Monthly Archives: November 2014

App of the Week: Cash Dash

FindSave-app-for-iPhone-and-Android-phonesIts the holiday shopping season and as I have said before merchants are waging all out war for your shopping dollars.  Wal-Mart is matching Amazon.com’s and pretty much everybody else’s online prices. Price matching is a common weapon retailers aim at each other.

The app of the week is Cash Dash and it is the latest weapon in the retail arms race. Wanderful Media, creator of the couponing app Find&Save that located coupons for stores near you has announced they have a new twist on the concept. The Cash Dash app basically lets retailers push promotions at you the minute you walk into a competitor’s store or even get close to one.

It really pretty simple; lets say you’re at Wal-Mart, Target would use the app to offer you a $25 incentive to visit one of its stores within 24 hours. This is retail war and the goal is to steal shoppers away from the competition. “When you’re walking into a Home Depot on Saturday morning, your intent is clear,” says Ben Smith CEO of the company. “You’re in home repair mode. That would be a very valuable audience for Lowe’s.”

The app uses your smartphones GPS location to track you. But instead of offering coupons at the store you are shopping at the app tries to send you to the competition. If you accept the offer and make a purchase you submit a photo of your receipt using the Find&Save app. The cash reward goes into your PayPal account. According to Smith the next version of the app will connect to users’ credit cards, and subtract the dollar amount automatically from the purchase.

CashDash has only been available for three weeks and already some 50 retailers have jumped on board. Retailers such as Walgreens and Macy’s, are spending the money to send these notifications and poach the competition. Over 100,000 alerts have been issued since the app launched. Smith claims that about 30 percent of shoppers who receive an alert actually click through and accept it.

Cash Dash has even changed how users feel about having their location tracked. Before the app was introduced only 20 percent of users opted into geolocation. That number has now reached 80 percent. 

The only drawback to the use of the app is the competition’s store may be too far for the shopper to visit. Experts believe that the app would work much better in densely populated areas where the competitor’s store is easier to reach. But the cash incentive could make the drive more palatable.

Retailers are at war and you win anyway you look at it. Cash Dash is available for Apple and Android.

CryptoLocker Threatens the Holiday Season

cryptolocker-2.0Ransomware is not hard to understand. Its simply software, or malware, that takes control of your computer, encrypts all your files and threatens to destroy them unless you pay a ransom. Right now CryptoLocker is terrorizing people all over the world and destroying the joy of the holiday season.

CryptoLocker is probably the nastiest and most infuriating malware to ever cruise the information super highway. It’s primary target are users of Windows computers and devices running Windows 7, 8, Vista and XP operating systems. Most African-Americans use Windows computers. Apple users you are safe…for now. This particular malware has taken over even police computers not once but several times. The last thing you need this holiday season is the joy of paying hundreds of dollars for a computer you already own.

What makes this malware particularly nasty is that it gives you 96 hours to pay up. And some variations of the malware actually have a timer displaying the countdown until your files are destroyed. This adds significantly to your anger and frustration To get your files back you can be charged anywhere from $300-$800. Tracing the pay off ransom is next to impossible since it must be paid using Bitcoin or some other digital currency. The large ransoms combined with deadline make this malware far more aggressive than other malware. Another ugly fact is that it’s spreading faster than any other malware currently known.

The holiday season is one reason that the malware is spreading so fast. According to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team, it appears in email in boxes appearing to be a tracking notification from UPS, FedEx or USPS.

Corey Nachreiner, Director of Security Strategy at Watchguard Security says, “This lure is far more common for the holiday shopping season,” he said. “As people are doing more shopping online, they’ll be more likely not to suspect emails about packages. My guess is we’ll also see CryptoLocker mimicking emails from Amazon and other shopping sites, too.” During the holiday season African-Americans send and receive packages by the millions. So a notice from a delivery service would not draw a lot of attention. That’s why this malware is so dangerous. But fortunately you have to do more than just open the email. You have to actually click on the attachment or link to download the malware.

There are a few ways to stop the spread and keep yourself safe.

  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date and scan emails and attachments before you open them.
  • Keep track of packages you are expecting and their tracking numbers. Tracking numbers sent in an email do not normally require you to download anything.
  • Examine the mail for double extension files. They have .pdf.exe extensions. If you see this at the end of an attachment or web address use extreme caution.
  • Make sure you have your files backed up on a separate drive or storage device.

If you do get this malware and you are backed up then its becomes a lot easier to clean up your system. According to Nachreiner, just about every anti-virus vendor has a CryptoLocker cleanup tool. A victim can use their regular anti-virus software or Nachreiner suggests the tutorial at FAQ at Bleeping Computer, which he links in his own blog post. You can also find some free tools from a few good Samaritans. These good guys have developed tools to stop CryptoLocker before it starts. One is called CryptoPrevent, and it prevents your computer from downloading double-extension files.

You can get more information about fighting CryptoLocker and eradicating it from your computer at these sites;

Answer.Microsoft.com

CryptoLocker: How to Avoid Getting Infected and What To Do If  You Are

New Site Recovers Files Locked by Cryptolocker Ransomware

Now you know.

Online Holiday Shopping Series #4 Price Matching

canstockphoto15776464Nothing is more frustrating than buying something and discovering later that another store has it for less than what you paid. And you know its going to happen sooner or later. Most of the great shoppers know how to go back to the store and ask for a price match. Most stores will give you a refund for the difference. This is especially true during the holiday season.

Being a great shopper means never having to pay too much. Price matching has become a powerful tool for many stores who want your business. African-American spending power has passed $1 trillion in the last year. And you better believe that retailers want a piece of that action. As an savvy consumer you ned to know who is doing price matching and how long you have to take advantage of it. You also need to pay attention to Black Friday prices and Cyber Monday as well. Some of these stores will price match even those ultra low prices. And what is really awesome is that you can get that a price match as much as 30 days after you make the purchase. So after you buy that killer microwave oven or flat screen television make sure you keep an eye on the sales. You might have a few dollars coming back at you.

Here is a list of stores that offer price matching and how long you have to get that money back.

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Abercrombie.com (14 days)

  • You have 14 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if price is lowered.
  • From their website, “For orders shipped to the US and Canada, we are happy to process a price adjustment for you if we reduce the price of any merchandise (in the same color and size) that you have ordered from us within fourteen (14) days from the date that you submit your order.”
  • Item must be purchased at the original price. This means you can’t get a price adjustment on a marked down clearance item.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 14 days.

 

Amazon.com (7 Unknowndays)

  • While Amazon.com does not advertise a price protection policy, I have it on good authority that you can successfully request one within 7 days of your purchase if the price is dropped.
  • I actually called and spoke with a customer service rep and was told I would have 7 days to request a price adjustment.
  • Price adjustment excludes items sold by an Amazon 3rd party.
  • Simply call Amazon customer service at 1-888-280-3321 to request your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Definitely worth a try. The rep I spoke with didn’t know for sure which was hilarious.

 

Unknown-1Ann Taylor (14 days)

  • Price adjustments are not eligible on special promotions, including %’s off (e.g., 25%, 40%, and 50% etc.) and $’s off.
  • One price adjustment for merchandise purchased at full-price, which has been marked down for the first time, may be made within 7 days from the original date of purchase.
  • Ann Taylor stores are not able to process price adjustments for online orders.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: No.

 

UnknownAnthropologie (14 days)

  • When you buy in-store, or online, you can get a 1-time price adjustment within 14 days of purchase if the item is now on sale.
  • From their website, they “do not offer price adjustments on shipping charges at this time.”
    • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as       your purchase is within 14 days.

 

Banana Republic (14 daBanana-Republic-Logoys)

  • Just return to your local Banana Republic within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

Best Buy (15 days)best-buy-logo

  • From the Best Buy website, “If we lower our price during the return and exchange period (15 days), we will match our lower price, upon request.”
  • Just keep your receipt and head back to the store to get the lower price.
  • For online purchases, call them at 1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289) and request your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday: No.

 

the-childrens-place-logoChildren’s Place (7 days)

  • The Children’s Place has a very clear 7 day policy.
  • Item must be originally purchased at full retail price.
  • Sale and discounted items are not eligible.
  • Online orders cannot receive price adjustments in brick & mortar stores. Instead, call them at 1 (877) 752-2387 to get price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 7 days prior.

 

Costco (30 days)Costco-Logo

  • Costco has a very nice price adjustment policy of 30 days.
  • Just bring your receipt back in within 30 days and get your price adjustment.
  • If for some reason your Costco does not allow a price adjustment, just return the item and re-buy it at the lower price.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

250px-Dick's_Sporting_Goods.svgDick’s Sporting Goods (14 days)

  • I called my local Dick’s Sporting Goods and spoke with a manager and was told I would have 14 days to get a price adjustment on an item that I bought which then came up for sale in their ad circular after my purchase.
  • Be sure to return to the same store (with receipt in hand) that original purchase was made for best results.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchases call them at 1-877-846-9997.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, definitely worth a shot.

 

o.jpgExpress (14 days)

  • Express will happily give you a price adjustment if the price is lowered within 14 days of original purchase.
  • Only valid for in-store purchases and not valid at the Express Factory Outlet.
  • According to their website, “Price adjustments are not provided during storewide sales.”
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: I am to assume that Black Friday is a storewide sale so you won’t be able to get a price adjustment.

