/kitchen/claim-check-ninja-master-prep-professional/16497315001/1009333799001/">lives up to its claims</a> (although not the ridiculously vague one about ancient Japanese blade-making). It placed second in the Consumer Reports blender test, and first among food choppers.</p> <p>Brian Krepshaw of CNET notes that it also <a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/taking-the-ninja-master-prep-pro-out-for-a-spin/">works well with small ingredients</a> like garlic cloves, as they don't get &quot;lost&quot; under the blade. (As a dedicated home cook, I have to say that I have torn my hair out about that flaw of my food processor on numerous occasions.)</p> <p>In addition, everything but the motor is dishwasher safe.</p> <p>While purchasing a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004XK4N9C/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004XK4N9C&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=6SYJF2EPJJ7QFNZE">Ninja Master Prep Professional</a> would probably be superfluous for any cook who already owns a decent blender and food processor (lost garlic notwithstanding), it's a great buy for someone just starting out with no kitchen appliances, particularly considering the fact that it can be found for about $50.</p> <h2>Solving Real Problems</h2> <p>The cliché about infomercials is that they manufacture the problems that their products solve. (For example, we all know that <a href="https://youtu.be/wwROPN3Fir8">milk is not as hard to open</a> as this product claims.)</p> <p>The &quot;As Seen on TV&quot; products that actually stand the test of time really do offer an efficient and elegant solution to a real problem. These four, unlike the Miracle Thaw Defrosting Tray, the Snuggie, or the Milkmaster 2000, actually deliver.</p> <p><em>Do you own any &quot;As Seen on TV&quot; products you'd recommend to others?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-as-seen-on-tv-products-actually-worth-the-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys">These Secrets of Amazon&#039;s Pricing Strategy Will Help You Find the Best Buys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-all-that-stuff-the-police-seize-and-its-cheap">How to Buy All That Stuff the Police Seize. And It&#039;s Cheap.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping as seen on tv infomercials made for tv Fri, 15 May 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1421633 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Price Match Policies You Should Be Wary Of http://www.wisebread.com/8-price-match-policies-you-should-be-wary-of <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-price-match-policies-you-should-be-wary-of" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_shopping_electronics_000022473557.jpg" alt="Couple shopping for electronics and comparing price match options" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Price match policies can vary wildly from retailer to retailer. While most of them are fairly straight forward, there are some whose fine print will leave you scratching your head in confusion. And in the world of bargain shopping, few things are more frustrating than finding a cheaper price from a competing store, only to be denied a price match because you failed to read the fine print.</p> <p>By knowing which price match policies have strange exclusions, or won't price match online pricing, you'll save yourself from some potential headaches and disappointments. Here are eight price match policies to watch out for.</p> <h2>1. Amazon</h2> <p>For a company that claims to strive for the lowest price, the Amazon price match policy leaves a lot to be desired. As a matter of fact, the only thing they'll actually price match are select TVs and cell phones. A few of the online retailers they <em>will</em> price match include Crutchfield.com, Costco.com, Walmart.com, and Dell.com. In order to get your price match, you need to login to your account and click on &quot;Order Details&quot; followed by &quot;Found a lower price?&quot; and follow the instructions.</p> <h2>2. Fry's Electronics</h2> <p>Fry's has a 110% price match policy guaranteeing they'll match the price of any local authorized retailer or authorized Internet competitor. Seems like a fairly straight-forward policy, right? But they've taken heat in recent years for making it very difficult to get an online price match when shopping in-store. Examples includes not price matching Amazon Prime prices or trying to tack on the shipping charges that online retailers would charge.</p> <h2>3. Home Depot</h2> <p>When shopping in-store, Home Depot will match the price of a local competitor plus beat their price by 10%. That sounds great, but the exclusions are pretty formidable and include special orders, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, and online purchases. This means that unfortunately they won't price match Amazon, Lowes.com, and the like.</p> <h2>4. JCPenney</h2> <p>The JCPenney price match policy has some fine print you'll want to be aware of. While they'll happily price match local competitors' current advertised price on identical items, they will <em>not</em> match any online prices. Also, they will not price match any competitor pricing that they consider clearance or sale prices, which is really unfortunate.</p> <h2>5. Kohl's</h2> <p>The Kohl's price match policy leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, they will not price match any online price. But more than that, they require you to bring in a copy of the competitor's ad with the current date printed on it. How many ads actually have the date stamped on them? Not too many. Also, what if you see a lower price in another physical store and not in an actual ad? Will they still match the price if you snap a picture of the item and show it to a Kohl's associate? Unfortunately, their policy does not stipulate, which makes things quite confusing.</p> <h2>6. NewEgg</h2> <p>NewEgg.com has a price match policy named the &quot;Iron Egg Price Guarantee&quot; that claims to match the price of any identical item sold by a major retailer. When shopping on their website, look for the Iron Egg badge next to all products that qualify for a price match, which according to NewEgg is close to 80% of their inventory. You file a price match claim, and if approved, get money back via a NewEgg gift card. Sounds okay, right? But then you look at the fine print of the offer and the things they won't price match. In particular, any &quot;competitor's item that is advertised below NewEgg's actual cost.&quot; But here's the rub; they don't tell you their actual costs! So you make a purchase from them, file a claim, and pray the deal isn't so good that it's below their costs. Because if it is, you'll be denied and stuck paying full price with no recourse.</p> <h2>7. Sears</h2> <p>Sears will happily price match local competitors; just bring in evidence of the lower price and an associate will help you out. So far, so good. Now let's look at their online price match policy as this is where things get really confusing. From their website, &quot;If you find a lower online price on an identical brand and model number currently available from a local competitor's retail store honoring its own online price and the item is currently available for sale and delivery in your area, Sears will match the price of the merchandise.&quot; Huh? So according to that rambling sentence, isn't this just a regular price match? Their policy is so darn confusing that it makes me want to take my business elsewhere.</p> <h2>8. Toys R' Us</h2> <p>Toys R' Us will price match local competitors as well as select online retailers. They'll also give you up to seven days after the date of your purchase to come back for your price match. But they make this list for a couple reasons. First, their policy is only good for in-store purchases. Secondly, from their website, &quot;Competitor shipping charges will be calculated and factored in the cost of online prices.&quot; So if you're trying to get a price match via a lower price on Amazon, Toys R' Us is going to tack on the shipping costs Amazon would charge. But what if you're an Amazon Prime member and don't pay for shipping? It doesn't matter. Toys R' Us is still going to include shipping costs into your &quot;price adjusted&quot; price. Price matcher beware.</p> <p><em>Any price match policies that seem okay (until you read the fine print) that I missed? Let me know!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-price-match-policies-you-should-be-wary-of">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-secrets-of-amazons-pricing-strategy-will-help-you-find-the-best-buys">These Secrets of Amazon&#039;s Pricing Strategy Will Help You Find the Best Buys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-get-a-sale-price-match-at-16-popular-stores">Here&#039;s How to Get a Sale Price-Match at 16 Popular Stores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-all-that-stuff-the-police-seize-and-its-cheap">How to Buy All That Stuff the Police Seize. And It&#039;s Cheap.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-pay-more-guide-to-price-matching-and-cheat-sheet">Don&#039;t Pay More! Guide to Price Matching and Cheat Sheet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-10-20-on-online-purchases-every-day">How to Save 10-20% on Online Purchases, Every Day</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping fine print online shopping price matching saving money Fri, 01 May 2015 13:00:27 +0000 Kyle James 1402491 at http://www.wisebread.com Account in Collections? Here's How to Fix It http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_thinking_000019659642.jpg" alt="Man dealing with past due account in collections" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earlier this year, my husband received a letter stating that he had a debt in collections. We were warned that if we didn't send money soon, they'd start legal action.</p> <p>Naturally, our breathing quickened and our hearts nearly jumped out of our chests. But then I made us take deep breaths. With my background as an accountant, I knew we had options. Here's how to successfully deal with a past due account in collections.</p> <h2>Research the Creditor's Information</h2> <p>Don't stress or freak out when your receive that dreaded &quot;account in collections/payment due&quot; letter. The worst thing you can do is overreact and succumb to false information from scammers trying to get your credit information. This happens more often than you may realize.</p> <p>Before taking any action based on what the letter says, you want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">verify the information is correct</a>, and research the company contacting you. It's often hard to tell the difference between the legitimate letters and the fakes, as many will include bits of personal information and your account numbers. But don't let this sway you.</p> <p>A good place to start is with the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/bbb-locator/">Better Business Bureau</a>. Simply enter the company's name in the search box on their site. If the debt collector's name and information comes up in the BBB system, they're legit; but if it doesn't, you'll want to proceed with caution.</p> <p>Or consider investigating the legitimacy of a debt collections company by doing a quick online search. You'll often come across other people's stories or experiences with companies and can verify whether or not the information you've received is for real.</p> <p>Finally, consider checking your collections letter against an official account of any debts on your credit report. <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is a website authorized by the federal government to give you access to your entire credit report, once a year, for free. By checking your report, you'll be able to verify whether the debt actually belongs to you, and if the right debt collection company's name is on the account.</p> <p>Make sure you save your credit report for later reference. If you notice errors, suspicious activity, or inaccuracies, you'll want to contact one of the three credit bureaus to get it solved.</p> <h2>Reach Out to the Credit Agency</h2> <p>If the debt agency's information is legit, and you've verified that you do indeed owe this amount, the next step is to contact the debt collection company directly. Call the number on the letter you received and start asking questions. Who did they purchase the debt from? What was the original balance? The balance on your statement is probably highly inflated because of late fees or other charges.</p> <p>They will likely push you into making a payment right then, but don't let them pressure you. Surprisingly, you have the upper hand in this situation because the debt collection agency paid pennies on the dollar for your debt. They will feel lucky to get any amount you're able to pay, so don't feel rushed.</p> <p>Ask them to send you this information in writing, so you can keep it for your records:</p> <ul> <li>The name of the original account holder,</li> <li>Your previous account number,</li> <li>The balance due now.</li> </ul> <p>Once you receive this information in the mail, you can negotiate a proper payment plan. You don't want this to go too long without being solved, but don't feel like you have to rush to make a payment. That's when you'll overpay. And remember that collections agencies will often accept less than the full amount owed, so don't necessarily agree to their first offer.</p> <h2>Report Them for Unethical or Illegal Behavior</h2> <p>As you go through this process, remember that you have all the control. Debt collection agencies tend to use less-than-stellar methods for getting consumers to make exorbitant payments towards outstanding debts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them?ref=seealso">4 Things Bill Collectors Can't Do</a>)</p> <p>If they start <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors">calling you nonstop</a>, verbally abusing you over the phone or with letters, or harassing family members, be sure to report them.</p> <p>If you need added protection, check out the <a href="http://www.acainternational.org/">American Collectors Agency</a>, or reach out to an attorney and a consumer-protection agency for help. You don't need to endure this process alone, and having an expert by your side will help alleviate the stress.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had to deal with a debt in collections? What other tips and tricks do you suggest?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprising-things-that-can-kill-your-credit">Surprising Things That Can Kill Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">How to Erase Your Medical Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good">Back in Debt? Here&#039;s How to Pay it Off for Good</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-people-without-debt-do">10 Things People Without Debt Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management better business bureau collections agency credit agencies owing money past due Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:00:03 +0000 Carrie Smith 1378041 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Score More Loyalty Perks From Your Credit Card Company http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_000019789000.jpg" alt="Woman getting better deal on her credit card by cancelling" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Savvy consumers have been negotiating lower bills with cable providers, Internet providers, and wireless carriers for quite some time. This often involves calling the company and threatening to cancel to try to get a better deal. Did you know that you can do something similar with your credit card company and often score a &quot;retention&quot; offer?