July 26, 2012
By: Darrin Clouse
It’s no secret these days. Everyone is well aware of how easy it is to download your favorite music in less time than it takes to find your car keys. It’s a natural progression in our techno-hungry world, and music was destined to change as the ability to receive it and listen to it changed as well.
July 18, 2012
For many people, their dog is more than just a pet, they are part of the family. That’s why it’s particularly frightening to learn about the latest increase in dog napping cases across the country. What used to be a rare occurrence, is now a large black market scheme that’s putting pet owners on alert! Click here to learn more and watch this report on NBC news of this harrowing trend.
July 17, 2012
Shopping at one of the big warehouse club chains, like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s, can be an afternoon adventure for some. Lots of good deals and super-sized products can lure you in to a purchasing frenzy. But is it worth the cost? Don’t look now, but you might not be saving as much as you thought.
CNBC reports that customers may believe they’re paying for a chance to save money, but some experts think membership fees actually cause consumers to spend more. Membership in these club stores does not come free; each requires you to pay before you purchase a single item. Sam’s Club charges $40 for basic membership, BJ’s $50, and Costco $55.
Part of the twist with warehouse clubs is you have to make up that initial investment, before you start saving money. Certainly, you can save money, but you may end up buying more than you need in the long run. There are good deals, though. According to a Consumers’ Checkbook survey published by the not-for-profit Center for the Study of Services, BJ’s prices were on average 29 percent lower, Costco’s 30 percent lower, and Sam’s 33 percent lower than the largest supermarket chains.
Lack of Selection
The trade-off is often a lack of selection. Warehouse clubs carry a relatively small array of items in a limited range of sizes. The Consumers’ Checkbook survey found that warehouse club shoppers would only be able to find about half of the products they buy at their regular supermarket. BJ’s carries roughly 7,200 individual items, Sam’s club about 4,900 items, and Costco around 4,000.
Click here to read more in the full report from CNBC.
July 2, 2012
It’s car buying season, so what better time to rank the best cars made in the the USA. It wasn’t too long ago that we weren’t even sure if the American car industry would survive, but now it’s putting out some highly praised vehicles on the road. J.D. Power and Associates recently released quality rankings, and US cars have made great strides.
There are also several Asian and European car brands that have vehicles assembled in the United States, Like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, but for pure, 100% “Made in America” there are several good choices to consider.
Here’s quick list of the Top 5:
1. Cadillac CTS
2. Buick LaCrosse
3. Ford Flex (Actually made in Canada– *Thanks to a CWN reader for pointing out this discrepancy)
4. Chrysler 300
5. Ford Focus
Other sources, like TotalCarScore.com, a website that ranks car models, can also provide information on car models.
June 25, 2012
Most of us have fallen victim to the embarrassment of rushing to post a comment on a friend’s Facebook picture, only to misspell a key word that causes nothing but confusion to the reader or announces your momentary illiteracy to the world.
For example, your friend posts a picture of her puppy, and of course you want to compliment her new pet. But instead, you end up telling her that she has a “really cute pappy.” No offense to your friend’s grandfather, but your intentions might be questioned.
Up until recently, your only option to correct the keystroke error was to publish a retraction message, clearing your name of the mistake…kind of. The original message still existed and was fair game for mockery.
Facebook finally recognized the problem, and now they have developed an option which allows you to edit the mistake, even after posting. Best of all, there’s no need to add a correction message. The fix is simple. All you need to do is hover your cursor around the top right corner of your message, and a pencil symbol will appear. Click on this, and you will be free to quickly edit your words, hopefully before anyone decides to have a good laugh at your expense or praise you for your unique admiration for “pappy.”
June 22, 2012
If the rising cost’s of health insurance has put your finances in an unhealthy condition, some relief could soon be on the way. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 12.8 million Americans would benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates.
According to the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are required to spend on average at least 80% of premiums on actual medical care, instead of overhead and profits. Many health insurance agencies apparently have not been applying these percentages to their monthly spending.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the final refund amounts that health insurers will have to hand over, with the average family receiving $151 back from their providers.
DeAnn Friedholm, Director of health reform at Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, says “This is exciting news for families struggling with rising health insurance costs. Because of the health reform law, consumers now are actually getting money back from insurance companies who spent too much money on overhead.”
If you’d like to see a projected list of insurance companies who are expected to be handing out refunds, click here.
It’s certainly a good sign to see that health insurance companies are being kept in check,and even a better sign to see them writing checks instead of you for a change!
June 13, 2012
If you rarely get a good night’s sleep, then you’re probably aware of the side-effects: grogginess all day, difficulty concentrating, and a tendency to be moody. Now, there’s concern over a new, potential danger in keeping poor sleep habits.
The Sleep 2012 conference , held last week in Boston, revealed that individuals who get less than 6 hours of sleep, are 4 times more likely to have an increased risk of stroke, compared to those who get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Click on the video above to watch a report from NBC News.
The Results are In
The study, which lasted three years, examined 5,666 adults who were aged 45 and older. They reported their sleep habits and duration and symptoms of strokes every 6 months. The investigators recorded daily health habits, risk factors for stroke, any symptoms of depression, demographic information, health related behaviors, and onset of first stroke like symptoms throughout the study period.
In the study, the elevated risk applied to those who were middle aged and older, but who also were not obese, (had a normal BMI) or had a history of more traditional risk factors for stroke.
These new statistics might be a good reason to start catching a few more zzz’s.
The Numbers are Rising
According to Forbes’ website, the National Sleep Foundation released data showing that only 28 % of adults sleep 8 hours or more per night, down from 38% in 2001.
