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      Osprey recalls child backpack carriers

      A child seated in the carrier can slip through the leg openings

      Osprey Child Safety Products and Osprey Packs of Cortez, Colo., is recalling about 88,000 Poco child carriers sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      A child seated in the carrier can slip through the leg openings, posing a fall hazard to children.

      The firm has received four reports of children falling through the carrier leg openings, resulting in one report of a skull fracture and one report of scratches to the head.

      This recall involves all models of Poco, Poco Plus and Poco Premium child backpack carriers manufactured between January 2012, and December 2014.

      The nylon child carriers were sold in three colors: “Romper Red,” “Koala Grey,” and “Bouncing Blue,” and have a metal frame and a gray padded child’s seat inside. The production date is stamped on a black label sewn into the interior of the large lower zippered compartment on the back of the carrier.

      Recalled carriers have a production date code of S12SBPR1, S12SBPR1B, S12SBPR2, S12SBPR3, S12SBPR4, F12SBPR1, F12SBPR2, S13SB IPO, S13SBPR1, S13SBPR2, S13SBPR3, S13SBPR4, F13SBPR1, F13SBPR2, F13SBPR3, S14SBPR1, S14SBPR2, S14SBPR3, S14SBPR4, S14SBPR5.

      “Osprey” is printed on the fabric above the kick stand. The model name is printed on the back at the bottom.

      The carriers, manufactured in Vietnam, were sold at REI and specialty outdoor stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2012, to December 2015, for between $200 and $300.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carriers and contact Osprey for a free Seat Pad Insert for use along with the existing safety straps to secure the child in the carrier.

      Consumers who previously received and installed the free Seat Pad Insert in their carriers are not required to take further action.

      Consumers may contact Osprey toll-free at 866-951-5197 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MT) Monday through Friday, by email at pocoseatpad@ospreypacks.com or online at www.ospreypacks.com and click on “Poco Safety Notices” on the navigation bar at the top right hand corner of the page for more information.

      Osprey Child Safety Products and Osprey Packs of Cortez, Colo., is recalling about 88,000 Poco child carriers sold in the U.S. and Canada.A child seate...
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      Chromag Bikes recalls bicycle stems

      The clamping bolts that secure the stem to the fork steerer can break

      Chromag Bikes is recalling about 100 Chromag bicycle stems.

      The clamping bolts that secure the stem to the fork steerer and/or the handlebars can break, posing fall and injury hazards to riders.

      The firm has received three reports of the clamping bolts breaking. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Chromag bicycle stems used to clamp the fork steerer and/or handlebars. The recalled stems include models BZA, Director, HiFi and Ranger. Only stems with a “Z” marked inside the bolt head are included in this recall. “Chromag” and the model name are printed on the stems.

      The stems were sold separately from bicycles. Bolts used in the stems are 6 mm in diameter and 20 mm in length. The stems were sold in various colors including black, red, blue, gold, purple and silver.

      The stems, manufactured in Taiwan and Canada, were sold at Arts Cyclery, Beatchwood Cycles, Beat Cycles, Breadwinner Cycles, Blazin Saddles, Harpers, Quality Bicycle Products, The Bike Hub and Squatch Cycles nationwide or online at www.chromagbikes.com from November 2016, through March 2017, for about $120 for the stem.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using bicycles with the recalled stems and contact Chromag for free replacement bolts for the stem.

      Consumers may contact Chromag Bikes at 800-380-4102 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Thursday, by email at info@chromagbikes.com or online at www.chromagbikes.com and click on Stem Bolt Recall at the top of the page for more information.

      Chromag Bikes is recalling about 100 Chromag bicycle stems.The clamping bolts that secure the stem to the fork steerer and/or the handlebars can break,...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls E300 and E300 4MATIC vehicles

      The roof-mounted spoiler may detach during driving

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 411 model year 2016-2017 E300 and model year 2017 E300 4MATIC vehicles.

      The recalled vehicles have a roof-mounted spoiler that may not be properly attached and thus may detach during driving.

      If the roof-mounted spoiler detaches, it can become a road hazard, increasing a risk of a crash.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the roof spoilers, replacing them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in early June 2017.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 411 model year 2016-2017 E300 and model year 2017 E300 4MATIC vehicles.The recalled vehicles have a roof-mounted...
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      What to consider before moving to an age-restrictive community

      55-plus housing developments are springing up everywhere

      They're springing up everywhere. Spacious condos in developments with every conceivable amenity and creature comfort. Surrounded by walls and accessible only through gates, just about anyone can visit, but to live there you must be 55 or older.

      At a time when home-building is in steep decline, these developments are keeping builders busy and profitable. Earlier this year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) issued a very bullish forecast for age-restrictive communities.

      It predicted strength in the segment would continue over the next decade as Baby Boomers seek to downsize or relocate.

      Selling a lifestyle, not homes

      Michigan builder Pinnacle Homes recently launched seven new luxury communities for homeowners in the 55-plus sector. Pinnacle Homes Managing Partner Howard Fingeroot said the company isn't selling homes as much as it is a lifestyle.

      "Traditionally, adults ages 50 and older have either moved to smaller homes with fewer amenities or stayed in the same homes where they raised their kids, dealing with maintenance and remodeling issues as necessary,” Fingeroot said.

      “As more Baby Boomers approach retirement, we're seeing a demand for homes that require little to no maintenance, include modern amenities that support the luxurious look and feel of their lifestyle, and are in or near the areas where they raised their families and made friends."

      Things to consider

      If you're in that age group and thinking about moving to an age-restrictive community, here are some things to consider first: will you like the location? If you currently live near an urban core, will you like the move to the suburbs or countryside, where many of these developments are being built?

      Will you enjoy being surrounded by other people your age and from the same economic background? For many, this is no doubt a selling point, but it might not be for everyone.

      Can you live with the rules? These types of developments tend of have stronger regulations than the typical home owners' association, not least of which are rules determining who can live there. If a son or daughter needs to move back home for a time, they can't if mom and dad are living in an age-restrictive community.

      Dave Hughes, founder of Retire Fabulously, says moving to an age-restrictive community introduces a number of lifestyle factors that aren't present in other situations. He suggests doing your due diligence and gathering as much information as you can before making such a life-changing move.

      They're springing up everywhere. Spacious condos in developments with every conceivable amenity and creature comfort. Surrounded by walls and accessible on...
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      Leading Economic Index suggests growth to continue through 2017

      Initial jobless claims are on the rise

      The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) was higher in March for a fifth consecutive month.

      The rise of 0.4% follows advances of 0.5% and 0.6% in February and January, respectively. Additionally, the index wrapped up 2016 with a gain of 0.6% in December and a 0.2% increase for November

      “The March increase and upward trend in the U.S. LEI point to continued economic growth in 2017, with perhaps an acceleration later in the year if consumer spending and investment pick up,” said Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim. “The gains among the leading indicators were very widespread, with new orders in manufacturing and the interest rate spread more than offsetting declines in the labor market components in March.”