</p> <p>These are offers that include the removal of annual fees, free rewards, and even a reduction in interest rate. After all, card companies have spent a lot of money and resources to get and retain your business and they definitely don't want to lose you. Here is what you need to know to make it happen.</p> <h2>1. How to Make the Phone Call</h2> <p>Start by simply calling the customer service number on the back of your card. The first person you speak with is likely not the person to negotiate with. You'll likely have to tell them you want to cancel your card before they'll step up their game and transfer you to the retentions department. In most cases, you can also streamline the process by asking the customer service person to transfer you directly to &quot;retentions.&quot;</p> <p>The retentions department will ask you why you want to cancel. At this point, just be honest. If the annual fee is too high, then tell them. If you feel your rewards or miles program is lacking, then say it. If you feel customer service is a disgrace, tell them.</p> <h2>2. Have Ammunition When Making the Call</h2> <p>Your chances of scoring a retention offer increase significantly if you present a valid reason to actually get one. Perhaps you had a terrible customer service experience, maybe the company screwed up a payment and issued you a late fee, or maybe you are actually considering closing the account anyways because you don't need the card. Whatever the reason, your chances of success rise significantly if you have ammo to fire off when making the phone call. Without ammo, they have no reason to help you out and will often just cancel your account.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that your chances of success increase if you are actually okay with canceling the card. The rep you talk to on the phone can usually detect if you are not serious about canceling and simply fishing for a retention offer. Be calm, be confident, state your case, and let them know you are willing to let this card go if they can't offer you something.</p> <h2>3. Smart Things to Ask For</h2> <h3>Annual Fee Removal</h3> <p>If your card carries an annual fee, you can ask to have it credited. This is a great place to start if you are new to this, as many cards will happily remove the annual fee if you have a grievance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fees</a>)</p> <h3>Free Reward Points or Miles</h3> <p>If your card is a reward card &mdash; either points or airline miles &mdash; this would be a smart thing to ask for. Just be reasonable in your request as it will greatly increase your chance of success. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Interest Rate Reduction</h3> <p>If the interest rate on your card is outrageous, especially compared to similar cards, then ask for an 8%-10% permanent reduction in your rate. You could even ask for a greater reduction during set period of time, like 12 months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>4. Let Your Silence Speak Volumes</h2> <p>When negotiating a bill or service via the telephone, ask for what you want then simply be quiet and force the company representative to either accept your offer or counter it. If the counter is not to your liking, simply say &quot;no&quot; and nothing else. Let the uncomfortable silence speak for you. It places the onus back on the rep to come up with something better or risk losing your business.</p> <h2>5. What if the Card Company Calls Your Bluff?</h2> <p>If your credit card company calls your bluff, you have two options. If you were legitimately okay with closing the card in the first place, you can simply cancel the card and pay off the remaining balance. If your call was more to feel the company out to see if a retention offer was possible, you can simply say, &quot;Before you cancel the card, I need to think about it and look at my options.&quot; Or something to that effect. Once the card is closed you won't be able to simply call them back and re-instate it.</p> <h2>6. Possible Side-Effects of Canceling a Card</h2> <p>Before you start calling all of your credit card companies and demanding a retention offer, it's important to realize the possible negative side-effects of canceling a card.</p> <h3>Credit Utilization Ratio</h3> <p>You need to consider how much available credit you will lose if you close a particular card. If the card has a relatively large credit limit and you close it, and yet continue to charge the same amount every month on other cards, your credit utilization rate will rise significantly. Be aware of this, as it could <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">adversely affect your FICO credit score</a>.</p> <h3>Credit History</h3> <p>Another thing to look at when deciding whether to close a card is your length of credit history. If the card you're considering closing is far and away your oldest, you probably don't want to close it, as it could affect your credit score. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO credit score.</p> <p><em>Have you ever received a retention offer from your card company? If so, what did you get?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">Banks Can Manipulate Your Transactions, Then Charge You 1750% Overdraft Fee</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-times-you-should-demand-a-refund">9 Times You Should Demand a Refund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards customer service lowered bills negotiating retention offers threatening to cancel Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:00:27 +0000 Kyle James 1378020 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Foods That Are Only Labeled Organic — But Really Aren't http://www.wisebread.com/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/organic_veggies_000024751662.jpg" alt="Woman shopping for organic produce that is not just labeled organic" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a peculiar practice that breeds corruption in the American food labeling industry: The companies that certify foods as organic are paid by the very farms they certify. And since the certifiers are in competition with one another, the conditions are ripe for what's known as <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/23/334073167/can-you-trust-that-organic-label-on-imported-food">organic fraud</a>. As Peter Laufer, author of &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0762790717/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0762790717&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AFMNTRIQIK7OC2G6">Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling</a>,&quot; explains, &quot;If the inspection is a little harsh, the company or the farm could say, 'Hey, there are other places I can do business with that wouldn't put me through this kind of rigor.'&quot;</p> <p>We've all got to eat. But if it's organic eats that you're looking for, you should know that a certified organic label doesn't necessarily mean the food you're getting is organic. And the type of fraud discussed by Laufer isn't the only culprit. Read on for our roundup of the most common foods that are only labeled organic &mdash; but really aren't. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-health-foods-not-worth-the-money?ref=seealso">11 Health Foods Not Worth the Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Bananas</h2> <p>Bananas that are certified organic and grown in tropical countries like Ecuador may have been sprayed with rotenone, a toxic pesticide derived from the roots of several tropical and subtropical plants. Classified as &quot;mildly hazardous&quot; by the World Health Organization, rotenone has been linked to <a href="http://civileats.com/2014/08/18/organic-vs-organic-how-much-does-certification-matter/">Parkinson's disease in farm workers</a>. The pesticide was outlawed for use on crops in the U.S. in 2007, but it is still permitted for use on organic produce abroad, and is perhaps most commonly used on bananas.</p> <h2>2. Milk</h2> <p>Organic milk certifiers are not required to test for <a href="http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/01601-0001-Te.pdf">genetically modified organisms</a>, according to a federal audit that questions whether milk marketed as organic is indeed truly organic. Without testing, the report concludes that &quot;...There cannot be reasonable assurance that certifiers are identifying and ensuring that GM material is not contaminating organic feed and forage.&quot; This is not to say that all organic milk is contaminated, but the carton in your refrigerator very well may be.</p> <h2>3. Seafood</h2> <p>If you've ever seen a package of seafood labeled as organic in your local market &mdash; beware. Currently, there is no U.S. government-approved <a href="http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/common-resources/fish/seafood/labeling/organic-seafood-fact-or-fiction/">organic seafood</a>. Organic labels sometimes appear on seafood based on criteria set by a private certification company or in accordance with standards set by foreign governments. But these alternative certification systems typically fall short of U.S. organic standards when it comes to other foods. So there's little reason to believe that seafood labeled as organic is up to par with would-be American organic seafood standards, if we had any.</p> <h2>4. Eggs</h2> <p>Hens must have access to the outdoors in order for their eggs to meet the USDA guidelines for organic egg production. But often they don't. In a recent example, one of <a href="http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2014/12/dispute_over_organic_label_pit.html">Michigan's largest egg producers</a> did not provide its birds with the freedom to roam outside, yet the farm's eggs still received the organic stamp of approval. &quot;There are hundreds of certified organic egg producers that allow their animals to have access to the outdoors,&quot; says Mark Kastel, co-director of The Cornucopia Institute. &quot;Sadly, the majority of eggs that are sold as organic are coming from facilities (that don't).&quot;</p> <h2>5. Strawberries</h2> <p>When organic strawberries are first planted, their growth is aided by the <a href="http://www.revealnews.org/article-legacy/even-organic-strawberries-are-grown-with-dangerous-pesticides/">use of fumigants</a>, a type of pesticide that has been linked to cancer and developmental problems in the farmhands who plant them. Despite these horrific side effects, farmers rely on fumigants to ward off pests and diseases that might otherwise wipe out an entire crop. But so long as these fumigant-treated strawberry plants mature on an organic farm, they can still be certified as organic.</p> <p><em>Do you buy any of these &quot;organic&quot; foods?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/horizon-organic-milk-is-it-all-just-lies">Horizon Organic Milk: Is it All Just Lies?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-organic-grocery-items-that-arent-worth-it">10 Organic Grocery Items That Aren&#039;t Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-apple-dangerous-how-to-eat-fewer-pesticides-and-save-money">Is Your Apple Dangerous? How to Eat Fewer Pesticides (and Save Money)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol">Less corn planted, despite ethanol</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-that-are-actually-cheaper-at-whole-foods">6 Foods That Are Actually Cheaper At Whole Foods</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink fraud gmos organic pesticides USDA Mon, 06 Apr 2015 15:24:22 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1368003 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Warranties That Aren't Worth It http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_000019329937.jpg" alt="Woman shopping and learning which warranties aren&#039;t worth it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us believe that it's better to be safe than sorry.</p> <p>However, when it comes to buying warranties, you may be acting on emotion. It's time to step back and take a closer look at those extended warranties &mdash; your extra peace of mind may be coming with a hidden high cost. Here are four warranties that aren't worth it.</p> <h2>1. Warranties That Are Too Expensive</h2> <p>According to the Service Contract Industry Council, most <a href="http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/consumer-tips/2014/12/be-in-the-know-before-buying-extended-warranties/">extended warranty costs</a> are 10% to 20% of the sales price. Anything above that 20% benchmark may be too much, particularly for small ticket items. For example, a $20 extended warranty on a $55 panini press is a waste of money.</p> <p>On the other hand, buying a $150 warranty on a $2,000 computer is a more sensible purchase. Not only is that warranty just 7.5% of the total price, but it'd also cover the high cost of replacing parts.</p> <h2>2. Warranties Shorter Than Those From Your Credit Card</h2> <p>There is no need to pay twice for coverage that you may already have. As long as you complete the entire purchase on a single credit card, most major credit card companies will extend the original manufacturer's warranty up to one additional year.</p> <p>Review the fine print on your credit card's extended warranty for other applicable limits, such as the maximum purchase price and maximum dollar value of claims within the same year. As long as you're aware of applicable exclusions and requirements, having a credit card with an excellent extended warranty can be a lifesaver. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer?ref=seealso">How to Take Advantage of the Free Extended Warranty From Your Credit Card Issuer</a>)</p> <h2>3. Warranties for Products With Low Repair Rates</h2> <p>Some people claim that things aren't built to last anymore. However, surveys from Consumer Reports seem to indicate that it may all just be in our heads. The <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm">repair rates</a> for several items are going down.</p> <ul> <li>Laptops had a repair rate of 36% in 2010, and 24% in 2013.</li> <li>LCD TVs had a repair rate of 15% in 2010, and 7% in 2013.</li> <li>Dishwashers already had a <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/warranties.asp">low repair rate</a> of 13% back in 2004.</li> </ul> <p>Consumer Reports found that appliances usually don't break during the extended warranty period. Even when breakdowns occur, the median cost of a repair ($152) isn't that much more than the median price of a warranty ($136).</p> <p>A great alternative to extended warranties for products with low repair rates is to put the money you would have spent on the warranty in a savings account, instead. By &quot;self-insuring,&quot; you're keeping the money and gaining interest on your rainy day fund.