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2 years ago

9 – To Your Credit: Understanding How Credit Scores Work

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Liz Weston - Personal Financial Columnist for NerdWallet

Good credit is important. Bad credit can make it difficult—or more expensive—to get a loan or credit card, rent an apartment, or get cell phone service. Surveys show few people truly understand how the system works: What makes their credit scores go up, and what causes them to plunge. In this episode we’ll demystify the process, and separate credit facts from credit myths.

Special Guest: Liz Weston, a personal financial columnist for NerdWallet, and author of the best-selling book “Your Credit Score.”

Additional resources:

Credit Myths Persist, Even After Pandemic Forces a Closer Look at Finances

New Government Report: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion Rarely Act on Complaints About Credit File Errors

How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam and What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit Scores

Buy Now, Pay Later Spending Traps

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1 week ago

47 – Guide to Buying New Windows

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

Today’s windows are technological marvels. They provide better insulation, reduce drafts, are easier to clean, and help lower home energy bills. But all these benefits come with very high price tags.

Window companies generate numerous complaints about high-pressure sales tactics and substandard installation. Checkbook cautions that some companies greatly over-promise the energy savings that will result from their windows.

In this episode, Kevin Brasler, Checkbook’s executive editor, cuts through the marketing hype, compares the pros and cons of various types of windows, and explains how to find a reliable contractor.

Additional Resources:

Buying & Installing New Windows

How to Hire a Good Contractor

Saving Energy at Home

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3 weeks ago

46 – Health Apps & Websites Often Share Your Data

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Pam Dixon - Executive Director, World Privacy Forum; Jen Caltrider - a privacy researcher at the Mozilla Foundation

Wearable devices, health apps, and online medical resources can help us stay fit and healthy. They also collect highly personal information that you might assume is confidential. In most cases, this data can be—and often is—shared and sold without your knowledge or permission.

In this episode, how to tell if your health information is protected by the federal privacy law known as HIPAA, and what to do before you use medical apps, smart devices, or go online for medical advice. We talk with Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, and Jen Caltrider, a privacy researcher at the Mozilla Foundation.

Additional Resource:

Health Tracking Apps and Other Tech Might Be Invading Your Privacy

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2 months ago

45 – Even ‘Good’ Companies Often Treat Their Customers Poorly

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Adam Levin - Consumer advocate, digital privacy expert, and host of the ⁠“What the Hack?” podcast⁠

“Buyer beware!” It’s more important than ever for you to heed this warning when buying goods and services. Consumers’ Checkbook regularly reports on scams and shameful selling practices that continue to become more rampant. Unfortunately, even “reputable” businesses treat consumers unfairly, often by using new technologies.

In this episode, we discuss how many companies prioritize profits ahead of their customers—and what you can do to fight back.

Special Guest: Adam Levin, consumer advocate, digital privacy expert, and host of the “What the Hack?” podcast⁠

Additional Resources:

⁠FTC Accuses Amazon of Tricking Millions into Joining Prime⁠

⁠Amazon and Microsoft Charged with Violating Children’s Privacy Law⁠

⁠FTC Rule Would Make it Easier to Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions⁠

⁠30 Tricks Sellers Use to Make You Pay Up⁠

⁠Consumerpedia, Episode 43: How the CFPB Protects You⁠

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2 months ago

44 – Should You Repair or Replace a Broken Appliance?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

Sooner or later all appliances will need to be repaired or replaced. But when the fridge is on the fritz or the oven is burnt out, how do you decide what to do? New home appliances are expensive, but it’s not always easy to know how much repair work will cost.

In this episode, how to decide whether to fix what you have or buy something new. When it’s time to go shopping we have advice on how to avoid the misleading sales hype to get a real deal.

Read Checkbook’s full reports on ⁠appliance repair services⁠ and ⁠appliance stores⁠.

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3 months ago

43 – The CFPB: Protecting Consumers in the Financial Marketplace

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Brian Shearer - Senior Advisor to the CFPB Director

The Consumer Financial Bureau (CFPB) is one of the newest federal regulatory agencies. Its prime directive is to ensure that financial products offered to you are fair, transparent, and competitive. The CFPB’s jurisdiction includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans, credit cards, credit reporting, and debt collection.

In this episode, a look at the initiatives and proposed rules in the pipeline that you should know about and may want to comment on. Also, how the CFPB is working to eliminate junk fees and how it might be able to help if you feel cheated or deceived by a company it regulates.

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3 months ago

42 – An Electric Vehicle Update

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Paul Eisenstein - Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The; Alex Knizek - Manager, Auto Testing & Insights, Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center; Ronald Montoya - Senior Consumer Advice Editor, Edmunds

In the last year or so, we’re finally beginning to see a robust market for electric vehicles. More manufacturers are now in the game, which provides buyers with more choices. So, should you go electric now, or wait, or maybe split the difference and go hybrid?

In this episode, find out about the latest EV options, how federal tax credits might help lower prices, and why leasing may be a smart move right now. Also, how reliable are the new EVs, and what’s happening to increase the number of charging stations?

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