      The LEI, a closely watched forecaster of economic activity, is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

      The ten components of the LEI include:

      • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
      • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
      • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
      • ISM Index of New Orders
      • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
      • Building permits, new private housing units
      • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
      • Leading Credit Index
      • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
      • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

      Jobless claims

      A give-back in the jobless claims last week.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 in the week ending April 15 to a seasonally adjusted total of 244,000.

      Initial claims fell by exactly the same amount a week earlier.

      The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly average and considered a better reading of the labor market, came in at 243,000 -- down 4,250 from the previous week.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) was higher in March for a fifth consecutive month.T...
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      Payday loan customers support more regulation, study finds

      They would also prefer to do business with a bank or credit union

      A common complaint by the payday loan industry, whenever government regulators begin to talk about reform, is that it is serving a community no one else does.

      In part, that's true. The people who agree to triple digit interest rates don't usually do so unless they feel they have no other option. But that doesn't mean they're satisfied customers.

      Many people who take out a small loan for two weeks to meet an emergency are in no better financial shape two weeks later, when the money is due. So their only recourse is to take out another two-week loan, paying another fee to do so. Those fees begin to add up when they have to be paid every two weeks.

      While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is considering regulations for the industry, the Pew Charitable Trust polled consumers' views about payday loans, then compared them to a group of payday loan customers polled on the same questions. The answers were remarkably similar.

      Strong support for regulation

      For starters, 70% of both groups believe the payday loan industry needs more regulation. Payday loan borrowers also voiced strong support for requiring some type of installment payment structure in these small-dollar loans.

      As things now stand, the entire balance is due in two weeks. Customers said they would like to stretch the payments over a longer period. They also stated a strong preference for borrowing from a bank or credit union. The reason they aren't doing that gets to the crux of the issue.

      In most cases, people who turn to a payday lender have poor credit; they're considered a poor risk and banks generally avoid them.

      Payday lenders say the current system protects them against this risk. The lender withdraws the money directly from the borrower's bank account, making sure it gets repaid. It charges the borrower a fee, based on the loan amount.

      New interest from banks

      According to Pew, a number of banks and credit unions submitted comments to the CFPB expressing "serious interest" in serving this market by offering lower-cost installment loans to this under-served group. The regulations, however, would specifically have to allow them to do so.

      Banks and credit unions may, in fact, may be looking at the poor-credit consumer as a growth area that should not be given up completely to payday lenders. But be assured they are not acting out of generosity. It would simply be an expansion of subprime lending, which usually carries much higher costs to the borrower -- again, compensating the lender for the extra risk.

      But unlike payday lenders, Pew says banks and credit unions are considering an installment loan structure, giving the borrower who has taken out $500 to replace a water heater, for example, more time to pay it back.

      These loans would undoubtedly be expensive, but not as expensive as a payday loan.

      A common complaint by the payday loan industry, whenever government regulators begin to talk about reform, is that it is serving a community no one else do...
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      Realtors sound alarm over expiring flood insurance program

      Group warns it could expose property owners and halt sales

      As many homeowners have learned the hard way, homeowners insurance policies don't cover flood damage.

      The damage caused by rising water, whether from a hurricane storm surge or an overflowing creek, is covered by flood insurance, which in recent years has become increasingly expensive.

      The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, is supposed to make flood insurance more affordable for homeowners, but the program is scheduled to expire at the end of September. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) worries that there will be nothing to replace it.

      NAR President William Brown says the elimination of NFIP would not only pose financial risks to homeowners living on or near bodies of water, it would bring sales of those properties to a standstill.

      It's happened before

      "When the NFIP expired in 2010, over 1,300 home sales were disrupted every day as a result," Brown said. "That's over 40,000 every month."

      If property is located in a 100-year floodplain, mortgage lenders require the homeowner to have flood insurance. So if there is no NFIP, Brown says buyers simply won't be able to get a mortgage.

      A rash of hurricanes in the early 2000s took a massive toll on the flood insurance program. Even with the program, homeowners have seen premiums surge. Brown says the problem doesn't just affect coastal communities.

      22,000 communities need flood insurance

      "Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes," he said. "When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can't issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected."

      And even though last year was a relatively calm one for hurricanes, it was the third largest in claims payments in the history of the flood insurance program, costing the goverment more than $4 billion. There were five billion dollar floods last year, with four of them occurring inland, away from coastal areas.

      As many homeowners have learned the hard way, homeowners insurance policies don't cover flood damage.The damage caused by rising water, whether from a...
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      Trans fat cutbacks reduce heart attacks and strokes, study finds

      Researchers say more far-reaching restrictions could produce widespread benefits

      Just a few short years ago, consumers could find trans fats in a variety of food products at the grocery store or in restaurants. But after linking the smallest amounts of these acids to cardiovascular disease, many areas of the country set up restrictions to keep them in line.

      However, current guidelines still seem to be somewhere in the middle of the issue. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently allows up to 0.49 grams of trans fats to be present in a product without having to appear on the label, sending health-conscious food shoppers scrambling.

      To determine what effect trans fats were having on consumers, researchers from the University of Chicago and Yale School of Medicine conducted a study comparing consumers in areas where trans fats were banned in restaurants and areas where they were not. Even with this limited reduction, the researchers found that people who lived in areas with less trans fats had less hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke.

      "The results are impressive, given that the study focused on trans fatty acid bans in restaurants, as opposed to complete bans that included food bought in stores," said senior author Dr. Tamar S. Polonsky. "If we enact a more complete restriction on trans fatty acids, it could mean even more widespread benefits for people long term."

      Fewer heart attacks and strokes

      The study used data ranging from 2002 to 2013 on New York counties that either had trans fat bans in place for restaurants or did not, focusing on hospital admissions for heart attack and stroke.

      The analysis showed that people living areas with bans had significantly fewer hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke three years after the bans were implemented when compared to urban areas that did not have a ban in place. The researchers say that overall decline in combined conditions was an impressive 6.2%.

      "It is a pretty substantial decline. Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population," said lead author Dr. Eric Brandt.

      While the wheels of government are usually slow to turn on these issues, the researchers point out that the FDA has already approved a nationwide ban on partially hydrogenated oils in foods. This could be deeply impactful since the move would essentially eliminate dietary trans fat when it takes effect in 2018.

      The full study has been published in JAMA Cardiology.

      Just a few short years ago, consumers could find trans fats in a variety of food products at the grocery store or in restaurants. But after linking the sma...
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      Polaris Recalls Ranger 900 ROVs

      A heat shield can fall off the vehicle

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 51,000 Polaris Ranger 900 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

      A heat shield can fall off the vehicle, posing fire and burn hazards to riders.

      The company has received 13 incident reports involving the recalled ROVs, including five reports of fires. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all model year 2015 Polaris Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS, and CREW 900 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

      The recalled ROVs were sold in a variety of colors and have either three or six seats and a rear box. “Ranger” is printed on the rear box, and “900” is printed on the hood of the ROVs. All 2015 Ranger 900 models and vehicle identification numbers (VINs) are included in this recall.

      The VIN is printed on the frame on the driver’s side towards the rear of the vehicle.

      The following vehicles are being recalled:

      Model Year

      Model Number

      Model

      2015

      R15RTA87AA

      RANGER 900 XP SAGE GREEN

      2015

      R15RTA87AR

      RANGER 900 XP SOLAR RED

      2015

      R15RTA87AC

      RANGER XP 900 POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO

      2015

      R15RTE87AA

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SAGE GREEN

      2015

      R15RTE87AR

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SOLAR RED

      2015

      R15RUA87AA

      RANGER CREW 900 SAGE GREEN

      2015

      R15RUA87AR

      RANGER CREW 900 SOLAR RED

      2015

      R15RUY87AA

      RANGER CREW 900-6 SAGE GREEN

      2015

      R15RTE87AK

      RANGER XP 900 EPS BLACK PEARL

      2015

      2015

      R15RTE87AM

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SUPER STEEL GRAY

      2015

      R15RTE87AS

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SUNSET RED

      2015

      R15RTE87AW

      RANGER XP 900 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING

      2015

      R15RTE87AX

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SANDSTONE METALLIC

      2015

      R15RTE87AZ

      RANGER XP 900 EPS SUNSET RED SILVER

      2015

      R15RTE87AB

      RANGER XP 900 EPS HUNTER EDITION

      2015

      R15RUE87AC

      RANGER CREW 900 EPS POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO

      2015

      R15RUE87AM

      RANGER CREW 900 EPS SUPER STEEL GRAY

      2015

      R15RUE87AS

      RANGER CREW 900 EPS SUNSET RED

      2015

      R15RUE87AW

      RANGER CREW 900 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING

      2015

      R15RUZ87AC

      RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO

      2015

      R15RUZ87AS

      RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS SUNSET RED

      2015

      R15RUZ87AW

      RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING

      2015

      R15RTE87AV

      RANGER XP 900 EPS VOGUE SILVER DELUXE

      2015

      R15RTE87A5

      RANGER XP 900 EPS HUNTER DELUXE EDITION

      2015

      R15RTE87A2

      RANGER XP 900 EPS NORTHSTAR DELUXE EDITION

      The ROVs, manufactured in the U.S. and Mexico, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from April 2014, through March 2017, for between $13,400 and $21,300.

      What to do

      Consumer should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris to schedule a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT Monday and Friday, or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 51,000 Polaris Ranger 900 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).A heat shield can fall off t...
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      What to do if you are involuntarily bumped

      Your first step should be to ask for a written explanation of the bumping policy

      The outrage directed against United Airlines' handling of Dr. David Dao, on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, has been building for nearly a week.

      On Sunday, Dao refused to give up his seat to a United Airlines employee who needed to get to Louisville, and his attorney says he was severely injured when security personnel dragged him off the plane in front of dozens of smartphone-wielding passengers who recorded the incident and spread it around the world.

      In a news conference Thursday, Dao's attorney Thomas Demetrio painted a picture of a callous and sometimes brutal airline industry, and truth be told many regular fliers would not disagree.

      But moral outrage aside, it begs the question; just what exactly should you do if you find yourself in Dao's position someday, told by the airline that you must give up your seat? Would you refuse and resist as Dao did?

      Bumping will continue

      It is almost certain that no airline will ever again subject a passenger to what Dao endured, having learned from United's painful lesson. But make no mistake, airlines have not stopped involuntarily bumping passengers and probably won't, so it could happen to you in the future.

      Should it happen, the law is pretty clear. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires the airline denying boarding to a ticketed passenger to give the passenger a written statement detailing his or her rights and the airline's criteria for selecting a passenger to bump.

      There is no evidence this was done in the case of Dr. Dao and it isn't clear how many, if any, airlines do this. So as a first step, passengers being involuntarily bumped should politely ask for this document. It signals to the airline that you know your rights and perhaps they will move on to bump some other poor soul.

      But if you are handed the document and are still told to get off the aircraft, do you risk physical injury if you refuse? Again, probably not, since airlines will undoubtedly have new procedures in place to prevent future horrific encounters.

      Legal risks

      But refusing might land you in legal trouble, because your rights aboard a ship or aircraft are not always the same as they are on terra firma. Specifically, the law grants special powers to captains.

      The federal aviation regulations (Title 14) also specify that passengers must obey all orders given by the pilot in command. So this is where a passenger must be careful. Should the plane's captain be summoned and order you off the plane, your refusal could be considered “interfering with an airline crew,” a felony.

      However, it's something of a gray area if the plane is still at the gate with the door open. Until the aircraft pushes back from the gate, the airline's ground agents may be considered in charge of the aircraft.

      Prudence might dictate that you don't want to be the test case. It may be wiser to comply with the order, then seek legal redress once you are safely off the plane.

      In some cases, but not all, the airline bumping you involuntarily will provide some compensation. However, Transportation Department rules say that if the airline can arrange alternate transportation and get you to your destination within an hour of the original arrival time, there is no requirement for compensation.

      In Washington, bumping may become a hot topic. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is asking the Transportation Department to do more to protect the rights of airline passengers. In a letter to the agency, he's asking that it investigate airline industry practices, including involuntary bumping of passengers.

      The outrage directed against United Airlines' handling of Dr. David Dao, on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, has been building for nearly a week.On...
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      Retail sales disappoint in March

      Falling auto sales played a role

      Not much joy in the retail sector in March.

      Not only did it revise the February retail sales figure from a 0.1% gain to show a 0.3% decline, but the Commerce Department also reported sales in March were down 0.2% -- totaling $470.8 billion.

      Even with that decline, though, sales were 5.2% above the same period the year before.

      Ups and downs

      Much of the March weakness can be traced to a decline of 1.2% in auto sales. If that category is eliminated, sales were flat. Also contributing to the decline were lower sales at building material and garden equipment & supplies dealers (-1.5%), gas stations (-1.0%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-0.8%), and restaurants & bars (-0.6%).

      What little strength there was came from gains at electronics & appliance stores (+2.6%), miscellaneous store retailers (+1.8%), clothing and clothing accessories (+1.0%), nonstore retailers (+0.6%), food and beverage stores (+0.5%), and general merchandise stores (+0.3%).

      The full report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

      Not much joy in the retail sector in March.Not only did it revise the February retail sales figure from a 0.1% gain to show a 0.3% decline, but the Com...
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      Inflation takes a holiday

      Consumer prices fell during March

      Falling gasoline prices helped push the cost of living lower in March.

      Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was down a seasonally adjusted 0.3% last month, the first one-month decline since February 2016.

      The March decrease held price increases to 2.4% over the last 12 months.

      Falling energy costs

      Energy prices were down 3.2% in March following February's drop of 1.0%. Gasoline led the decline, plunging 6.2%, followed by natural gas (-0.8%) and electricity (-0.1%).

      Over the last year, energy prices rose 10.9%, with gasoline surging 19.9%, natural gas up 10.3%, and electricity gaining 1.6%.

      Food prices rise

      The cost of food was up 0.3%, with grocery prices rising 0.5% following a 0.2% increase in February.

