Tag Archives: Home Depot

SCAM ALERT! $200 Nordstrom Gift Cards – SCAM ALERT!

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Fake Nordstrom Gift card offer

Users of Facebook and other social media sites have been sharing various versions of a fake Nordstrom gift card offer. The ad claims that Nordstrom was offering a $200 gift card to Facebook users who “referred three friends” to the promotion. Its a scam.

Social media users encouraged to click on the ad that takes the victim to a fake Nordstrom website that uses a web address variation on nordstrom.egiftcards.co. Here’s a tip; web users need to be aware that duplicate websites that actually belongs to cyber criminals are a common tactic. These websites are often perfectly counterfeited.

Instructions in the ad are as follows; 

To Celebrate Valentines Day Get a Nordstrom $200 Gift Card

Simply Invite 3 Friends to Get Your Gift Card
After 3 Friends Click Your Link.
Get Your Gift Card Instantly!

Although the fake webpage in question doesn’t look like other popular Facebook coupon scams it did display a rapidly decreasing number of “available gift cards.” Here’s another tip; cyber criminals often use tactics that increase urgency in the victim. Making you believe that you may lose out on a good deal causes you to act quickly. 

Facebook is a hotbed for coupon and gift card scams. Popular retailers impersonated on the social media website include Kohl’sCostco, Home Depot, Lowe’sKroger, Best Buy, Macy’s, Olive Garden, Publix, Target, Wegmans, and Walmart.

Nordstrom is aware of the scam and offered this statement; “You’re correct, this is a fraudulent promotion as it is not affiliated with Nordstrom and we are not sponsoring any giveaways of gift cards. We recommend not clicking the link or entering any personal information. Our team is actively working to make customers aware of the situation and apologize for any confusion.”

In 2014 the Better Business Bureau published an article advising social media users on how to avoid survey and coupon scams. The BBB warns;

  1. Your eyes will deceive you. Cyber criminals know how to impersonate websites perfectly. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender. This is called spoofing. Use your cursor and hover over links and carefully examine the address that pops up. These are often very clever. www.nordstrom.com is easily confused with www.nordstrom.ru.
  2. Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure to carefully examine privacy policy. Do not provide anyone else’s email or personal information. You could be providing more victims.
  3. Do your homework. If the offer is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints or warnings from other consumers and retailers online. The organization’s real website may have further information. Also there are plenty of legitimate coupon sites you can search for good deals and gift cards.
  4. If it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. Always keep that in mind.

Breach Brief – Wendy’s, Centene

Wendy's_logo_2012.svg

January 29, 2016

Wendy’s

Yet another point-of-sale system appears to have been hacked. Wendy’s fast food restaurant reports that its POS system has come under suspicion for a possible breach of customer card data.

Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini said, “We have received this month from our payment industry contacts reports of unusual activity involving payment cards at some of our restaurant locations. Reports indicate that fraudulent charges may have occurred elsewhere after the cards were legitimately used at some of our restaurants. We’ve hired a cybersecurity firm and launched a comprehensive and active investigation that’s underway to try to determine the facts.” Bertini did not name the security firm that is working with Wendy’s

According to Krebs on Security the first reports of the suspicious activity on customer’s cards came from financial institutions in the mid-west. However reports have begun to surface from banks on the east and west coasts. Currently there is no information on how many restaurants are affected.

Krebs On Security first reported the incident and believes that the restaurant’s POS system may have been infected by malware that collected credit card numbers. Wendy’s is not alone when it come to this type of attack.  Other restaurants and retailers hit by this style of attack include Jimmy John’s, Landry’s, P.F. Chang’s, Dairy Queen, Chick-fil-A, retail giant Target and Home Depot.

Wendy’s operates approximately 6,500 franchise and company-operated restaurants in the United States and 28 countries and U.S. territories worldwide.

Centene_Corporation_Logo.svg

Centene

The health insurer Centene is desperately searching for six hard drives that contain the personal information of over 1 million of its customers. The company has admitted to an “ongoing comprehensive internal search” for missing hard drives. 

St. Louis based Centene said the missing hard drives contain personal data about people who received laboratory services between 2009 and 2015. The drives contain patient information including names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, member ID numbers and health information. According to Centene CEO Michael F. Neidorff, the company doesn’t believe the information has been used “inappropriately.”

Customer affected by the data loss will receive free credit and healthcare monitoring. 

The healthcare industry continues to be plagued by massive data breaches. For more on this topic please see;

Large-Scales Hacks Cause 98% of Leaked Healthcare Records.

Over 113 Million Healthcare Records Breached in 2015, Up Ten Fold from 2014

One in Three Americans are Victims of Healthcare Data Breaches

Identity Thieves Pray on Patient’s Medical Records

Target Stores May Write You A Check

Target-logoAfrican-American target customers could have some money coming as a result of last years data breach. Target has reached a $10 million settlement with a federal judge on Thursday. The judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement of a lawsuit brought by customers of Target affected by 2013 hack of the stores customer data system.

Documents filed with the United States District Court in Minnesota could award shoppers affected by the breach up to $10,000 each in damages. The settlement includes a draft of the form victims must complete to make claims, processed through a dedicated website. The website is www.targetbreachsettlement.com.

The 2013 holiday season hack saw the loss of 40 million customer credit and debit card records. Target also acknowledged early last year the theft of 70 to 11o million more records that included additional personal information, like email and mailing addresses.  This information may overlap with payment information already stolen.

In order to claim damages, victims must prove that fraudulent charges were made to their credit cards. In addition they must also show that they spent time addressing the fraudulent charges and suffered related costs. The costs include time spent to correct credit reports, higher interest rates or fees, replacing driver’s licenses or other forms of identification, or costs to hire identity protection companies or lawyers.

Eligible customers include those customers who either shopped at a Target store and used their credit or debit card from Nov. 27-Dec. 18, 2013, or provided Target with their contact information before Dec. 18, 2013, or were issued a new credit or debit card by their bank after the Target breach was disclosed in late December 2013 due to concern their account may have been compromised.

According to Target there has been “low levels of fraud” linked to the breach.

According to Matthew A. S. Esworthy, litigation partner at Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler, many customers would have trouble proving that they had lost money because of the breach.

“It’s difficult to figure out how your card was compromised and if it was directly tied to a particular data breach,” he said. “People are buying more online and using their cards so frequently, making fraudulent charges so commonplace.”

Esworthy went on to say that as such attacks have mounted, courts have become more willing to entertain cases brought by breach victims. Home supply retailer Home Depot admitted in September that hackers breached the company’s cash register systems and compromised the account information of 56 million cardholders.

As part of the settlement, Target promised to improve protection of customer data. The promise included setting up a protocol for responding to online security threats and providing data security training to employees. Target also named Mike McNamara, a former executive at the British retailer Tesco to its chief information officer position, and named its first chief information security officer.

 

Black Consumers; Is Cash a Safer Option?

Courtesy of cooldesign

Courtesy of cooldesign

Is it time to go back to cash? In this age of technology and electronic payments the value of money has not changed. However the vulnerability of money has increased exponentially. I say it all the time but you’re about to hear it again; Black people don’t play when it comes to money! So again I ask; Is it time to go back to cash?

At least one nation is considering the move to a completely cashless economy. Denmark is about to become the world’s first cashless nationThat nation’s government is pushing to free some stores, restaurants and gasoline stations from accepting cash payments at all. The government is hoping to get rid of the option to pay by cash by as early as 2016.

But is that a wise move? That is Europe not the U.S. And the potential for fraud is just as great there as it is here. So why do it?

Danish banker association, Finansraadet, claims that going cashless would save retailers money on security, in addition to time when counting money at the end of the day. But is that saving enough? Has the electronic payments systems become secure enough to make this move safe?

Maybe not.  There is fear that with electronic transactions, the risk of fraud will also rise. Those opposed to the cashless economy have cited the unfortunate case of  another European nation, Sweden. That nation has the highest number of bank transactions per person in the European Union. That nation has also seen fraud double in the past 10 years.

Last year, Juniper Research forecast that payments by smartphone would hit 9.9 billion by 2018, with one in five phones acting as digital wallets. But is that the right move for American consumers, or African-American consumers?

Black consumers possess buying power in $1 trillion dollar range. We have the ability to affect the U.S. economy with our buying choices and spending practices.  Is moving to cash a way to send a message to both the retail and technology sectors? Can we demand better security? We should.

But lets be real for a minute. We have seen that the use of electronic payments is only marginally safe in the U.S. We have extreme problems protecting our electronic payment system as seen by hacks at Target, Home Depot and most recently Sally’s Beauty Supply. The math of the situation is not on the side of the consumer. And executives of the payments and retail industry do the math. What math? The math that tells them that it is still cheaper to pay off fraud claims than it is to invest in safer technology and systems to protect our money. The AACR has written about this before.

Like most consumers black people patronize small businesses. And although we hear a lot about the really big data breaches we don’t hear too much about the small ones. Small businesses are probably more vulnerable to data theft than larger companies. It is estimated that for every major data breach that hits the news there are dozens, even hundreds, of smaller breaches that are rarely heard of. According to the National Small Business Association , 44 percent of all small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, with the average cost of the incident costing just less than $9,000. That’s nearly half of all small businesses. Did you hear about the data breach at the bakery down the street? Probably not but your payment information may have been lost. Did they report it? Do they even know they were hacked?

Another danger to electronic payment is the infamous card reader or skimmer fraud. Card skimmers are nearly invisible devices that attach to ATM’s, gas pumps and other places where you swipe your card for self service purchases. The skimmer records your card data and PIN number for cyber thieves. Card skimming is a major problem in the U.S. and around the world. Estimates of funds stolen has reached into the tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone.

Is cash the answer? Can it make some commerce safer? Possibly but in the age of electronic commerce using cash for some transactions is almost impossible. Shopping online is one obvious answer. Electronic commerce is fast and convenient. But there are  situations where cash or a written check is better and more secure.

Cash may be the answer in the age of repeated data breaches and electronic fraud. Black consumers may wish to consider the $200 rule. If an item is less than $200 then pay cash. Limit your use of credit and debit card to larger purchases. Keep at least that amount in your wallet weekly. Use that cash for buying gas, groceries and other need now items. This practice will limit your exposure to possible credit or debit fraud. If you decide to move to cash you should also ask for new credit and debit cards. Ask for a card that contains the new EMV chip. Getting new cards will nullify old payment information in retailers computers and reduce your vulnerability to fraud.

Keep in mind that cash is still the dominant form of payment even today. Black consumers today should raise their awareness of how cyber crime works and how they are vulnerable. Using credit and debit cards regularly raises your chance of eventually being a victim in a data breach if you are not already.

Now you know.

 

 

 

Online Price Discrimination

ID-100188375African-American people are extremely sensitive to discrimination. No matter what form it takes it is ugly and wrong. Unfortunately discrimination has found a home on the Internet. Its called price discrimination.

We have all had it happen to us. You search for a product or service and find it at one price but then later, sometimes only minutes, the price will change. We have all heard that you should search for flights on certain days and at certain hours to get the best deal. But Internet pricing is discriminatory, even predatory, according to factors that will surprise you.

Research from Northeastern University analyzed how online stores customize prices according to a shoppers digital habits and demographics such as their ZIP code.  The study revealed  major e-commerce sites including Home Depot, Wal-mart, and Hotels.com list online prices that are all over the map. Not only that but in some situations prices are customized based on the behavior of a particular shopper. This behavior includes whether you are shopping on a  smartphone or desktop. The report was presented this at the Internet Measurement Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

“Going into this, we assumed the project would be risky—that we might not find anything,” says Christo Wilson, an assistant professor of computer science at Northeastern and one of the study’s authors. “There have been incidents in the past where companies have been caught doing this, and the PR was very bad. We thought that sites wouldn’t be doing anything. We were more surprised that we found something.”

Some companies whose sites were studied complained that the study methodology was flawed. Northeastern researchers did admit to one mistake but believe that the study provides insight into how your shopping experience can change depending on personal factors.

