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.
Why Did I Get a Small, Unexpected Payment From the IRS?
By law, the IRS owes interest on refunds that accrued between the original April 15th filing deadline and whenever the refund was actually paid.
Many Consumers Enrolled in COVID-19 Payment Modification Programs Find Their Credit Files Erroneously Tarnished
Many lenders let their customers make reduced payments or skip payments altogether, without damaging their credit histories. But, in many cases, companies haven’t held up their end of the deal.
My Gym Is Closed and Still Billing Me. Can It Do That?
What happens when your gym is forced to close because of a pandemic? Should you get a refund for the time you were locked out? And what can you do if the company wants to keep your money and credit your membership account, instead of processing a refund?...
Amid a Troubled Economy, Credit Cards Cut Credit Limits and Cancel Cards
As the unemployment rate continues to climb due to the coronavirus outbreak, the banks that issue credit cards are taking defensive action by closing accounts and reducing credit limits.
Scammers Cash-In on COVID-19: How to Protect Yourself
The coronavirus pandemic is a dream come true for con artists across the globe: Millions of people are afraid of getting sick and struggling to make ends meet, just as trillions of dollars in stimulus funds make their way into the economy.
Is Your Auto Insurer Offering Help During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Most of the largest U.S. insurance companies have announced plans to give their auto policyholders some form of relief. Some insurers are offering a lot more help than others.
How to Create and Easily Store Secure Passwords
Password management software helps you create strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts.
FCC Offers Subsidies to Help Families Afford Computers and Connect to the Internet
Starting today, the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide financial assistance to families who need help paying for internet access or buying a computer.
Millions of Americans Still Waiting for Stimulus Money; Some Won’t Get It Until Tax Time
More than two-thirds of all the Economic Impact Payments have now been sent out electronically, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. That’s significantly faster than delivery of the first stimulus checks last April. Even so, that leaves millions of Americans still waiting for federal relief.
How to Shop Safely Online This Holiday Season (and the Rest of the Year, Too)
Like everything else during this pandemic, holiday shopping is different this year. Stores are open and malls are decorated, but even diehard brick-and-mortar shoppers are more likely to buy online. That reduces the risk of getting infected, but increases the chances of falling victim to cybercriminals.
Save on Prescription Drugs: How to Pay Less Than Your Insurance Copay
Websites and apps like GoodRX, America’s Pharmacy, Blink Health, Optum Perks, RXSaver, SingleCare, and WellRX can offer discounts so steep that you might pay less for your prescription medicines than the copays you'd pay under your health insurance plan.
Data Breach Impacts Donors at Hundreds of Nonprofits
Donors and members of more than 240 organizations recently had their personal information compromised during a breach at Blackbaud, a company hired by many nonprofits to manage their data. Unfortunately, so far Blackbaud hasn't shared much info about who was affected.
Is That Email from the U.S. Census Bureau or a Cyber-Thief?
The Census Bureau is emailing more than 20 million households to encourage participation. Top digital security experts interviewed by Checkbook agreed that this is a bad idea that creates an opportunity for cyber-criminals.
Retailers Respond to COVID-19 by Expanding Return Windows
As stores across the country reopen, customers will soon be able to return some unwanted merchandise they’ve been stuck with during the coronavirus shutdown. Some retailers have already made changes to accommodate the inconvenience.
Fraud Alert: A New Religious Twist to the Old Gift Card Scam
Con artists are putting a new twist on the old gift-card scam by sending out email and text messages that look as if they originated from someone at your church, synagogue, or mosque asking you to buy some gift cards to give to needy congregants or others in the community.
Strategies for Stocking Your Fridge and Pantry During the Pandemic
There’s a growing list of grocery-buying options that don’t involve you braving a mainstream grocery store or banging your head against the booked-up delivery service dilemma.
Now You Can Check Your Credit Files Once a Week for FREE
During the coronavirus crisis, the three major credit-reporting agencies are making it easy for you to track what’s happening to your credit history in real time.
Where’s My Coronavirus Stimulus Payment? Here’s How to Check
You’ve looked in your checking account and your government stimulus payment hasn’t arrived yet. Don’t panic. Here’s when you can expect to receive it.