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Agency calls on industry and Congress to create more privacy protections for consumers.

By Teresa Mears Dec 2, 2010 4:52PM

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed that Internet users get more privacy from the spying eyes of marketers who are tracking their moves around the Web.

 

In a 122-page report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change" (.pdf file), the FTC staff recommended that marketing firms, technology companies and Congress take steps to protect consumer privacy, including creating a "do not track" mechanism. While "do not track" has been compared with the "do not call" list that keeps telemarketers from interrupting your dinner, "do not track" is a much more complex issue.

 

The FTC is collecting public comment on what mechanisms would work best. Any significant moves would have to come from industry or Congress.

 

Congress has said no. So what's next for the millions of people depending on those checks?

By Karen Datko Dec 2, 2010 4:10PM

You've likely read that Congress can't agree to renew extended unemployment benefits, meaning 2 million jobless Americans will lose those checks by the end of December, and 2 million more will join their ranks in the first two months of the new year.

 

Sounds simple enough, but confusion reigns. Some seem to think the current debate is over whether every unemployed person is entitled to 99 weeks of benefits -- or even more.

 

That's not what's happening here. To best understand, let's look at the benefits unemployed people have been eligible for in the last two years and what will happen now.

 

Some believe you're better off leaving it lie, though a good Samaritan might take more initiative.

By Teresa Mears Dec 2, 2010 12:47PM

You're walking down the street, you look down and you see a debit card lying at your feet.

 

Do you pick it up?

 

Not necessarily, says Sally Herigstad, a CPA who writes the To Her Credit column at CreditCards.com.

 

Picking up a fallen debit card and trying to return it to the rightful owner isn't necessarily the best course of action. Are you surprised?

 

Shopping for that special someone, guys? Here are five things you might want to cross off your list.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 2, 2010 12:18PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

When it comes to gift giving, the thought does count -- but think twice before you shop for the special lady on your list.

 

Although we pick presents with good intentions, let's not forget that good intentions also pave the road to hell. So if you're a guy without much experience in gifting, or if your special someone has ever found your "perfect gift" perfectly offensive, read on.

 

Blogger gets disappointing results after participating in four auctions at the website.

By Karen Datko Dec 2, 2010 11:18AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner site The Simple Dollar.

 

A reader recently asked for my opinion of QuiBids, an online auction site where you have to pay for your bids, but bids only make the auctions go up in 1- or 2-cent increments. I replied that my back-of-the-envelope math makes the site not worth your time.

Several readers wrote to me immediately afterward, bragging about various items they got at a steep discount and urging me to reconsider my perspective on it. So I decided to give the site a fair shake.

 

Budgets are tight and gift lists can be long, so it's time to start looking for ways to find more cash.

By Money Staff Dec 1, 2010 6:45PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam WestonThe holidays can be expensive -- and there are only so many people you can kick off your gift list before you start to feel positively Scrooge-like. When you can’t trim expenses any further, it’s time to look for ways to raise more cash.

Now, you could try holding a yard sale (in the snow) or opening a lemonade stand (in the snow), but there are other, easier ways to come up with free money, including the following:

 

New technology brings new ways to use mobile devices, but it also is likely to bring even more complex wireless pricing plans.

By Teresa Mears Dec 1, 2010 2:27PM

Here's news you didn't want to hear: Cell phone plans are likely to get more complicated.

 

That's right. A product with which you can easily incur $34,000-plus in charges for just a few months of misunderstanding is going to make it even more difficult to understand your service –- at least if you want to do more than talk. You didn't think new technology was all fun and games, did you?

 

Trying to find the right holiday gift for someone who has everything? Consider a gift that helps a worthy cause.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 1, 2010 1:15PM

This post comes from Michael Koretsky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

First, the bad news: Even rich people are feeling the pinch in this recession -- and the poor are paying for it. Charitable donations are down more than a third among the wealthiest Americans.

 

In 2009, nearly all -- 98.2% -- of Americans with a net worth above $1 million gave to charity. But the amount of their giving dropped significantly from just two years earlier. After adjusting for inflation, average charitable giving by millionaires plummeted 34.9%, from $83,000 to $54,000.

"Charitable giving follows the overall economy," said Una Osili, director of research for the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which conducted the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy (.pdf file). "When economic conditions improve, charitable giving improves as well."

 

But average Americans may be picking up the slack. A new survey by Christian relief agency World Vision found that 51% of Americans said they'd be more likely to give a charitable gift -- a gift that benefits a charity -- as a holiday present this year.

 

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