Holiday season share your shopping frustrations

We’re excited to announce our new App., BlastEm, is available as a FREE download in the App Store. Since it is a new App you will need to search the App Store by the exact name BlastEm. You can also find it on Google with the following search argument “BlastEm app on iTunes”. It will be the second result returned.

Tired of being ignored and mistreated by large, faceless businesses? Has Holiday shopping already left you feeling angry and frustrated with no recourse? BlastEm is the answer!

BlastEm is a consumer-advocacy application that enables the underdog consumer to have their voice heard by business leaders who can make a difference. The application enables the consumer to have direct e-mail contact with executives of over 250,000 companies. The consumer can send a message – including text, photos, and video – to share a complaint, a great experience, or just a suggestion. BlastEm allows users to send copies of their communication to the press, social media, regulators, and business reviewers.

If you are frustrated and feeling powerless, BlastEm will be your voice… a voice that will be difficult to ignore.

We welcome feedback and comments to further enhance the app.

#Consumer #ConsumerComplaints#Complaints #ConsumerProtection

BlastEm – New Consumer Smartphone App looking for funding

Over the past few months we have been blogging about issues of interest to consumers. We have also taken our vision to the next level by creating a Smartphone application. The application is called BlastEm. We at Consumer Angel want to thank all of you who have been following our blog for the last 8 months.

BlastEm allows the consumer to have direct email contact with the senior management of over 250,000 US businesses. The BlastEm user is able to send their communication directly to top management about a problem, a great experience or a suggestion. Additionally, the BlastEm user can copy the press, social media, regulators and business reviewers with their communication AND it can contain photos and videos to emphasize their point.

Consumer Angel, Inc. is excited to be launching an IndieGogo Campaign on Aug. 26, 2013 to showcase our BlastEm application. Indiegogo is a crowdfunding site that provides a forum for small businesses to raise money. We are looking to raise $50,000.00 on the crowd funding site IndieGogo to complete the application and roll it out to Smartphone users around the US.

For any questions contact us at questions

On Monday, August 26th find us on http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smartphone-app-connecting-consumer-to-top-management

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #BlastEm

New Consumer Smartphone App looking for funding

Over the past few months we have been blogging about issues of interest to consumers. We have also taken our vision to the next level by creating a Smartphone application. The application is called BlastEm. We at Consumer Angel want to thank all of you who have been following our blog for the last 8 months.

BlastEm allows the consumer to have direct email contact with the senior management of over 250,000 US businesses. The BlastEm user is able to send their communication directly to top management about a problem, a great experience or a suggestion. Additionally, the BlastEm user can copy the press, social media, regulators and business reviewers with their communication AND it can contain photos and videos to emphasize their point.

Consumer Angel, Inc. is excited to be launching an IndieGogo Campaign on Aug. 26, 2013 to showcase our BlastEm application. Indiegogo is a crowdfunding site that provides a forum for small businesses to raise money. We are looking to raise $50,000.00 on the crowd funding site IndieGogo to complete the application and roll it out to Smartphone users around the US.

For any questions contact us at questions@consumersangel.com

On Monday, August 26th find us on http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smartphone-app-connecting-consumer-to-top-management

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #BlastEm

Do you have lost money and how can you find it?

How can this happen?

Perhaps you had an old bank account and you forgot about it. Maybe you were left money by a long lost relative but you could not be found by the estate. Perhaps you have a tax refund but you moved. You may have moved and been entitled to a refund by a utility and they did not have your new address.

What happens to this money?

The company or business does not get to keep your money. The laws vary from state to state. The process is called escheatment. If after a certain period of non-activity on a bank account or after a check has not been cashed, the funds are turned over to the state where they are held in trust usually in perpetuity. It is estimated that there is currently $41.7 billion waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs to their rightful owners or heirs.

How can I see if I have any unclaimed property?

There is a web site www.unclaimed.org where you can research to see if you have any unclaimed property. It may take a little work since each state is different and you will need to search each state that is applicable to you individually. While it may take a little time it can be well worth it.

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocacy #UnclaimedProperty #EscheatedProperty

Saving money on eyeglasses

Today it is easy to spend hundreds of dollars on new eyeglasses. This is especially so if you add options, such as bifocals, progressive no line lenses, anti-scratch coatings and UV protection.

One big question for many of us is how we look in the glasses; we can spend hours in eyeglass stores trying on dozens of frames until we find one we are happy with. There is a web site we highly recommend featuring great glasses at bargain prices. The company is Zenni and you can find it at www.zennioptical.com.

How Will I Look?

