With three people confirmed dead and more than 170 wounded in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings, there likely will be a big need for donations to help victims. Sadly, such tragedies often bring out con artists who use bogus websites, telemarketing, e-mail, and other types of soliciting to trick people into giving. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has already reported seeing what it terms one "poorly-conceived charity scam" related to the Boston bombings.
Even if you waited till the last minute to file your taxes, if you're entitled to a refund you can still purchase savings bonds that earn more than a savings account at your bank or credit union. Even better, those bonds automatically keep up with inflation.
Tax-related identity theft can turn your life upside down and take years to resolve. I know, because it happened to me in 2007, after someone submitted an electronic tax return—days before I filed—containing personal information about me and my family, and a bogus return address. The mess took piles of paperwork, a tax advocate, and more than two years to resolve. To this day I still have nightmares that it could happen again.
Consumers' outlook continues to take a toll on retail spending, according to the Consumer Reports Index, a monthly overall measure of Americans' personal financial health. The index's past-30 day retail measure fell to 9.6 from 9.9 the month before, continuing a decline that started in January.
Many infomercial products aren't worth more than the time you spend watching the frantic pitches. But three that we've tested combine good performance and real value: Lint Lizard, Ninja Master Prep Professional blender, and Ooma.
Q: My husband and I are ready to start investing in a 529 college savings plan for our child. Do you recommend that we go with the one offered by the state where we live, New York, or choose the best performer from another state?—A.D., Eastchester, N.Y.
The recently expanded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Consumer Complaint Database lets you submit and view gripes about bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and more, but its use is limited.
The federal government has secret shoppers like Consumer Reports has, and they're not afraid to use them. Last year, investigators with the Government Accountability Office contacted the 30 largest 401(k) service providers to see how easy it would be to move 401(k) savings from one plan to another, as when one joins a new company. What they encountered, in a report the GAO released this week, was inefficiency, and occasional misinformation.
Q: I need information or reviews about trustworthy debt consolidators. Can you point me in the right direction? —J.L., via e-mail
Attention Walmart shoppers (or is that drivers?). The retail giant has just launched a fuel-price rollback that knocks off as much as 15 cents per gallon on purchases at more than 1,000 Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations in 21 states. The promotion runs through July 7.
Q: A storage-company rep told a friend that he had to purchase storage insurance to cover what he keeps there. But his agent says he's covered by his homeowners policy. Does he need the extra coverage? —J.F., Dumont, N.J.
If you're a college student or a young adult, building credit is a smart money move. But finding a credit card with reasonable terms that will help you build credit could be expensive. Many of the cards marketed to young people with little or no credit carry high interest rates and steep setup and annual fees.
Sheryl Sandberg's controversial memoir and handbook for career women, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, argues that women can and should act more aggressively and proactively in the workplace to achieve the positions they deserve. Her philosophy resonates with me in another sphere of women's lives: Saving and investing money.
A New York appellate court's decision today to uphold most of the 2009 conviction counts against Anthony D. Marshall, charged with defrauding his mother, the late philanthropist Brooke Astor, calls attention to a crime that's growing nationwide: financial elder abuse.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: