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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.

 

Two-thirds of economists surveyed say consumers' attitudes have changed for good. But there are still skeptics.

By Teresa Mears May 10, 2010 2:26PM

It’s one of the cosmic questions of our time: Will consumers stick with their frugal habits once the recession is over?

 

Yes, we will, say two-thirds of the economists interviewed by The Associated Press for its quarterly Economy Survey.

 

“I would call it a ‘mini age of austerity,’” Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida, told the AP.

 

How do you balance the fact that both partners are adults but also recognize that sometimes people need help?

By Karen Datko May 10, 2010 11:14AM

This post comes from J.D Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

 

Recently I gave a talk at Powell’s Books here in Portland, Ore. During the question-and-answer session, one woman posed an interesting question. (I’ve forgotten her name, so let’s call her Kim to make things easy.)

Kim has been aggressively paying down her debt, and is pleased with her progress. However, her boyfriend thinks she’s doing it wrong. If I understand correctly, Kim’s boyfriend believes she should pay down each debt partway (perhaps a half or a third) so that none of her obligations is near its limit. He believes that this will increase Kim’s credit score. Kim wanted to know if this was a good idea.

 

Use your tax refund to help pay for an energy-efficient home improvement this year and get a juicy tax credit next year.

By Stacy Johnson May 10, 2010 8:16AM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News:

 

Getting a tax refund is nice. Turning that refund into a money-saving home improvement is smart. Creating a tax credit for next year while you're at it? Very smart.

 

I just used my tax refund to partially pay for a new, high-efficiency central air conditioning unit for my home.

 

The National Association of Letter Carriers food drive is tomorrow. Could you spare a can for your fellow man?

By Donna_Freedman May 7, 2010 12:33PM

Blue plastic bags showed up with the mail on Thursday in anticipation of tomorrow's "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive. The bag in my mailbox bore this message:

Food or rent? Could you choose? 42% of the people Food Lifeline serves had to make this difficult choice.

One of my neighbors in the apartment house had tossed the bag on the lobby floor. I wonder if he or she bothered to read the statistic.

 

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