In February, USA Today reported that a Florida-based pediatrician, Dr. Free Hess, who is also a mom, questioned YouTube on videos with hidden suicide plans for kids. One such video offered kids instructions on how to commit suicide.
The shocking thing is these targeted videos were on YouTube kids’ apps and were dubbed family friendly.
The pediatrician who reported this to YouTube runs her own website called www.PediMom.com. She first was alerted to the video clips with suicide instructions edited into the “kid-friendly” site last summer by a concerned parent. If you are concerned, you can check out the post on her website: https://bit.ly/2Ul3bDr
In another video that Hess recorded on her site, cartoonish characters from “Splatoon,” a video game made by Nintendo, has a video spliced into the original video with a man offering advice on how to commit suicide. Other inappropriate videos show shooting scenes and a cartoon appearing to suggest human trafficking.
In a statement, YouTube, whose parent company is Google, said any video that doesn’t belong in the app is removed and more parental controls are put into place. But critics wonder how these videos are able to infiltrate the app when they’re not kid appropriate. What’s more is it has taken YouTube many months before they removed the offending videos.
For parents the best way to combat these types of developments is to closely monitor your child’s online activity. It’s disturbing to think that children are being exposed to such offensive and destructive material, but it is happening.
WALMART’S NEW PAYMENT OPTION: Walmart seems to be at the forefront of many things. Providing a new financing option in partnership with financial technology company Affirm is among them.
Affirm will help shoppers set up a monthly payment schedule on a wide range of purchases, following a quick application process.
If you want to check out the details go to: https://www.affirm.com/shop/walmart
Affirm loans are made by Cross River Bank of New Jersey. Highlights include: real-time credit decisions made while you shop, no hard pull on your credit during application, repayment terms of 3, 6 or 12 months, no hidden fees, no late fees. Note that you will need to enter your Social Security number for identity verification during the application process.
Also be aware that the approvals are different for online shopping and in-store shopping. If you’re approved while shopping at a physical store, a unique barcode is sent to your phone that can be scanned at the register.
Financing is available on eligible purchases between $150 and $2,000. Several categories can’t be financed through Affirm, including alcohol, baby consumables, gasoline, groceries/food, pet supplies, tobacco and a few others. Eligible purchases typically include entertainment, home goods, jewelry, automotive, sporting goods, toys and a few others.
According to the website, interest rates on this option appear to be 18 percent and 19 percent, which is about 1 percent higher than the average credit card. If you can wait on your purchase, Walmart’s holiday layaway plan might offer a better than financing. You can put down just $10 or 10 percent (whichever is greater) on holiday purchases with no fees and without interest throughout the holiday season. If you aren’t able to pay off your items in full by mid-December, they are returned to the shelves minus a $10 cancellation fee.
THREATS? NOT FROM SSA: Local readers are reporting calls from the SSA, threatening legal action. Scammers don’t seem to be targeting a specific age group as I’ve received calls from various ages with different forms of the same type of scam.
The basic message is that your Social Security number has been used out of state in drug trafficking activities or other illegal activity. The caller then goes on to state that to get the matter cleared up, you need to call them back right away or face criminal charges. They use increasingly threatening language in these calls.
They ask you to verify your birth date and SS number. The caller will give you his or her name, a badge number and a telephone number in an effort to get you to believe it is a legitimate call. The SSA website also warns us that scammers have figured out a way to spoof the actual SSA’s phone number of 800-772-1213 as the incoming number on your caller ID.
According to the SSA website, do not provide any personal information to these callers. SSA employees will never threaten you for information or state you will face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information. In these cases, hang up on the caller. IT’S A SCAM.
If you’ve received one of these calls, report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 800-269-0271 or online: https://oig.ssa.gov/report
Remember: I’m on your side.
If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (208) 274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m a full-time copywriter working with businesses on marketing, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.