 

Fry’s Elect299202-bigthumbnailronics (15/30 days)

  • 15 day price adjustment on laptop computers, desktop computers, CD and DVD recorders, camcorders, digital cameras, and air conditioner units.
  • 30 day policy on most everything else.
  • Price adjustments not available on items that were originally bought on sale or clearance.
  • Call customer service at 1-408-350-1484 to get your online price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Definitely worth a try.

 

GAP (14 dagap-logo-old-unevenys)

  • Just return to your local GAP within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

Gymboree-LogoGymboree (7 days)

  • Take in your original receipt within 7 days of purchase and get your price adjustment at Gymboree.
  • According the Gymboree website, “Online purchases cannot receive price adjustments in retail stores.” Call them at (877) 449-6932 to get your price adjustment on an online purchase.
  • They reserve the right to designate that price adjustments are not available during certain promotional events.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Be sure to ask, although I am guessing that Black Friday will be a predetermined promotional event that doesn’t qualify for price adjustments.

 

hollister-logoHollister (14 days)

  • According to the Hollister website shoppers have 14 days to get a price adjustment with original receipt in hand.
  • Clearance items are not eligible for a price adjustment.
  • Take in-store purchases back to the store you purchased them at.
  • To get a price adjustment on an online purchase you must send an email to Hollisterco@Hollisterco.com. Be sure to include your order number, and the item(s) that are eligible for the price adjustment, and they will take care of the credit.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

home-depot-logo1Home Depot (14 days)

  • Home Depot will happily work with you within a 14 day time frame of your original purchase.
  • Be sure to bring product and receipt back in to the store with you as you might have to return the item and re-buy it at the lower price. I have had to do this a few times in lieu of a simple price adjustment.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchase, call HD customer service at 1-800-430-3376.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

o-JCPENNEY2012-570JCPenney (30 days)

  • I called our local JCPenney and was told that shoppers had 30 days to get a price adjustment.
  • I was also told that the manger has some discretion to decline a price adjustment request in very limited cases.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchases call them at 1-800-322-1189.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

jcrewlogoJ.Crew (7 days)

  • J.Crew offers price adjustments on full-priced merchandise only within 7 days of original purchase.
  • Only 1 price adjustment available per item.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, just be sure to buy at original price in order to get a BF/CM price.

 

Kmart19631990LogoKmart (7 days)

  • You can get a single price adjustment per item within 7 days of original purchase at Kmart.
  • To request a price adjustment on an online purchase, simply call Kmart customer service at 1-866-562-7848.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

kohls-logoKohl’s (14 days)

  • You have up to 14 days from the date of the original purchase to get a price adjustment atKohl’s.
  • You’ll need the original, dated sales receipt to get the price adjustment.
  • The item cannot be a clearance markdown.
  • The item cannot be at “Kohl’s Cares” cause merchandise.
  • Buy One, Get One (BOGO) items are not eligible.
  • The item cannot be a current Buy One, Get One (BOGO).
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes. I found nothing on their website to the contrary.

logo_theLimited1Limited (10 days)

  • From the Limited website, “We will honor a one-time price adjustment for online and store purchases when an original sales receipt is presented within 10 days of the purchase date.”
  • In-store purchases must be taken back to store, with original receipt, in order to get the price adjustment.
  • Online purchases from the Limited.com can also get a price adjustment. Call toll free at 1-877-LTD-1963 to get some money put back on your credit card.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

Macys-logoMacy’s (14 days)

  • For in-store purchases at Macy’s you have 14 days to get a price adjustment if the price is lowered.
  • Online purchases: I also found the link to get a price adjustment on an online purchase.Click Here.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes

UnknownMeijer (10 days)

  • From the Meijer website, they “will provide the difference of any Meijer advertised price for an item that goes on sale in the weekly ad within 10 days of the purchase.”
  • They have a list of exclusions: Grocery items, special event days (example mPerks or Meijer Credit Card events), limited quantities, clearance items, mail-in rebate offers, supplemental ads, Black Friday ads, and gift card promotion.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

nordstrom-35-logoNordstrom (14 days)

  • Within 14 days of your purchase Nordstrom will happily credit you if the item you purchased it lowered in price.
  • Important note from their website: “Please note that we can only make one sale adjustment per item and designer goods originally purchased on sale are excluded.”
  • Call them at 1-888-282-6060 to get your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

oldNavyLogoOld Navy (14 days)

  • Just return to your local Old Navy within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

piperlime_logoPiperlime.com (14 days)

  • You have 14 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if price is lowered.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 14 days.

