Komando Q&A for January 31, 2014

  • Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:00 p.m.

Hackers stole my information from Target ... now what do I do?


Q. Help! My credit card number was stolen in the Target data breach and I don't know where to turn to for help.

A. Up to 110 million people have been affected by the Target data breach, so you're definitely not alone. Since credit card numbers, email addresses and passwords were stolen, there are a number of things you need to do. First, if you shopped at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, you will want to get a new credit card number. Second, change all your online account passwords, including your email password. Click here for tricks to create strong passwords you won't forget.

What you need to know before buying your next light bulb


Q. I saw that incandescent light bulbs are on the way out. What kind of bulbs are replacing it?

A. There are three major incandescent light bulb replacement contenders: Halogen, CFL and LED. If you want a no-fuss replacement for your existing bulbs, Halogen bulbs are the cheapest, have modest energy savings and last as long as incandescents. CFL or compact fluorescent bulbs have up to 75 percent energy savings and they last around 10 times longer than incandescent. Price-wise, they're only a few dollars more than halogen. And finally there is LED, which stands for light-emitting diode technology. They last up to 25 times longer than halogen, but can cost six times more than halogen bulbs. It's a bit more of an investment up front, for bigger savings down the road.

Secrets to save big on your cable bill


Q. My cable bill is out of control! Can I lower it, or maybe even get rid of cable entirely?

A. Call your cable provider and mention that your bill is too high and that you are thinking about canceling or switching to a competitor. You can also ask to have your modem rental fees removed. Be polite, but firm. You'll be amazed at the concessions you can get. If those options don't pan out for you, take a look at what's available free online (short answer: a lot!) and figure out if you can get by with that. You can stream a lot on online video onto your TV with a Chromecast for $35 or less, or you can pick up a Roku or Apple TV, which do even more, for less than $100. If you choose to cut the cord on cable, you may want to look into buying an HDTV antenna. With a one-time payment, you can watch local broadcasts and sports (including the Super Bowl) in high definition separate from cable.

Find out if your neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi


Q. My Internet seems to be going at a snail's pace lately, which is strange, because I pay for top speed. What can I do to speed it up?

A. I suspect that someone is stealing your Wi-Fi connection. How can you tell for sure? Start by taking stock of your network with a program like Wireless Network Watcher. If you see a gadget connected to the network that doesn't belong to you, you know you have your culprit. To stop these Wi-Fi thieves, secure your network immediately. The instructions are in your router manual. Even if you don't suspect someone is stealing your Wi-Fi, securing your network is essential for your privacy.

Listen to all the music you want without spending a fortune!


Q. I'm tired of my same old music collection. I want to find new music to listen to at work, but I don't want to pay half my salary on it. What do you recommend?

A. Forget about buying CDs or MP3s. You can stream your favorite tunes online for little to no money. And, yes, it's legal if you use the right sites. If you want to listen to music similar to your tastes, there's Pandora and iTunes Radio. If you want to listen to a specific artist or album, try Spotify, rdio or Beats Music. All of them offer free ad-supported service, or a free trial, so try them all out to see which one you like best.


Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.

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