Tag Archives: Consumers

U.S. Consumers Lose More Than $7 Billion to Online Threats, Consumer Reports Survey Finds

Yonkers, NY (PRWEB) August 6, 2007

The online threats associated with using the Internet remain high according to Consumer Reports’s latest “State of the Net” survey. Consumer Reports projects that U.S. consumers lost more than $ 7 billion over the last two years to viruses, spyware, and phishing schemes.

Additionally, the “State of the Net” survey shows that consumers face a 1 in 4 chance of succumbing to an online threat and becoming a cybervictim, a number that has slightly decreased since last year.

The number of consumers responding to e-mail phishing scams has remained constant at eight percent. Consumer Reports projects that one million U.S. consumers lost billions of dollars over the past two years to such scams.

Many underage youngsters are at risk on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, the survey found. In households surveyed with minors online, 13 percent of the children registered on MySpace were younger than 14, the minimum age the site officially allows, and three percent were under 10. And those were just the ones the parents knew about.

Based on the survey, Consumer Reports projects that problems caused by viruses and spyware resulted in damages of at least $ 5 billion replacement over the past two years.

The 2007 “State of the Net” survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center among a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 households with Internet access.

Consumers can visit http://www.ConsumerReports.org/security to access the full “State of the Net” report including free tips related to online protection, avoiding viruses, and reporting cybercrimes.

Among CR’s key 2007 “State of the Net” findings:

Based on survey projections, computer virus infections prompted an estimated 1.8 million households to replace their computers in the past two years and 850,000 households to replace computers due to spyware infections in the past six months. Additionally, 33 percent of survey respondents did not use software to block or remove spyware. And CR projects that 3.7 million US households with broadband remain unprotected by a firewall.

Spam: Consumer Reports’ survey respondents have reported a lower proportion of spam reaching their Inbox than in the past, which CR believes is a result of better spam-blocking. Survey results indicate that about 650,000 consumers ordered a product or service advertised through spam in the month before the survey. Additionally, in 5 percent of the households surveyed that had children under 18, a child had inadvertently seen pornographic material as a result of spam.

Viruses: Computer virus infections held steady since last year according to CR’s survey. CR notes that this is actually a mark of progress for consumers and software makers, because the threats have become more challenging. In the latest survey, 38 percent of respondents reported a computer virus-infection in the last two years. Seventeen percent of respondents didn’t have antivirus software installed.

Spyware: In the past six months, 34 percent of respondents’ computers were exposed to a spyware infection. CR’s survey also reveals that although spyware infections have dropped, the chances of getting one are still 1 in 3, and of suffering serious damage, 1 in 11.

Phishing: Eight percent of respondents submitted personal information in response to conventional phishing e-mails in the past two years, a number that has remained unchanged over the past two years. The median cost of a phishing incident is $ 200. Yet scammers’ tactics are improving – e-mail looks like it comes from a reputable business such as a bank and features better grammar, more believable stories, and more authentic-looking Web addresses.

Consumer Reports rates internet security suites

Consumer Reports tested nine internet security suites, four of which are Quick Picks that protect against viruses, spyware, and spam as effectively as the best stand-alone products.

ProtectMyID.com Provides Consumers With Vital Tips On Internet ID Theft Protection

Irvine, CA (PRWEB) April 26, 2009

ProtectMyID.com a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution, today announced Internet ID Theft Protection tips. If consumers spend any kind of time online they’re probably concerned about security; and rightfully so. Whether it is e-commerce, personal banking, bill paying or social networking, sooner or later consumers run the risk of exposing themselves to internet identity theft.

Ironically enough, the best line of defense against identity theft attacks is the one thing people give the least amount of thought to: their username/ password combination. Statistically, most people create username/password combo’s that are easy to remember. They tend to be associated with obvious personal data, like:

A partner, child, or pet’s name, sometimes followed by a 0 or 1
The last 4 digits of a social security number
Numerical sequences like 1,2,3,4
The word password
Hometown, city, college, favorite sports team
Date of birth – partner’s or child’s

The fact that most people use the same username and password for all their online accounts only compounds the danger of http://www.protectmyid.com/default.aspx?PageTypeID=HomePage17&SiteVersionID=815&SiteID=100302&sc=669082&bcd=semidtprw210408ts01 internet ID theft. If a hacker can hijack one password, they instantly have access to your other accounts. This can lead to identity theft, http://www.protectmyid.com/default.aspx?PageTypeID=HomePage17&SiteVersionID=815&SiteID=100302&sc=669082&bcd=semidtprw210408ts03 credit card fraud and a huge headache for consumers.

Consider this: password hijackers will go through trash, mail or the pages of social networking sites to dig up the info they need to crack a password. In fact, social networking sites are a key source for this kind of personal information. In spite of this level of personal invasion, there are still some very simple techniques consumers can practice to help protect password:

Indiscriminately trade out numbers and symbols for letters: h@ck3rs
Random caps are also an effective technique: h@Ck3Rs
Use something from the past: a random place, a favorite toy, etc. Don’t use names of friends or classmates, old address or phone numbers.
Vary username/password combinations among accounts.

Unfortunately, even if consumers follow all these techniques, they could still be hit by a brute force attack. This is where password hijackers use specifically designed software to crack security. This software is free and readily available online, so little can be done to stop this kind http://www.protectmyid.com/default.aspx?PageTypeID=HomePage17&SiteVersionID=815&SiteID=100302&sc=669082&bcd=semidtprw210408ts01 internet ID theft.

About ProtectMyID.com

ProtectMyID.com is a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution. We are passionate about helping our customers defend against identity theft and shielding them from the hassles and financial loss that can accompany this crime. Our U.S.-based team, which includes experienced Identity Theft Resolution Professionals, is dedicated to providing easy-to-use and convenient products as well as personal service that our customers can rely on.

ProtectMyID.com is part of a family of online sites belonging to ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. was founded in 1995 to give consumers quick, easy, and inexpensive access to their credit histories. It is now the leading provider of online consumer identity theft protection, credit monitoring, credit scores and credit reports to millions of U.S. consumers.


AccuQuote Advises Consumers to Compare Value vs. Price When Shopping For a Term Life Insurance Quote

Wheeling, IL (PRWEB) July 22, 2009

AccuQuote, a leader in providing term life insurance quotes to people across the United States, advises those shopping for term life insurance quotes to compare value vs. price before making a buying decision.

“Unfortunately, many consumers buy life insurance policies based on price alone. However, you shouldn’t assume that you qualify for the lowest priced policy, especially if you don’t meet the health and lifestyle criteria,” says Byron Udell, founder and CEO of AccuQuote. “The reality is that there is much more to consider such as the company’s financial ratings and additional features that may be beneficial to you in the future,” says Byron Udell, founder and CEO of AccuQuote.

Udell suggests consumers shopping for life insurance consider the following tips to ease the decision-making process:

Look for a Company that’s Rated A- or Better – “If a life insurance company is not financially stable, they may not be around to pay the death benefit, leaving your family in the cold when you are no longer around,” says Udell. Check out AM Best and Company for financial ratings.

Understand the Policy Features – “Many term life insurance policies offer special features, such as renewability rights, full convertibility, child riders, etc. Be sure you understand what options are available to you because these features may be the key to protecting your loved ones financial futures,” says Udell.

Look for Guaranteed Rates- “Be sure that when you receive a term life insurance quote, it is a guaranteed rate. Be cautious of life insurance companies that only offer you a projected rate, because the policy could actually end up costing you more out of pocket than you can actually afford,” says Udell.

Avoid “Come On” Rates – “Make sure that you actually qualify for the term life insurance policy you are quoted, according to your individual health and lifestyle profile,” says Udell. “Often times, companies simply list the least expensive policy at the top to entice people to apply,” says Udell. “However, these rates are offered to only the healthiest people.”

“Shopping around is the best way to find inexpensive life insurance rates,” says Udell. “Take advantage of the internet and sites like AccuQuote, which can provide you with term life insurance quotes quickly and compare them with several other top-rated companies in the industry. And remember, if a cheap term life insurance rate looks to good to be true, then it probably is.”

About AccuQuote:

AccuQuote helps consumers find the best values in term life insurance by combining instant online life insurance quotes with the personal service of unbiased life insurance professionals that can help answer questions, identify important issues, and make meaningful recommendations. The company offers consumers an extensive selection of life insurance options, including term life, whole life, and universal life, as well as selected annuities. The website has many handy insurance tools, including a life insurance needs calculator to help you figure out how much to buy, a glossary that explains industry terminology, a collection of articles that cover the basics about life insurance, and a blog which answer many questions about life insurance. For additional information or to get quotes for discount term life insurance, please call 1-888-314-4455.


Advantage Rent a Car Offers Consumers Value Priced Car Rentals in Two New Locations in Southern Florida

Park Ridge, NJ (Vocus) August 17, 2009 –

Advantage Rent a Car has announced the openings of two new locations, in two new markets for the Company, in Florida: Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The locations complement the 13 facilities recently opened in major leisure destinations across the country, including: Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Seattle, and Tucson.

