Locksmiths Key in on Desperate Customers

May 15, 2012

True scam artists know that the best time to take advantage of someone is when they’re desperate; like when they’ve just locked their keys in their car.  An ever-increasing wave of dishonest locksmith activity has been spreading across the country, utilizing the tried and true “bait and switch” technique. For more information, click here to watch the story above by reporter Connie Thompson at KOMO TV in Seattle .

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Don’t be fooled by “1st One’s Free!”

May 12, 2012

Have you ever wanted to buy one of those precious, gotta-have, collector’s items?  You know.  The kind that advertise: “First one free!! No obligation!!”?  Well, before you do, click here to watch CWN’s Terry Smiljanich explain why you should be careful.

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Email Virus Scam Gone Postal

May 11, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

The U.S. Postal Service has recently reported that some customers are receiving bogus emails about a package delivery.

The subject line reads : “USPS Delivery Failure Notification,” and the message claims that the USPS has attempted to deliver a package.

To receive the package , customers are instructed to click on the link provided , but what they receive is a virus that collects personal information like usernames, passwords and financial records.

Adding insult to injury, there is no package waiting for them.

Scam Casts Wide Net

Since everyone in the country is a customer of the postal service, this new scam is more clever than previous ones. In the past, imposters would claim to be representatives from the customer’s bank or credit union, but if the recipient didn’t use that particular institution, the jig was up.

Steve Stebbins, with the Postal Inspection Service says, “Right now, our federal agents are working with the IT folks at the Postal Service in an attempt to track down the source of these scammers.”

What to do?

If you receive a questionable e-mail, either delete it immediately, or check with the Postal Service to make sure it’s authentic. There is also a toll-free number you can call (1-800-ASK-UPS)  , or you can email them at spam@uspis.gov to request assistance.

Most importantly, keep in mind that the internet is a swindler’s playground, and today’s technology makes it possible for anyone to re-create a company’s logo or design, and pose as a legitimate representative. So be careful, and always err on the side of caution, or else you might receive an unwanted special delivery.

Mother’s Day in Bloom

May 10, 2012

With Mother’s day right around the corner , it’s time to show mom your appreciation. Flowers have always been one of the most popular gifts for the occasion, but what’s the best way to get them? Is it cheaper to order on-line or get them from a local florist? Roses are an excellent choice , but watch out for the thorns…like expense , hassle with ordering and timely delivery.

Watch the video above to see Angie Moreschi put the options to the test, in this popular CWN story comparing ProFlowers, 1-800-Flowers, Teleflora and a local florist.  Click here for more detailed information on the comparison.

Gifts Other Than Flowers

If you’re looking for something other than flowers to give as a gift, be sure to do your research before sending one of those fresh fruit packages by Edible Arrangements.  They caused so much indigestion for Angie that she wrote this piece for “Where’s the Outrage.”

Complain if You’re Not Satisfied

Lastly, more than anything, remember to stand up and complain if you are dissatisfied.  This is tough, but even if it means telling your loved one that your gift was a bust, it is important to do so. Otherwise, they will never know they wasted their money and may use the company again.

Barely Used Gadgets for Sale

May 10, 2012

Are you an electronic gadget junkie? If so, then you most likely have experienced the frustration of keeping up with the latest technology. Constantly upgrading your iPad , iPod and iPhone can make you i-Broke!  Luckily, now there are several buy back companies willing to pay you cash for your slightly-outdated toys.  Click here to watch the story above by reporter Nydia Han of WPVI-TV  for some tips on who will give you the best price for your used gadgets.

Warning Signs that a Used Car is a Rebuilt Wreck

May 9, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

Buying a used car has always been a risky business. Today more than ever, consumers can’t afford to take a chance on buying a lemon, and it may turn out that the used car you are looking at is more used than you might think.

A vehicle that appears to be in good shape, might be hiding a history of damages, and if you know where to look you can spot the telltale signs before getting swindled.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things to look for, according to a story on ConsumerReports.org:

1. Paint that chips off or doesn’t match indicates damage repair and poor blending.

2. Paint over-spray on chrome, trim, or rubber seals around body openings reveals that the adjacent panel was repaired.

3. Misaligned fenders suggest a poor repair job or use of non original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) parts.

4. CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) sticker on any part may indicate collision repair.

5. Uneven tread wear reveals wheel misalignment, possibly because of frame damage.

6. Mold or air freshener cover-up suggests water damage from a leak or flood.

7. Silt in trunk may mean flood damage.

8. Fresh undercoating on wheel wells, chassis, or engine strongly suggests recent structural repairs covered up.

9. Door that doesn’t close correctly could point to a door-frame deformation and poor repair.

10. Hood or trunk that doesn’t close squarely may indicate twisting from side impact.

An inspection by a certified, trustworthy mechanic is always the best defense , but you can save yourself the trouble if you are well -informed and privy to the warning signs of a rebuilt wreck.

