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Before you file taxes online, here's how to do it securely

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Before you file taxes online, here’s how to do it securely
All tax prep software contains multi-factor authentication
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SAN ANTONIO – Like most Americans, Matthew Starcez is filing his tax return online.
“We’ve been doing our taxes online for the last seven years,” he said. “It’s easy. It’s convenient.”
If you use direct deposit, electronic filing is the fastest way to get a refund. So is it safe?
“The IRS says all tax prep software will now have multi-factor authentication,, which asks users for an extra bit of info to log in, like a code sent to their email,” said Consumer Reports security editor Yael Grauer.

Holding airline vouchers for canceled flights? They may be about to expire

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Holding airline vouchers for canceled flights? They may be about to expire
Terms vary wildly; expert says read the fine print, call customer service
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SAN ANTONIO – A year after the pandemic forced Lisa Kopecky to cancel her flight, she’s finally ready for takeoff.
“I’m going to New York for a little work trip and to see my daughter and little grandbaby, and I am about to do backflips all the way to check-in,” she said while arriving at San Antonio International.
It’s time, Kopecky said, to cash in her travel credits from that canceled flight.
The airlines have been mostly generous in handling customers’ changes, often offering vouchers for future travel. But one year since the lockdowns began, some of those credits may be about to expire. So what should you do?

Slow internet? A new WiFi 6 router may help

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If your internet connection is frustrating and slow, it may be time to buy a new generation router for WiFi 6.

Youngest adults, not grandma, most at risk for scams, BBB finds

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Youngest adults, not grandma, most at risk for scams, BBB finds
Online purchases most prevalent ripoffs of 2020
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SAN ANTONIO – If you think trusting grandmas are the typical scam targets nowadays, think again. Think younger.
“Now, our younger 18- to 24-year-olds with technology in their hands, who grew up with technology, are at as high or higher risk as our senior consumers,” said Jason Meza, regional director of the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB’s Scam Tracker risk report showed a significant shift last year. The report showed the youngest adults may be tech savvy, but in 2020, they let their guard down scrolling through social media, apps and websites. And, scammers knew where to find them.

Having a baby? You need a pandemic birth plan

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Having a baby is stressful enough. Add in a pandemic and it can be overwhelming. Planning ahead with a COVID-ready birth plan can ease some of the anxiety.

Gas prices surge 18 cents in one week

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Gas prices surge 18 cents in one week
Prices expected to back off briefly next week
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SAN ANTONIO – The roads are thawed, but the price to drive them is almost chilling. At some gas stations around San Antonio, the price for a gallon has hit the $2.50 mark.
“I noticed it jumped nearly 25 cents,” said Orlando De Jesus, who was filling up his pickup’s tank.
The price of a gallon surged 18 cents locally in just the past week, and is up 32 cents a gallon in one month.
It was already costing Vincent Cordero $80 to fill up his truck.
“It’s going to have an impact,” he said. “I have three vehicles.”

Generator sales surge when electricity does not

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Sales of portable generators surged as the winter storm hit Texas. Now, after spending hours or even days in the dark and cold, more people may be preparing for the next time power goes out.

Busted pipes lead to flood of insurance claims

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Even before the ice is thawed, homeowners are filing a flood of insurance claims for busted pipes, water damage and even spoiled food.

Here's what drivers should do when they encounter ice on roadways

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Driving on black ice is no joke, and it's something most Texans aren't used to doing. Consumer Reports shares what you should do if you find yourself sliding on ice.

Should you buy used appliances?

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Buying a used refrigerator, washing machine or other appliance can be a wise move, but know where to buy and what to look for.

Why your job title, education may affect your cost of auto insurance

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Your know your driving behavior affects how much you pay for auto insurance, but a Consumer Reports investigation found evidence that your job title or education may also be a factor.

Working from home? Don't expect a tax break

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So you've been stuck working from home and even plunked down some cash for a new desk, chair and ring light. Can you deduct those expenses on your federal taxes?

