CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Ford recalls F-150 trucks due to headlight issue, 'voice cloning' allows scammers to create convincing fakes, and Americans prematurely withdrew $57 billion from retirement accounts

BySimone Chavoor KGO logo
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Ford recalls F-150 trucks due to headlight issue, 'voice cloning' allows scammers to create convincing fakes, and more
CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Ford is issuing three recalls of their F-150 trucks due to headlight issues and other flaws, 'voice cloning' allows scammers to create convincing fakes used in impostor scams, and Americans prematurely withdrew $57 billion from their retirement accounts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Ford announces recalls for quarter of a million pickup trucks

Ford has announced three recalls that affect over a quarter-million pickup trucks.

Over 160,000 2018-2020 model F-150 pickups in the U.S. are being recalled due to a headlight defect that may reduce the visibility of oncoming drivers. The affected vehicles' daytime running lamps do not dim when the main headlight control is switched on, a violation of federal motor vehicle safety standards. Dealers will fix this issue with a software update.

Ford is also recalling almost 14,000 2015-16 F-150s in the U.S. to fix an engine block heater cable. When the truck is parked and the block heater cable is plugged into an electrical outlet, there is an increased risk of overheated or melted wiring and even fire. Customers are advised to not use the engine block heater cable until their vehicle is inspected.

A smaller Ford recall is directed towards 319 2020 F-Series Super Duty and 2021 Ford E-Series vehicles that may not have enough axle lubricant.

Consumers can check if their vehicle is affected by checking the Ford Recalls page or calling the Customer Relationship Center at 800-392-3673.

"Voice cloning" could allow scammers to create more convincing impostors over the phone

The ability to "clone" someone's voice is making it easier for impostors to scam unsuspecting victims, law enforcement agencies and the Federal Trade Commission warn.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a warning to consumers that voice cloning technology makes it possible for a scammer to sample someone's voice from as little as a five-second recording. The scammers can then recreate that person's voice for a phone conversation. This is where the scammers can pretend to be someone's loved one in urgent need of money, in a more advanced version of the classic "grandparent scam." Victims, eager to help their loved one on the other end of the line, are then tricked into wiring funds to the criminals.

Because it can be difficult to distinguish a real person's voice from their clone, consumers are urged to stay skeptical and ask questions that only the other person would know. If consumers have the actual contact info of the person the caller says they are, they're urged to hang up and call them using their known phone number to verify it's really them.

Americans prematurely withdrew $57 billion from their retirement accounts

A new report shows that many Americans are dipping into their retirement accounts early -- and paying hefty fees to do so.

The Internal Revenue Service collected about $5.7 billion dollars in penalties from retirement plans in 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the study by the Investment Company Institute. Because withdrawing money from a retirement account before the age of 59 and a half incurs a 10 percent penalty on top of tax assessed on the withdrawn amount, the Investment Company Institute did some easy math to figure out that Americans withdrew $57 billion from their retirement accounts prematurely.

The IRS received 5.1 million returns that reported paying the early withdrawal penalty, meaning the average withdrawal was about $11,000.

There are some tax exempt reasons for making an early withdrawal -- education expenses, medical debts, or buying a home for the first time -- but financial experts warn that consumers should look into less costly methods of pulling together cash, including a 401(k) loan or personal bank loan.

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