Thanks for Sharing: The Facebook Invasion

May 8, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

Imagine filling out a job application and coming across the following demand: “Please provide your Facebook username and password,” or “Please accept Human Resources Director Jane Smith as a ‘friend’ on Facebook.”

The ever-growing presence of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter has influenced corporations, as well as college admissions to boldly request such information.

If that sounds a bit invasive to you,  Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) would agree. That’s why he recently introduced a bill to Congress called the Social Networking Online Protection Act, or SNOPA.

Legislation would ban requirement

The legislation would ban employers from requiring that employees or job candidates share social networking passwords. It would also ban post-secondary schools from disciplining students for failing to provide such access or from discriminating against applicants who refuse to provide such access.

Maryland passed a similar bill last month making the practice illegal; Engel is now introducing it on the national level.

But the legislation has a long way to go, and most likely needs similar bills to pass at the state level before gaining enough strength to pass as a national act.

What to do if it happens to you?

If this effort is a little too late , and you’ve already relinquished the precious key to your Facebook privacy, don’t worry…there is an answer.

If you provided your password, of course, you can always change it later, to prevent further access. If you were forced to ‘friend ‘ a supervisor, you can take action to limit their access.

Facebook offers you the opportunity to limit your audience for all future posts, allowing you to keep someone from seeing your activity without dropping them as a friend.

Go to your privacy settings page, and under “control your default privacy”, click on “custom.”

On the tab marked “hide this from,”  just type in the friend’s name you wish to block and then click on “save changes”.

It’s that easy. Your so-called friend will be none the wiser.

To them, it will appear that you’ve just been inactive.  Meanwhile, you’ll still be able to share all your comic musings about American Idol and the pictures of the lasagna you’re eating for dinner with all of your real friends.

Edible Arrangements Causes Indigestion

May 7, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

Consumers are always searching for something other than flowers to give as a gift, especially with holidays like Mother’s Day here.  If you’re thinking of sending something from Edible Arrangements, the company that sends fresh fruit packages, be sure to do your research, first, or you could end up with indigestion.

I recently experienced some of the worst customer service I’ve seen in a long time from a Tampa store. While one bad experience, may not be conclusive, a quick internet search of “Edible Arrangements Complaints,” bares out the fact that I was not alone.

A family member wanted to send me a nice Mother’s Day gift and ordered a package from Edible Arrangements.  She lives in Pittsburgh and called her local store, which then sent the order to a store here in Tampa, to be filled and delivered.  Apparently, that seemingly simple process fell apart when the Tampa store failed to follow the simple guideline of “calling first” before trying to deliver.

Calling First – Too Much Trouble

Twice, the company tried to deliver to my home during the middle of the day, when, of course, I am at work.  They never called the contact number provided to arrange a location or time.  Finally, on the third day, they called. I told them I would be home after 5:30pm, which remarkably, prompted the delivery coordinator to snap at me for their wasted time.  He barked that he’d already tried to deliver twice, and that they “can’t guarantee what time we deliver.” I suggested that they should not promise customers they can deliver if they can’t accommodate delivery at a later time or to a different location.

Speak Up When the Gift goes Bust

It kind of digressed from there, but in the end, I told them to cancel the order.  They did not deserve my relative’s business.  I had to call and tell her how much I appreciated the gesture, but that it wasn’t worth the aggravation the company was causing. As hard as that is to do, consumers do need to stand up and tell a loved one when a gift turns out to be a bust.  Otherwise, they will never know they wasted their money and may use the company again.

Unfortunately, the old adage holds true all too often.  “No good deed goes unpunished,” especially with the epidemic of poor customer service in society today.  But I must say, Edible Arrangements in Tampa, takes the cake… or the fruit.. as it may be… for being obnoxious and discourteous to a customer.

Don’t Get on the Sucker List!

May 4, 2012

The latest mortgage scam works a lot like the old ones. Slick talkers preying upon people who are down on their luck. Here’s how it works.  Posing as government-linked agency representatives, scammers call homeowners who have unknowingly been placed on a “sucker list.”  Click here to watch the story by WFLA-TV  reporter Shannon Behnken, in Tampa, Florida.

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How Dangerous are Tanning Beds?

May 3, 2012

A New Jersey mother arrested for taking her young daughter to the tanning salon has raised the question of just how dangerous getting that golden tan can be. Turns out, it’s pretty risky. Studies show tanning salons are now considered to be as carcinogenic as tobacco and asbestos. Click here to watch this report by Dr. John LaPook with CBS News.

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