Welcome to Consumers’ Notebook, where we feature news-you-can-use and other timely information to help you become a more informed consumer. Check back often to read the latest pieces in our Notebook.
New Climate Law Provides Big Tax Credits for Electric Vehicle Purchases, but Few Models Qualify Right Now
The new Inflation Reduction Act provides billions of dollars in tax incentives for clean-car buyers. But the law includes restrictions that could make it difficult or impossible for you to take advantage of the tax break anytime soon.
At a time when consumers are especially focused on saving money at the supermarket, some shoppers—those who are tech-challenged or digitally disconnected—are unable to access “digital only” sale prices advertised in weekly store circulars.
To avoid misleading consumers, endorsements should be genuine and honest, and any relationships (such as compensation) between the advertiser and the endorser should be disclosed. In May, the FTC proposed several revisions to its guides that would clarify and strengthen rules for traditional media, plus apply guidelines to cover influencer endorsements.
Tens of millions of Americans have seen their creditworthiness plummet in recent years due to unpaid medical bills. Recently, the three major credit bureaus agreed to significantly change how they treat this debt.
For years, we’ve been promised that new technology would solve the robocall problem. But phones keep ringing.
Lease an all-electric vehicle from Ford and you no longer have the option to buy that car or truck when your agreement ends. As of June 15, Ford eliminated the purchase option for new leases on the F-150 Lightning, E-Transit Van, and Mustang Mach-E.
At the end of their lease, many people turn in that old vehicle and lease another one. They like driving something new––and it doesn’t make economic sense to buy that old ride. A shortage of new and used cars has changed that economic equation, at least for now.
Many auto repair shops work with third party lenders to offer on-the-spot “free financing.” Unfortunately, these offers can turn out to be costly loans, with interest rates sometimes as high as nearly 200 percent.
Discover recently launched its free “Online Privacy Protection” program, which it says will make it easy for its customers to remove their personal information from 10 popular data-collecting websites. My test drive found that the program works well, but its reach is pretty limited.
Gas prices in the U.S. are soaring to record levels. One way to reduce pain at the pump is to use a rewards credit card. While you might think the best choice of plastic when filling up are those partnered with big oil companies, general-purpose rewards cards tend to offer better deals.
“Predatory towing,” where towing companies pay kickbacks to private businesses or law enforcement, is banned in only 17 states, and continues to create needless problems for drivers, according to a new report from the consumer advocates at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Electric vehicle sales are still a tiny part of the U.S. auto market. But surging gas prices are driving up demand and automakers are racing to get new plug-in hybrids and all-electric models to market.
Time is running out for the estimated 1.5 million people who did not file a 2018 federal income tax return. After April 18, these unclaimed refunds—totaling almost $1.5 billion—will become property of the U.S. Treasury Department.
A gold-rush mentality created by the cryptocurrency craze has people sending money to companies that promise huge returns in days or weeks without first checking them out. Often, they’re scams—cyber criminals are increasingly luring victims who hope to get rich quick.
If you sold or exchanged any virtual currency last year—including using it to buy goods or services—and the value of that crypto was higher than when you acquired it, you likely made a taxable capital gain, subject to federal taxation.
Your digital devices are vulnerable to a malware attack anytime they’re connected to the internet, but the war in Ukraine has raised this risk. It is more important than ever to break bad computing habits.
Unless you can park your car and drive less, there are three ways to deal with soaring gasoline prices: Hunt for the lowest price; chose the best way to pay; and then squeeze the most miles out of every gallon you buy.
Cyber criminals compromised 1,862 databases in the U.S. last year, according to the annual data breach report from the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center. That’s a 68 percent jump from 2020, and a 23 percent increase from the previous record of 1,506, set in 2017.
Social media websites and apps are increasingly magnets for crooks looking for victims. About one quarter of all fraud losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year resulted from scams that started with social media ads, posts, or messages.
Millions of Americans who had flights canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still sitting on billions of dollars in unused airline credits. The clock is ticking: Many vouchers expire soon. Unfortunately, airlines often make it complicated, if not impossible, for consumers to use them.