Also, a recent CDC study published in May, 2012 showed that approximately 30% of US workers get six hours of sleep or less.
Getting plenty of sleep now joins the list of ways to decrease your chances of stroke, which also includes exercising frequently, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, not smoking and everyone’s favorite– eating a low calorie, well balanced diet.
Of course, theses are all important requirements for living a healthy life, and many times we would sleep more if we weren’t so busy. This new research just might be the deciding factor for you to begin a more healthy lifestyle.
June 7, 2012
LinkedIn confirms that more than six-million of their user’s accounts were compromised, after a hacker posted a list of stolen user passwords on a Russian internet forum. The confirmation prompted LinkedIn to send out a mass alert , instructing all of the affected users to immediately change their passwords. Several of us here at the Consumer Warning Network received that vague email from LinkedIn, mentioning nothing more than a need to reset our password.
A dual assault?
eHarmony, an online dating site, also announced they had been victimized by the same attackers that wreaked havoc on the LinkedIn site. Investigators working on the LinkedIn breach became suspicious when they noticed a large number of the posted passwords contained the word Harmony or eHarmony, and after further inspection, their theory turned out to be true. eHarmony estimates 1.5 million passwords were stolen from their users.
But wait, there’s more!
As with any disaster, the damage seems to feed off itself, opening up opportunities for other disreputable scams.
The increasing wave of fear generated from this recent lapse in security, most likely has spawned another hoax. A spam campaign that uses service messages pretending to be from LinkedIn. Be careful, so you don’t fall for any fakes trying to get your information. As of yet, no connection has been established between the data breach and the spam messages, but the timing seems suspicious.
How to recognize the scam
The bogus LinkedIn message, designed to represent a formal communication from the site, asks the recipient to confirm his or her e-mail address by clicking on the provided link. That click will transfer the new victim to an illegal online pharmacy,selling Viagra and other medications. That’s always the tell-tale sign of a hack job when you get sent to one of those ad sites.
The campaign couldn’t come at a worse time for LinkedIn, which has been using e-mail to communicate with its members affected by the massive breach of its systems.
How to tell if LinkedIn communication is legit
LinkedIn is using a two-step process in their attempt to clean up this mess. Users affected by the breach will first receive an e-mail without any links in it. It informs the member that they must reset their password and provides them with steps for doing so.
Lastpass, a password-management firm, is offering a free security check for anyone who thinks their password might have been stolen. Click here to visit their site, where they provide specific tools for checking either your LinkedIn, or your eHarmony password.
Knowledge is Power
On-line corruption will always be around. In fact, hacking techniques advance at about the same pace as legitimate technology. The consumer’s best defense is to stay informed and up to date with the latest privacy control options. Keep in mind how much of your personal information sits right inside of your online device, it’s worth protecting.
June 6, 2012
Facebook is researching technology that would allow children 12 and younger to join in on its social networking phenomenon. Right now, members need to be 13 years old to join, but if you think underage kids don’t lie about their age in order to join, then you’re really going to be surprised to find out your 11 year old can probably hack into any password protected account on your laptop (remember that whenever you are making birthday gift lists).
That somewhat gullible approach to parenting is what children and teens rely on, so they can stretch their boundaries. It doesn’t mean you have a bad kid, it just means kids are very curious about all the bad things they’re told not to do, and most children aren’t famous for considering the consequences of their actions until it’s much too late.
Facebook trying to be the good guys?
I know Facebook bashing is all the rage, but before lighting the torches on them, you should be aware that their intentions here are actually on the side of safety. The Wall Street Journal reported the new technology would allow parents to decide who their kids can accept as a friend, and what applications they can use.
The hope is that kids will choose to go with the legal, parental-controlled version of Facebook, with mom or dad supervising and giving clearance on every action they take. That’s much better than what’s no doubt happening now. Underage kids telling a little white lie about their age to gain access to the full-on version, with nobody watching what they say or do in the vast and endless virtual playground. No rules, and no parent okay needed to add a friend or anything else.
Just an introduction course
Susan Bartell, a psychologist and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask, told USA Today that she has other concerns as well. “I really worry that it comes with a false sense of safety. I think too many parents will think their kids are safe on “Baby Facebook” and now they don’t have to monitor them. And after a month or two of that, they’re going to be like, “I’m done with that” and will start a regular Facebook, and Tumblr and Twitter and just use a name their parents don’t know.”
Other concerned critics worry about the enormous privacy issues that already exist on Facebook. So if they can’t protect the flock they’re herding already, why should we trust them to keep the wolves away from our even younger, and more innocent children?
Tell us how you feel. Do you “Like” the new technology idea for Facebook, or should they “Delete” the whole idea?
May 30, 2012
1) Cardio Before Breakfast, Every Day - “It’s called fasting cardio because your 15 minutes of cardio is actually burning stored fat,” James explained on “GMA.” “It’s tapping into your stored fats and starting your day off positive.”
2) Three Meals, Two Snacks, Lots of Water - “It [water] obviously hydrates you but works for skin elasticity too and your overall look,” James said. “And, fueling your body, there’s no shortcuts … protein, carbohydrates are important as well and minimizing your fats. That’s the secret.”
3) Lift Weights Four Days Per Week - “It’s really important for skin tone and also for muscle tone,” James said of his recommendation to lift weights for 50 minutes four times per week. “Women tend to shy away from weights but it really does work. You’re targeting things with a three-pronged approach of cardio, weights and healthy eating. They all work together as a matrix to help you get in shape quickly.”
Bottom line… it always helps to eat less and exercise more. Can somebody invent a pill for this already?!