      Four of the six major grocery store food groups rose, with fruits and vegetables gaining 1.6%, and cereals & bakery products and meats, poultry, fish & eggs both up 0.3%. In contrast, the cost of dairy and related products fell 0.6% and nonalcoholic beverage prices slipped 0.1%.

      Core inflation

      The “core” inflation rate, which strips out the volatile food and energy categories was down 0.1% last month, and up 2.0% over the past 12 months.

      The March decline came as communication prices fell 3.5%, along with drops in the costs of used cars and trucks (-0.9%), new vehicles (-0.3%), and clothing (0.7%).

      Price increases were registered in housing (+0.1%), medical care (+0.1%), motor vehicle insurance (+1.2%), tobacco (+0.5%), airline fares (+0.4%), and alcoholic beverages (+0.2%).

      Recreation, education, and household furnishings & operations costs were unchanged.

      The complete report is available on the BLS website

      Falling gasoline prices helped push the cost of living lower in March.Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the Consumer Price...
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      Hazardous chemicals found on many pool toys and swimming aids

      A study finds that some distinctive smells can tip off consumers about whether a product is safe

      Summertime is fast approaching, and for many consumers that means plenty of quality family time at the pool. But are your pool toys and swimming aids safe for you and your loved ones?

      A new study finds that many inflatable toys and swimming aids, like bathing rings and arm bands, may be treated with a range of chemicals that can be hazardous to your health. Researchers say that chemical compounds such as cyclohexanone, phenol, and isophorone may be present in especially high concentrations on children’s toys.

      "Modern products such as toys and children's products are sourced from a wide variety of chemical and physical manufacturing processes, and this complexity often makes it difficult for us to identify those containing contaminants and unwanted substances, and to determine their causes," said researcher Christoph Wiedmer.

      Follow your nose

      Wiedmer explains that many of the chemical substances are dangerous because they have unstable structures. This can result in a host of problems, “such as irriation, smell nuisance, or other physiological and psychosomatic effects,” he said. Cyclohexanone and phenol are known to be harmful when inhaled, and isophorone has been classified as a category 2 carcinogen.

      However, the researchers point out that there is a way for consumers to detect these chemicals. All you have to do, they say, is follow your nose. “We found that in a number of cases our noses can guide us to ‘sniff out’ problematic products,” said Wiedmer.

      So, which smells should tip you off? Wiedmer and fellow researcher Andrea Buettner tested the molecular make-up of the “distinctive smells” that came from various pool toys and found that between 32 and 46 odors were detected from each sample, with 13 being described as "intense." A panel of volunteers set to smelling each product to see what each product odor reminded them of.

      Participants reported that three of the products reminded them of almonds, plastic, and rubber, while a fourth product reminded them of glue or nail polish. Consumers that experience these or other suspicious odors would be wise to research their products to make sure they are safe to use.

      The team's full study has been published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

      Summertime is fast approaching, and for many consumers that means plenty of quality family time at the pool. But are your pool toys and swimming aids safe...
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      Are you using your credit card rewards?

      A report finds nearly a third of cardholders are leaving money on the table

      In the last decade, credit card companies have stepped up the rewards they offer to cardholders, providing everything from cash back to points toward travel discounts.

      Surveys have found consumers like these rewards, and the offers often sway a decision on whether or not to apply for a card.

      But once you have a card in your wallet, what do you do with the rewards? A new report by financial website Bankrate.com addressed that question and found 31% of consumers with a rewards card have never redeemed the rewards.

      In fact, most of us fall into one of two categories: either we are nearly obsessive about redeeming rewards or we don't do it at all. Bankrate's Robin Saks Frankel says it's hard to figure out.

      Not gaining value

      "Credit card rewards don't usually gain value over time," Frankel said. "In fact, they're more likely to lose value as companies require more points or miles for the same perks. Your best move is to cash them in regularly."

      Bankrate found that when consumers do take advantage of their rewards, nearly half prefer to get cash back. That's actually a very savvy choice.

      It might be hard to place a quantitative value on other types of rewards, such as airline miles or hotel points. But cash is money in the bank. It can be accumulated to pay for a purchase or can be applied each month to pay a portion of the bill.

      Of all the types of rewards, cash seems like the most useful. Millennials favor it over older consumers by a wide margin.

      Airline miles a distant second

      The Bankrate report found airline miles were a distant second, with only 17% of consumers opting for this perk. Twelve percent of consumers prefer to get their rewards in the form of gift cards.

      One drawback to some of the more generous rewards cards is a sometimes hefty annual fee. With so many other rewards cards available with no fee, it's wise to carefully consider all offers before selecting a card that charges a fee.

      "The credit card market is very competitive right now, so if you're not happy with a fee, you can either shop around to find another card that doesn't have one or you can see if the issuer is willing to waive the fee to keep your business," Frankel said.

      In fact, as we recently reported, a study found more than 80% of cardholders were able to get an annual fee waived or reduced just by asking.

      In the last decade, credit card companies have stepped up the rewards they offer to cardholders, providing everything from cash back to points toward trave...
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      The Smokehouse of NY recalls smoked fish products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      The Smokehouse of NY of Mamaroneck, N.Y., is recalling various smoked fish products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been confirmed to date.

      The following products, distributed to markets, restaurants, and hotels in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Alabama, Minnesota and Montana, are being recalled:

      Norwegian 4oz & 8oz and whole sidesIrish 4oz & 8ozScottish 4oz & 8oz
      Pastrami 4oz & 8ozGravlax 4oz & 8ozTrimmings 8oz
      Sturgeon 4ozKippered Salmon 8ozSable 8oz
      Whitefish SaladTrout Fillet 8oz

      The recalled product is distributed in black cryovaced bags containing the company logo and name with expiration dates of April 5-19, 2017.

      What to do

      Consumers with questions or seeking information may contact the company at 914-630-4788 Monday-Friday, 7am-3pm.

      The Smokehouse of NY of Mamaroneck, N.Y., is recalling various smoked fish products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses h...
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      Target recalls water absorbing toys

      If the small toy is ingested, it can expand inside a child's body

      Target Corp., of Minneapolis, Minn., is recalling about 560,000 water-absorbing Easter and Dino toys.

      If the small toy is ingested, it can expand inside a child's body and cause intestinal obstructions, resulting in severe discomfort, vomiting, dehydration and could be life threatening.

      Surgery is required to remove the toy from the body, if ingested. There is a possibility that the toys might not show up on an x-ray.

      No incidents or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves Hatch & Grow Easter Eggs, Easter Grow Toys and Hatch Your Own Dino.

      Hatch & Grow Easter Eggs and Easter Grow Toys have model number 234-25-1200 on the back of the product’s packaging. Hatch Your Own Dino Egg has model number 234-09-0016 on the label inserted in the product’s packaging.

      The pink, blue, or purple Hatch & Grow Easter Eggs include a white bunny, brown bunny, or butterfly. The Easter Grow Toys include a yellow chick, brown bunny, or white bunny. The Hatch Your Own Dino Eggs are purple or yellow/green and contains one of eleven dinosaurs.