Free tax help program goes curbside

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Free tax help program goes curbside
VITA program available to households that earn $55,000 or less
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“I’m serious about my money,” he said.
But instead of sitting in a room filled with people as is the norm, Dukes was able to drop off this documents.
This year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has gone curbside.
“This year, we will be preparing tax returns by drop-off or email,” said Christine Serda with the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services, which helps sponsor and manage the program.
Those earning $55,000 or less are eligible for the free assistance.

UV gadgets for killing viruses come with limitations, experts say

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Ultraviolet light has long been used by hospitals to kill germs, but how effective are the wands and other gadgets sold at stores for home use? Experts say they come with limitations.

Itching to get away? Book summer, fall flights now, travel expert says

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The vaccine rollout seems to be giving wannabe travelers the nudge they need. Travel experts say flight bookings are beginning to take off.

Some cable, internet prices creeping higher

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Another year, another price increase. Some cable TV and internet providers are raising prices.

No, Netflix is not offering free subscriptions

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Free Netflix for a year may sound great, but don't click on the link, the Better Business Bureau warns.

From smart pillows to COVID tests, tech products address pandemic

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From smart pillows to COVID tests, tech products address pandemic
Consumer Electronics Show goes virtual for first time
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SAN ANTONIO – If the pandemic has you stressed out and unable to sleep, how about a smart pillow to soothe you into personalized comfort?
It’s just one of the products wowing the audience of the Consumer Electronics Show, which ditched the giant Vegas showroom this year for an all-digital exhibition.
“It was the only way we could convene the tech companies safely,” said Sarah Brown with the Consumer Technology Association.
This year, in addition to dazzling innovations surrounding 5G, 8K televisions and rollup phones, the industry took on a pandemic relevance with products focuses on health and home.

These steps can help protect your online privacy

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These steps can help protect your online privacy
Consumer Reports launches tool for personalized security advice
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The day he received an email from Facebook was a wake-up call.
“It identified that my account had been locked out,” he said.
A hacker had accessed his business’ Facebook page and changed the login.
“The biggest problem, of course, is that I can no longer control my own business Facebook page,” Harris said.
If you are concerned about hacking, identity theft or online tracking, there are some things you can do to protect your online life from intruders.
First, Consumer Reports says to set up two-factor authentication for Facebook or any account that offers it. It’s something you might already use for online banking.

Macy's exiting 2 San Antonio locations as retailers, malls face challenges

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As Macy's closes its big stores at Rolling Oaks Mall and the Shops at Rivercenter, the retail industry and malls, in particular, need to follow the consumer and be creative, one expert says.

View that offer to buy early access to COVID-19 vaccine with big dose of skepticism

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View that offer to buy early access to COVID-19 vaccine with big dose of skepticism
Feds, BBB warn about vaccine scam
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SAN ANTONIO – As millions anxiously await their turns for the COVID-19 vaccine, and with many frustrated by more demand than early supply, scammers are already taking advantage, federal agencies and consumer advocates warn.
“They are preying on that fear of missing out, that fear that you’ll be last in line,” said Better Business Bureau Regional Director Jason Meza.
The BBB, along with several federal agencies are warning about emails, text messages, phone calls and social media posts offering early access to the vaccine in exchange for some sort of payment.

RECALL ROUNDUP: Pet food recalled after 28 dogs die of suspected poisoning

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Certain bags of Sportmix dog and cat dry food were recalled after 28 dogs died. The FDA says tests showed the food had high amounts of aflatoxins, which are potentially fatal to animals.

Good foam mattresses for $500 or less

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You don't have to spend a fortune or even go to a store to get a good mattress. Consumer Reports found two good foam mattresses for less than $500.

How to manage diabetes during the pandemic

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How to manage diabetes during the pandemic
Diabetics are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19
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SAN ANTONIO – Keeping safe from COVID-19 is a challenge, but the stakes are even higher for people with diabetes, who are at greater risk of being hospitalized or even dying. That’s why it’s vital to keep up with treatment during the pandemic.
Like 34 million Americans, Hasa Kingo has diabetes. When the pandemic hit, he had a hard time managing it.
“That was really an uncertain and challenging thing for me because I was so used to the process of going to see my endocrinologist every few weeks and months to manage my diabetes and make sure everything was under control,” Kingo said.

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