Pottery_Barn_Gift_Card-6Pottery Barn (30 days)

  • I could not find any information online about Pottery Barn so I called them up and sure enough they offer a 30 day price protection policy.
  • For in-store purchases just return to the store and for online purchases call them at 1.888.779.5176.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

Sears-logoSears (14 days)

  • Sears calls their policy the “Price Protection Policy” and it gives shoppers 14 days get a price adjustment if the item they bought goes on sale.
  • Return to the Sears store of purchase with your receipt and get some cold hard cash.
  • For online purchases, fill out this Price Protection Form to get your price adjustment.
  • Online exclusions include clearance apparel and conditional online only special offers.
  • There unfortunately is one BIG exclusion which is no “Price Protection” adjustments between Thanksgiving Day and the Monday after Thanksgiving also known as Cyber Monday.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

staples-logoStaples (14 days)

  • If the price gets lowered on something you bought in the last 14 days, Staples will happily give you some money back.
  • To claim your price adjustment, just see an associate at the customer service desk at your local store or call Staples at 1-800-333-3330.
  • For an online price adjustment call the same number above.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes. [Update: There are some conflicting reports as to whether the price adjustment applies to Black Friday sales.]

Target-logoTarget (7 days)

  • Target will give you exactly 7 days to bring in your receipt (you don’t need to bring the item back in) and get a price adjustment if the item you bought goes down in price.
  • Clearance items are not eligible for a price adjustment should they happen to go even cheaper which they eventually will. See my article on cracking the price tag at Target for details.
  • Also, you have 7 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if you find a lower price at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com, BabiesRUs.com or in a competitor’s local printed ad.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: No.

UnknownToys R Us & Babies R Us (7 days)

  • While not readily promoted or publicly known, Toys R Us and Babies R Us both offer price protection for 7 days after your original purchase.
  • Item must be originally purchased at regular price to get an adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: I can’t find any evidence that it won’t work.

UnknownVictoria’s Secret (21 days)

  • Victoria’s Secret will do a price adjustment on items bought at full price, and subsequently lowered in price, within 21 days of purchase.
  • Always keep your receipt and go back to the store of purchase to get your money.
  • To get a price adjustment on an online purchase call Vicky’s Secret at 1-800-411-5116.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

1407955691000-Walmart-LogoWalmart (7 days)

  • Walmart will happily give you some money back if the item you bought is lowered in price up to 7 days after the date of your original purchase.
  • Return to the store of original purchase with your receipt to get your price adjustment.
  • You cannot get an adjustment when there is a difference in an online price vs. an in-store price.
  • Exclusions: Clearance items, special buys, value of the day items, or items purchased up to 7 days before Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Week.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

Unknown-1Williams-Sonoma (30 days)

  • Similar to Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma also offers a 30 price protection policy.
  • Just return with receipt in hand and politely ask for a price adjustment credit if the item you bought goes on sale or clearance.
  • Call them at (800) 840-2591 to request a price adjustment on an online purchase.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

This post originally appeared on Rather Be Shopping.

App of the Week : Acorns Invests Your Spare Change

UnknownWant to get in the stock market? Have you thought about investing but wondered where to get the money?. Who said you needed a lot of money to invest in the stock market?

Acorns, the App of the Week, will help you to begin investing by starting small, very small. The Acorns app is connected to your debit or credit card. Each purchase you make with the card is rounded up to the nearest dollar and that small amount is invested for you. The concept works similar to checking accounts that save money for you the same way. You can set up the app and be investing in just a few minutes.

To use the app you simply sign up with your bank’s username and password. The user is asked to provide basic information about themselves, including their social security number, income, net worth, and investment goals. Once Acorns has this information the service can recommend the right portfolio for you. Rather than offering an array of investment options. Acorns only offers users so-called exchange traded funds.

Some of the really great perks of the account is that you don’t have to be a Wall Street wizard to invest.  Your money is never locked away and you can pull it out whenever you want. You can set it up for investing small change or you can make regular deposits or deposit at will. There are no fees charged and you can set up the account and forget it. Those nice people at Acorn have selected a small group of funds that range from conservative to high risk and you choose where to put you money.

Saving money is not easy. But if you want to save money and invest it this is the app for you. Acorn is available on Apple and Android.

 

 

ALERT – Online Holiday Shopping Series – ALERT!

Here is the good news; you can stay in bed on Black Friday! Here some more good news; You can stay in bed because Amazon is letting you pre-order Samsung televisions at Black Friday Prices.

Amazon.com has announced that it is accepting pre-orders on some of Samsung’s most popular television models including the 75 inch curve screen Ultra HD Model.

This is called retail warfare. As a consumer you could not ask for more than having online and brick and mortar stores fighting for your money. Amazon.com has taken a shot at killing the Black Friday insanity by making those great deals available weeks ahead of time.

And if you are paying attention you already know that Wal-Mart has promised to match Amazon.com online prices. How can you lose by staying in bed?