“The Miami and Ft. Lauderdale openings validate Advantage’s commitment to offering low cost, quality car rentals at leisure destinations throughout the United States,” said Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Hertz Corporation. “We look forward to Advantage being available in the southern Florida region, and providing consumers with economical car rentals in two of the top leisure markets in the country,” Frissora added.

Advantage provides travelers with clean and easy transportation for a fraction of the cost of traditional car rental companies. Locations are situated in key leisure destinations across the U.S., and offer customers quality cars at affordable prices. Reservations can be made at the Company’s website, http://www.advantage.com, via all major online travel agencies – including CheapTickets

Financial Expert Advises Consumers Not to Get Hung Up on Their Credit Scores When Deciding What to Do About Their Debts

Austin, Texas (PRWEB) September 30, 2009

When financially-troubled consumers evaluate their get-out-of-debt options, far too many of them get needlessly hung up on how a particular option will affect their FICO scores, says Michael Bovee, president of the Consumer Recovery Network (http://www.consumerrecovery.com). He explains, “Although consumers who are not in financial crisis should always be mindful of their FICO scores when they are managing their money and making financial decisions, credit scores are the last thing consumers should be worried about if they are running out of money, can’t meet their financial obligations, and at risk for losing their assets. They should focus their attention instead on determining which debt management option will work best for them taking into account the dollars and cents and the flexibility of each option. They should also consider issues like their employment status and their likely financial needs and goals over the next 5 to 10 years. For example, do they expect to be in the job market soon, maybe because their current job is not secure or because they need to earn more money; will they be applying for a federal PLUS loan in a couple years to help fund the college education of their child; is it likely that they will need to finance the purchase of a new vehicle in the foreseeable future, and so on? Consumers’ answers to such questions may argue in favor of a particular debt management option.” Bovee warns that consumers who fail to focus on the right issues risk making irrational decisions about what to do about their debts which would probably make their financial situations worse as a result.

According to Bovee, consumers have three basic options for resolving their debts. Each option has its own pros and cons when evaluated using his decision making criteria. Those options are:

Enroll in a debt management plan (DMP) sponsored by a nonprofit credit counseling organization. Typically the interest rate on the debts in the plan will be reduced, which will lower a consumer’s monthly payments. However, statistics show that most DMPs take 5 years to complete and in today’s shrinking job market it’s important to get out of debt faster than 5 years whenever possible. Consumers who take longer will be at greater risk for seeing their income go down while they’re paying on their plan, which could mean that they wouldn’t be able to remain in the plan. If that were to happen, they would lose the lower interest rates on the debts that they are paying off through their DMP and the new rates on those debts end up being higher than what they were prior to starting their plans. In fact, a 2006 study released the National Foundation for Credit Counseling revealed that only 26% of the consumers enrolled in one of its DMPs actually completed their plans.

File for bankruptcy. Consumers who are able to qualify for a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy will get most of their debts wiped out (discharged) relatively quickly although they may also have to give up some of their assets in return. The fact that they filed for bankruptcy will be in their credit histories for ten years; even so, they will be able to obtain small amounts of new credit 2-3 years after their discharge.
Consumers who file a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy will be responsible for paying off most of their debts (the full outstanding balances on some types of debts rather than something less) over a 3 to 5 year period according to the terms of a court-approved and supervised plan and may not have to give up any of their assets. (During that time the consumers’ finances will be under the court’s microscope.) Historically however, only 30% of consumers actually complete their Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

Both types of bankruptcy will trigger an automatic stay, which is a court order stopping the collection actions of creditors. Those actions include foreclosures, repossessions, and lawsuits.

Settle debts. Debt settlement involves negotiating reduced balances on consumers’ unsecured debts. Typically, settlement helps consumers get out of debt faster than filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or participating in a DMP. As a result, consumers who pursue debt settlement can begin rebuilding their credit histories sooner and generally can qualify for new credit about 18 months after completing their last settlement. However, settling a debt won’t stop lawsuits related to their unsecured debts like bankruptcy will, although reputable debt settlement firms will work to reduce the likelihood of lawsuits.
In Bovee’s opinion, taking the math and other practical factors into consideration and putting FICO scores aside, Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides most consumers with the fastest most complete relief from too much debt. However, when DMP and settlement are compared, settlement is usually their second best option.

