State & Local
AG warns of phone scam
South Carolina’s top prosecutor is warning utility customers not to fall victim to a telephone scam. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office says utility customers all over the state have reported getting phone calls from people claiming to be utility employees. The scammer warns the customer that they’re late on their utility bill or might need a new meter, and that their electric service will be cut off if they don’t pay immediately. The scammer then tells the customer to buy a prepaid debit card and call back with the numbers on it.
Nation & World
Webcam, baby monitor footage pirated
Experts in England have a message for anyone with webcams, baby monitors and home security cameras: change your password now. Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office said Thursday that footage being collected from security cameras – such as closed circuit television networks or built-in cameras like baby monitors – is being posted to the Internet by a Russian website. The ICO is joining with its counterparts in the United States, China, Australia and Canada in warning consumers.
Mortgage rates continue lower
Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates continued to tick down this week, remaining close to yearlong lows. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage slipped to 3.99 percent from 4.01 percent last week. Rates have stayed around 4 percent for roughly the past month, after having opened the year at 4.53 percent.
California nuclear power settlement approved
California regulators have approved a settlement to divide billions of dollars in costs from the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant. Consumers will get refunds and credits of about $1.4 billion. But they will pay about $3.3 billion in costs over 10 years, including for power purchased after the plant shut down. The vote by the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday was 5-0.
U.S. meat-labeling efforts run into international opposition
The U.S. is running out of options in its effort to tell consumers where fresh cuts of meat originated after a successful challenge to package labeling by Canada and Mexico. A 2008 farm law requires that packages of steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat identify where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The World Trade Organization in a ruling Oct. 20 said the labeling requirement favored U.S. livestock. A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the U.S. has not decided whether it will appeal.
Consumers more confident
Consumer sentiment advanced last week to the highest level since January 2008 as Americans grew more optimistic about their financial well-being and the buying climate. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to 38.5 in the period ended Nov. 16 from 38.2 the week before.
The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed.