New from the Money Scoop

Two Great Sites for Drivers

Two new sites, DriverSide and RepairPal, allow car owners to specify almost any kind of repair job and receive price ranges specific to their areas. Both sites are officially still in testing but available for general use.

About DriverSide:

DriverSide is a vast resource for all drivers. We want to make buying, selling, and owning vehicles easier and more rewarding. We feel like owning a car can be complicated and we are here to help.

While there certainly are other places to get help on purchasing a vehicle, we wonder how interested the other guys are in helping out once their commission has been collected. We are different. We will bring you every resource, eliminate every fee, direct you to other websites (even if you leave ours,) and help you in any way we can. Our mission is to be as helpful as we can and to always be on the side of the driver!

DriverSide is located in San Francisco and was founded by three veteran internet entrepreneurs. DriverSide's editorial and production staff have long histories in the automotive space and come from places like KBB, Yahoo! Autos, Microsoft, Tesla Motors and other websites we like and respect! DriverSide is a private company and is venture financed.

Located in Emeryville, California, RepairPal was founded in 2007 by a group of automobile enthusiasts and entrepreneurs who were frustrated by the expensive and tedious process of fixing and maintaining their vehicles. They created RepairPal to provide drivers with the most accurate, unbiased, and useful car ownership information available. RepairPal is not affiliated with any automobile manufacturer, dealership, auto parts provider, or auto repair facility.

RepairPal offers a stress-free, time-saving method of obtaining all the relevant information conscientious consumers need. Unlike any other online resource, RepairPal provides impartial, fair price estimates, the most comprehensive auto shop directory, and expert insights and advice from certified mechanics. RepairPal’s unique, patent-pending system relies on multiple sources of difficult-to-acquire proprietary data that has never before been available to consumers.

RepairPal also provides a centralized online location where your records can be maintained for the entire ownership cycle of your vehicle. Emails will remind you of an upcoming oil change or scheduled service (coming soon).

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Prepaid credit cards

Prepaid cards issued by banks and other government-regulated organizations are a new way for consumers to make payments and conduct other financial transactions. There are plenty of situations where a prepaid card might be the most convenient choice, but be sure you understand the key terms and conditions BEFORE you buy. Ask these questions when you are considering a prepaid card:

* What are the possible fees associated with using the card?
* Where can the card be used (online, at ATMs, outside the U.S.)?

Reputable distributors of prepaid cards will give you the terms and conditions in writing or have them available on their website. If you don't understand how your card works, ask for help where you purchased it, from your employer (if it's a payroll card), or by contacting the customer service number on the card.

Cards with a major credit card brand logo provide consumer protections, such as replacing lost or stolen cards and re-crediting money after unauthorized use of the card. To obtain these benefits, you must follow the instructions for registering and activating your card. Be sure to record your card information, including the customer service telephone number on the back of the card, so you can get a replacement if yours is lost or stolen.

If you have a problem with a prepaid card, first contact the customer service number. If the problem still isn't resolved, you may want to file a complaint with the proper authorities:

* For cards issued by retailers, contact the FTC. You may also file a complaint with your local consumer protection office.
* For cards issued by national banks, contact the Comptroller of the Currency.


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BBB Warning Internet Charges

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to closely check their credit card statements for mysterious charges. Thousands of angy online shoppers have contacted BBB about unwanted credit card charges that are ultimately being traced back to Connecticut-based Affinion Group, an affinity-marketing company that recently changed its name from Trilegiant.

In the last 12 months alone, BBB has received nearly 1,800 complaints regarding Affinion Group. Most complainants state that they were shocked when they discovered unwanted charges on their credit card for membership services such as “Shoppers Advantage,” “Privacy Guard” or “Great Fun.” Charges ranged from $12 to as much as $59.99 every month. Some complainants had been charged by Affinion Group every month for several years, resulting in hundreds of dollars being paid for services they never took advantage of or even realized they had signed up for.

“Consumers who get signed up for Affinion’s programs never actually provide their credit card information and therefore don’t suspect that the company will immediately begin charging their credit card every month,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “The large volume and pattern of complaints BBB has received indicates that Affinion is not taking enough steps to ensure consumers understand exactly what they’re getting into when they click on enticing pop-up ads – and that’s why they have a longstanding unsatisfactory record in BBB’s book.”

Some complainants were able to retrace their steps and find out how they were inadvertently signed up for membership services that resulted in the monthly charges. Typically, consumers had purchased items online – such as movie or airline tickets – from a reputable Web site. At some point in the transaction process, pop-up ads or chat boxes appeared offering incentives, such as $20 rebate cards for the Web site or claims like, “Click here for your 10% savings.”

Complainants allege they were signed up for unwanted services simply by clicking on pop-up ads or replying to chat windows, even though they ultimately declined the offers. Complainants never provided their credit card information to ads or chats because the company with which they had just made their online purchase had a pre-established agreement with Affinion Group to automatically transfer consumer information when they clicked on the ad or chat.

In 2006, 16 state Attorneys General reached a settlement with Trilegiant Corp. and Chase Bank totaling $14.5 million, to resolve allegations that the two companies partnered to deceive consumers into paying for membership programs. According to BBB records, Trilegiant is now doing business as Affinion Group – but it’s the same business and same people continuing their pattern of misleading consumers by not making it clear when a consumer has purchased something.

For more information on Affinion Group and to see the more than 50 names the company is doing business as, see BBB’s reliability report online.

To find trustworthy businesses in thousands of industries, search BBB’s database of more than four million reports free-of-charge at

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