At Zenni’s web site you can upload your picture and see exactly how you will look in dozens of frames in just a few minutes. You can even personalize your frames. If you want to speak with a representative, you can do so using Zenni’s live chat feature or 800 number.

Personal Experiences

Talking with a friend a few days ago, I commented on his new glasses and how perfectly suited they were for him. He told me he had just bought them at Zenni and they cost him under $20.00. He was totally satisfied with the shopping experience and delighted with the savings. His previous pair of glasses, which he purchased at a discount eyeglass chain, had cost him over $100.00.

Additional Sites for Glasses

You can also try http://www.eyebuydirect.com and http://www.glassesusa.com, both of which look very interesting but with which we have no personal experience.

Help with Your Shopping

Today, when saving every penny helps, it is easy to go to your favorite search engine and type in “saving money on …” and see what options come up for the frugal shopper.

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #SavingMoney #Eyeglasses #DiscountEyeglasses

How to best protect your credit

As knowledgeable consumers we need to be proactive about monitoring our personal financial data. Here are a few ideas on how to do that which won’t cost you anything and are well worth a little effort:

CREDIT MONITORING

You can start by creating your own credit monitoring service by getting a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com , the only authorized site under federal law. You are entitled to one free report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you can order one from a different bureau every four months you are able to tabs on your credit over the entire year and the information is usually very much the same in each of the credit bureaus.

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT

You should freeze your credit files at the three major bureaus; so that no company can look at your report, other than the institutions you already do business with. Since creditors typically will not open up a new account without accessing your report, this decreases the chances that a thief will be able to open up an account in your name. However, freezes are not bulletproof. A thief could try to open an account with a company you are already doing business with, or they might take over an existing account and redirect bills and e-mail to another address. You can put Freezes in place through each of the three bureaus’ Web sites, www.equifax.com www.experian.com and www.transunion.com . The fees for freezes vary from state to state but they are usually nominal and well worth it and in many states they are free. Remember you will need to remove the freeze if you are applying for new credit like a mortgage.

BE VIGILANT

Always check credit card and other financial statements for any suspicious transactions, and notify your financial institution immediately if you notice any. Consumers are not liable for any unauthorized use of their accounts. It is really a good habit to get into to check all of your accounts weekly because that way you stay on top of any problem. I can check six accounts in less than 10 minutes just by going to the institutions web site and checking my current transactions.

#Consumer #Credit #ProtectCredit

Service from my Local Phone Company – Verizon

Like many of us I have become very dependent on the Internet. I work from home occasionally and I need my Internet access for that. Many personal financial activities are also done regularly on the Internet as well over my secure WiFi network. This past Friday at about 11:30 AM while I was working on a project for an important client my Internet service went down.

I immediately did all of the things I know that they do to fix the problem simply. I reset my DSL modem twice and I was still unable to connect. My next step was to call Verizon and they did the usual and ran I line test. I was told that they were uncertain if the problem was in their central office or on my side. I was asked about things like had I decently installed any new software and finally I was transferred to a network specialist. He ran diagnostics and told me the problem was definitely in the central office and it would be corrected in 12 to 24 hours. I explained that I needed the Internet to communicate with my client and he noted my records and said he would do what he could to get the problem resolved quickly.

When nothing had changed and I had no update by 4:00 PM Friday afternoon, I called back. I was given the usual runaround that Verizon gives to people by trying to talk over their head about how serious the problem is in words most people would not understand. The problem is I do understand this and I was not impressed when I was told they had a bad port or that they had to replace the DSLAM. I was again promised that the problem would be fixed in 12 to 24 hours.

I wake up Saturday morning and go to check to see if the problem has been resolved and low and behold my landline to which my DSL is attached is no longer working. I guess they must have switched out the DSLAM. Bad guess!! Many more conversations with Verizon representatives and supervisors, who promise to call back with status and never do and my phone service is restored by 1:00 PM on Saturday. I discovered this because the phone rang (Not Verizon calling). Still no Internet service.

On Sunday after many more calls and conversations with two more supervisors, I am finally told what the real issue is. Verizon outsources the maintenance of the equipment in their central offices to a third party but their contract with the outsourcing company is only for five days a week. When I heard this I was flabbergasted. I asked the supervisor if Verizon though of itself as an Internet company. Of course they do!! Well when I suggested that all other Internet companies I know run 24 x 7 operations 365 days a year there was no reply only an apology.

For those of us who are captive to a single provider, like I am we need some help with this irresponsible behavior by a monopoly.

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #Verizon #VerizonBadBehavior #VerizonIsNotAnInternetCompany

Your computer is infected scam

A number of companies are now sending you to other companies who are selling you services to maintain your computer that you don’t want or need. Here is how the scam works and both Yahoo and Norton are guilty of this.

