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The FTC received more than 2 million complaints last year, a new report says. Once again, identity theft topped the list.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 13, 2013 5:52PM

This post comes from Jeffrey Trull at partner site Money Talks News


Money Talks News logoThe Federal Trade Commission received 2.06 million complaints in 2012 , the first time the agency's count has topped 2 million in a single year. Nine of the top 10 complaints also appeared on the previous year's top 10 list. 


While record numbers and consistent complaints might seem discouraging, here is some good news: There are effective strategies to protect yourself from these common offenses. 


A new survey shows that a large majority of drivers would let their insurance company install the device in their cars in exchange for a price discount.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 13, 2013 3:35PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site logoWhat would you do for a car insurance discount?


Image: Driving home (© gehringj/Vetta/Getty Images)Nearly two-thirds of drivers said they would allow an insurance company to install a Breathalyzer in their cars -- nearly twice the percentage who would allow a cellphone disabling device, a new survey finds. commissioned a survey of 500 licensed drivers about steps they would take to save money on their car insurance bills. Even the least popular suggestion -- an onboard observation camera -- would be embraced by 20% of discount-seekers.


Here are the results:


Sensors could put food through the sniff test, but until then, other tech is helping stem the flow of food discards.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 13, 2013 1:08PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Michelle V. Rafter.


Image: Toddler in supermarket (© Susan Barr/Photodisc/Getty Images)What if you could tell how fresh a half-gallon of milk was or how long a pound of salmon would keep -- not from the "sell by" date on the packaging, but from the food itself?


University researchers in Europe think they've developed a sensor that could do just that, and it could be ready for grocery shelves as soon as five years from now.


Sensors are the latest salvo in the battle against food waste, which has become rampant. Every year, U.S. households throw away an estimated 40% of their food, equal to $2,275 a year for a family of four.


Credit is not raining down on would-be borrowers, but it will be a bit more accessible this year.

By Marilyn Lewis Mar 13, 2013 12:23PM

At long last, the mortgage drought is winding down. Credit is not exactly raining down on would-be borrowers but it is definitely opening up.


News reports are pointing to the Federal Reserve's January survey of senior bank officers, which reveals a small but significant improvement:

  • Banks loosening mortgage guidelines -- 6.1%.
  • Banks tightening mortgage guidelines -- 1.5%.
  • Banks reporting no change in mortgage guidelines -- 92.3%.

That's only 1 of our fun facts about St. Patrick's Day. However, there's no reliable estimate of how much of that beer will be dyed green.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 12, 2013 5:37PM

This post comes from Lou Carlozo at Dealnews.


Dealnews logoWe're not sure what incantation St. Patrick uttered when he supposedly drove the snakes out of Ireland. But we're sure it had nothing to do with green beer, corned beef, or dying the Chicago River the color of clover in spring.


Image: Beer (© Corbis)In fact, St. Patrick himself -- in his own words! -- dedicated his life to being "an instrument whereby multitudes who had worshiped idols and unclean things had become the people of God." Hmmmm. And come March 17, countless people will drink to that, again and again and again.


St. Patrick's Day shall soon be upon us. It's a time for counting the copious consumption of all things Irish, semi-Irish, or not even remotely Irish. And the consumer forecast this St. Patrick's Day calls for more than 133 million celebrants to take part in the action, according to the National Retail Federation. St. Patrick's spending should grow to a whopping $4.7 billion, a figure equal to 2% of Ireland's GDP for an entire year. Begorrah!


So whether you're a red-headed laddie from County Cork, or a non-Irish bystander who simply looks smashing in green, here's the rundown on stats, spending and trivia surrounding this mid-March holiday. Read on, and shout "Erin go bragh" as often as the spirit moves you.


If you're down on your luck and can't pay the bills, paying 400% interest isn't going to help. Here are some alternatives.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 12, 2013 1:30PM

This post comes from Linda Doell at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News logoPayday loans, no matter how reasonable they might look on the surface, are nothing less than a financial kick in the stomach, often delivered to those least able to afford it.


Image: Overwhelmed woman © CorbisA new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts (.pdf file) says almost 12 million Americans take out payday loans every year. And as you might imagine, the borrowers are frequently those least able to afford it. According to Pew, the typical borrower is white, female, 25 to 44 years old, without a college degree, and making less than $40,000 a year.


The report shows that a majority of those surveyed -- 58% -- had trouble meeting monthly expenses at least half the time and turned to payday loans as a financial option to handle the shortfall.


Some of the best phones can be had for a penny or for free when you sign up for a 2-year plan.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 12, 2013 11:12AM

This post comes from Michael Sweet at Cheapism.


Woman Sitting in a Cafe Texting © Stephen Morris, Vetta, Getty ImagesShopping for a cheap smartphone is no easy task. There are dozens upon dozens from which to choose, and all seem to linger in the shadow of the latest Apple iPhone, which is decidedly not a budget choice.


Still, Samsung, HTC and other phone manufacturers are gaining popularity. Microsoft has released a new, well-received mobile operating system called Windows Phone 8 that has breathed new life into Nokia's line of phones, and other smartphone makers are adopting the platform as well. Well-known producers of cheap smartphones also include Motorola, Kyocera and LG.  (Microsoft owns MSN Money.)


BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has been keeping a low profile as it struggles to recast itself as a serious smartphone competitor. A new line of BlackBerry phones debuts in 2013 with a brand-new BlackBerry 10 operating system.


Think the sequester affects only federal employees? Think again. The budget cuts may cause you to adjust your plans in the next few months.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 11, 2013 2:48PM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News logoThe sequester -- $85 billion in federal budget cuts -- went into effect March 1. If you've been following the news and thinking it will only affect federal employees who face furloughs, you've missed a big chunk of the story. 


The cuts could eventually affect lots of things -- including your vacation and other summer plans.



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