      The toys, manufactured in China, were sold at Target stores nationwide from February 2017, through March 2017, for about $1.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately take this recalled toy away from children and return it to any Target store for a full refund.

      Consumers may contact Target at 800- 440-0680 between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CT) Monday through Sunday or online at www.target.com for more information.

      Target Corp., of Minneapolis, Minn., is recalling about 560,000 water-absorbing Easter and Dino toys.If the small toy is ingested, it can expand inside...
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      Flamaglo Foods recalls Yoso brand Soygo Fermented Cultured Soy Products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Flamaglo Foods is recalling Yoso brand Soygo fermented cultured soy products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

      The following products, sold in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Canada, are being recalled:

      Brand NameCommon NameSizeCode(s) on ProductUPC
      YosoSoygo Fermented Cultured Soy - Plain440 g17 MA 19 d58 34914 00231 3
      YosoSoygo Fermented Cultured Soy - Raspberry440 g17 MA 19 d58 34914 00235 1
      YosoSoygo Fermented Cultured Soy - Vanilla440 g17 MA 19 d58 34914 00234 4
      YosoSoygo Fermented Cultured Soy - Blueberry440 g17 MA 19 d58 34914 00232 0

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the store where purchased.

      Flamaglo Foods is recalling Yoso brand Soygo fermented cultured soy products.The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.There hav...
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      Model year 2017 Ford F-450 and F-550 Superduty vehicles recalled

      The driveline may vibrate and fracture the driveline components or the transmission

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 509 model year 2017 Ford F-450 and F-550 Superduty vehicles.

      Operating the vehicle at highway speeds may cause the driveline to vibrate and fracture the driveline components or the transmission.

      If the driveline or transmission fractures, the vehicle may lose motive power, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driveshaft and two center bearing brackets, free of charge. Remedy parts are currently unavailable.

      Interim notices informing owners of the safety risk were mailed on April 6, 2017. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford recall number 17S08.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 509 model year 2017 Ford F-450 and F-550 Superduty vehicles.Operating the vehicle at highway speeds may cause the drive...
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      Walmart offering incentives to order online

      Select items will have a discount if you order online and pick it up at a store

      Walmart is wading deeper into online competition with Amazon by offering discounts on more than ten thousand items if consumers order them online and pick them up at a Walmart store.

      The number of items will expand to one million by the end of June, the retailer said.

      Surveys have suggested that consumers like the convenience of ordering something online, then driving to a nearby store to find it waiting for them. It works especially well for big box retailers, saving consumers the hassle of wandering the aisles to find the item, or asking a store associate to help them find it, then waiting in a checkout line.

      Walmart CEO Marc Lore says the new system will take advantage of supply chain efficiencies, and the company will pass some of the savings on to consumers. The discounts will start April 19.

      More options

      "We’re creating price transparency to empower customers to shop smarter and choose what’s best for them," Lore said in a statement. "Now, they can either pick up and save even more money, or ship two-day for free to home, without paying for a membership."

      Lore said the discounts are possible because the system will remove the "last mile" delivery costs. In addition, Lore says Walmart cuts costs when it delivers goods from its fulfillment centers directly to stores.

      Items eligible for the discount will be flagged that way on the store's website. Walmart lists these examples as typical discounts:

      • Britax B-SAFE 35 Infant Car Seat, Slate Strie – $140.65 after a $7.40 discount.

      • LEGO City Great Vehicles Ferry, 60119 – $21.44 after a $2.55 discount.

      • Coleman 150 qt Heritage XP Marine Cooler – $107.03 after a $4.46 discount.

      • VIZIO SmartCast M-Series 70" Class 4K Ultra HDTV (M70-D3) – $1,648 after a $50 discount.

      Free two-day delivery

      The pickup discounts follow Walmart's move in January to offer free two-day shipping on more than two million items without requiring customers to sign-up for a membership, a shot at Amazon's Prime membership program.

      If the item you purchase is not among the two million covered by the new program, Walmart says it will provide free shipping if the order totals $35, down from $50. Items shipped for pick-up at stores have no price threshold.

      Walmart is wading deeper into online competition with Amazon by offering discounts on more than ten thousand items if consumers order them online and pick...
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      Wholesome Farms brand Sundae Cup products recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Central Smith Creamery of Selwyn, Ontario, Canada, is recalling Wholesome Farms brand Sundae Cup products.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

      The following products, sold in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, possibly distributed in other provinces and territories, are being recalled:

      Brand

      Product

      Size

      UPC

      Codes

      Wholesome Farms

      Vanilla Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03301

      Wholesome Farms

      Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      0007486

      73822000
      17033019

      2/2/17

      Wholesome Farms

      Sugar-Free Light Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03301

      Wholesome Farms

      Sugar-Free Light Vanilla Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      1007486
      5932551

      73822000
      23032013

      2/1/17

      Wholesome Farms

      Butterscotch Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03302

      Wholesome Farms

      Butterscotch Ice Cream Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      0007486
      5915403

      73822000
      20033020

      2/2/17

      Wholesome Farms

      Orange Sherbet Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03303

      Wholesome Farms

      Orange Sherbet Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      0007486
      5915434

      73822000
      21033036

      2/2/17

      Wholesome Farms

      Lime Sherbet Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03304

      Wholesome Farms

      Lime Sherbet Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      0007486
      5915090

      73822000
      22033042

      2/2/17

      Wholesome Farms

      Chocolate Sundae Cup

      115 ml

      None

      03305

      Wholesome Farms

      Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae Cup (case)

      48 x 115 ml

      0007486
      5915410

      73822000
      19033055

      2/2/17

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the store where purchased.

      Consumers seeking more information may call Ian Scates of Central Smith Creamery at 1-800-461-1464.

      Central Smith Creamery of Selwyn, Ontario, Canada, is recalling Wholesome Farms brand Sundae Cup products.The products may be contaminated with Listeri...
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      Lakeside Foods recalls Season's Choice Frozen Sweet Peas

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Lakeside Foods of Manitowoc, Wis., is recalling 1,568 packages of Season's Choice Brand Frozen Peas.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      The company says it is unaware of any illnesses associated with the product.

      The following product, distributed in poly bags to only Aldi Stores in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin and sold at retail stores in those states, is being recalled:

      Season's Choice Sweet Peas, Net Weight 16 oz (1 LB) 454 g UPC code 041498164294
      Code:

      • DC27063 PLAA6206 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC27063 BNAD7266 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC37063 BNAD7266 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC47063 BNAD7266 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC57063 BNAD7266 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC57063 BNAF6236 BEST BY 09 2018
      • DC57063 BNAF6236 BEST BY 09 2018

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it immediately or return it to their local store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-466-3834, Monday-Friday 8 AM – 3PM.

      Lakeside Foods of Manitowoc, Wis., is recalling 1,568 packages of Season's Choice Brand Frozen Peas.The product may be contaminated with Listeria monoc...
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      The latest Millennial moving trend: 'vacation moves'

      Survey finds 41% of Millennials make a temporary move to a new city before settling down

      Millennials who are considering relocating to a new city might make a temporary -- or “vacation” move -- to the city in question before permanently putting down roots there. That’s a key takeaway from a new survey conducted by moving company Mayflower.

