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Backyard chefs have an array of choices now, which can make the selection even more difficult. Here are some tips.

By Stacy Johnson May 11, 2010 6:06PM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.


Nothing says "summer" like a cookout. In days past, the backyard grill was most likely a metal can on spindly legs containing kerosene-soaked charcoal, suitable only for cooking a few burgers and a couple of dogs. But these days a grill could just as easily be a $2,000 stainless steel behemoth capable of cooking half a side of beef in one area, vegetables in another, and sporting features like a warming tray, a steamer, infrared cooking, multiple controls, fuel and temperature gauges and lights.


Welcome to grills gone wild.


Gangs of thieves stage accidents, fake injuries and then collect millions in fraudulent insurance claims.

By Teresa Mears May 11, 2010 2:21PM

As of last fall, Jonathan Jones had been in 42 car accidents in nine years.


"Maybe I should have been more careful. Maybe . . . well, all right. I definitely should have been more careful," Jones said.

But a report on "Inside Edition" (you can watch it here) pegged Jones as a con man who stages auto accidents and makes fraudulent insurance claims. The "Inside Edition" report shows Jones’ white truck speeding to catch up with another car and then hitting it in a Wal-Mart parking lot in North Carolina. Then he accused the other driver of causing the crash.


Questionable insurance claims from such staged crashes are on the rise, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported this week, up 46% from 2007 to 2009.


Partly because of the recession, Americans are devoting the smallest percentage of their income to taxes in 60 years.

By Karen Datko May 11, 2010 1:27PM

We’re buckling under the burden of high taxes, people like to complain. But once again there’s proof that we’re not. Federal, state and local taxes last year sucked up the lowest percentage of personal income since Harry Truman was president, USA Today reports.


And we have the recession to thank.


American Airlines and Marriott end rewards partnership.

By Karen Datko May 11, 2010 9:34AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Travelers face divided loyalties to American Airlines and Marriott Hotels due to the brands’ pending loyalty split.

American quietly announced to its frequent fliers last month that effective July 1 they can no longer earn miles for stays at Marriott. Currently, Marriott Rewards members earn per-dollar rates of either five to 10 points in the hotel program or one to two miles, based on which chain they visit and the rewards option they select. Spokespeople for Marriott and American declined to elaborate on the reasoning behind the split, saying only that the two were unable to come to an agreement when negotiating renewal of the partnership.


Travel experts are more willing to speculate.


When waiters pad the tip, it's often easy to miss when you review your credit card bill.

By Karen Datko May 11, 2010 8:38AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


When I shared how I was taken by a fake-DVD scammer, I asked you what your worst scam was. The most common response was servers fraudulently putting more tip on the receipt.

It’s such an easy scam because what’s an extra dollar or two on your receipt? It’s hard to discover on your credit card bill because the difference is so small. A 3 becomes an 8, a 7 becomes a 9, and all you’re probably looking for when you review your statement is whether you went to the place in question.


So here are a few simple ways to avoid getting ripped off.


They're lobbying hard against proposals to regulate them, and asking their customers to speak out on their behalf.

By Karen Datko May 10, 2010 7:03PM

It’s difficult to find much sympathy for one of the industries targeted by the proposed financial reform now making its way through Congress. New rules could set limits on the interest charged by payday lenders and how often they can gouge -- oops, serve -- individual customers.

Things are looking so bleak that one industry group has asked customers to contact members of Congress on payday lenders' behalf. Apparently we’re supposed to see this industry as not one that preys on the under-banked poor, but rather provides an invaluable service to people with no or bad credit.


We can imagine what those letters might say:


Two reports show improving numbers on mortgage payments. Could spring be far behind?

By Karen Datko May 10, 2010 5:40PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Two good jolts of news landed Monday about mortgage delinquencies:

  • Delinquencies overall fell for the first time in three years. The numbers of homeowners 60 days late making a mortgage payment dropped last quarter for the first time in 12 consecutive quarters, according to the credit reporting agency TransUnion. The statistic is a sort of canary in the coal mine: It’s used to predict the direction of foreclosure rates. "The (delinquency) rate slipped to 6.77%, from 6.89% in the fourth quarter of 2009," says The Associated Press.

See home loan rates near historic lows

  • Delinquencies among the so-called liars' loans fell, too. Fitch Ratings found that delinquencies on a specific loan type -- high-risk mortgages requiring no documentation -- also dropped, to 34.1% in April from 34.4% in March. It was the first month-to-month drop in four years. Fitch analysts cautioned that homeowners could be using tax refunds to catch up. April's rate is higher than a year ago, when it was 27.4%.

You'll probably have to pay regular price to get home, but you may also find a deal on return flights.

By Teresa Mears May 10, 2010 4:25PM

JetBlue is celebrating its 10th anniversary with $10 airfares.

But you have to move fast. You have to buy your tickets by 11:59 p.m. ET today (Monday), and the $10 fare applies only to flights on Tuesday and Wednesday.



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