CRN helps consumers protect their rights when they have too much debt, make sound financial decisions, and alleviate their economic stress by providing them with clear-cut debt settlement education and advice coupled with affordable full service debt negotiation and settlement services. (CRN does not settle student loans, car loans or mortgages.) Its consumer education, coaching, and debt negotiation and settlement services coupled with its reasonable fees have made CRN a leader and innovator within the debt settlement industry, setting standards for fairness, ethics and best practices.


The Right Travel Coverage to Inspire Confidence in Travel-Hungry Consumers

East Hartford, CT (PRWEB) October 29, 2009

Finding the right travel insurance plan can be difficult. There are many products to choose from, and all travelers have different needs. The simplest way to find the right coverage for your trip is to determine your needs.

Some people want to make sure the cost of their trip is covered if they need to cancel, others want their health and medical needs covered by travel medical insurance. Maybe you have a nice new set of luggage to protect, or you heard about the astronomical cost of emergency evacuation.

Everyone looks for travel insurance to cover different needs. You need to determine what your needs are, and find the policy that works best.

Start looking at the different plans, specifically checking the coverage that meets your needs. Price shouldn’t always be the first concern, getting the right coverage is.

Travel Insured International knows buying travel insurance isn’t hardbut finding the right plan for you and your trip can be very confusing.

In fact, the actual buying part is so simple you can get a quote, pay with a credit card, and get an email confirmation of coverage in just a few minutes. The challenge is understanding the coverage and finding the right plan for your needs.

Before your trip, these risks might include last-minute cancellations due to sickness, severe weather, or even terrorist attacks. During your trip, it provides coverage for emergency/accident care, medical evacuations, travel delays and missed connections, lost/stolen baggage, and more.

Travel insurance can be purchased for both domestic trips and travel abroad. It can be purchased to cover a two-day weekend trip, or a trip up to 180 days (30 days maximum on Lite products).

Travel Insured’s plans include four choices:

Worldwide Trip Protector Gold

This plan is used by most travelers because it’s loaded with benefits, including: trip cancellation, exceptional medical coverage, medical evacuation, cancel for work reasons, lost baggage, missed connections, collision damage waiver, and several others.

Worldwide Trip Protector

This plan provides a broad range of benefits in one simple plan, including: children under 18 are free when traveling with and related to the primary adult enrolled in the protection plan, trip cancellation, medical emergencies, concierge assistance services, lost baggage, missed connections, and several others.

Worldwide Trip Protector Lite & Worldwide Trip Protector Lite Expanded

These plans are designed for domestic getaways with core travel benefits, including: trip cancellation, one child per adult is free, travel assistance services, medical evacuation, baggage delay, itinerary changes, and several others.

1-Year Job Loss Protection + Cancel for Work or Any Reason

InsureMonkeys Top 5 Points Consumers Should Know About The New Health Care Reform Changes

Las Vegas, NV (Vocus) September 22, 2010

InsureMonkey today highlighted five important points that consumers need to know about the Health Care Reform changes taking effect on Thursday, September 23 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Key September 23 changes:

1. Children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage when applying for an individual health insurance policy or as part of a family heath insurance plan.

2. Your health plan can no longer be rescinded if you get sick (except in cases of fraud or willful misrepresentation).

3. Health plans will no longer have lifetime or annual benefit caps.

4. Preventive screenings, such as annual physicals, mammograms, pap smears, and other services, will be provided to you without charge. Your health plan will pay for these services, but cannot apply a co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible payment.

5. Dependents can remain on their parents health insurance plan until age 26.

InsureMonkeys five points consumers need to know about the new law:

1. If you dont replace your current insurance plan, you wont get the benefits of the Health Care Reform changes. This applies to individual health insurance, family health insurance, as well as small group health plans. However, when replacing your plan, be sure your new health insurance is in place before cancelling your existing plan.

2. If you dont think you can afford health insurance, look again. Even the most barebones, inexpensive plans will now come with free, preventive, and often life-saving services. In Nevada, most people can get an individual health insurance plan for less than the cost of cable television service.

3. Many carriers are no longer providing health insurance quotes for child-only plans. Currently in Nevada, you can only get health insurance coverage for your child as part of a larger family health insurance plan. Today, these plans are only offered through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Assurant Health, Coventry One, or United Health One. A health carriers plan offerings for children can change at any time so check back often.

4. We expect quotes for individual health insurance, family health insurance and self-employed health insurance to continue to increase. New health insurance plans are now required to provide more services and therefore will have to raise rates to pay for it.

