CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Smart speakers may connect consumers to scammers, Google announces 'privacy sandbox' initiative, and Apple's new credit card requires serious care and cleaning

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Smart speaker searches can accidentally connect consumers to scammers

"Hey Siri, can you call a scammer?"

That's not usually the intent of people who use smart speakers to make phone calls, but consumer watchdog groups are warning users that placing a phone call via voice command could connect them to an impersonator.

According to Avalon Cyber, online criminals are buying ads on search engines to list phony phone numbers and websites. When a "digital assistant" like Siri, Alexa, or Google Home searches for answers to user questions, they may fall for these fake contacts.

"They are buying ads on Google, or any of the search engines, with their phone number. You are calling there, they are answering it, and you think you are ordering dinner, and you are giving them your credit card information," said Melanie McGovern, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau.

Consumers are encouraged to research the contact information of legitimate businesses before relying on a smart speakers' automatic assistance, and to tighten their privacy settings on their devices when possible.

Google announces "privacy sandbox" initiative

Google has announced a "privacy sandbox" initiative aimed at preserving user privacy while still allowing for the kind of personalization that makes targeted advertising profitable.

In a blog post on Thursday, Google stated they were developing a "set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web" with the intention of making data privacy practices align with customer expectations. The proposed "privacy sandbox" environment within the Chrome browser would employ several mechanisms to guard user privacy. These measures include using machine learning software within the browser itself to assess people's areas of interest, and group them together so that the details of an individual user cannot be seen by advertisers. Chrome will also group users into "trusted" and "untrusted" segments as a means of preventing ad fraud, and create a "privacy budget" that would limit how much personal data a website can access.

Apple's new credit card comes with list of care instructions

Apple's new titanium credit card looks as shiny and sleek as its products - but according to a statement on their support webpage, it's going to be difficult keeping it that way.

Apple warns that the card could be discolored or damaged by coming into contact with other common items in one's wallet, pocket, or purse. Apple advises that cardholders do not allow the card to come in contact with certain fabrics, like leather or denim, that can stain the white card. They also say the card should not be placed in a wallet slot alongside another card, and that the card should not come in contact with loose change, keys, or other "abrasive objects" that can scratch the finish.

The company suggests that owners clean their card by wiping it with a microfiber cloth and applying water or isopropyl alcohol. Apple's support page has more details, including cleansers that should not be used on the card.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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