</p> <h2>4. Unsolicited Car Warranties</h2> <p>There are warranties that aren't worth the money, and then there are warranty scams.</p> <p>For several decades, the FCC has been warning consumers about <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/guides/auto-warranty-scams">auto warranty scams</a>. Malicious companies prey on consumers whose auto warranties are about to expire &mdash; or in some cases, they may not even be close to expiration. Back in 2008, the Better Business Bureau received more than <a href="http://www.bbb.org/central-illinois/migration/other-news/2009/02/bbb-warns-deceptive-auto-warranty-solicitations-plague-consumers-nationwide/">140,000 consumer calls</a> to confirm the legitimacy of companies claiming to sell auto warranties.</p> <p>For example, in the year that the basic warranty of my 2012 Volkswagen Passat was set to expire, I started receiving unsolicited mail with warnings in big, bold letters; &quot;Final Notice: Expiring Auto Warranty.&quot; After ignoring a couple of these mailers, additional ones started pouring in with labels such as &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/28440855-e863-431f-9e60-c46e13226298/Warranty-mailer.aspx">2nd Attempt</a>,&quot; &quot;Time Sensitive,&quot; or &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/9c4deb4f-8f10-4206-bd5b-2ab75bf70bcc/Warranty-Mailer-2.aspx">Vehicle Alert Notice</a>.&quot; Then, the calls started coming in every single week. It was all from unscrupulous car warranty salespeople.</p> <p>Don't cave in to the pressure and protect yourself against potential car warranty fraud:</p> <ul> <li>Don't provide any personal or financial information over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Resist high-pressure pitches from salespeople or mailers that urge you to act now. Those &quot;final deadlines&quot; extend for several months over and over.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>These car warranties rarely pay claims. The BBB reports that <a href="http://stlouis.bbb.org/storage/142/documents/vehicleservicecontractstudy2011.pdf">93% of vehicle service claims</a> are denied under these warranties.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Never agree to any contract without having a physical copy of the contract and an appropriate timeframe to review the fine print.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A major red flag is the requirement of a down payment to view a contract. Don't agree to pay over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Search online for the name of the company offering the auto warranty (such as <a href="http://www.ncdoj.com/getdoc/221259f6-b0a2-40aa-801c-f76835f31be2/AG-Cooper-gives-auto-warranty-sellers-the-boot.aspx">U.S. Fidelis</a>), since some of those companies are often in trouble with the law. Or, check the company with your <a href="http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/">state and local consumer agencies</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>File a complaint with the FCC by visiting <a href="http://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov">consumercomplaints.fcc.gov</a>, calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), or writing to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Place your phone number on the <a href="http://www.donotcall.gov">National Do Not Call Registry</a>.</li> </ul> <p><em>What are some warranties that you wished you never paid for?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-home-buys-you-should-never-skimp-on">8 Home Buys You Should Never Skimp On</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-something-breaks-should-you-repair-or-replace">When Something Breaks, Should You Repair or Replace?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping appliances Cars electronics repairs scams warranties Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Damian Davila 1360904 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_phone_000039409614_0.jpg" alt="Woman using her phone to manage mobile banking" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Managing your money has never been so easy. With the rise of mobile banking, paying your bills and checking your balance can be as simple as posting a photo to your Instagram feed. But there's a price to pay for the convenience of depositing checks from anywhere in the world with a simple click of your mobile camera. That price is the increased risk that your private data and access to your accounts could fall into the wrong hands.</p> <p>Banking fraud expert Julie Conroy warns, &quot;as additional people flock to the mobile channel and transactions multiply, the bad guys are paying attention and <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-dangers-of-mobile-banking">deploying more attacks</a> against it.&quot;</p> <p>The best way to protect yourself, of course, is to know the risks. Read on for our guide to the dangers of mobile banking and foolproof tips on how to avoid them.</p> <h2>1. Wireless Networks Are Hacker-Friendly</h2> <p>Unlike websites, mobile apps don't <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0014-tips-using-public-wi-fi-networks#Mobile">properly encrypt information</a>, which means it's not a good idea to access your bank account via mobile app when you're on a public or otherwise unsecured Wi-Fi network. As computer science expert Ron Vetter explains, &quot;mobile banking apps are connected to wireless networks, and these networks are inherently insecure as they broadcast their messages into the open air.&quot;</p> <p>If you plan to use a mobile app to conduct a sensitive transaction, you're better off using a secure wireless network or your phone's data network. This will help reduce the risk of your private information being intercepted by a hacker or some other third party.</p> <h2>2. Poor Reception Means Poor Security</h2> <p>Even if you're diligent in accessing your mobile banking app on your phone's data network rather than a wireless network, the security of your financial information could still be at risk if your 4G or 3G data drops into a lower service range. Poor reception invites the chance that the data contained in your banking transaction could misfire and be intercepted by an unauthorized third party.</p> <h2>3. There's More at Stake If You Lose Your Phone</h2> <p>Studies show that nearly 40% of smartphone owners don't <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/consumers-and-mobile-financial-services-report-201403.pdf">password protect</a> their devices. If any of those folks were to lose their phone, anyone could pick it up, log into their banking app, and access their money. Even if you do password protect your phone, you could still be putting yourself at risk by auto-saving your password. For optimal security, select &quot;no&quot; when any of your apps ask to remember your username and password. You can further help protect yourself from fraudsters who gain access to your phone by installing a remote-wiping application that allows you to <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352755,00.asp">erase your phone's data</a> even when the device isn't physically in your possession.</p> <h2>4. You May Not Be Able to Access Newly Deposited Funds Right Away</h2> <p>Although you can deposit funds into your account instantly via a mobile banking app, there may be a longer lag than normal until you can access those funds.</p> <p>&quot;In many cases, [banks] will protect themselves against fraud by increasing the delay in the availability of funds, as compared to if you'd just deposit that check in an ATM or branch,&quot; Conroy says.