The actual searching and shopping was performed by 300 people recruited through the crowd sourcing site Mechanical Turk. Researchers had them shop online and perform product searches on 16 top e-commerce sites. The study tested these sites for personalization based on the browser a web shopper might use such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.  Also tested were operating systems; Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and whether or not a user was logged into the site as a regular customer with an online account.

What the research is looking at is the ability of e-commerce sites to tailor what you pay based on what they know about you. That’s discriminatory. For example does you zip code indicate an certain income level?  Does that mean you can or will pay more? That’s predatory.  Are you paying more for a plane ticket based on your profile on a travel website. That’s predatory. Or what you post on Facebook? That’s discriminatory.

How true is this? We already know that online advertising is targeted at you based on your web searches and other online activity. We also know that Facebook will follow your activity and travels on the Internet even after you log off the website. Merchants use cookies to monitor your activity on websites as well. Another fact to consider is that African-Americans and people of color are more likely to use mobile technology for banking and shopping than white Americans. Your digital profile is out there. Could prices be set based on that? It seems so.

What the test revealed was that if you shop using your smartphone some online stores actually pay attention to what kind of smartphone you use. Home Depot and Travelocity.com websites were the target of the research but they both deny this activity. Researchers admitted to a flaw in the study methodology pointed out by Travelocity.

However, Travelocity admitted to offering a handful of mobile-only offerings on smartphones and tablets that don’t appear on searches performed on desktop computers. Why? Its a tactic used to encourage the download of the the mobile app. A Travelocity spokesperson told Wired.com that results aren’t cheaper by design but sometimes are since Travelocity smartphone users might be looking for a place to stay at the last minute. Results that appear on mobile devices appear to bring down the average price the spokesperson explains. But Travelocity claims the pricing for the same specific properties remain constant across platforms.

Wilson and his team of researchers were able to highlight other forms of price discrimination on some websites but were unable to determine the root cause of the price variations. Among those most notable are Sears and rental car websites. “We tried different browsers and different platforms. We tried logging in and logging out,” Wilson says. “But it looks like there’s something else in there that we haven’t figured out yet.”

Northeastern researchers don’t believe that cookies are all bad. According to Wilson on sites like Cheaptickets.com or Orbitz.com, users who are logged in will often be shown “members only” pricing that, on average,  saves the member $12 on hotels. But if buyers cleared their cookies before conducting the search, they wouldn’t be logged in and wouldn’t see that discount.

Wilson and the Northeastern team avoided Amazon.com and eBay.com. These online marketplaces, explains Wilson, allow sellers to list their own products and used items making things too complicated.

Considering the discriminatory pricing found by this research how does the consumer get the best offer for your money? Wilson points out that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. “Every site we looked at was doing something different—changing different things based on different information,” he says.

There are some guidelines for searching and shopping online;

  • Perform searches on all platforms you have access to. That means your regular browser, an incognito or anonymous browser, and your smartphone or tablet.
  • Plan ahead and take your time to observe price fluctuations.
  • Be extra thorough asking a friend or relative in a different zip code to do the same thing and see what results turn up.
  • Incorporate every money saving tool you can. That includes coupons, credit card discounts, adjusting time and date of travel. Use frequent flyer miles and credits. Ask about credit union or employer discounts.

This way of shopping may be tedious and much different from your mall stores with clearly marked prices, coupons and discounts but it’s an unavoidable part of our digital lives. If you shop online in any form you might as well get used to it. “All online retailers are watching each other, and it’s a race to the bottom,” says Wilson. “The only thing that changes between online stores and brick-and-mortar stores is the pace at which that happens. It’s faster online.”

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

African-Americans and Data Breaches

national cyberWhy should black people worry about data breaches? Because the loss of data to cyber criminals is an exploding problem and awareness is the only way to protect yourself.

Data is everywhere. Wherever you have used your credit or debit card is a source of data. This is where information about you, your bank, credit records, buying habits and what cards you hold is stored and all with your name on it. If this information gets out “in the wild” people are now in your business and you know how black people feel about that and our money.

Lets look closer at where your information can be found. Here is a list of businesses that may hold information about you and your money. Add to this list any place you have used your credit or debit card.