      Findings from Mayflower’s poll of 1,000 Millennials revealed that two in five have moved to a new city without the intention of staying permanently. Upon arriving in their vacation city, 74% of respondents said they had a plan to leave within a certain timeframe.

      "Millennials are a generation of what I call 'adventure movers,'” said Dr. Jeffrey Arnett, Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University. “Their motivations for moving are influenced by a sense of adventure, making these moves relatively short-term.”

      Top reasons for moving

      While 30% of respondents moved in search of a new lifestyle or experience, other “vacation movers” had more practical motives. The survey found that 40% moved to a new city to work at a new job and 26% moved to find a new job.

      Twenty-somethings often feel that they have a great deal of freedom and instability, Arnett explained. “This flexibility allows millennials to make moves in search of new job opportunities or adventures, even if they don't plan to stay in the long run,” he said.

      So, when do Millennials plan to firm up their plans and settle down? For 78% of Millennials surveyed, age 35 was the magic number. But one in four (27%) said they plan to have a permanent home before age 30.

      Where Millennials are moving

      Additional findings from the study suggested that where Millennials move could be based on where they were raised.

      Young adults who grew up in urban areas tend to fly farther from the nest than their small town-bred counterparts. Thirty-one percent of Millennials raised in urban areas moved 200 to 499 miles from their last home; only 14% of rurally-raised Millennials ventured as far.

      Major metropolitan areas continue to attract Millennials. The survey revealed that 69% of respondents were currently residing in a city or an inner suburb near the city. Top moving destinations for the demographic were San Francisco, Calif., followed closely by Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

      Millennials who are considering relocating to a new city might make a temporary -- or “vacation” move -- to the city in question before permanently putting...
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      What are the world's best airlines?

      According to TripAdvisor's top 10 list, only two are based in the U.S.

      Travel site TripAdvisor.com has named what it considers the 10 best airlines in the world. Unless you do a lot of international travel, you might not get to enjoy most of them.

      Coming out on top is Emirates, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It's followed by Singapore Airlines, and then Brazil's Azul.

      It's only in the fourth spot that a U.S.-based airline -- JetBlue -- makes an appearance. It's followed by Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, and Thailand-based Thai Smile at number eight.

      Alaska Airlines, the only other U.S.-based carrier to earn a spot on the list, is ninth and Garuda Indonesia rounds out the top 10.

      Some airlines investing in improved service

      "The airline industry is investing billions of dollars in new aircraft and service enhancements to differentiate the flying experience and these awards recognize the carriers offering the very best experiences and value to the traveling public," said Bryan Saltzburg, Senior Vice President and General Manager for TripAdvisor Flights.

      In addition to the top 10 list, TripAdvisor rated airlines in different categories of service, such as first class, business class, premium economy and economy. The awards were based on an algorithm that analyzed airline reviews and ratings submitted by travelers worldwide over the last year.

      Besides being named number one overall, Emirates took honors for Best First Class and Best Economy Class.

      "The fact that the awards are a result of unbiased reviews and feedback speaks to our commitment to deliver a superior travel experience for our customers," said Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airlines.

      Russia's Aeroflot was awarded Best Business Class and Air New Zealand was named Best Premium Economy Class.

      Special category for U.S. carriers

      Since U.S. carriers were not overly represented on the list, TripAdvisor created a category for North American airlines. It named Delta the top major airline in the U.S.

      When it comes to mid-size and low-cost North American carriers, it breaks down this way:

      1. JetBlue
      2. Alaska Airlines
      3. Southwest
      4. Virgin America
      5. Westjet (Canada)
      Travel site TripAdvisor.com has named what it considers the 10 best airlines in the world. Unless you do a lot of international travel, you might not get t...
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      Fresh Express recalls Organic Marketside Spring Mix Salad

      A decomposing bat was allegedly found in a container

      Fresh Express is recalling a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix.

      Extraneous animal matter -- a decomposing bat -- was allegedly found in a single container of the salad at a Walmart store in the Southeastern U.S.

      The following product is being recalled:

      BrandPRODUCT NAMESIZEUPCPRODUCTION CODEBEST IF USED BY DATEPOSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION STATES
      MarketsideOrganic Spring Mix5 oz.6 8113132897 5G089B19APR 14 2017AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, VA,

      The best-if-used-by date is located on the front label, and the UPC code may be found on the bottom of the container.

      What to do

      Consumers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but discard it or return it for a full refund to the store where purchased.

      Consumers with questions may call the Fresh Express consumer response center toll-free at (800) 242-5472 from 8 a.m. -- 7 p.m. (ET).

      Fresh Express is recalling a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix.Extraneous animal matter -- a decomposing bat -- was allegedly fo...
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      Chrysler recalls model year 2016-2017 Ram 1500 trucks

      The differential could break or lock up

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 30 model year 2016-2017 Ram 1500 trucks.

      The differential pin retaining screw may come loose during driving, potentially causing the differential to break or lock up.

      A broken or locked up differential may result in a loss of motive power and possibly a loss of vehicle control. Either scenario increases the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the differential retaining pin, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 7, 2017.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is T20

      Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 30 model year 2016-2017 Ram 1500 trucks.The differential pin retaining screw may come loose during driving, potentia...
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      Honda recalls model year 2003 Honda Accord Coupes

      A replacement airbag inflator may rupture

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 37,421 model year 2003 Accord Coupes equipped with a four-cylinder engine.

      If the passenger front airbag module has been replaced, such as after a crash necessitating airbag deployment, the replacement airbag module may include a Takata airbag inflator.

      These inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to lower absolute humidity, temperature and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the vehicle and replace any Takata inflator used in the passenger front airbag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 1, 2017.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is KF0.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 37,421 model year 2003 Accord Coupes equipped with a four-cylinder engine.If the passenger front airbag module ha...
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      MINI Cooper Clubman, Cooper S Clubman and JCW Clubman vehicles recalled

      The brake light may not illuminate when a turn signal is activated

      BMW of North America is recalling 16,883 model year 2016-2017 MINI Cooper Clubman, Cooper S Clubman and JCW Clubman vehicles.

      When the recalled vehicles are braking and the turn signals are on, the inner, bumper-mounted, brake light will go out.

      As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."

      If the brake light does not illuminate when a turn signal is activated, other drivers may be confused, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      MINI will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the vehicle to correct the brake lighting, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 22, 2017.

      Owners may contact MINI customer service at 1-866-825-1525.

      BMW of North America is recalling 16,883 model year 2016-2017 MINI Cooper Clubman, Cooper S Clubman and JCW Clubman vehicles.When the recalled vehicles...
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      Simple tool warns of pre-diabetes risk

      Simply timing glucose test results can alert doctors

      Millions of people have diabetes and almost all of them first had a condition known as pre-diabetes.

      Now, federal medical researchers have discovered a simple tool to alert doctors that a patient is at risk for pre-diabetes and on the path to the full disease.

