News from the Reference Desk Category: Consumer

Illinois agencies warn of phishing scams

phishing text message exampleThe Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the Illinois Secretary of State DMV are aware of text and email messages being sent fraudulently on their behalf, asking for personal information.  

While the messages might look official, a government agency will never request personal information, such as Social Security numbers or banking information, via text or email. If you receive such a message, delete it. Do not provide any information or click any links. Doing so could install malware on your device or computer.

To protect your personal information, take the following precautions:  

  • *Delete unsolicited emails and texts requesting personal information or promising state driver’s licenses or IDs. Do not click on any links contained in such emails or texts, as they may place malware on your computer or devices.

*Hang up on any calls, including robocalls, that ask you to take immediate action or provide personally identifiable information. Consider blocking the number.

*Ask to use other types of identifiers besides your Social Security number.

*Keep your software up to date, including operating systems and antivirus protection programs on your computer, phone and other devices. Most can be set to update automatically.

If you have questions about phishing scams or identity theft, please call the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline in Chicago at 800-386-5438 (TTY: 800-964-3013). Spanish speakers may call 866-310-8398. 

For more information about how to avoid phishing scams, visit the FTC website. 

Money Smart Week goes virtual, April 10-17

Virtual Money Smart Week, April 10 through 17, 2021Virtual Money Smart Week 2021 will be held Saturday, April 10 – Saturday, April 17 . This week-long free virtual campaign aims to help people better manage their personal finances with a focus on those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s line-up includes: 

Saturday, April 10 @ 10 a.m. 
Talking Cents (The University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative)

  • Sunday, April 11 @ 10 a.m. 
    Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference (FINRA Investor Education Foundation)
  • Monday, April 12 @ noon
    Bank On It: Finding Safe + Affordable Bank Accounts (The Economic Awareness Council)
  • Tuesday, April 13 @ 12:30 p.m.
  • Understanding the Basics of Federal Student Loans (U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid)
  • Wednesday, April 14 @ 1 p.m. 
    Tax-Related Fraud + Identity Theft (Internal Revenue Service)
  • Thursday, April 15 @ 1 p.m.
    Managing Personal Finances During Covid-19  (Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center)
  • Friday, April 16 @ noon
    Housing Protections + Resources (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
  • Saturday, April 17 @ 10:30 a.m.
    Tips for Managing Money Ups and Downs (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension)

View more details at www.moneysmartweek.org. Events are free and open to the public, but registration is advised. Questions for the panelists can be submitted during the registration process.

Want to Get the Most Out of Consumer Reports?

There is a difference between Consumer Reports online and the print version. 

Online: 

  • It is easier to find updated information on what you are searching for  
  • There is information you can get online that can’t be accessed in the print version. 

For example, let’s say you are looking at dishwashersOnline, the buyer’s guide is more detailed, and it offers a video demonstration of different dishwashers that the print version could not show you. The ratings and recommended models are there just like in the print version. You can see the predicted reliability of different models of dishwashers, but the online version does not have the owner satisfaction results, which can be a better indicator of the brand’s reliability you are considering.  

  • To access Consumer Reports Online, follow these steps: 
  • Start at www.mppl.org 
  • Consumer Reports screenshot
  • Click on the Research page: https://mppl.org/research/ 
  • Then click on Web Resources: https://mppl.org/research/web-resources/ 
  • You will need a Mount Prospect Library card number and pin to log in and use our web resources. 
  • Scroll down the page to Consumer Reports (Our web resources are in alphabetical order: 
  • Print: 
  • We have copies going back 5 years and they can be checked out. 
  • The print version does have the owner satisfaction results.  
  • It really comes down to your preference for how you want to access the information.
  • Staff at the Research Services desk are available to help you access both the online and print versions.

Insurance Calculators

ValChoice, an independent data analytics company focused on the U.S. insurance industry, is offering our patrons unlimited access to online calculators, insurance company ratings, tutorials and “how-to” videos, worksheets, and other tools designed to help users understand how insurance—such as car and home insurance—is priced, and how to decide on policies based on their age, deductibles, coverage limits, and other factors.

This Illinois car insurance estimator lets you calculate auto insurance costs customized to your age, location, driving record, vehicle, etc. Your personal information is only used to calculate insurance price.

Use this Illinois home insurance calculator to estimate home insurance costs based on home replacement value and location. Your personal information is only used to calculate insurance price.

Educational videos that can guide you on how to use these calculators can be located here.

Coronavirus and Consumer Reports

consumer_reports_bannerThe Library subscribes to Consumer Reports. Besides being a great resources for reviews on products, it is also a good place to go to find out how to stay safe from coronavirus and the predators who seek to take advantage of you during this emergency. Current articles discuss phishing scams, misinformation in social media, and security issues with Zoom and other video conferencing apps. You can also research what is and is not effective for disinfecting your home (hint: use bleach, not tea tree oil).