 

Online Holiday Shopping Series #3

Its the holidays and the one thing just about everybody will be doing this season is eating, drinking and shopping. African-Americans love a good holiday meal with friends and family. The only way to improve upon this holiday joy is to get the ingredients for a great meal for a substantial savings and possibly even get a little money back.

There are a lot of coupon apps available and all of them can help you save a few dollars on your holiday grocery shopping. What you have to understand is that some are easier to use than others. And some deliver more savings and bigger rebates than others. All these apps work a little differently from each other. To choose the best app consider your shopping habits and style and where you shop. These are some things you need to consider before you choose a shopping app.

  • Where you live should be considered before you select a shopping app. Different apps offer coupons at different stores. Some regional and national chains may offer their own shopping app. So consider an app that works in your area and in stores you normally shop. Making a good choice and having success using an app to get coupons will depend on the supermarkets in your area and your shopping list.
  • Paper coupons still rule. Don’t ignore your local newspaper or coupon flyer. Smartphone apps aren’t all about delivering digital deals. Sometimes they can help point out online or newspaper coupons that you have to print or clip. Consider that a lot of apps can deliver coupons to your email inbox.
  • Mobile coupons are similar to paper ones. Digital coupons, sometimes in the form of bar codes will help you save on the same products as paper ones will.
  • It pays to be loyal. Digital coupons often work very well when they are linked with your store loyalty cards. You can link the coupon to your card and get the savings when you scan at check out.

In this article we are going to highlight money saving grocery apps. Saving on groceries should be a key priority for black households every day and not just during the holidays. These apps can help you do exactly that.

Ibotta –  The Ibotta app provides rebates on many retail items at both national and regional grocery stores.

Once the app is downloaded the user will be asked to complete small tasks that provides the rebates. Unfortunately these tasks include watching videos, taking polls, playing trivia games, and learning facts about products. These tasks could save you as much 75 cents on items and change frequently. It can be a bit of a headache and inconvenience in my opinion. But it could pay off bigger than playing Candy Crush.

You can find offers of rebates on items such as milk, fresh meats, salad, frozen dinners, ground coffee, and even some generics.

Here is another thing about this app I am not a big fan of. After you do your shopping you verify purchases by uploading your receipt using your smartphone. Another way to verify your purchase is to link your grocery store card to the app. Basically its another way to collect information about your shopping habits, the things you buy regularly and where you buy them. Its not that great of an intrusion into your privacy since you have one of those grocery cards any way. Its just means you are sharing your info with a few more data collectors.

After you have earned $5 in rebates, you can have the cash transferred to a PayPal account and continue to accumulate the savings or you can use it to buy a gift card from various retailers. You can find the list of Ibotta Preferred Partners here.

Ibotta is available for Apple and Android devices.

 

Checkout 51 I call this the “checks-in-the-mail” app because of the way it delivers your savings. Checkout 51 works differently than Ibotta. Every Thursday morning this app offers a new list of 20 or so items. These offers include rebates on fresh produce like tomatoes, strawberries, and bananas. Best thing about it is there are no tasks to complete to get the discounts but you do have to upload your receipt to the app. You can shop at any store where the items are sold.  And when you reach that magic $20 mark in savings you get a check in the mail. Checkout 51 is available on Apple and Android devices.

ShopmiumMuch like Checkout 51 the Shopmium app offers rebates that can be redeemed at any store where the products are sold. Rebates range from 25 cents to more than a dollar. Like the other apps you have to verify your purchases by scanning the products bar code and uploading your receipt to the app. Your rebates are deposited into your PayPal or bank account and there is no minimum before you get your money.

Shopmium offers regular as well as exclusive offers to its users. According to the website, “Shopmium’s offers are only available to ours users: you won’t find them anywhere else and they’re the most advantageous on the market. They are private offers, available in every store the product is sold.” Shopmium is available on Apple and Android devices.

Cellfire – One of the cool things about this app is that it works by sending coupons directly to your loyalty cards. You just add your store loyalty card to the app.  Use the app to browse the available deals and tap on the ones you want. The deals are then saved to your store card and savings delivered at check out. It is almost effortless in the way it works. However easy this app is to use the one drawback is that the list of stores is limited. But count yourself lucky if there’s a store near you. This app is well worth it.

