With November reaching its halfway point Alexis Conran joins us with a number of consumer concerns with a seasonal theme.
He'll be suggesting the importance of boiler insurance as colder weeks and months ahead are forecast, offering top tips on those seeking to renew their car insurance and filling us in on why protecting your PIN whilst out and about is more important than ever.
Also on the agenda is advice for anyone flirting with the notion of a payday loan to get them through Christmas...
How to reduce your junk mail
- Junk mail can be reduced by registering with The Mailing Preference Service.
- It is free and allows householders to remove their names and addresses from many marketing lists.
- You can register on the website www.mpsonline.org.uk.
Protect your PIN or pay the price
- From January it's reported that banks are to make changes that will allow them to block compensation to fraud victims.
- The new rules demand more personal care with cards and PINs
- Customers could be liable if they use a PIN that can be easily guessed or the bank decides they have been careless and allowed a criminal to see the number at a cash machine.
Be sensible - get your boiler insured
- We've had headlines over the last few days suggesting we're in for a very cold winter so you might want to avoid the potential nightmare of a heating breakdown by taking out some cover.
- Don't think it won't happen to you. The latest research shows that boilers broke down in one in four homes last year.
- The cost of call-outs and repairs run to £280 on average, so boiler cover could avoid financial shocks this winter.
- But before you take out a policy, make sure you read the small print carefully.
- The first thing to note is that you don't have to go with your existing gas supplier. (You can shop around and compare prices from different providers.)
- Websites such as Boilerchoices.co.uk, uSwitch.com, Moneysupermarket.com, and Energyhelpline.com all have tools to help you do this.
Payday loans warning
- One in ten Brits are believed to be planning to take out a short-term payday loan in the next six months.
- That's more than five million (with one of four of these being in the 18 - 24 age bracket)
- The Financial Mail have reported that Experian, the UK's biggest credit reference agency, has begun categorising payday loans separately from other forms of borrowing when issuing credit reports on bank customers.
- But while borrowers promise themselves it's 'just this once', short-term payday loans are fast becoming a black mark on their credit file and a blow to financial health for years to come.
Be aware when insuring your car
- Buying car insurance may seem pretty straightforward but there are common pitfalls that could mean you end up paying more - or invalidating your policy altogether.
- People should be aware of the below five points when considering their existing insurance or thinking about renewing
- BECOMING UNEMPLOYED
- BAD CREDIT HISTORY
- DOING CHARITY WORK
- FAILING TO DISCLOSE SPENT CONVICTIONS OR CLAIMS
- MAKING MODIFICATIONS
New scheme for household appliances
- Consumers could save £100s thanks to a new label that will show how much electricity everyday appliances use over a lifetime.
- The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and John Lewis will introduce a product-labelling trial next year that shows the lifetime running costs of household appliances.
- For example a fridge freezer could cost an extra £500 to run over ten years but a more efficient model will cost just £350.
- Trials in Norway have shown that when consumers see the running costs as well as the initial cost of a product they are more likely to buy energy efficient models - and save money over the long term.
Advice For iPhone users
If you own an iPhone, you're twice as likely to be the victim of phone mugging as the user of any other mobile phone.
Figures released by the Met Police reveal despite accounting for just 14% of phone sales, 28% of phones stolen each year are iPhones.
Police officers tend to track stolen handsets with the Find My iPhone app - and this generally works, as long as the criminal doesn't have the opportunity to disable this app.
Remember, muggers often know more about the workings of your phone than you do - and they know every trick in the book to make it harder for the police to track them down.
In order to make your phone more secure, and stop valuable data being stolen, there are steps you can take.
The following steps don't always work with older generation iPhones.
To help keep your data from being stolen, once your phone has been nicked you should:
- Select Settings
- Click General
- Select Restrictions
- Set a Restrictions passcode
- Click Enable restrictions
- Look for Deleting apps and toggle the switch from ON to OFF. (This will mean that no-one can delete an app such as Find My iPhone without your restrictions passcode.)
- Scroll down the list of options until you reach the Privacy section. Here you'll find a link to Locations services; click it.
- Select Don't allow changes. This will mean it is impossible for a robber to disable the Find My iPhone app from broadcasting your GPS. You will now need to manually approve all new apps to access your account location.
- Go back to the main Restrictions menu and select Accounts, changing this setting to Don't allow changes. This makes it impossible for a mugger to disconnect your iCloud account that connects to Find My iPhone.
- If your iPhone is stolen, it is only going to transmit its location for as long as a SIM card is inserted and active. You may therefore wish not to inform your mobile provider in the case of a robbery until you have met the police.