MMW returns after a week off … good to be back!
Anyone have a problem with Green Dot MoneyPaks
Here’s a w warning from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau:
MoneyPaks are sold at local stores and major retailers, and provide a convenient way to pay bills online and make purchases on the Internet without risk to their bank accounts. However, scammers are moving away from asking for money to be sent by wire transfer and found ways to deceive consumers into giving out vital information that enables them to empty the prepaid cards of their contents.
Green Dot says fraudsters use a variety of methods to get consumers to purchase a MoneyPak and hand over its 14-digit security code, such as:
• FBI Internet scams – Your computer screen locks up while browsing and a notice appears supposedly from the FBI or other agency. The message says you’ve broken the law and warns that you will be subject to penalties if you don’t pay.
• Lottery scams – “Winners” are required to pay fees or taxes up front to collect.
• Friends or relatives in distress – They or their friends are out of the country, in trouble and need money.
• Online auction and classified ads – The seller only accepts a prepaid card and security number to pay for an item or deposit for rental property.
• Fake job offers – The would-be employer requires money to pay for a background check, uniform or training.
• Grant fraud –You have been selected for a substantial grant, and are required to deposit a check and send funds back by MoneyPak.
• Dating scams – After several weeks, someone you met on an online dating site says he or she is moving and needs money to help out.
• Prepaid loans – You’ve been pre-approved for a personal loan, but must make two payments in advance.
MoneyPak offers these 7 tips to help protect you from fraud:
1. Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know.
2. Do not give receipt information about your MoneyPak purchase to another party.
3. Use your MoneyPak only to reload your prepaid cards or accounts you control.
4. Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a MoneyPak and share the number or receipt information by email or phone.
5. Don’t email your MoneyPak number directly to any merchant. To use your MoneyPak with PayPal or eBay or other online merchants, transfer the money to your PayPal account before you pay the merchant.
6. Don’t use the MoneyPak to pay taxes or fees to claim “winnings” on a foreign lottery or prize promotion. Unless it’s an approved MoneyPak partner, don’t use MoneyPak for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.
7. Check a list of approved MoneyPak partners before you use your MoneyPak to pay.
Your BBB also recommends being careful where and how you purchase a MoneyPak card to ensure it is authentic.
If you are aware of a possible scam, alert Green Dot (www.greendot.com). If you believe you are a victim of fraud, contact your local police to file a claim, and contact Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (www.ct.gov/dcp) and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).
YouTube today launched its paid channels, 99 cents each per month. It’s a small selection (here’s the lineup), but perhaps the beginning of yet another alternative to traditional cable and satellite television. is there a consumer who does not want a la carte television instead of the ridiculous bundles?
This weekend’s Bottom Line column:
For at least two years, says Debra Gebhardt of Tolland, she has received assessment notices, bills and statements for a property she doesn’t own and knows nothing about other than its street address in Hartford.
“I have called the [city] of Hartford numerous times, faxed and returned mail,” she says, “but still I receive these notices. If I knew the owner I’d take care of it myself.”
Gebhardt finally contacted The Bottom Line after receiving an assessment notice in early February. John Philip, the city assessor, says he had been aware of the misdirected mailings and Gebhardt should not receive any more correspondence about 1911 Park St.
So how did Gebhardt, a Tolland resident, get mixed up in ownership of a Hartford property? This is a mystery she could have solved if she knew about city and state resources available to every consumer.
The music industry has recently seen an increase in the number of concerts using restricted ticketing systems. Already, more than twice as many concerts use restricted tickets in 2013, than in 2012. Restricted tickets are tied to the purchaser’s credit card and photo ID and cannot be easily transferred or given to family and friends as gifts.
“With so many great concerts and sporting events going on all summer long, tickets make an ideal gift for fans,” said Fan Freedom Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen. “But buyers should be sure to read the fine print and use caution when purchasing tickets online.”
“Too often when trying to buy event tickets, consumers encounter unpleasant surprises – from scams, to unanticipated restrictions, to instant sellouts,” said Linda Sherry, Director of Priorities at Consumer Action. “The last thing we want to happen is consumers buying a thoughtful present for a recent grad or mom or dad only to find out they ended up with fraudulent tickets or tickets that can’t be given as gifts.”
As many consumers begin to buy tickets to this summer’s great concert lineup, Consumer Action and Fan Freedom issue the following tips to help prepare them for the most common ticket-buying pitfalls.
The guide advises consumers to:
1. Read the Fine Print: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away as a gift. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless or Will Call Only tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. With such tickets, the buyer does not receive a physical ticket and cannot easily transfer these tickets. When buying paperless tickets as a gift, Ticketmaster recommends that you pay with the recipient’s credit card and reimburse them.
2. Look into Presales: Ticket presales and holdbacks are a common practice for big-name artists but they can amount to up to 90 percent of the total tickets, leaving only 10 percent available to the general public. Holdbacks occur when artists, management, venues and ticketing companies pre-sell or appropriate tickets to fan club members, VIPs, premium credit card holders and personal acquaintances. For example, for a recent Justin Bieber concert in Nashville, only 1,001 out of 14,000 seats were available during the public on-sale.
3. Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy. A Radiohead fan recently reported purchasing a block of tickets to share with friends. When she ordered more tickets as a wedding gift, the venue threatened to cancel both orders because she was over the four-ticket max. Some events may also require the ticket purchaser to attend the show to pick up the tickets at the “will call” window. If you purchase tickets for such shows but don’t plan to attend, the gift recipient could be denied admittance to the event.
4. Use Reliable Sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure whether a company is legitimate, check its ratings with the Better Business Bureau. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.
5. Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy: For example, websites like StubHub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets, All-Shows and members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to consumers if they receive the wrong tickets, their tickets are invalid or an event is cancelled. Craigslist and other online classified sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.
6. Pay Attention to URLs: When buying tickets directly from a venue, check the website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. For example, a Bruce Springsteen fan was tricked by a website he thought was for the Times Union Center in Albany, but was actually a resale site. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.
7. Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has “https://” at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.
8. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.
Mortgage rates moved higher nationally for the first time in six weeks, with 30-year fixed-rate loans at 3.42 percent and 15-year fixed-rate loans at 2.61 percent, according to figures released Thursday by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, the rates averaged 3.35 percent (30-year) and 2.56 percent (15-year).
Here are the numbers from New England:
30-year: 3.45 percent
15-year: 2.66 percent
30-year: 3.35 percent
15-year: 2.56 percent
A year ago
30-year: 3.84 percent
15-year: 3.06 percent
The Bottom Line was prepared for his recent vacation to Aruba, where he was voted “whitest man on the beach.” (Thanks, Consumer Reports, for recommending No-Ad sunscreen lotion.) TBL also did some research before the trip on using a credit card that does not charge currency exchange fees that typically cost between 2 percent and 3 percent of each transaction. How to find one? Call up each of your credit-card companies and ask if your card charges fees in foreign countries. Turns out I had one. I used it exclusively on the trip.
If you don’t have a no-fees card, find one. CardHub.com’s 2013 Currency Exchange Study, released this week, compares currency exchange costs at 15 of the largest banks in the U.S. and Visa, MasterCard and Travelex (the world’s largest airport currency exchange operator).
You’ll find the study here.
And here’s CardHub.com’s list of the year’s best travel credit cards.
Now, a little quiet time:
What’s the definition of “studio-monitor” headphones?
No. 1: Headphones with flat linear response, and no audible coloration, that allow professional engineers to hear music precisely as originally performed.
No. 2: Headphones so big, fat and ugly that no one would risk wearing them in public. Keep ‘em in the studio where they belong!
Nuforce’s “monitor-class” HP-800 headphones are a little bit of both.
A glass of tap water, a cold shower and hosing down the car will cost every Metropolitan District Commission customer more this year. The reality of fee increases, following a vote of the MDC’s member towns last November to fund the second phase of the Clean Water Project, finally arrived this month with the year’s first quarterly bill.
But some MDC customers are paying a lot more than others.
Mortgage rates have dropped for the fourth consecutive week, with national averages for 30-year loans at 3.40 percent and for 15-year loans at 2.61, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, rates were 3.41 percent (30 year) and 2.64 percent (15 year).
Here are the numbers from New England:
30-year: 3.43 percent
15-year: 2.66 percent
30-year: 3.45 percent
15-year: 2.70 percent
A year ago
30-year: 3.76 percent
15-year: 3.14 percent
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