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Consumer Daily Reports


Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: FBI warns that cyber crooks are targeting job applicants’ personal information

PhotoThe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning job applicants that cyber crooks are running an updated ruse to try and make off with personally identifiable information (PII).

The scam is pretty straightforward. Cyber criminals pose as legitimate employers on online job sites, going as far as advertising on those sites, building out a website that smacks of something above board, and actually interviewing applicants. They give the job applicant just enough rope to give a false sense of security. Then, once they think the applicant is in their snare, the crooks go after PII and/or money from the job seeker.

Fake Job Scams have existed for a long time but technology has made this scam easier and more lucrative,” warns the FBI. “The PII can be used for any number of nefarious purposes, including taking over the victims’ accounts, opening new financial accounts, or using the victims’ identity for another deception scam (such as obtaining fake driver’s licenses or passports).”

Warning signs

There are some key elements job applicants should be on the lookout for so they don’t fall prey to the scam:

  • After being interviewed by cyber criminals masquerading as department heads or recruiters, victims are usually offered a work-at-home gig. 

  • To prove some legitimacy, the crooks will send the victim an employment contract to physically sign and request a copy of their driver’s license, Social Security number, direct deposit information, and credit card information. 

  • Criminals have also reportedly asked victims to make an upfront payment for background checks, job training, start-up equipment, or supplies. These requests usually come with the promise that the job seeker will be reimbursed in their first paycheck. 

  • Once the crooks get the money -- $3,000 on average -- they shut off all communication with the victims, leaving no way to be found.

The do’s and don’ts

When someone is looking for a job, they’re often in a tender trap thanks to needing the job to stay liquid or provide for their family. The FBI says that there are six things every job applicant should do to protect themselves:

  1. Do a web search on the hiring company. If you see multiple websites for the same company (abccompany.com and abccompanyllc.com), that may indicate they’re fakers. 

  2. Legitimate companies won’t ask for PII or bank account information for payroll purposes until AFTER someone is officially hired. 

  3. Do not send any money to anyone, particularly by wire transfer.

  4. Don’t give any so-called employer your credit card or bank account information without having them verify their identity.

  5. Keep your Social Security number and any other personal info that could be used to access your accounts to yourself. Social Security numbers are NOT always required.

  6. Before entering any type of PII online, look at the prefix of the website’s URL. If it’s secure, it should begin with “https://”, not “http://”.

And, while we’re not the FBI, ConsumerAffairs’ research has found that sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster also offer a layer of protection in making sure a job applicant’s search for a new gig is safe and secure.

And if you get hit?

If you are a victim of a hiring scam, the FBI says the following actions should be taken as quickly as possible:

  • Report what happened to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or your local FBI field office (www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices).

  • Report the activity to the website in which the job posting was listed. For example, if you saw the hiring post on Indeed, contact them.

  • Report the activity to the company the cyber criminals impersonated. You can also do a reverse look-up of website ownership via a “WhoIs” search, which could give you official contact information for the company and/or the site’s registrar.

  • The moment you see something suspicious, contact your bank ASAP and, a) direct them to stop or reverse the transactions, and; b) ask them where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Starbucks pledges to cut water use and waste to meet new sustainability standards

PhotoSome companies are taking the initiative to stay on the good side of younger consumers who are driving a trend towards more eco-friendly business practices. The latest example is Starbucks, which announced a new set of standards it hopes to meet by the year 2030.

In a public letter, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said that his company is trying to “think bigger” when it comes to taking steps to protect the planet. With that in mind, he said that Starbucks will be taking the next decade to “become resource positive and give more than we take from the planet.”

“Sustainability has been at Starbucks core since the beginning and consistent with our belief that we can build a great business that scales for good,” he said. 

New sustainability goals

The new goals that Starbucks lays out focus primarily on reducing the company’s waste, carbon footprint, and water use. Three preliminary targets that Johnson lays out in his letter include:

  • Reducing 50 percent of Starbucks’ carbon emissions through its direct operations and supply chain;

  • Conserving or replenishing 50 percent of water withdrawal for direct operations and coffee production, with a focus on communities and basins with high water risk; and 

  • Reducing waste sent to landfills from stores and manufacturing locations by 50 percent, with a broader shift toward a circular economy.

