Life’s a breach

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Quest Diagnostics is the latest company to be breached. According to the company, 12 million patients were affected. That means these targets may have had their financial and medical information hacked. The personal information was actually stolen from American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), a billing collections company that Quest Diagnostics uses.

Quest Diagnostics reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that from Aug. 1, 2018, to March 30, 2019, an “unauthorized user” likely had access to personal information taken from AMCA’s system.

The information in AMCA’s system included credit card numbers, medical information, and Social Security numbers but not lab results. Quest Diagnostics acknowledged that it was notified by AMCA of the cybersecurity breach in mid-May.

If you used Quest Diagnostics during the referenced time period, be extra vigilant and check for any suspicious activity on your accounts.

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USED VS. NEW CARS: New or used? It’s an age-old question with various answers.

Research shows that a new vehicle can lose up to 30 percent of its value through depreciation in the first year of service. Most cars purchased in the United States are used, so this begs the question: Is it smart to buy used?

With a two- or three-year-old vehicle, the previous owner has taken the hit on depreciation, but financing options need to be determined before heading down this road. If you aren’t able to purchase the vehicle with cash, you might look at financing through a credit union due to favorable rates which could be preferable to financing through a bank or car dealership.

When researching the value of a used car, check out Edmunds.com, KBB.com or NADA.com for true market value. A good source to review reliability stats on a vehicle is Consumer Reports, which has an annual auto issue that provides vehicle reliability data.

Once you’ve found a vehicle you are interested in, run the vehicle identification number (VIN). Vehicle History offers a free tool to check. Go to https://www.vehiclehistory.com. To get a more detailed report you can check https://www.carfax.com but there’s a fee to get the report.

After the VIN search, if you’re still interested in a particular vehicle, have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic signing a contract.

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CHANGE OF ADDRESS ALERT: If you’re moving, the U.S. Postal Service offers an online change of address option. If you want to take advantage of this service, go directly to the official USPS website: https://USPS.com/move

It will cost you $1.05 at most.

But beware. Websites have cropped up that offer this service, but they charge up to $80 for the same change of address service. These companies are not affiliated with the USPS. They’re third-party providers, so if you end up using one of these sites and overpay, it’s unlikely you can get a refund for the difference once you discover the mistake. These sites aren’t illegal but they definitely take advantage of an unsuspecting consumer who might not know better.

Don’t simply Google how to change your address online with the USPS because the search engine could direct you to these more expensive sites.

Bottom line: If you go online for a USPS change of address form and are asked for more than a buck and change, you’re being ripped off.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m a full-time copywriter working with businesses on market messaging, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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