      The tool is simple and costs nothing. A patient is administered an oral glucose tolerance test and the time it takes to reach maximum sugar level is recorded. Those who take longer to reach that maximum threshold are at greater risk of pre-diabetes, the researchers found.

      “Our research may help clinicians and public health officials guide patients to better and more cost-effective decisions about risk for pre-diabetes” said Stephanie Chung, M.B.B.S., the study’s first author and an assistant clinical investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

      The implications

      The implications are fairly clear. By giving the glucose test and noting the time to reach maximum levels, doctors can get a heads-up that the patient is at risk for developing pre-diabetes, placing them at even greater risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

      Simply put, having pre-diabetes means your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type-2 diabetes. It's not a given that pre-diabetes turns into full-blown type-2 diabetes, but it happens a lot.

      However, with significant lifestyle changes – eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise – a patient can return his or her blood glucose levels to normal. In fact, there have been cases where people with type-2 diabetes have actually reversed the disease with radical lifestyle changes.

      Early damage

      However, the Mayo Clinic warns that if you have developed pre-diabetes, you may already be suffering the long-term damage of diabetes.

      Unfortunately, pre-diabetes has no obvious symptoms. However, Mayo Clinic doctors say subtle signs include darkening skin in certain parts of the body. You may be at risk for pre-diabetes if you are overweight, eat an unhealthy diet, and get little exercise.

      Type-2 diabetes is a serious condition. It's triggered when your body starts having trouble using insulin, which transports glucose into cells. When that happens you are at risk of building up too much glucose in your blood.

      Millions of people have diabetes and almost all of them first had a condition known as pre-diabetes.Now, federal medical researchers have discovered a...
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      Dating site focuses on couples' credit scores

      Premise is that couples who think alike about money have a better chance

      Okay, when it comes to dating sites, this might actually be a good idea.

      While other dating sites use various methods to match people looking for a partner, CreditscoreDating.com cuts right to the chase and matches couples based on their credit scores.

      Members create a profile like they would on any other dating site, including relevant information a potential partner might reasonably want to know. But the profile also has to include the member's credit score.

      The scores are not verified, but the site but says it believes that 92% of the posted scores are accurate.

      Mixing love and money

      But isn't mixing love and money a little crass? True, focusing on how a potential partner handles a checkbook and credit card might dampen the romance of dating, but it could save some heartache later on.

      Some people on both sides of the issue – financial advisors and relationship experts – believe money management is an important relationship topic that is easily overlooked in the first blush of romance.

      Financial advisor Christopher Krell urges couples to have a candid conversation about money, including their approaches to both spending and saving. He points to a 2012 study published in the Family Relations Journal which concluded that disagreements about money are the main reason marriages hit the rocks.

      Kansas State University researcher Sonya Britt participated in that study, and her research paper reached the same conclusion. Regardless of income, she found arguments over money are a major predictor for divorce.

      The danger of high and low credit scores

      And that brings us back to credit scores. If one partner has a high credit score and the other a low one, it suggests that one is careful with finances while the other is either reckless or makes a series of uninformed choices. It isn't a recipe for a happy relationship.

      Once a couple is married, they often share credit accounts. If one partner runs up bills and doesn't pay, the partner with the good credit score suffers too.

      People looking for a relationship have begun to grasp this reality. A 2014 survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that uncontrollable debt can be toxic for romance.

      The survey found 37% of respondents would not marry someone until their debt was repaid. Ten percent would marry but not help pay the debt while seven percent would take the somewhat extreme action of breaking off the relationship.

      Okay, when it comes to dating sites, this might actually be a good idea.While other dating sites use various methods to match people looking for a part...
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      The IRS is hiring debt collectors

      Raises possibility that scammers will try to impersonate them

      If you owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back taxes and despite repeated reminders, still haven't gotten around to writing a check, expect a call from a debt collector.

      The IRS has started sending letters to what it calls “a relatively small group” of taxpayers who are severely delinquent. The letters will explain that the IRS has turned the account over to one of four private debt collection agencies.

      The IRS says the delinquent accounts are old and multiple attempts have been made in the past to collect them. Still, this effort could pose dangers for a wide range of consumers if scammers seize on this development.

      “The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS also urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. In reality, those taxpayers whose accounts are assigned as part of the private collection effort know they have a tax debt.”

      How to avoid a scam

      That last part is key. Koskinen says the people who will receive calls from these legitimate debt collectors are well aware that they have an unpaid tax debt. They have dealt with IRS personnel on this issue in the past.

      That means if you are unaware that you owe the IRS money and get a call from someone claiming to be a debt collector, the IRS says you are being targeted by a scammer and should hang up.

      Okay, this bears repeating. If you are unaware that you owe back taxes and someone calls you claiming you do, you don't. It's that simple.

      Letter from the IRS

      The collection program began this week and the people who owe the money should have received a letter from the IRS, telling them to expect a call. If you didn't get one of these letters, you don't owe any money.

      Here's another clue – the IRS says people who owe money will always be contacted by the tax agency first, before they are ever contacted by a debt collector. So if the IRS hasn't contacted you, neither should a debt collector.

      The IRS reiterates that taxpayers should be vigilant for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS said it will also be watching for these schemes as the collection program begins.

      If you owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back taxes and despite repeated reminders, still haven't gotten around to writing a check, expect a call from...
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      March job creation comes up short

      The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in nearly a decade.

      A loss of positions in the retail sector helped keep March job creation well below expectations.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employment edged up by 98,000 last month -- well short of the 180,000 jobs projected by economists at Briefing.com.

      The economy had created 219,000 jobs in February and 216,000 in January.

      At the same time, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% from 4.7% in February, the lowest level since may 2007.

      Gainers and losers 

      Employment in professional and business services was up by 56,000 last month -- about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Other fields adding employees include mining (+11,000), health care (+14,000), financial activities (+9,000), and construction (+6,000).

      Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March, while employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little or no change.

      Who's working

      The number of people out of a job in March fell by 326,000 to 7.2 million. 

      Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (4.0%), Whites (3.9%), and Hispanics (5.1%) declined in March. The jobless rates for adult men (4.3%), teenagers (13.7%), Blacks (8.0%), and Asians (3.3%) showed little or no change.

      The labor force participation held steady at 63.0% in March, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.1%, changed little. The employment-population ratio has edged up over the year, while the labor force participation rate has shown no clear trend.

      Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by a nickel in March to $26.14, following a 7-cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have are up 68 cents, or 2.7%.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      A loss of positions in the retail sector helped keep March job creation well below expectations.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employment edged...
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      Xootr recalls adult kick scooters

      The steer support can break during normal use

      Xootr of Old Forge, Pa., is recalling about 3,000 Xootr adult kick scooters.

      The steer support can break during normal use, posing a fall hazard to the user.

      The firm has received six reports of breaks in steer supports, resulting in one report of scrapes and bruises from a fall.

      This recall involves all Xootr adult kick scooters with the QuickClick push-button latching mechanism.

      The silver scooters are 30 inches long by 10 inches wide, and have a handlebar height of 36 inches. The Xootr logo is on the deck and lower section of the handlebar.

      The scooters have a plastic, wood or metal deck, and can be identified by a black push button located on the steer support.

      The scooters, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Lajolla Swim and Sport, Nyce Wheels, San Francyclo and other sporting goods stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com and Xootr.com from November 2016, through January 2017, for about $270.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled scooters and contact the firm to receive the free repair.

      Consumers may contact Xootr at 800-816-2724 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at support@xootr.com or online at www.xootr.com.

      Xootr of Old Forge, Pa., is recalling about 3,000 Xootr adult kick scooters.The steer support can break during normal use, posing a fall hazard to the...
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      Season’s Choice Frozen Sweet Peas recalled

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      ALDI and Lakeside Foods are recalling Season’s Choice Frozen Sweet Peas due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

      No illnesses related to this product have been reported to date.

      The recalled product, packaged in a 16-oz. bag, has the UPC code 041498164294, and contains one of the following packaging codes and best by dates on the back of the bag:

      Packaging Codes Best By Date 
      DC17038 PLAB6176 08/2018 
      DC27038 PLAB6176 08/2018 
      DC27038 BNAF7286 08/2018 
      DC37038 BNAF7286 08/2018 
      DC47038 PLAC6216 08/2018 
      DC57038 PLAC6216 08/2018 

      The recalled product was sold at ALDI locations in Florida, Illinois

      Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it immediately or return it to their local store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Lakeside Foods at 1-800-466-3834, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (CT).

      ALDI and Lakeside Foods are recalling Season’s Choice Frozen Sweet Peas due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.No illnesses related to th...
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      Marin Mountain Bikes recalls bicycles

      The rigid front forks on these recalled bikes can bend or break

      Marin Mountain Bikes of Novato, Calif., is recalling about 380 Pine Mountain bicycles sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The rigid front forks on these recalled bikes can bend or break while in use or during jumping, causing the rider to lose control, posing fall and crash hazards.

      The firm has received four reports of bent bicycle forks including one report in the U.S., and three in other countries. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves two Marin Mountain bicycle model years and model names: 2016 Pine Mountain 1 and 2017 Pine Mountain bicycles. The bicycles were sold in five frame sizes and in one basic color scheme (silver painted frame with orange painted fork.)

      The model name “Pine Mountain 1” (2016) or “Pine Mountain” (2017) is printed on the top tube of the frame and the downtube of the frame has a “MARIN” decal.

      The bikes, manufactured in Indonesia, were sold at independent bicycle stores nationwide from December 2015, through February 2017, for about $1,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mountain bikes and contact the firm for instructions on receiving a replacement bicycle fork and scheduling a free repair.

      Consumers may Contact Marin Bikes at 800-222-7557 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.marinbikes.com and click on the “recalls/safety” link at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Marin Mountain Bikes of Novato, Calif., is recalling about 380 Pine Mountain bicycles sold in the U.S. and Canada.The rigid front forks on these recall...
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      U.S. home prices on the rise in February

      Analysts see no end in sight to the increases

      The increases in home prices keep on coming.

      Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows housing prices across the U.S. were up 7% in February from the same month a year ago.

      On a month-over-month basis, prices rose 1%.

      “Home prices and rents have risen the most in local markets with high demand and limited supply, such as Seattle, Portland and Denver,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “The rise in housing costs has been largest for lower-tier-priced homes.”

      According to Nothaft, from December to February in Seattle, the HPI shot up 12% and the CoreLogic single-family rent index jumped 6% percent for all price tiers compared with the same period a year earlier.

      He notes, though, that when looking at only lower-cost homes in Seattle, the price increase was 13% and the rent increase was 7%.

      In the year ahead

      The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will increase by 4.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from February 2017 to February 2018, and on a month-over-month basis home prices are expected to increase by 0.4 percent from February 2017 to March 2017.

      “Home prices continue to grow at a torrid pace so far in 2017 and these gains are likely to continue well into the future,” said CoreLogic President and CEO Frank Martell. “Home prices are at peak levels in many major markets and the appreciation is being driven by a number of dynamics -- high demand, stronger employment, lean supplies and affordability -- that will continue to play out in the coming years.”

      The increases in home prices keep on coming.Property information provider CoreLogic reports its Home Price Index (HPI) shows housing prices across the...
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      Job cuts rise, jobless claims fall

      The retail sector was March's biggest job cutter

      The flurry of pink slips intensified a bit in March.

      According to the tally by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas announced job cuts by US-based employers rose 17% from the February total to 43,310.

      While the month-over-month change is higher, March cuts are down 2% from the same month last year -- the third consecutive month of lower job cuts than the corresponding month a year earlier.

      For the first quarter of the year, employers have cut 126,201 jobs -- 38% more than in the final three months of 2016, but down 30% from the same period last year.

      A healing energy sector

      “Cuts in the energy sector, which started en masse in mid-2014, were still occurring in the first quarter of 2016;” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, but adds that “the energy industry is no longer bleeding jobs, which is partly why job cut announcements have trended down.”

      Through the first quarter of the year, the energy sector has announced 7,880 job cuts, down 84% from the first three months of 2016. Since January 2014, the energy sector has announced 224,265 cuts -- 107,714 of them in 2016.

      Retail is the job cut leader so far this year, with 38,464 announced terminations, 4,084 occurring last month. While retailers have cut over 53,000 jobs in the last seven months, the industry has announced over 121,000 new jobs so far this year.

      “Retail is typically an industry in flux, but we’ve seen long established companies close stores and cut workers,” said Challenger. “The industry, though, is creating openings just as quickly as they are cutting.”

      First quarter retail cuts are up 19% from the same period last year.

      Even as companies continue to cut jobs, hiring announcements continue to break records. Challenger tracking shows that in the first quarter, companies announced 289,272 new positions -- the bulk of them in the retail sector.

      Home Depot hired 80,000 new seasonal workers in March. Last quarter’s total is the highest first quarter total on record, and the highest quarterly total except for third quarter totals when holiday hiring plans are typically announced.

      Jobless claims

      The week ending April 1 saw a sold drop in the fining of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

      The Labor Department (DOL) reports there were a seasonally adjusted 234,000 initial jobless claims, down 25,000 from the previous week's level was revised up by 1,000.

      The less volatile 4-week moving fell 4,500 from the previous week to 250,000.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      Photo (c) kikkerdirk - FotoliaThe flurry of pink slips intensified a bit in March.According to the tally by outplacement consultancy Challeng...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2017 Audi A3 and S3 sedans

      The passenger front airbag may deploy with more force than intended

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 11,618 model year 2017 Audi A3 and S3 sedans.

      In a lower-speed crash situation, the airbag control unit software may deploy the passenger front airbag improperly if the front seat passenger is sitting on the edge of the seat or is lying in the seat with the seat reclined.

      As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

      If the airbag deploys with more force than intended, it can increase the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Audi will notify owners, and dealers will update the air bag control module software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in April 2017.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69Q3.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 11,618 model year 2017 Audi A3 and S3 sedans.In a lower-speed crash situation, the airbag control unit softwar...
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