  • Hotels and resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Ticket sellers
  • Entertainment companies
  • Sports teams
  • Fitness clubs
  • Salons and spas
  • Insurance companies
  • Mortgage companies
  • Utilities
  • Mobile phone providers
  • Internet providers
  • Money managers
  • Banks and credit unions
  • Credit card issuers
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Doctors and Dentist Offices
  • Auto repair shops
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Daycare providers
  • Retail stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations

How serious are data breaches? According to USA Today 43% of businesses have suffered data breaches in the past year. Lets be real about that statistic; many of the large businesses will report a data breach especially when the breach involves millions of credit or debit cards. But smaller business may not report a data breach if they even realize they have had one. That’s why you should be concerned.

Not only are data breaches more frequent but they are increasing in size. The latest big data breaches at the big retailers have lost more than 300 million records. You are probably one of millions of black people who have shopped at Target, Kmart and Home Depot. Your data has been stolen.

If you want to see how serious this data problem has become here are a few frightening numbers from KrebsOnSecurity.com.

You would think with the ever increasing size and frequency of breaches businesses would be ready to act. But less than 30% of companies have a data breach response plan or team in place. That number is down from 39% of businesses that didn’t have them in the previous year. So the simple fact is that black people need to be concerned. We have to be knowledgeable and ready to act in the event of a data breach to protect our information.

But data breaches do not just strike retail businesses. Hospitals are big targets for hackers. According to Health IT & CIO Review since March there have been at least ten hospital data breaches. Los Angeles County Medical Facilities  alone lost nearly 170,000 patient medical records.

Director of Threat Intelligence at Phish Labs Don Jackson monitored underground hacking exchanges and found that cyber criminals can make 10 times as much money hacking hospital records than stealing your credit card data.  Hackers steal names, birth dates, and insurance policy numbers then use the data to create fake IDs to buy things like home medical equipment which can later be re-sold. The data is also used to file phony insurance claims. 

Now the question is what happens to all that stolen data. The new gold mine of the criminal world is data. AACR Rule #5, The currency and commodity of the digital age is called information. According to the RAND Corporation National Security Research Division  the stolen data black market has become more profitable than the drug trade. You read that correctly.

What black people should understand is that stolen data is far more than credit card numbers and personal information. Hackers can make money with pictures from your Facebook page and other social media outlets. Hackers see sites like LinkedIn and eHarmony as a treasure trove of passwords that can be used to update their “rainbow tables.” Rainbow Tables are huge databases hackers use to hack harder-to-crack encrypted passwords. Would you believe that hacked Twitter accounts are considered more profitable than stolen credit cards?

The bottom line is that black people are just as vulnerable as other Americans to hacks and data breaches. The difference is that collectively we may not be as savvy to what and how this information is used to steal from us or how to protect ourselves. Its strange because black people use mobile and online banking more than other groups. We need to step up our game.

 

ALERT! JP Morgan Suffers MASSIVE Breach ALERT!

110804064152_jpmorgan_chase_logo_640x360_16x9JP Morgan has set yet another record for data breaches. The financial services and banking giant reveled that 76 million households and 7 million small businesses have potentially had their private data stolen in a record setting cyber attack.

According to a new  SEC filing JP Morgan  said, “User contact information — name, address, phone number and email address – and internal JPMorgan Chase information relating to such users has been compromised.” 

JP Morgan pointed out that “…there is no evidence that account information for such affected customers — account numbers, passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers — was compromised during this attack.” There has been no fraud connected to this data breach.

JP Morgan denies that this data breach was a second attack but instead was connected to a previous attack.  The company has rejected the reports from the New York Times that this previous attack resulted in the loss of checking and savings account information.

Breaking it down

In comparison, Target’s data breach affected 40 million credit and debit card accounts. This was followed by Home Depot’s breach of 56 million accounts. Now JP Morgan has set the bar with 76 million records lost. How much more do we need to experience before something is done. What you are looking at is an escalating trend of warning shots of what is bound to come.

Even if no account information was lost the loss of names, email addresses and other contact information is the exact information needed for phishing attacks. And JP Morgan knows it. That’s why this breach is so dangerous. 

