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Consumer Affairs

Families aren't what they used to be, study finds

They now come in many more shapes and sizes

The latest survey on families from Pew Research finds that just 46% of kids who are under 18 live in "traditional" families headed by hetrosexual couples who are in a first marriage. Going back to the year 1960 it was 73%.

Heat pump water heaters: more efficient than you thought

Government researchers find ways to improve their performance

In the typical home, the water heater is a significant source of energy consumption, but most consumers don't think much about it.

Airlines face more dilemmas as travelers seek to bring pets along

When pigs fly, maybe they'll have their own seating area

Despite resistance to pigs flying, a recent survey of 430 customers conducted by airport shuttle service Go Airport Express, found 52% of fliers saying they would be OK with pets traveling in airplane cabins, rather than being stowed as cargo.

2015 is a good time to get yourself and your animals in shape

Just like their owners, most dogs and cats need to eat less and exercise more

If you have a dog or cat that's a little overweight, chances are you are also.

What to expect from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show

Smarter TVs and car sound systems without CD players

Each January the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wows the public with the latest gadgets. The 2015 CES, which kicks off January 6, should be no exception.

Are hotels already blocking guests' wi-fi hotspots?

A New Jersey wi-fi blackout raises a guest's suspicions

Recently, we reported that the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains were beseeching the Federal Communications Commission to let them block their guests' wi-fi hotspots, forcing them to use the hotels' expensive and often balky networks.

Heat boosts phthalate emissions from vinyl crib mattress covers

Infants are exposed to fumes from the covers for 12 to 14 hours per day

Trying to reduce the risk, Congress banned six kinds of phthalates from toys in 2008, and manufacturers have been turning to alternative plasticizers, which are different phthalates.

Parking lots and their payment vendors are the popular new hacker targets

Park-n-Fly, the St. Louis Parking Company and their customers all among recent victims

Take note if you've paid to park your car recently: various banks are reporting a series of fraudulent credit card charges suggesting that hackers managed to steal information belonging to online customers of Park-n-Fly, an Atlanta-based offsite airport parking and valet service whose customers can reserve parking spots for themselves in advance.

Workers, students, taxpayers all can be hurt by mandatory prepaid debit cards

If you get a prepaid card as payment, empty it at once so fees don't destroy its value

Colleges and universities are hardly the only large institutions who've found it lucrative to work with prepaid debit card companies: certain employers and even state governments do, too.

Consumers often pay a steep price for cybercrime

Despite promises, survey shows many victims don't get reimbursed

We hear a lot about consumers falling for online scams, having their credit and debit card accounts hacked and being victimized by other types of cyber-fraud. We rarely hear about what happens next.

Feds warn BabyBus to get parents' permission to track children

FTC says the China-based app developer may be violating child privacy laws

In the letter, the FTC notes that it appears BabyBus' child-directed apps appeared to collect precise geolocation information about users. The letter notes that the company does not get parents’ consent before collecting children’s personal information, which would appear to violate the COPPA Rule.

Coke dumps voicemail; believes it's lost its fizz

Do you really think anyone will miss it?

Coca-Cola is ditching voice mail at its corporate offices. It's not a cost-saving measure, it's just intended to increase productivity, Bloomberg reports.

No surprise: EZ Pass knows how fast you're going

And penalizes speeders in 5 out of the 15 EZ Pass states

If you're enrolled in EZ Pass, take note: you won't be surprised to hear that in addition to collecting toll fees, it can also monitor your speed — and might punish you if you disobey the speed limits.

Big hotel chains take aim at wi-fi hotspots

They want you to use their slow, expensive, inconvenient system

Big hotel chains are lusting to install devices that will block your smartphone's ability to work as your own personal broadband hotspots.

Feds challenge wart-removal and weight-loss supplement promoters

There's no evidence the products work, the FTC alleges

The FTC says the wart removal and weight loss claims made by DermaTend and Lipidryl were unsubstantiated and deceptive.