I give this app the privacy edge because you can use it without registering. But if you do register members get access to bigger, better deals. Another cool thing is on the website you can find both digital and printable coupons and you can have the coupons emailed to you. The app also offers a nice feature that allows you to get store alerts reminding you of coupons when you walk into a store. The app is available on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

Coupons.com – Coupons.com is the big man on campus when it comes to grocery and everyday items. The listing of items on the home page seem to never end. A great benefit of this app is that it makes it easy to access the deals on the go. The app delivers a coupon in your e-mail to be printed. Your tablet or mobile device can also be used to print out coupons if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and certain HP printers, or, and this is the most convenient, added to your store loyalty card to scan at checkout. For Apple technology owners this app has some special features. You can browse digital coupons from select retailers such as Old Navy and Petco then add those coupons to your Apple Passbook app. Just show you phone at checkout to get the savings. Coupons.com apps are available on Apple and Android devices.

Grocery IQNow here is a an app that can really be useful. Why? Because most people buy the same thing over and over again. We all have some brand we are loyal to and wouldn’t think of switching or even trying something else.  With Grocery IQ you begin by making your shopping list then saving it to the app. Grocery IQ  will match your list with applicable coupons. You get a few options to add items to your list. You can type them in, scroll through the master list and select them, scan a bar code, or speak them. This app shares the same data base with Coupons.com and you get them by printing them out or linking your loyalty card. But be prepared to spend some time getting it all set up. Available for Apple and Android devices.

SavingStarLogo – This app allows you to  register your loyalty cards then browse a list of exclusive offers. Some of the deals offer as much as $5 off and if you see something you like you just tap on the “I Want This” link  and scan you store card when you check out. But you won’t get any money off your purchase at the register. Instead the savings builds up in your SavingStar account. When you hit $5, you can select how you want your money from one of four options; bank deposit, PayPal deposit, Amazon gift card, or donation to conservation group American Forests. The app usually offers  about 30 deals at any time and works with lots of grocery chains, including A&P, Kroger, and Pathmark, as well as with CVS and Rite Aid.

You are  going to be buying a lot stuff this holiday season. You may eat too much but these will keep you from spending too much. But like so many other things worth having you have to do the work. These apps make that work a lot easier and can actually put some money in your pocket.

Now you know.

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping Series ALERT!

You may not know it but holiday spending by American consumers account for as much as half of yearly sales. So every holiday season retailers gear up to fight tooth and nail for your money.

Well its not even Thanksgiving yet and it seems Walmart, the big gun in the holiday shopping war, has opened with a significant salvo. The world’s largest retailer has announced that it will match online prices in the store.

According to Reuters, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc has informed managers of its roughly 5,000 stores across the United States that they can match prices with Amazon.com Inc and other online retailers, the head of the company’s U.S. business said on Thursday”.

So here is the real deal; Wal-Mart will match online prices as long as they have the item in store. There is a good chance they will and an equal chance they won’t. Your neighborhood Wal-Mart has a limited amount of storage space. They don’t compare to online stores like Amazon.com who’s warehouses are probably six times the size of your average Wal-Mart and they have a lot of them.

So the real question becomes; how can long can Walmart wage this price matching war? Let’s not forget we’re talking about the worlds largest retailer. Online retailers like Amazon.com can afford to offer lower prices because they have less overhead. Walmart has to foot the bill for brick-and-mortar stores, pay all those employees and don’t forget advertising.

It should be interesting to see if Wal-Mart fights this war beyond the holidays. My money is that they won’t even try it. Its Christmas and they want that foot traffic in the stores. They know its almost impossible for someone to walk into the store and not buy something. Its called impulse buying. So if you go to Wal-Mart looking for a digital camera you saw online and they don’t have it you’re still likely to leave with a new fake Christmas tree or lights or a something. That’s the real magic behind this deal.

But if you are shopping online and see a great deal on a tablet computer haul ass to Wal-Mart for a price match. You really can’t lose.

Now You Know

App of the Week Beats High Prescription Prices

Prices for prescription drugs can be extremely high. Even with insurance drug prices can still give you the proverbial sticker shock at the cash register. Insurance companies have a tendency to cover some drugs like generics or selected drugs but not others. And co-pays can vary from 100% to none at all. Some drugs can cost as much as $30-$70 a pill or more.

Getting drugs and medical care is a significant problem for many black people. According to the NAACP 18% of African-Americans below the age of 65 are without health insurance. The report also points out that a greater number of African-Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor (HCAN).

But there is an app that can help with the cost of prescription drugs. LowestMed is an app that is available for both iPhones and Android that allows the user to compare prices at pharmacies in his or her immediate area to find the best possible price for prescription drugs.

LowestMed app is free and requires no personal information from the user. All you have to do is search for the FDA-approved drug and LowestMed will give you a round-up of prices for that prescription in your neighborhood. The app also offers discounts for these drugs but this doesn’t require any effort aside from showing the pharmacist a code. You click on the pharmacy, and receive a “discount card” to show the pharmacist in order to get that price.