</p> <h2>5. Fraudulent Apps May Deceive You</h2> <p>Mobile apps can cost you &mdash; even the free ones. <a href="http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/mobile-security/317083-mobile-threat-monday-malicious-banking-apps-and-crafty-copycats">Fraudulent apps</a> posing as your official banking institution are lurking throughout the app store, and if you unknowingly start using one, the app creators can access &mdash; and abuse &mdash; your private information. Download your app directly from your bank's website to avoid this scam. And if you use Android, set your security settings to abort installations from sources other than Google Play.</p> <p><em>Has your mobile banking security ever been compromised? How did you recover?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/citimortage-told-me-to-default-on-my-loan-if-i-want-their-help">CitiMortgage Told Me to Default on My Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer">10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chexsystems-what-it-is-and-how-it-can-make-it-difficult-for-you-to-open-a-bank-account">ChexSystems: What It Is, and How It Can Make It Difficult for You to Open a Bank Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flying-with-valuables-keep-them-safe-and-carry-a-gun">Flying With Valuables? Keep Them Safe And Carry A Gun!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-post-really-suk-kuks-examining-islamic-finance">This Post Really Suk-kuks: Examining Islamic Finance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Consumer Affairs data mobile apps mobile safety networks security wi-fi Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1359338 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Terrible Loans You Should Avoid http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_talking_000024983086.jpg" alt="Young couple discussing loan with loan officer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've all been taught that most types of debt are bad news. But some loans are such egregiously awful financial instruments, we think they deserve special mention.</p> <p>Below are 10 of the worst loan options available. You'll find they feature many things in common, such as exorbitant interest rates or various enticements to make you spend and borrow more. These loans so bad, you should only consider them as an absolute last resort.</p> <h2>1. The Payday Loan</h2> <p>Payday lenders present themselves as a friendly, helpful, and practical solution to running out of money before the end of the month. You've seen the claims on storefronts, and you've probably heard the commercials by now: &quot;Money as soon as tomorrow!&quot;</p> <p>What payday lenders really are, according to Senator Elizabeth Warren, are &quot;a credit product that can impose substantial costs on imperfectly informed and imperfectly rational borrowers.&quot;</p> <p>Warren decried payday lenders or cash advance companies in a paper &quot;<a href="http://lsr.nellco.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1141&amp;context=nyu_lewp&amp;sei-redir=1&amp;referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fq%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Flsr.nellco.org%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1141%2526context%253Dnyu_lewp%26sa%3DD%26sntz%3D1%26usg%3DAFQjCNGKypw5UITd0x6HnsUYd0cEWenSOA#search=%22http%3A%2F%2Flsr.nellco.org%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1141%26context%3Dnyu_lewp%22">Making Credit Safer</a>,&quot; which noted that a typical $30 fee on a $200 loan amounted to a nearly 400% annual interest rate. These companies make 90% of their profit on customers who roll their loans over, paying again and again for the money they've borrowed.</p> <p>The Consumer Federation of America is so concerned about the long-term debt cycle which frequently traps borrowers, that they set up a web site to warn potential consumers of the <a href="http://www.paydayloaninfo.org/">risks of payday loans</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/confessions-of-a-former-payday-loan-junkie?ref=seealso">Confessions of a Former Payday Loan Junkie</a>)</p> <h2>2. The Car Title Loan</h2> <p>Car title loans are a notoriously awful option. The deal is, you borrow money at a high interest rate (typically 300%), and the loan is usually due in full in 30 days. As security, you sign over the title to a paid-for vehicle. That's a very bad idea, says the Consumer Federation of America.</p> <p>&quot;Car title lending <a href="http://www.consumerfed.org/elements/www.consumerfed.org/file/CFA_Fringe_Loan_Product_Harm_Research%281%29.pdf">risks repossession</a> of major family asset,&quot; the organization warned in a paper that cited the forfeiture of thousands of vehicles in various states through these loans. The loan amount is generally a fraction of the car's market value.</p> <h2>3. The Tax Preparer Loan</h2> <p>Because of a regulatory crackdown, the big tax services have quit offering classic refund anticipation loans, where they would give you the money the IRS owes you weeks ahead of time in exchange for a hefty cut. But some of those same companies are now offering personal lines of credit with double-digit interest rates and a swarm of fees. Steer clear.</p> <h2>4. The Credit Card Cash Advance</h2> <p>Credit card cash advances seem appealing because you already have a relationship with your credit card, so there's no paperwork to fill out; they're instant, and there are no embarrassing face-to-face conversations involved. You've probably even gotten those &quot;convenience checks&quot; along with your credit card bill, or seen the logo of your credit card network on an automated teller machine.</p> <p>Those perks come at a steep price: high fees and interest. The average fee is $10-$20, and the interest rate you'll pay ranges from 1% to 7% <em>above</em> your credit card rate. The only time you should even consider taking a cash advance is if your car breaks down out of town and the mechanic won't take a credit card.</p> <p>&quot;It ought to be a last resort,&quot; David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Credit Card Counseling Agencies, told CreditCards.com.</p> <h2>5. The Casino Loan</h2> <p>Many casinos offer interest-free, fee-free lines of credit that can only be used to gamble. The only reason you should ever take advantage of such an offer is if you have the cash in your checking account and you prefer not to carry it.</p> <p>&quot;Never borrow money while gambling. Chances are good that you'll lose it, making a bad situation even worse,&quot; advises part of the &quot;<a href="http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-manage-your-money-at-a-gambling-casino.html">Casino Gambling for Dummies</a>&quot; Cheat Sheet.</p> <p>Like other lenders, casinos generally have the ability to put a lien on your home if you don't pay, setting the stage for a bad day at the tables to spin into a very bad year &mdash; or even a terrible decade.</p> <h2>6. The Installment Loan</h2> <p>Similar to the payday loan, the installment loan gives the borrower a small amount of money &mdash; often $1,000 &mdash; on short notice at a high interest rate. But unlike payday loans, which are often due in full in just a few weeks, installment loans can be stretched over six months or a year. These loans have skirted some of the scrutiny regulators put on payday lenders, but have landed consumers in much the same trouble. Take Naya Burks of St. Louis, who ended up having $5,300 taken from her paychecks after she defaulted on a <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/when-lenders-sue-quick-cash-can-turn-into-a-lifetime-of-debt?utm_source=et&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=dailynewsletter">$1,000 installment loan</a> from AmeriCash. Those payments did nothing to chip away at the loan balance, which instead grew week by week because of the 240% interest rate, eventually ballooning into a $40,000 debt.