Are Spam & Porn the Death of Twitter?

November 2, 2009

By: John Newcomer

Yogi Berra once said,  “Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.” This may also be the fate confronting Twitter. It became too popular, too fast.

In February 2008, there were only 475,000 unique users on Twitter. Now there are more than 7 million. That growth, in less than 2 years, represents a 1,382 percent increase. Impressive, but guess what? Because of this success Twitter has been invaded by the carpetbaggers and morally corrupt opportunists of the internet. Unless Twitter can stifle the invasion, this phenomenon may just be an exploding star.

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Foreclosures Increase – Produce The Note Offers Hope

October 29, 2009

Courtesy ABC NewsBy Larry Wiezycki:

The third quarter of 2009 has been labeled the ‘worst three months of all time‘ for foreclosures. Even though we’re seeing signs of economic recovery, people are still fighting to stay in their homes. Some get the run-around from banks, some are told by their lender they won’t renegotiate the loan, while others fall prey to lenders profiting from their foreclosures.

Using the Produce The Note strategy has proven successful in cases all across the nation as judges are increasingly holding mortgage lenders more responsible for proving their right to foreclose in the first place.

One bankruptcy court in New York has taken that burden of proof to a whole new level – not only stopping the foreclosure dead in its tracks… but THEN entirely waiving the homeowner’s mortgage debt of $461,263.

We certainly find this encouraging and look forward to how this kind of decision impacts the foreclosure crisis as it continues to unfold.

Credit Card Fees Run Amok!

October 28, 2009

Consumers be wary of your kid’s Halloween candy as well as your credit card statements this holiday. Unforeseen fees riddle unsuspecting monthly statements amidst the bank bailout debacle. Click here to watch this report by CNN’s Gerri Willis which explores the traps of credit card fees.

CWN Welcomes New Facebook Fans

October 27, 2009

FB logo

As part of our 2nd birthday celebration, the Consumer Warning Network created a new fan page on the social-networking site, Facebook. To become a fan, click HERE.

Connect with other CWN fans, share your stories and ideas and get the latest consumer information you need to mange your life. From foreclosure help to consumer products reviews, CWN gives consumers the knowledge big companies don’t want you to have, so you can fight back!

Join the Facebook revolution and connect with our Consumer Warning Network Facebook fan page. Tell your friends!

Foreclosure Help “How To” – Make ’em Produce the Note

October 27, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

Using the “produce the note” strategy is something all homeowners facing foreclosure can do. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, fight back. We have created templates for a legal request, a letter to your lender and a motion to compel to help you through the process.  Read the step by step “how to” under the videos.

Special note:  In some states, a lender can foreclose on your home without going to court.  These are called non-judicial foreclosure states.  You can still use the “Produce the Note” strategy in these states, but it takes a few more steps on your part.

Produce the Note – Steps To Follow:

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How Safe is Your Halloween Candy?

October 27, 2009

By Terry Smiljanich:

Halloween is the single biggest holiday for candy sales, but how safe is that candy? Last year’s incidents of deadly poisons in Chinese food products, including milk used in chocolate candy production, raised legitimate concerns over the safety of our imported foods. Should we continue to be concerned?

In 2009, there have been very few recalls by the FDA regarding chocolate or candy production in the United States. In June, the FDA recalled Nestle’s Toll House Cookie Dough based on outbreaks of E. coli infections in 30 states. Parents should reject any “home made” treats in their kid’s trick-or-treat bags from unknown sources, and certainly reject any home-made chocolate chip cookies this season.

The Canadian food safety inspection agency recalled Appleton Chocolates because the ingredient labels did not mention that the chocolates contain milk, thereby creating a potential safety concern for anyone with milk allergies. The British government recalled Asda Chocolate Delights, but this candy does not appear to be distributed in the United States.

The China Recall

In China, unacceptable levels of melamine (a deadly toxin used in plastics and fertilizers) was found in 2008 at several milk production facilities. Thousands of Chinese children were hospitalized or died as a result. Milk is a major component of most chocolate candies.

The two biggest chocolate sellers in America are Hershey’s and Mars. Hershey (Kisses, Reese’s) states that it never purchases milk products from China. Mars (Snickers, M&M’s) states that although it does use Chinese milk, it does not purchase any from the affected Chinese companies. In South Korea, however, the government has recalled Mars products manufactured for sale in that country. Cadbury, another manufacturer of chocolate, has had to recall several of its Chinese-made chocolates.

Hershey and Mars products sold in America are for the most part made in America, although not from 100% American ingredients. The disturbing fact remains, however, that in the ever increasing globalization of our food sources, the Food & Drug Administration inspects less than 1% of food shipments into this country. A recent GAO report found that our current system of regulations leaves the U.S. food chain very vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Currently, food inspections and safety functions are split among 15 different agencies.

The Danger & How to Protect Yourself

The facts are there for everyone to see: 76 million people a year get sick from food-borne hazards, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5000 die. Meanwhile, 9% of of the food inspector positions remain vacant due to decreased funding of employment dollars for these vital posts.

Parents should follow some simple trick-or-treating safety tips for their children, such as accompanying small children, letting them do their house to house trips only in daylight hours, and inspecting any and all candies or treats given to their children.

We can never achieve 100% food safety, and American food is comparatively safer than that in much of the world. In an age, however, where the percentage of foods we eat are grown or manufactured overseas, or made here from imported products, we have to do a better job. Is there any greater priority out there?

Excessive CEO Pay Takes a Hit

October 23, 2009

moneyThe culture of executives taking excessive pay has suffered a puncture wound.  Word from Washington that new limits are being placed on compensation at financial institutions which took taxpayer bail-out money was welcome to most average Americans.