In addition to these goals, Johnson says Starbucks will be looking to implement five additional environmental strategies that it will reassess with the rest of its pledge in 2021 when Starbucks celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

The five strategies include:

  • Expanding plant-based options to migrate towards a more environmentally friendly menu.

  • Shifting from single-use to reusable packaging.

  • Investing in innovative and regenerative agricultural practices, reforestation, forest conservation, and water replenishment in the company’s supply chain.

  • Investing in better ways to manage waste -- both in stores and communities -- to ensure more reuse, recycling, and elimination of food waste. 

  • Innovating to develop more eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing, and delivery.

“Today is a milestone for our business as we declare our concern for our planet’s future and commit to do more,” Johnson concluded.

Read more ...

Consumer News: BMW recalls 375,000 more cars to address Takata airbag issue

PhotoThe Takata airbag saga goes on, more than five years after it began. BMW has recalled nearly 375,000 older models sold in the U.S. to replace the inflators in Takata airbags.

These vehicles were recalled earlier and their airbag inflators were replaced with temporary ones until the permanent equipment became available. The permanent replacements are now ready to be installed.

The BMW recall affects BMW vehicles manufactured from 2000 through 2013. They include the X1, X3, X5, and X6 SUVs, and 1 Series and 3 Series sedans, wagons, coupes, and convertibles.

This recall follows one in December in which BMW recalled nearly 75,000 model year 1999-2001 323i, 325i, 328i & 330i, and model year 2000-2001 323Ci, 325Ci, 328Ci, 330Ci, 323iT & 325iT vehicles with Non-Azide Driver airbag Inflators (NADI) manufactured by Takata.

These vehicles may have also received temporary replacement inflators, but the replacement NADI inflator may absorb moisture due to a manufacturing issue. This could cause the inflator to rupture or the airbag cushion to underinflate.

Earlier this month, Takata recalled 10 million additional airbag inflators that were used as replacements, saying they could be subject to the same deadly flaws as the ones they replaced. 

BMW says consumers who had the temporary inflators installed in their airbags should take their vehicles back to the dealer right away to have the permanent equipment installed.

Five years and counting

In May 2015, Takata reluctantly agreed to recall 34 million airbags after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the propellant in the inflators could degrade over time, causing them to spray bits of metal through the vehicle cabin when they deployed.

It was found that long-term exposure to high temperatures and extreme humidity makes the Takata airbag inflators even more unstable, meaning they are more likely to explode in cars driven mostly in southeastern states.

In the following years, nearly every major manufacturer was affected. In the most expensive and complicated recall in history, a total of nearly 42 million vehicles required modifications to their front-seat airbags.

Takata filed for bankruptcy protection two years after the initial recall, saying the step was necessary to enable it to complete the recall and repairs. The faulty airbags are blamed for 16 deaths in the United States and hundreds of injuries.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Tesla calls unintended acceleration claim ‘completely false’

PhotoTesla has disputed a claim that its cars are subject to instances of unintended acceleration as “completely false.”

The claim was made in a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that pointed to 127 consumer complaints of the cars suddenly taking off on their own, leading to 110 accidents and 52 injuries.

In dismissing the claim, Tesla said the petition was filed by a person who is currently shorting Tesla stock, meaning they profit if the stock of the company goes down. Tesla stock is currently at record highs, with some analysts giving it a price target of more than $500.

In a blog post, Tesla said it reviews all complaints about its cars that are filed with NHTSA. In every case, it says there has been no evidence of unintended acceleration.

“While accidents caused by a mistaken press of the accelerator pedal have been alleged for nearly every make/model of vehicle on the road, the accelerator pedals in Model S, X and 3 vehicles have two independent position sensors, and if there is any error, the system defaults to cut off motor torque,” the Tesla Team wrote.

‘The car does what it’s told to do’

The bottom line, says Tesla, is that its cars only accelerate if the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake.

In the last decade, Toyota recalled about 10 million vehicles in the wake of hundreds of complaints about unintended acceleration. The recall, however, was to replace floor mats that safety investors concluded were the cause of the crashes.