Examples of the scam

In Yahoo’s case you call their 800 number about a problem, like not being able to log into your Yahoo account. You are told that you need to have a technician look at your computer and the technician logs into your computer and tells you that your computer is a mess and has many viruses, trojans and other bad stuff and that he can transfer you to someone who can fix the problem.

The next step is they try to sell you a service that is “guaranteed” to regularly maintain your computer as well as sell you their own antimalware software. They will tell you that Microsoft recommends that you have a Microsoft certified engineer check out your computer every 3, 6 or 12 months depending on which scammer you are speaking with. Microsoft does not recommend anything of the sort. Go to their web site and check it out.

Norton does a similar thing when your free trial of their software on your new computer is about to run out. You will receive popups telling you to contact them. When you do, you will be directed to a company that will fix you problems after logging into your computer.

What do you need to keep your computer safe?

If you have a PC we suggest the free Microsoft Security Essentials package which can be downloaded from Microsoft’s web site. This will provide you with antivirus software, antimalware software and a firewall. You need to regularly update this software which Microsoft also does for free. If you have a Windows 8 computer we recommend Windows Defender from Microsoft which replaces Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 8.

In terms of regular maintenance on your computer it is not like sending an astronaut to the moon. You should regularly update your antivirus software whenever a new update comes out. In addition you should make the operating system updates, especially the security ones, when they are released. How do you know when updates are released? You should automatically be notified but if you want to make sure in the lower right corner of your computer to the left of the date and time you will see a little flag. Do a left mouse click on the flag and you will see an option to open the Action Center. Under Security you can see how you are setup to receive updates from Microsoft and if you want change them just hit the Change Settings button. If you are experience performance problems the link below contains Microsoft’s suggestions as what you need to do.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_xp-performance/computer-maintenance/20f45a22-8891-4bb2-8506-ea0fa2540978?auth=1

Most important don’t allow unknown scam artists to get on your computer. You are wasting your money and are running the risk that they will put some nasty stuff on your computer.

#Consumer #ComputerScam

Charity scams to be on the lookout for

There are many legitimate and worthwhile charities to make a donation to but there are also many scam artists out there who are looking to prey on your kindheartedness. Here are some of the most common ones to avoid:

1. The latest disaster

As soon as a disaster occurs whether it is an earthquake in China, a tsunami in Southeast Asia or a forest fire in Arizona, the scamsters are on alert. You will start to receive email or snail mail solicitations showing the horror of the disaster. These are worthwhile causes but how do you know if your money will help the victims or go into the pocket of some fraudster.

2. The Police and Fireman’s widows and children

Many of these charities appear legitimate and they are purporting to serve a worthwhile purpose. They often pocket all or most of the money and little or nothing goes to the deserving widows and children

3. Holiday Scams

Holidays are just the best time for scammers to tug on our heartstrings. And the most likely place you’ll encounter them is when they rattle a collection box in front of you either as you do your shopping or at your front door.

They may use all kinds of props to fool you, wearing seasonal costumes, dressed in familiar uniforms, wearing badges or carrying some other kind of bogus authorization. Often too, scammers use kids to convince you they’re genuine.

4. Telephone solicitations

How can you possibly know the caller is who they say they are, and why on earth would you give them your credit card number? Be most concerned when they get very aggressive.

5. At your doorstep

There are the sellers at your doorstep often with little children in tow, who show you a charity catalog, take your money and never come back.

What can you do?

First, unless you are positive it is a legitimate charity, don’t give them anything. Often you can make a preliminary test by asking if they are a 501c3 organization. This means that they have received the IRS blessing as a not-for-profit. This is NOT the last word but it is a good start. See the paragraph below for more specifics to look into.

No legitimate charity will object to your looking into their finances and they will often direct you to impartial sources that can vouch for them. A few minutes on the Internet can often yield interesting results. If it is a real charity, you can find out what percentage of the funds collected goes to overhead and what goes to the people you are contributing to. I recently received a call from what sounded like a legitimate charity for widows and orphans of police and firemen. When I looked into the specifics, I found that 92%, yes 92% of the funds the received went to “Overhead”.

Be wary of the high pressure phone solicitation that use scare tactics like: “these could be your children”, “Can’t you help these poor widows whose husband’s died protecting you” or “We will send you an identification card that will show the police you are a contributor”. The last one plays on our desire to get away with something since we think that card will keep us from getting a traffic ticket.

#ConsumerAffairs #Consumer #Scams #CharityScams

ICE could save your life

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn’t know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) Campaign

The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" (In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn’t know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE."

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference!

Let’s spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today!

#consumer #consumerScam