</p> <h2>7. The Private Student Loan</h2> <p>Student loans may be a fact of life for many scholars nowadays, but think hard before turning to a private lender instead of federal programs.</p> <p>&quot;While federal student loans offer options to avoid default through several loan modification and alternative repayment programs, lenders and servicers of private student loans generally do not,&quot; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned in its annual <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201410_cfpb_report_annual-report-of-the-student-loan-ombudsman.pdf">student loan report</a>. Private student lenders may also prevent you from selectively paying off higher-rate loans first, complained the blog <a href="http://moneyning.com/debt/why-you-should-never-take-out-a-private-student-loan/">Money Ning</a>.</p> <h2>8. The Pawnshop Loan</h2> <p>If you live in a big city, you've probably passed pawn shops, which take jewelry, cameras, and other personal property as loan collateral, and keep the goods if the loan isn't paid in time. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs warns that in addition to charging high interest rates, these shops often charge service and storage fees, driving the true interest rate sky-high. Many people end up paying more than the market value of their property to the pawnbroker, but can't pay all they owe and end up losing the property, anyway.</p> <h2>9. The Overdraft Loan</h2> <p>Your bank may have encouraged you to opt in to &quot;overdraft protection,&quot; a program that allows you to write a check or withdraw funds from an ATM even if you have no money in your checking account. Tim Chen, CEO of NerdWallet, says you should never do this.</p> <p>When your bank provides this &quot;protection,&quot; it charges you a fee &mdash; about $35 &mdash; for that transaction and every other transaction on your account until the balance is above $0. In the end, you could end up <a href="http://blog.lendingclub.com/in-a-pinch-is-it-better-to-overdraft-or-get-a-payday-loan/">paying even higher rates</a> for that overdraft loan than you would borrowing from a payday lender, Chen warns.</p> <h2>10. The Lotto Winner Loan</h2> <p>Most of us will never be in the position to be victimized by this kind of loan, but if you ever win the lottery, watch out. The public radio program This American Life explained that these lenders go after people who have <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/329/nice-work-if-you-can-get-it">won jackpots</a> to be paid out gradually over the years. They buy the winnings for an upfront payment, often pressuring the winners to sign off on a sum that is just a fraction of their winnings. Fortunately, now that most states offer a lump sum option, these lenders are no longer prevalent.</p> <p><em>Have you ever used one of the loan products mentioned above? Why or why not?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-loan-options-for-those-with-good-credit">5 Loan Options for Those With Good Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet">Stop! Is That Loan Too Big For Your Wallet?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-determine-someones-creditworthiness-by-his-or-her-looks">Could you determine someone&#039;s creditworthiness by his or her looks?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-income-based-federal-student-loans-repayment-plan-can-you-benefit">New Income Based Federal Student Loans Repayment Plan - Can You Benefit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-qualify-for-a-mortgage-with-a-small-downpayment">5 Ways to Qualify for a Mortgage With a Small Downpayment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs borrowing money high interest lending loans Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:00:03 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1350987 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Annoying Things Bill Collectors Can't Do -- And How to Stop Them http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lady_phone_bill_000020951752.jpg" alt="Lady on the phone with bill collector" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are some scary and crazy debt collectors stories out there. For example:</p> <ul> <li>A California debt collector threatened a woman by claiming that they'd <a href="http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Foul-Mouth-Debt-Collectors--107059238.html">dig up her daughter</a> if she didn't pay her debt to a funeral home.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A man received several racially-charged and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/man-wins-15m-vulgar-debt-collection-calls/story?id=10795674">profane voicemail messages</a> from a Pennsylvania-based collections agency.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A Texas-based debt collector used scare tactics, such as threatening to <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/06/pf/debt-collection/">take away children</a>.</li> </ul> <p>You don't have to tolerate abusive behavior from unscrupulous debt collectors. Here is how to stop four annoying things that bill collectors absolutely <em>can't</em> do.</p> <h2>1. Report Late Payments to Credit Bureaus Within 30 Days</h2> <p>Missing a payment deadline is something that can happen to even the most meticulous person. When this happens, some bill collectors may start calling to scare you into believing that if you don't make the payment right away, they'll notify the credit reporting bureaus.</p> <p>You've worked hard to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards">build up your credit score</a>, so the mere thought of being reported for a late payment may send shivers down your spine. There's no need to panic. As long as you make your missed required minimum payment before the 30th day after your due date, you'll prevent any creditor from reporting delinquency to any of the credit bureaus.</p> <p>While you may still be liable for a late payment fee (ranging from $25 to $35) and may be charged a penalty APR (as high as 29.99%), you can't be reported to a credit bureau before you're a full 30 days past due.</p> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>If a bill collector threatens to report you to a credit bureau for anything earlier than a 30-day late payment, tell them that is a violation of federal law. The collector would be knowingly providing incorrect information. If you receive a late payment fee and penalty APR, and are in good terms with your credit card company, call its customer service line to check if they can remove both penalties.</p> <h2>2. No Harassing Phone Calls</h2> <p>While it may be funny to look up crazy calls from debt collectors on YouTube, it's definitely not fun to receive them. Debt collectors don't want you to know that you have the legal right to not answer their calls.</p> <p>Under the <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text">Fair Debt Collection Practices Act</a>, debt collectors can't:</p> <ul> <li>Call you between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in your local time.</li> <li>Contact you at unusual or inconvenient places.</li> <li>Try to circumvent your lawyer, if one is representing you regarding the debt.