But that didn’t stop reports of cars accelerating on their own. In 2015, federal safety regulators estimated there were 16,000 "preventable crashes caused by pedal error," attributing all the accidents to driver error.

It urged drivers to keep their feet in the middle of the accelerator and brake pedals and to wear suitable shoes. A NHTSA spokeswoman said footwear -- such as flip-flops, heavy boots, or high heels -- can contribute to pedal error crashes. 

Read more ...

Consumer News: How much value has your new car lost?

PhotoYou’ve probably heard it said that a new car loses thousands of dollars in value the minute you buy it. It’s true, but some new cars lose their value faster than others.

It’s not something most car-buyers probably think about because they’re usually more concerned with what the vehicle costs, what the monthly payments will be, and what options come with the car.

Those are all important factors, but Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says how well a new car holds its value should also be part of the buying decision. It has analyzed the resale values of dozens of models and generally found that saving money by purchasing a base model will usually cost you when it's time to sell or trade it in.

When it comes to brands, KBB says Subaru and Porsche hold their values the best -- Subaru among mainstream brands and Porsche among luxury nameplates. Both provide the most bang for their buck in the long term.

"Once again, this year's Top 10 models are dominated by trucks, except for the all-new and much-hyped 2020 Chevrolet Corvette appearing on this year's list,” said Eric Ibara, director of residual values for KBB. “Without the imminent prospect of significantly higher gas prices, the used-car demand for trucks continues to be an ongoing, multi-year trend, directly impacting new cars."

Top 10 models

The 10 2020 models that retain their value best are:

  • Chevrolet Corvette

  • Chevrolet Silverado

  • Ford Ranger

  • GMC Sierra

  • Jeep Gladiator

  • Jeep Wrangler

  • Ram Pickup

  • Toyota 4Runner

  • Toyota Tacoma

  • Toyota Tundra

While Subaru did not place a model on that top 10 list, it shows up prominently in the breakdown of vehicle class. The Impreza claimed the title among compacts, the Legacy was best among midsize cars, the Crosstrek took top honors among subcompact SUVs, the Forester was tops among compact SUVs, and the Outback held its value best among two-row midsize SUVs.

Depreciation is the biggest cost

According to KBB, depreciation is often the biggest expense that vehicle owners face in the first five years of ownership. An average 2020 model-year car or truck will only retain about 37 percent of its original value after a five-year ownership period, meaning that a $35,000 new car today will only be worth somewhere close to $12,950 after five years. 

KBB says all the vehicles in its Top 10 are expected to retain more than 50 percent of their MSRP during that period. 

Because of steep depreciation, a growing number of savvy consumers are buying three-year-old used cars instead of a new vehicle. When buying a used car, selecting a vehicle not on the KBB list -- one that has already lost a lot of its value -- might provide the best bargain.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Amazon wants to scan shoppers’ hands as new payment method

PhotoChecking out at a grocery store or brick-and-mortar business may soon be as simple as waving your hand. 

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that Amazon is in the process of developing technology that would allow consumers to use their handprint as a payment method. The process would work by linking payment card information to a person’s hand so they could quickly get through the checkout line without the hassle of pulling out a card or cash.

The new payment method would likely require specific checkout terminals to work, but the retail giant is reportedly looking to introduce them first in coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, and other retail locations.

People familiar with the developments say that Amazon is already working with Visa to test the new terminals and is looking to do the same with Mastercard at some point in the future. Card issuers like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are also supposedly being contacted to support the financial side of the equation.

Amazon continues push into retail

Amazon has been continuing to push into the physical retail space after finding massive success in the online market. Following the rollout of several of its Amazon Go stores, the company was reportedly considering opening up a similar line of supermarkets in 2020.

People familiar with the matter said that the new stores would be powered by the same cashless technologies used in Go stores, which allow consumers to pick out items and pay for them upon exiting the store without having to wade through a checkout line.

A separate report suggested that Amazon was also looking to expand its number of Amazon Go stores by placing them in airports, movie theaters, and other merchant locations.

Read more ...

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