■ Tax-filing tip
■ Cell-phone ads
■ PC problems
down the drains
By David Horowitz
THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL Survey says its recent
studies of the nation’s waterways are detecting trace
levels of chemicals commonly found in prescription
drugs. It is suspected that most of it comes from discarding medications into household toilets, which is
typically recommended as the safest way to dispose
of unwanted or expired medications.
A recent article in the AARP Bulletin says trace
levels of chemicals from these drugs were found in
80 percent of the streams across the country. Now,
under pressure from researchers who suspect the
chemicals may be harming marine life, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency is pushing to
gauge the health and environmental impact of the
pharmaceuticals in the water.
Meanwhile, what do you do with your unwanted
drugs? Experts suggest asking your local pharmacy if
they will dispose of them properly for you. [Costco
pharmacies will accept outdated drugs for disposal.]
Also, check if your community has a local haz-ardous-waste collection program that can dispose of
down on their day-to-day cell-phone bills? Some
major carriers are toying with the idea of lowering
mobile-phone bills in exchange for receiving ads.
Other companies are offering improved Internet services and content, provided free or at lower prices.
Stay tuned for an announcement.
WE ARE retired and
could use some extra
income. Are the “
work-at-home” programs I
see advertised on TV,
the Internet and newspapers a good way to
start a new business?
Consider e-filing for tax refunds
Experts are warning taxpayers to avoid refund
anticipation loans (RALs), a ripoff that cheats people
out of potential tax refunds. RALs are marketed as a
tax-refund advance, giving recipients access to refund
money while waiting for official checks to arrive.
But it isn’t an advance payment—it’s really a
short-term, expensive loan with high rates. Consider this: On the average tax refund of $2,150, the
annual percentage rate (APR) on a RAL comes in at
178 percent. And if you factor in administration
fees, it bumps to a 235 percent APR.
How can you avoid the scam and still get your
refund money fast? E-file your tax return! It’s free or
low cost, and there are no interest fees or deception.
Plus, it saves processing time over hard-copy snail-mail tax payments.
To find out if e-filing is right for you, go to
www.IRS.gov and click on “2007 Free File” for complete details.
Zombies are attacking
Zombies, robots and botnets are
that secretly install themselves
on PCs, automating and amplifying the effects of viruses and
other destructive codes.
The programs are distributed
in a variety of ways, including e-mail attachments
and downloads by users
who do not know they’re
also importing something malicious. They
are also often found in
pirated software sold
at online auction sites,
swap meets or unauthorized retail outlets.
The lessons: Use
reliable software, don’t
open attachments unless they’re from a reliable source and keep
your antivirus software
and firewall up to date. C
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at
© 2007 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
THE FEDERAL Trade
Commission is constantly shutting down
These companies have
been sued for victimizing seniors, the disabled
Instead, I suggest
Advertising on cell phones?
you start with the job
you retired from! Many
companies are happy
to rehire former
employees on a
since they already
know the ropes.
Or contact a local
they often have
At all costs, stay
away from any pro-
gram that requires you
to buy an information
kit, supplies to assem-
ble gizmos at home,
materials to start your
business, etc. Beware
the programs that
charge you for their get-
turns out to be that you
now have to get others
to pay you to enroll in
the same scam.
Verizon, Sprint and Cingular/AT&T are beginning to test advertising on mobile-phone screens.
They are hoping that cell advertising will be on its
way in about a year.
Cell-phone users have claimed they do not want
advertisements, but what will they say if the ads cut
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to
www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the greatest
interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the permission of the
contributor and will be posted on