Clark Howard: 10 things you need to know about the Equifax data breach

Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

The Equifax Breach – How To Find Out If You are at Risk

WSB-TV News anchor Craig Lucie hosted a special one-hour Q&A with consumer adviser Clark Howard Monday morning to answer questions on the Equifax data breach.

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Questions came in on a variety of topics, and Howard was extremely passionate throughout. He gave advice on protecting credit, shared tips on which services to use and even spoke directly to Equifax executives and the company’s CEO.

At one point, Howard pointed directly into the camera and said, “Equifax, you are lame!”

It’s important to note that WSB-TV reached out to Equifax and offered company officials the opportunity to join the show. They declined.

Below are questions and Howard’s answers to some of the most-talked about topics.

What are we dealing with here? 

“This is the ugliest data breach in the history of the digital era. There is nothing else that has ever happened that is like this. There have been some very large (breaches) of medical providers, and Yahoo had the largest worldwide breach. But the information gathered was never as broad or as deep as this. 143 million Americans, this is nearly two out of three American adults with a credit file.”

Will freezing my credit negatively affect my score?

“If you freeze your credit, it has no impact at all on your existing credit, and has zero impact on your credit score ... Freezing your credit will simply prevent a criminal from opening a new account as if they were you. That’s the whole purpose of freezing your credit.”

How do I freeze my credit?

“The first thing you should do is go to Credit Karma and sign up for their self-monitor. Freeze your credit with each of the three credit bureaus HERE.”

What form do I need to mail Equifax? 

“Don’t mail a form to Equifax, do it online.” 

What about paying to freeze credit?

“It’s idiotic and mean-spirited that we have to pay a fee to lock down our own credit when we never gave these companies permission to build these documents on us. We never gave them permission to sell off our information over and over again. They created the hazard for us, both economic and moral. And now we’re left with the mess to clean up. And we have to pay to clean up their mess! How insane is it?”

How has Equifax handled the breach?

“They have been tone deaf. They don’t know how to handle this because they don’t care about us. (It’s) new territory for them.”

What will happen in the next year or two?

“There’s going to be a role for Congress to play, and a role for other American companies to play.”

How long do you think this could last? 

“These are the keys to the kingdom. These criminals have everything they need to take over your identity, and to do things as if they were you for the rest of your life.”

143 Million Could Be Affected by Equifax Data Breach

TEAM CLARK HOWARD’S CONSUMER ACTION CENTER

Libby Godwin, a volunteer with Team Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center, said the center has been flooded with concerned callers.

“I’ve been here for 5 and a half years and it’s never been so busy,” Godwin told WSB-TV.

CAC Director Lori Silverman said the increase in calls is “unprecedented.”

“We’ve had over 1,000 calls per day,” she said. “We have a 100 percent phone use one call at a time.”

Click here to visit Clark Howard's official website, Clark.com.

Close-up of the upper corner of a consumer credit report from the credit bureau Equifax. In September of 2017, a data breach at Equifax exposed the personal information of thousands of customers. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).(Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Police: Drug dealers left mother of 9 to die from overdose

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:49 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

Authorities in Ohio are searching for two drug dealers who allegedly left a mother of nine to die from a drug overdose, according to Middletown Police.

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Investigators were called to a home Wednesday night where they found a woman dead from a fatal overdose of heroin, according to the department’s Facebook page.

The woman was with “friends” who let her die in front of her nine children, police officials said on Facebook. The two men also stole money from the dying woman.

Police are looking for two white males, possibly a father/son team.

“It has disturbed us so much that it’s time for us to make a difference,” the police department’s social media post said. “Their father is a hard worker. He has tried to make ends meet, but it’s a vicious cycle.”

Middletown police are accepting donations of clothes, coats, blankets, food, a stove, a refrigerator, and toys for the children.

The kids range in age from 1-14, according to the police department. The girls are ages 14, 5, 3 and 1. The boys are ages 13, 11, 10, 6 and 2.

Donations have started to come, according to Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.

>> Related: Drunk man steals taxi, crashes through gates of Trump’s Florida golf  course, police say

Muterspaw said one donor gave $9,000 — $1,000 for each child.

What time do stores open and close on Christmas Eve 2017?

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:24 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

If you’re banking on some last minute Christmas shopping, you’re not alone. 

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According to a 2016 survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 76 percent of adult shoppers said they planned on making holiday purchases right up until Christmas.

And with Christmas Eve on a Sunday this year, shoppers will have an extra weekend day to hit the stores.

>> Related: Ultimate Guide to the Holidays

For all you last-minute shoppers, here’s a breakdown of store hours for Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, 2017:

Department store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Belk: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dillard’s: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

JCPenney: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Kmart: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or midnight, depending on the location.

Kohl’s: Noon to 6 p.m.

Macy’s: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Neiman Marcus: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nordstrom: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Target: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sears: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Walmart: Regular opening time (varies by location). All stores close at 6 p.m.

Von Maur: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

» RELATED: 2017 Christmas shipping deadlines for Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, UPS and more

Speciality retail store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Apple Store: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Babies R Us: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Banana Republic: Opening hours vary. All stores close at 6 p.m.

Barnes & Noble: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Best Buy: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

BJ’s Wholesale: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Costco: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dollar Tree: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

GameStop: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gap: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hobby Lobby: Closed on Sundays

Ikea: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lowe’s: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Office Depot & OfficeMax: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Old Navy: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Patagonia: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

REI: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sam’s Club: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stein Mart: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Toys R Us: 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the location.

Grocery store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Kroger: Hours vary by location. Some will be open until 8 p.m. or close earlier, around 5-6 p.m. Call your nearest store to confirm.