Getting the needed drugs can become dire if you simply cannot afford drugs that you or a loved one desperately needs. Sadly some people have to choose between drugs or eating everyday. Some drug companies offer services that can help people get drugs at reduced prices if they are in need. Here is a list of organizations that may help you afford the drugs you need.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

RX Assistance

National Alliance on Mental Illness Drug Assistance

Needy Meds

Medicare.gov

HealthFinder.gov

LowestMed is the App of the Week.

 

Class Action Websites Issue Free Dollars

fotographic 1980

fotographic 1980

Everybody loves a dollar. Now what if you could get a few dollars for free? Have you drank a Red Bull energy drink in the last 12 years?  If so then they owe you a few dollars.  Are you an AT&T customer? They just settled a lawsuit for cramming their customer bills with unauthorized charges. That’s a $105 million settlement. Want some of that?

Every year there are hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements that go to consumers. Yes, the lawyers get a nice share of the loot but millions of consumers are eligible for the rest. And millions of those dollars go unclaimed every year. The trick is keeping track of all of them and knowing how to ask for your money. And in many cases that’s all you have to do is ask. Most settlement claims ask only that you guarantee you are telling the truth and you don’t need a receipt proving you purchased the item in question. The process requires you to certify you bought the product and estimate how much you purchased. It’s not a bad way to grab some extra cash. 

Lets have a look at the websites that will help you to keep track of who settled for how much and how to get your cut.

Logo

Top Class Actions –This is a very informative website that offers news and information about all the latest lawsuit settlements. Its the first thing you see at the top of the page. Why? Because if you see any suit you believe you qualify for you can click on the “Click Here To File A Claim” button at the bottom of the news story to get the process started. Right next to it are the lawsuits that are settled. The page also has a list of current investigations. So you can find a lot of information about what money is available and what could be coming in just a few minutes on this site. But if you’re lazy just have them email the information you. There is a subscription button on the home page as well as pop up when you visit the site.

Top Class Actions website connects consumers to class action settlements. The website publishes news about all the possible settlements from suits involving product liability lawsuits and mass tort updates as they’re filed. The stated goal of Top Class Actions is to help consumers find the settlement, claim a portion of the settlement and ultimately receive compensation from every class action settlement they qualify to participate in. The site also helps  consumers hook up with lawyers who can help them seek remedies for grievances involving consumer products. These include drugs, medical devices, employment issues, and more. Top Class Actions has a network of lawyers that are waiting to hear from you about any problem you have regarding those items. All you have to do is fill out the complaint form and someone will review it. The one thing I did not like about the site was that it has a link for lawyers who “Have a case in mind but don’t have the clients?” This leads me to believe that this maybe a group of lawyers looking for someone to sue. I wonder what the legal code of ethics says about that?

 

My Settlement ClaimsFor its purpose this is site is pretty straight forward and simple. The first thing you see is the list of class action settlements available. You can also perform a search for the settlement you maybe looking for. You can search by category using the drop down menu or you can do a more specific search using the search window provided. This site also provides some pretty straight forward answers to questions like “What is a class action suit?” You can find a lot more answers in the FAQs. The owners of this website seem to have put some research into that area of the website. My Settlement Claims is a simple site to use and cuts straight to the question everyone is asking; who is going to pay me? If you click on the “Find a Lawyer” tab you will discover another invitation for lawyers and others to sue someone. There is also a news tab that allows you to see the latest lawsuit news and updates.

Filing a claim is a fairly easy task on this website. My Settlements Claims presents a list of products you may own, or services you may have paid for that was the subject of a class action lawsuit and eventual settlement. All you have to  do is  mark the items that apply to you and click the ‘Start’ button.

The site uses an eligibility determination process that takes the user you through a series of questions to determine their eligibility as class members and awards. The guide will also tell the potential value of each of your claims.

After you complete the process the site will provide links to all of the claim forms for all settlements you qualify for. You can fill out as many as you like.  Its free money.

Class Action Rebates

Class Action Rebates – I found this to be the most enticing of all the websites.  The first thing a visitor sees are the companies and how much they are paying out to each claim. The site allows you to just click on a settlement notice and to see all the details of the settlement and the stipulations for filing your claim. This includes whether you need to prove you used or purchased the product in question. This is the only website that immediately revealed what the claimant can get. Like the other sites you can sign up for emails that alert you of the latest settlements. Another unique thing about this site is that users can leave comments about the product and the settlement. Class Action Rebates does not offer you a lawyer or give you the idea to sue somebody.

 

Consumer Action: Name as Logo Graphic

Consumer ActionConsumer Action offers an up to date database of class action settlements along with the deadline to file. It is also one of the more in-depth websites with the ability to provide information in several languages. The site offers an impressive quick menu for searching that is beyond anything offered by other sites. You can find news and information about consumer affairs as well as special reports for consumers. Consumer Action also has a political and consumer advocacy angle that you won’t find on other sites. You can find information about grass root consumer activity, consumer justice, community education and more. The site offers so much more for consumers that juts a way to find some free money. You have to appreciate this site as it appears to be more than a money clearing house or lawsuit generator that I found on other sites.

If you wanted to you could spend an eight hour day just claiming part of the many settlements that the courts hand down. I do not advocate using these sites to collect free money without good cause. But there are so many class settlements against so many products you may be able to claim a few hundred dollars in a year. Its money that is designated for the consumer who was duped or in some way wronged by these companies. At the very least you can sign up for the email alerts. Its all free including the money.

These are just a few of the class action settlement websites that you can find on the web. You can perform your own web search for others. And get that money!

Know you know

 

 

ALERT! Malware Hits Apple iOS and OS X ALERT!

For too long too many people have thought Apple products and software were immune from malware and viruses. But Palo Alto Networks has released a new report that suggests things for Apple users are about to change. Researchers for the company have discovered a bug called Wirelurker, which the company says may have already impacted hundreds of thousands of Apple users.

WireLurker, “marks a new era in malware across Apple’s mobile and desktop platforms,” the company said in a statement.

Palo Alto Networks went on to say that WireLurker is capable of installing third-party applications on non-jailbroken iOS devices and can also attack iOS and OS X via USB. WireLurker, unlike any previous Apple iOS and Mac OS X malware, was found hidden in apps downloaded from third-party Mac OS X app stores in China.

“We believe this malware family heralds a new era in malware attacking Apple’s desktop and mobile platforms,” researcher Claud Xiao wrote in a blog post. “It is only the second known malware family that attacks iOS devices through OS X via USB and it is the first known malware that can infect installed iOS applications similar to a traditional virus,” Xiao said.

Apple’s statement on WireLurker says that it has snuffed out the threat:

“We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and we’ve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching. As always, we recommend that users download and install software from trusted sources.”

Apple has long had a reputation as a very secure product. Not many viruses or malware could penetrate its security standards. One of the reasons was that Apple did not always enjoy the popularity and market share that it currently holds. So hackers never saw Apple computers as an inviting target. Neither is Apple a major provider of servers and other network equipment. Apple also has a very strict developer standards and rejects many apps that you may find on Android and other platforms. You can see the top ten reasons why Apple rejects many apps here.

Even with this new threat to Apple’s security there are some experts that believe that the danger may not be as bad as many would believe. According to TrendLab’s Security Intelligence Blog  “The newly discovered Wirelurker malware affecting both OS X and iOS devices has been covered extensively in the media. While this is a significant incident, some of the coverage appears to have been exaggerated, and might lead users to unnecessary panic.”

The blog makes several points to support its position. First,  TrendLabs reports that Wirelurker is not currently an active threat. That all known variations have already been blocked by OS X, and the command-and-control servers have been disabled. TrendLabs believes that this reduces the threat significantly for Apple users.

Second, no new vulnerability in the Apple software was used to spread Wirelurker. The malware arrived on OS X machines via Trojan apps. Creators of the malware have used pirated apps to spread malware for many years. The malicious apps was detected as OSX_WIRELURK.A.

Finally according to the TrendLabs blog; “Wirelurker has not succeeded in installing apps on non-jailbroken devices.”

Many believe that Wirelurker may have been stopped. That has yet to be seen. Computerweekly.com has offered the following steps to help protect your Apple device from the malware.

  • Businesses should assure their mobile device traffic is routed through a threat-prevention system.
  • Use an antivirus or security protection product for the Mac OS X system and keep it up to date.
  • In the OS X System Preferences panel, under Security & Privacy, ensure “Allow apps downloaded from Mac App Store (or Mac App Store and identified developers)” is enabled.
  • Do not download and run Mac applications or games from any third-party app store, download site or other untrusted source.
  • Keep iOS up to date.
  • Do not accept any unknown enterprise-provisioning profile unless explicitly instructed to do so by a trusted party.
  • Do not pair your iOS device with untrusted or unknown computers or devices.
  • Avoid powering your iOS device through chargers from untrusted or unknown sources.
  • Do not jailbreak your iOS device.

Breaking it down

Apple is as popular among black people as it is other groups. Especially the iPhone. So this is where black people need to pay attention.  You may want to get used to the fact that Apple products are less vulnerable; not immune, to viruses and malware. The stage is set by this malware for others to come out of the wood work. It was inevitable that this would happen. Apple is a global brand and has a huge following. As a result it attracts attention. Hackers love a challenge so there that big pretty Apple sits. So adjust your habits and become more security conscious with your Apple equipment. Because even though Apple runs a tight ship it can’t keep the barbarians at bay forever.