</li> <li>Attempt to reach you at your place of employment if no incoming calls are allowed.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Request in writing that they not call you, and keep a copy for your records. When you mail the letter, ask for a return receipt. If the collectors keep on calling you, you have ammunition to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision. The more FTC complaints a collection agency has, the more likely that the FTC will sue the agency or, in case of egregious violations, shut it down. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors?ref=seealso">Dealing With Nasty Debt Collectors</a>)</p> <h2>3. No &quot;Taking It All&quot;</h2> <p>Bill collectors will say anything to get your attention. The reality is much different.</p> <ul> <li>The <a href="http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/garnish.htm#Penalites">Consumer Credit Protection Act</a> limits the amount that can be garnished from your paycheck to the lesser of 25% of disposable earnings or the amount by which disposable earnings are greater than 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>In cases of economic hardship, creditors may not be allowed to garnish the full 25% of your disposable earning. Certain state wage garnishment laws may impose additional limits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your state's collection laws and exemptions may provide additional protections. For example, my home state of Hawaii has a <a href="http://www.govcollect.org/files/Hawaii_Debt_Collection.pdf">collection exemption</a> of $2,575 on vehicles and up to $30,000 on real property.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The <a href="http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-erisa.htm">Employee Retirement Income Security Act</a> protects qualified retirement accounts, such as 401(k), deferred compensation, and profit sharing plans from most bill collectors.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Know your rights and find out the relevant collections laws and exemptions for your state. In cases of abusive threats from debt collectors, file a complaint against them with the FTC.</p> <h2>4. No &quot;Doomsday&quot; Dates</h2> <p>Another common scare tactic from collection agencies is to anchor to a final deadline that would trigger lots of additional fees and legal problems if not met. Debt collectors know that the clock is working against them, so that's why they want to cash in as early as possible.</p> <ul> <li>Collection agents get commissions based on how big your first down payment is.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bill collectors buy debts at discounted prices, yet want to maximize their profit margins.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Debts can become too old for a collector to sue. Depending on your state's <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0117-time-barred-debts">statute of limitations</a> for credit card debt, a creditor may be out of luck as early as three years.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Always negotiate. You're not required to make a big down payment or forced to accept monthly repayment plan. When dealing with any debt collector, almost everything is negotiable, including payment schedules and deadlines.</p> <p>Bill collectors are great at playing hardball, but they know that it's in their best interest to negotiate a repayment plan that you can realistically stick to. Don't be caught off guard by malicious collection agents and keep them in check.</p> <p><em>What is your craziest story about bill collectors? Please share in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprising-things-that-can-kill-your-credit">Surprising Things That Can Kill Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">How to Erase Your Medical Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Account in Collections? Here&#039;s How to Fix It</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management bill collectors Collection Agencies credit score harassment Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:00:12 +0000 Damian Davila 1347503 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Keep Your Credit Cards Safe During the Holidays http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-holiday-online-shoppe.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The hack at Target that stole credit and debit card information from 40 million Americans happened just a year ago. If you want to avoid having your information stolen by hackers or garden variety thieves while shopping online, there are some smart steps you can take. Following are FOX Business Network&rsquo;s Gerri Willis&rsquo; five steps for keeping your cards safe from the bad guys:</p> <h2>1. Use the Official App</h2> <p>If you use mobile apps to shop, make sure you download the app from the retailer's official site. Adam Levin, Identity Theft 911 chairman and founder, suggests making sure your mobile device -- phone or iPad -- has the latest anti-virus software. Watch for free apps that contain malware. If you are shopping on websites, only make purchases on websites with an SSL encryption. This is an added layer of protection. You can identify sites with this protection by looking for the &quot;s&quot; in https:// in the website's URL. A Better Business Bureau accreditation is a positive. Read user reviews.</p> <h2>2. Verify Emails</h2> <p>If you receive promotions or discounts via emails, make sure to verify the email is legitimate. Illegitimate emails may be filled with misspellings and bad grammar, though the thieves are getting more and more sophisticated every day. You're better off getting your coupons directly from retailers.</p> <h2>3. Don't Use Debit Cards Shopping Online</h2> <p>If you take precautions, credit cards are fine, but debit cards have fewer protections. Think about it. If a hacker or thief gets your debit card password, they can get directly into your bank account. Disputing charges on credit cards is far easier than disputing debit card claims. Watch out for gift cards. If you buy them from a virtual marketplace, you may get more than you bargained for, like a virus that infects your computer.</p> <h2>4.&nbsp;Use Secure WiFi When You are Shopping</h2> <p>Doing your holiday shopping from a coffee shop or local cafe can be a disaster. Remember you and another 50 million Americans are doing their shopping online, the thieves know that, and are targeting you wherever you are.</p> <h2>5. Don't Overshare on Social Media</h2> <p>Hackers are looking for potential victims. If your profile is too high on social media, hackers may pretend to be Facebook friends or send you a special offer or discount, claiming to be a retailer. Don't fall for it.</p> <div align="center"> <p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/embed.js?id=3884620671001&w=466&h=263"></script><noscript>Watch the latest video at <a href="http://video.foxbusiness.com">video.foxbusiness.com</a></noscript></p> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Gerri Willis joined Fox Business Network (FBN) in March of 2010. She is the host of <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/videos">The Willis Report</a> (weekdays 5-6PM/ET), a primetime program that covers the leading financial and political stories of the day and their impact on consumers.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gerri-willis">Gerri Willis</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">Banks Can Manipulate Your Transactions, Then Charge You 1750% Overdraft Fee</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:25:11 +0000 Gerri Willis 1270664 at http://www.wisebread.com