Publix: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Whole Foods: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Trader Joe’s: Opening hours vary by location (8 a.m. or 9 a.m.) All stores close at 6 p.m.

Sprouts: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pharmacy hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Walgreens: Most Walgreens pharmacies will have regular hours on Christmas Eve. Call yours to confirm.

CVS: Most CVS pharmacies are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Call yours to confirm.

Rite Aid: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Another 8-planet solar system? 7 things about Kepler’s ‘sizzling’ discovery

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 9:54 PM

The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.
NASA Ames/W. Stenzel
The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.(NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)

Looks like our solar system isn’t the only one out there with eight planets circling around a single star.

>> Read more trending news 

NASA scientists, along with Google engineers, used artificial intelligence to discover a new, scorching hot planet in the Kepler-90 solar system, bringing the total number of planets circling the Sun-like star to eight, the agency announced Thursday.

>> Related: Breathtaking NASA time-lapse shows how much Earth has changed over 20 years

Scientists used Google machine learning to teach computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

Here’s what you should know about the new discovery, according to Thursday’s live teleconference:

What exactly is the Kepler mission?

The Kepler mission, NASA Discovery’s tenth mission, first launched in March 2009 with a goal to survey the Milky Way and hunt for Earth-size and smaller planets near the galaxy or “habitable” regions of planets’ parent stars.

In 2014, the Kepler space telescope began a new extended mission called K2, which continues the hunt for planets outside our solar system along with its other cosmic tasks.

>> Related: Follow NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions 

According to Space.com, “Kepler spots alien worlds by noticing the tiny brightness dips they cause when they cross the face of their host star from the spacecraft's perspective.”

Since 2009, Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets ranging between Earth-size and Neptune-size (four times the size of Earth).

As of Dec. 14, Kepler has confirmed 2,341 exoplanets.

How did NASA find the planet?

Researchers Christopher Shallue (Google AI software engineer) and Andrew Vanderburg (NASA astronomer) were inspired by the way neurons in the human brain connect and adapted the “neural network” concept to machine learning.

They taught computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by the Kepler telescope by first training them to search for the weaker signals in 670 star systems that already had multiple planets.

This image zooms into a small portion of Kepler's full field of view - an expansive, 100-square-degree patch of sky in our Milky Way galaxy. An eight-billion-year-old cluster of stars 13,000 light-years from Earth, called NGC 6791, can be seen in the image.(NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

>> Related: Amazing NASA photos through the years 

“Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets,” researchers wrote in the press release.

Using this concept, the network “found weak transit signals from a previously-missed eighth planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation Draco.”

Their findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal.

Would humans have found the planet without machine learning?

Without machine learning, it would have taken humans much longer to scan the recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets), Shallue said. Kepler’s four-year dataset consists of 35,000 possible planetary signals. 

>> Related: 15,000 scientists warn it will soon be 'too late' to save Earth

Additionally, people are likely to miss the weaker signals that machine learning was able to identify.

Won’t this form of automation put astronomers out of work?

"This will absolutely work alongside astronomers," Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, said in a press briefing. "You're never going to take that piece out."

Researchers hope astronomers will use this form of automation via machine learning as a tool to help astronomers make more of an impact, increase their productivity and inspire more people become astronomers.

This is what 12 Diet Cokes a day can do to your body, according to nutritionists

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

Your Body After 12 Diet Cokes A Day, According To Nutritionists

Do you love Diet Coke? Love it enough to drink a dozen of them in a day

According to a recently published New York Times article on a day in the life of the commander-in-chief , President Donald Trump reportedly downs a dozen cans of the soda a day. 

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“Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day,” read a passage in the article. 

The caffeine may give him an energy boost, but is that excessive? Atlanta nutritionist Page Love of Nutri Fit Sport Therapy Inc. certainly thinks so. 

“Drinking that much soda a day is taking the place of other hydrating beverages. It is a not nutritive beverage thus is not providing adequate hydration,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

In fact, consuming fizzy drinks can up your risk for diabetes and strokes, according to a recent studyconducted by researchers from universities in South Africa

They found that consuming just two sugar-sweetened drinks a week could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 42 percent. And one sugar-sweetened drink can significantly elevate blood pressure. 

>> Related: Here's how many fizzy, sugary drinks a week it takes to increase stroke risk

While agencies set regulatory acceptable daily intakes for food additives, including sugar substitutes found in Diet Coke, to keep people safe, Rahaf Al Bochi, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian and nutritionist and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition said “these drinks do not provide added health benefits or nutrients.”

Diabetes and strokes aren’t the only ailments people should be concerned about as it relates to these beverages. Sugary beverages may cause people to crave sweets even more.

“There has been some research that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may cause us to crave sweets even more because the sweetness intensity is so high,” Love explained. “The brain senses a sweet food coming in but is left both psychologically and physically unsatisfied. There may be an metabolic reaction to the artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose, similar like sugar.”

They could also potentially harm the heart, other research suggests.

Canadian scientists said artificial sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) may actually lead to heart disease, higher risk of obesity and high blood pressure.

Their observational studies showed that the people who consumed low-calorie sweeteners were actually more likely to face an increased chance of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related cardiovascular issues.

That’s why Love and Al Bochi encourage people to drink water.

>> Related: Teen dead after caffeine overdose from energy drinks, soda, coffee

“Water is the best drink for people because it’s sugar-free and calorie-free. You can add cucumber slices, lemon or mint to add flavor to your water. Other beverage options include low fat milk, unsweetened tea, and herbal teas,” Al Bochi advises. 

Decaffeinated beverages can help with hydration, too. “Food group-based beverages,” Love said, “are good hydrators and give us the benefit of that food group nutrition!”