5. Your dependents can stay on your health insurance plan until the age of 26. This change is a major benefit for families because it means that a child with a chronic medical condition like diabetes can maintain health insurance coverage without having to re-apply as an adult, risking coverage denial for having a pre-existing condition. In 2014, all individual and family health insurance plans will be prohibited from denying coverage to anyone based on a pre-existing condition.

About InsureMonkey

InsureMonkey is the quickest and easiest way for individuals and families to buy health insurance. It provides a simple online tool that allows consumers to get free health insurance quotes from leading companies without providing invasive personal information. Customers are provided quotes, information and options that allow for educated and informed decisions when purchasing health insurance. Once a customer has selected the plan thats right for them, InsureMonkey enables the customer to apply for the plan online.

InsureMonkey fully automates the quoting, application and enrollment process of becoming insured. It is offered as a free public resource, charges no application fees, no broker fees, and its tools, support and services are free for life. To learn more about how to get the best rates, compare plans and buy personal health insurance online please visit http://www.insuremonkey.com or call 1-800-771-3739.

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Ecollective Easy E-Waste Recycling Helps Consumers Take It Back For Good

Santa Clara, CA (PRWEB) October 5, 2010

Consumers and businesses need an easy and convenient way to recycle their obsolete and unwanted electronics. Starting today, Californians have a convenient, safe and free way to recycle this e-waste, by turning to ecollective, a statewide network of drop-off locations that accept old TVs, monitors, computers, cell phones and other electronics for free.

Our consumer research showed us that the biggest barrier to recycling for most was time and proximity. So we set ourselves a goal: to establish an ecollective drop-off location within 10 miles of most households in America, said Jim Taggart, president of ECS Refining, the company that is behind the ecollective initiative. Ecollective locations are being added every day, and each location has to meet a strict set of criteria to become part of the program. By choosing to recycle your e-waste at any ecollective location you can be sure that any personal data on your computer or cell phone will be destroyed, and that all of your e-waste will be recycled properly.

How to find an ecollective drop-off location, and what to expect when you get there

Its easy: visit myecollective.com, enter your zip code, find your closest ecollective location, and then take it back for good. Once you get to your local ecollective, someone will help you get the e-waste out of your car if you need assistance. You may be asked to give some of your identification information (like your name, address and phone number) for state reporting and regulatory purposes only.

What to recycle, and why ecollective is good for the environment

The ecollective program is designed to take back most kinds of unwanted and obsolete electronics. If it plugs into the wall and you use it to communicate, gather information, store data, or enjoy media and entertainment, its probably part of our program. For a complete list: see this list of what we recycle. All ecollective drop-off locations send their e-waste to state-approved plants operated by ECS Refining, which uses advanced and environmentally friendly e-waste recycling procedures.

E-waste is a growing global problem that requires dependable, local solutions

It is estimated that the world generates almost 12 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency has just added the disposal of e-waste to a list of the agencys top four environmental priorities, alongside issues such as climate change, air quality and access to clean water. And, each year, more states adopt legislation to help support recycling of this kind of material. ECS Refining, the company behind ecollective, sees this as an opportunity to work together to solve this international challenge by leveraging existing industry resources, fostering best practices, and employing public outreach and education.

How to connect with ecollective

For the nearest e-waste drop-off location, visit http://www.myecollective.com. Tell your family, neighbors, friends and workmates about ecollective through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

About ECS Refining

ECS Refining is a recycling and end-of-life services company specializing in electronics, industrial equipment and hazardous wastes. Utilizing a variety of approaches, including recovery and refining, asset management, and refurbishment and resale, we are dedicated to optimizing our services for a sustainable outcome. Because we work with such a wide variety of materials from hundreds of different sources, and have strong connections with partners both upstream and downstream, were adept at applying our skills and knowledge to formulate smart and planet-friendly solutions for our customers. Recycle responsibly. Recycle with ECS Refining. For more information about our operations and the latest news from ECS Refining, visit our website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter page (@ecsrefining).


Holiday Red Alert: Consumers More Vulnerable to ID Theft During Holiday Season

Austin, TX (PRWEB) December 13, 2011

For many consumers, the swipe of a credit card and the cha-ching of a cash register officially rings in the holiday season. It is important, however, for consumers to remain vigilant while shopping to ensure they dont put themselves at undue risk for identity theft.

We want consumers to be safe when shopping online and in stores this holiday season, says Jamie May, Chief Investigator at AllClear ID. With all of the commotion this time of year, its easy to let your guard down, not only in a hectic store but when making online purchases as well.

In order to make sure your money is safe this holiday season, AllClear ID, the worlds first 100% free essential identity theft protection service for consumers, offers six easy safety tips for in-store and online shopping: