‘Consumer score’

Q: Is it true that online retailers give customers specific scores based on what they buy and return? How can I find out my score?

A: Yes, companies are using data points to create a profile about you, which can theoretically be sold to other companies. Keep in mind, this profile-making is completely legal, and there’s not much we can do to stop them. Meanwhile, the “score” is more complicated than most of us would expect. Instead of a specific number, like a credit score, think of this “consumer score” as more of a dossier. You can find your clandestine profile, but you’ll have to be smart about what you ask to get it. Tap or click here to get your secret consumer profile score.

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TVs losing Netflix

Q: I have an older TV. How long do you think I can still use it to get Netflix?

A: Older smart TVs, most of them made by Samsung, will no longer be able to play Netflix after Dec. 1. You can expect the same issues from first-generation Roku devices, as well; the service that introduced streaming entertainment to your home will now display an error message. This new problem will probably strike a lot of customers as arbitrary and unfair, but Netflix claims it’s a compatibility error; the company has already developed a list of other smart TVs that you can buy instead, which will still be Netflix-compatible after the termination date. So if you have an older television, you may want to consult a list of makes and models that are about to go out of style. Tap or click here to see which older TVs will say goodbye to Netflix.

Phone data refund

Q: I was a victim of throttling by my carrier. I heard you mention on your radio show that I could get a refund if this happened to me. Please tell me more.

A: “Throttling” is when a phone carrier reduces data speeds. Several companies have done this, but the most recent offender was AT&T. According to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), AT&T would offer unlimited data to its customers, the customers would cross a certain threshold of data usage, and then AT&T would throttle their data speeds. This act frustrated and mystified a lot of customers back in 2011, and it led to a class-action lawsuit. That suit has now been settled, and AT&T will pay total damages of about $60 million. If you were a victim of this wrongdoing, you can’t expect to get rich, but you will have the satisfaction of a little money back. Tap or click here to see if you’re eligible for a refund from AT&T.

Stop ad stalking

Q: When I look at something to buy online, suddenly all the ads are for that product. How do I stop this creepy tracking?

A: What you’re describing is called “targeted advertising.” When you buy a particular product or service online, the website will likely send a cookie — or tiny file — onto your computer. This file will inform your computer that you purchased something, and your browser will start populating your screen with ads for similar or identical goods. There are several ways to reduce or even eliminate this kind of advertising: first, you can use a privacy-centric search engine like DuckDuckGo. Second, you can use a regular browser but change the settings so that you don’t download cookies. Third, you can use a privacy mode on specific browsers, such as Google Chrome’s “Incognito,” to hide from stalkers. And there are at least two more techniques that can help you. Tap or click here for five ways to stop creepy ads from following you online.

Listen to Kim Komando’s show from 1-4 p.m. Sundays on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. Read her columns or get her newsletters at komando.com.


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