On average, pay for the top 25 employees at those firms will be halved, though some particularly large cuts – Bank of America’s outgoing CEO Ken Lewis, who requested as much as $11 million this year, won’t get any salary or bonus for 2009, for instance – dramatically skew that figure. The firms taking the cuts are Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors, Chrysler, the insurer AIG and auto financiers GMAC and Chrysler Financial.  Still, some execs still managed to squeak by with their bonuses.

Not everyone is happy about this small dose of justice.  Some warn that limiting executive pay will lead us to a dangerous case of brain drain, sending the very talent needed to re-build these businesses elsewhere. But seriously, come on. Where are they going to go? The days of execs padding each others pockets by sitting on their buddy’s company’s Board of Directors have been outed.  Shareholders are wise to the old you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours shenanigans that became so common at big corporations.

One serious question, though, remains.  Will a real overhaul of the nation’s troubled financial system follow, or is it destined to disappear in the dust of flashy headlines over executive pay? NPR correspondent Liz Halloran takes a look at whether the focus on CEO pay and bonuses will just serve to paper over bigger problems.  Click here to read her article.

The Best & Worst Deals at Warehouse Club Stores

October 23, 2009

man at club store

By Nicole Andriso:

Shopping at one of the big warehouse clubs is a little like going to Disney World – it’s a sensory overload of things that are bigger and better than they are anywhere else. As Americans, we are conditioned to believe that bigger is better, and in a warehouse club store, buying bigger products or products in bulk is also typically cheaper. Right?

Well, right and wrong. Some items purchased at the big warehouse stores (including Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Costco) are worth buying in bulk, but other products aren’t a deal at all. In fact, the same products could be purchased at a regular grocery store or merchandiser for a much cheaper price. This quandary got the Consumer Warning Network thinking about what constitutes the best and worst deals at warehouse stores. They might surprise you.

To Buy
According to an article in Smart Money magazine, the best items to buy at the warehouse stores include: alcohol, electronics, dairy products, meat and prescription medications.

Wine, liquor and beer prices can be 35% lower than supermarket prices, while high-quality, top-notch butcher cuts of meat are sold at supermarket prices. This means the consumer is getting a higher quality cut for the same price. Dairy products such as milk, butter and eggs are good deals, especially since those prices never fluctuate in the regular grocery stores. At the warehouse stores, these items are up to 20% cheaper all the time.

Prescription medications can cost more than 50% less than the regular pharmacy chains, and according to Smart Money, the prices sometimes even beat the $4 generics sold at Walmart. A perk of going to a warehouse store – often times non-members can get their prescriptions filled at the pharmacy or online.

Not to Buy
While some items are worth the savings for a $30-$40 per year membership fee, others clearly are not. These items include: designer clothing, frozen foods, paper goods and those random items you just don’t use in their entirety.

Many designers create clothing lines specific to warehouse stores. If a true fashionista wants to buy a discounted item, a better bet would be TJ Maxx or Marshalls. And unless you have multiple freezers, the warehouse store deals on frozen food aren’t so cool, either. Since the food is in bulk, the issue of storage comes into play for the consumer – does the average consumer have enough room in their freezer for a 5-count box of frozen pizzas? Most don’t.

Which leads us to the next worst buy at the warehouse store: those items that you just don’t ever fully use, or can’t use before it goes bad. Items like large bottles of sunscreen, large cans of tuna or 5 pounds of fruits or vegetables. Unless you have a large family or are purchasing these items for a party, the average consumer probably won’t eat or finish everything, nor will they get their money’s worth.

The Question
For consumers who still believe that bigger is always better and that warehouse club stores have the best deals, might want to reconsider. Ask yourself a few easy questions before putting anything in your oversized cart: Will you finish the item? How many people will use it? Can you get it cheaper elsewhere? Asking these simple questions will not only save you money, but will also prevent you from purchasing another gallon of mayonnaise that will just sit in your pantry.

Consumer Warning Network Celebration

October 19, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of Consumer Warning Network. Click here for a special behind the scenes look at our team and what we do.

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Have They No Shame?

October 15, 2009

handing out CEO bonusesBy Angie Moreschi:

Here we are, one year after our entire financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. The good news is most banks, with a strong assist from taxpayers, are now back on steady ground. The bad news, they’re right back to the same slippery slope of executive compensation.

JP Morgan Chase had the good fortune of announcing a second consecutive quarter of surprisingly strong earnings. Chase’s hefty $3.6 billion in profit for the 3rd quarter helped send a wave of euphoria onto Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average back up over 10,000, for the first time in a year.

It all sounded so positive and reassuring, that maybe the economy really is beginning to rebound.  Then came word that Wall Street would also pay out a record $140 billion in executive bonuses, this year.  That news landed with a thud and left consumers wondering, “Have they no shame?”

When all of their 2009 profits have a lot to do with being propped up by taxpayer dollars and the drastically cut prime rate, which makes it very cheap for banks to borrow money, it just doesn’t feel right for executives to excessively pad their pockets. It’s down right sleazy when you consider just how much consumers are still hurting, with unemployment approaching 10%. Here we go again.  Wall Street celebrates, while Main Street suffers.

Instead of raking in big bonuses for profits made on the backs of citizens, how about sharing some of the wealth? Loosen up credit for small businesses, so they can get a fair shot at staying afloat and keeping people employed.  Give that homeowner struggling  to pay his mortgage, a real offer on a loan modification.

But no, on Wall Street, we see that greed does not release its grip quite so easily. Mine. Mine. Mine. Maybe if angry consumers continue to protest, we can shame these CEO’s into taking fair compensation, based on the circumstances.

Then again, maybe they’ll just take their millions and get away for a nice vacation in the south of France.

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