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.
Ford to No Longer Allow Customers to Buy Electric Vehicles at the End of Their Leases
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.
Buying Your Leased Car Could Be a Smart Move (Right Now)
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.
Road Hazard: Major Auto Repair Chains Offer ‘No Interest’ Financing That’s Often Very Costly
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 Offers Free and Simple Way to Opt-Out of Popular People-Search Websites
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.
Saving on Gas: Which Rewards Credit Cards Offer the Best Deals at the Pump?
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.
Drivers Beware: Most States Still Allow Predatory Towing Schemes
“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.
Is It Time to Buy an Electric Vehicle?
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.
IRS Has $1.5 Billion in Refunds for Taxpayers Who Did Not File a 2018 Return; Deadline is April 18
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.
Fraud Alert: Criminals Pitch Bogus Cryptocurrency Investments
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.
Do I Owe Taxes on My Cryptocurrency Investments?
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.
Escalated Threat of Cyber Attack Makes Good Computer Hygiene Even More Critical
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.
How to Save Money at the Pump and Boost Your Car’s Gas Mileage
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.
Data Breaches Soar to New Record in 2021, Here’s How to Protect Yourself
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 Scams Are Skyrocketing. Here’s How to Protect Yourself.
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.
Don’t Get Left Behind When Your Airline Travel Credits Expire
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.
Higher Interest Rates Are on the Way; Here’s How to Prepare
To combat inflation, the Federal Reserve is expected to increase the federal funds rate three times during 2022, and possibly more in 2023. Here’s a quick look at how these increases are likely to affect consumer borrowing and saving.
Credit Score Myths vs. Reality: Don’t Let These Common Misconceptions Hold You Back
Although good credit is important for so many reasons, many people don’t understand how the system works and instead make decisions based on misinformation. Checkbook asked Liz Weston, a personal finance columnist and author, to separate myths from facts.
3G Wireless Service Will End in 2022, Stranding Millions of Mobile Devices
This year, U.S. wireless carriers will turn off their old 3G (third-generation wireless) networks to make room for 4G and 5G traffic. The first shutdown starts next week, when AT&T throws its switch on Feb. 22.
Five Ways to Save Money on Valentine’s Day Flowers
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Here are some tips on how to get beautiful blooms for less green.
Court Approves Equifax Breach Settlement: Money for Some, Free Credit Monitoring for All
Equifax will pay up to $425 million in restitution to those directly impacted by the massive data breach of the credit bureau in 2017. Settlement notices are now being sent to those who previously filed claims for monetary compensation or free credit monitoring.