Tag Archives: computer

FTC sending check to scareware victims

If you get a check in the mail from the Federal Trade Commission, it’s not a scam. Enjoy this holiday gift that’s really the result of a settlement.The FTC is sending more than 300,000 consumers refund checks because they were the victim of a “scareware.”

The FTC settled with Innovative Marketing and other parties involved in the scheme. The FTC says the companies involved tricked consumers into thinking their computers were infected with viruses or spyware, and then sold them software programs like Winfixer, Drive Cleaner, and XP Antivirus to fix a problem that didn’t exist.

The average check will be $20, but it all depends on how much you lost. The company, Epiq Systems, will be sending the checks. If you think you are due a refund or need more information call 1-877-853-3541 or visit www.FTC.gov/refunds.

Related links you may like:
Free service helps you get rid of a virus
Reducing your digital footprint

Cash for your electronics

Did you get a new cell phone this year or computer? Recycling programs that pay you cash for your old electronics are growing in popularity.  It’s a good incentive to keep this bulky electronics out of the landfill.

Cell phone carriers and independent sites are offering cash incentives for your old electronics.  It’s a good way to earn some cash and keep your plastic out of the trash.  There are websites willing to buy all these items: iPods, iPhones, cell phones, cameras, e-Readers, laptops, video games, game console, GPS, DVD, movies, MP3 players, digital cameras, calculators, laptops, external drives, and tablet eReaders.

Here’s a look at some of your options:
Ebay Instant Sale – This site, like many, ships your items for free which is a nice perk so you’re not wasting money on shipping.  I priced two items — a computer and iPhone.  A Dell Latitude D620, Core 2 Duo 1.66 GHz in good condition is worth$59 and an 8GB iPhone 2G is worth $66. If the item isn’t worth anything (I guess if you calculate the condition wrong) it will be recycled for free.  The money you earn is added to your PayPal account.

Wirefly also offers free shipping and will send a check within 30 days. It offers up to $60 for an 8GB iPhone 2G.  In good condition, it pays $51.80. It offers $59.50 for the Dell Latitude.

Gazelle is another ecommerce site,  It didn’t offer to buy the 8GM iPhone 2G, but offered $40 for the 4GB.

Make sure you check out the company first, and read their FAQ so you know their policies. For example, Gazelle does not offer phone support. That may or may not be a big deal.

You Renew wanted newer iPhones and didn’t have an offer for the 2G.  It also didn’t take the Dell Latitude D620, so this is the site that offered to buy the fewest products.

The nice thing about You Renew is that the site even takes devices and pays for the shipping if your item has no value. As an added bonus, the company will either plant a tree or give a donation towards a domestic renewable energy product.

NextWorth offered $53.26 for the 8GB iPhone 2G.  NextWorth teams up with Target, and offers the same service online or in Target stores.

Flipswap takes cell phones only and requires the ESN number on the phone to track it and ensure it’s the one that arrives in the warehouse. It appears the site is offering $36.38 for the 8GB iPhone, but you don’t know for sure until you enter a bunch of information about the condition of the phone and the ESN number.

Cell for Cash, as its name suggests, only buys old cell phones. They offer a set price without asking questions, but expect the phones to be in good condition. It wasn’t entirely clear in the terms and conditions how the company handles phones that don’t meet its expectations, so it’s worth checking out before you commit. Cell for Cash will send you a check in the mail.  It offered $20 for the 8GB iPhone.

Another option is to trade in your cell phone with your carrier for money off a new plan or phone.  You can also try Amazon’s recently expanded trade in program. It works a little differently, because you’re not offered cash.  Amazon pays you with a gift card that’s added to your account. I couldn’t find the same iPhone I compared on other sites nor the Dell computer. This program seems to offer money for new technology, but it’s offering good prices so it’s worth a check.

Erase your digital footprint
Before you send your electronics to a company, check out consumer reviews and feedback to ensure you’ll get the cash you deserve.

Also, make sure you erase all your contact and personal information and perhaps remove the SIM card if possible. You may even consider taking it to your local mobile carrier to see if they can wipe everything for you for a small fee. Some websites that buy electronics also offer the service. I wouldn’t be as nervous with a regular cell phone but smartphones are full of rich information that can be used to steal your identity.

Have a favorite site that offered you cash for your electronics? Share it with our community.

Related links you may like:
Erase your digital footprint
10 consumers reports you should check
Keeping your name off a sucker list
Recovering from identity theft

New ways to erase your digital footprint

The Federal Trade Commission testified before a Senate Hearing on digital privacy.  As I exposed in a November report on your digital footprint, the FTC called online tracking “invisible” to the consumer.

The FTC is pushing for a universal Do Not Track option for browsing. Right now, browsers are introducing their own, individual do not track options that go by a variety of names. Your opt in or opt out options vary by browser based on the system they are using.

While the browsers are making great strides, more work needs to be done to make the options consistent and easy to use. I know a bit about this topic, but some of the current options are difficult to understand. They utilize different tools to make the system work, and some of the mechanics of it are technically advanced.

To learn about simple, easy ways to protect your identity online read my report on NewsChannel 5.

Erase your digital footprint

This is one of the more eye-opening pieces I did this year, and it involves the digital footprint we all leave behind when we browse online. The good news — the solution is simple.

Security experts say the technology that makes our browsing experience exciting, also makes it risky.  Websites form a profile of you based on the sites you visit. They track this information with “cookies.” The problem is, these cookies leave behind crumbs and it’s these crumbs that can cause damage if they end up in the wrong hands.

We had security company, SecureState, analyze an average computer user’s system. Based on her browsing history, they found enough information to steal the woman’s identity. Click the video player below to see what we found.  

Click here for instructions to browse privately with Internet Explorer

Click here for instructions to browse privately with Firefox

Click here for instructions to browse privately with Safari

Click here for instructions to browse privately with Google Chrome

–Instructions courtesy of SecureState

Click here for more tips to protect yourself