As a nation we are flirting with a financial catastrophe that could bring down an empire! The ability of hackers and thieves to impact the financial sector at this level indicates a hack could bring America to its knees and possibly even ignite a global financial crisis. Am I the only one seeing that Wall Street is the next big target? Or maybe the world banking system?  If you think otherwise then you are fooling yourself. I am not so sure that its not time to take your money out of the bank and put it in your mattress. 

Some might think this is a dire prediction; possibly even a doomsday vision. But look at the numbers again and ask yourself; is it really not possible?

For more information please see 

JP Morgan Discloses Data Breach Affected Millions

JP Morgan Data Reveals Data Breach Affected 76 Million Households

JP Morgan Says Data Breach Hit 76 Million Households

 

 

Home Depot, Another Careless Retailer

1024px-TheHomeDepot.svgIts has become the largest POS hack in history. And the result is 56 million credit and debit cards have been compromised. And it seems this may have been completely preventable.

First things first, if you have been to Home Depot in the last six months then you could be vulnerable. You need to either change your PIN or just demand new cards. Call your bank and don’t take no for an answer. If they give you any back talk take your business elsewhere.

The breach became known in September. Home Depot said in a statement: “Criminals used unique, custom-built malware to evade detection. The malware had not been seen previously in other attacks.”  The attack was focused on the self-service checkouts in Home Depot stores.

But was this a new and unknown malware? Maybe not. According to Computer Business Review the malware was the same stuff used to attack Target Stores. 

But if reports are correct this did not have to happen. According  to the New York Times and former employees Home Depot simply ignored its own security experts who warned the company that they were prime targets for hackers as early as 2008. 

Long before this massive breach became known Home Depot poorly managed the security of its IT systems.  According to former members of the company’s cyber security team who requested anonymity the company was slow to respond to early threats and only belatedly took action.

According to the New York Times report Home Depot used outdated software to protect its network and did not regularly scan systems that handled customer information. People who have worked in Home Depot’s security group recently said management failed to take such threats seriously. According to sources managers relied on outdated Symantec antivirus software from 2007.  Home Depot also failed to regularly monitor their network for unusual behavior such as an unknown server communicating with its checkout registers.

Some members of the Home Depot security team left the company because of the lack of management action on the matter.  Others members questioned how Home Depot could have met industry standards for protecting customer data. The situation was so bad that one of the security experts even warned friends to avoid using credit cards and pay with cash at the company’s stores.

But it gets worse! In 2012, Home Depot hired Ricky Joe Mitchell, a security engineer to help manage security at its 2,200 stores. He was quickly promoted to a position where he was in charge of security systems for Home Depot’s stores. But just recently Mitchell was convicted of disabling the computers of his former employer and sentenced to four years in prison. 

Several of Home Depot’s former employees were not surprised the company had been hacked. According to them they warned the company and sought to correct the situation. They said that when they asked for new software and training, management responded with; “We sell hammers.”

Breaking it down

If you think for a minute that this is unique in the retail industry you would be wrong. If you think for a minute that retailers care about real security and protecting you. You would be wrong again. Retailers are sloppy. They don’t care about you. What you have just read is fairly indicative of the issues that are plaguing the retail payment system. The industry is full of managers who are either unaware or don’t understand what is happening. So when those that do see the writing on the wall speak up they answer. “We sell hammers.” What they should be saying is, “We have hammers for brains!”

And the upper levels of management are looking at the bottom line and seeing that it is still cheaper to pay off claims rather than employ effective security. I have a funny feeling that Home Depot is about to learn a lesson here. 

Until we have a serious re-thinking of the way we secure our payment systems we are going to keep seeing this happen. New cards, new ways to pay including Apple Pay is what is needed to fully secure our money. And did I forget some more effective federal laws and standards to protect the consumer. Its a sad fact that we are wide open to these attacks because industry and government refuse to act. They like things just the way they are. Industry enjoys the protection of the courts who have ruled that unless you can prove actual damages the retail customer can’t sue the retailer who lost the data. They are saying, your data was compromised…and…

The U.S. government is willfully ignorant and reluctant to deal with this growing problem. I believe these data breaches threaten our economic future. Both in the areas of wealth, data and technology loss. We need to do something or we can just kiss it all goodbye.