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These ID theft devices are probably more common than you think.

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2009 9:23AM

This guest post comes from David Weliver at Money Under 30 and is part of his series for National Protect Your Identity Week.


Talk about serendipitous. I've been planning a post on credit card and ATM skimmers -- jerry-rigged little devices criminals use to steal your card numbers -- and yesterday my brother tells me he spotted one of these suckers at a rest area on the New York Thruway.


He alerted managers, who called the cops, who confirmed it was a skimmer. It just proves that skimmers are a real threat out there. Skimmers give fraudsters easy access to unwitting victims' credit and debit card numbers -- even PINs. Here's what you need to know to avoid these nasty things.


A beginner's guide for the lazy composter.

By Karen Datko Oct 21, 2009 8:15AM

This post comes from Little House at partner blog Wise Bread.


One thing I enjoy about my small garden is the fragrant smell of my lavender plants and the movement of the feather grass in the wind. I have become an avid small-garden and container gardener. In the process, I've also gotten very eco-conscious about what I put on my plants and in my garden.


I began to research other gardening Web sites, specifically ones that discuss eco-friendly alternatives to fertilizers. The nitrogen in fertilizers isn't healthy for the environment. In excess, it is harmful to your soil, and to aquatic animals when the nitrogen-filled water is washed out to sea.


The more I researched, the more I realized that I could make my own fertilizer, or mulch, using my kitchen waste. Not only do I reduce my kitchen garbage, I reuse it to benefit my plants. I also save money by not having to purchase additional nutrients or replace dead plants very often. It's a three-for-one deal.


'Free' ringtones and games may come with $10-a-month bills.

By Teresa Mears Oct 20, 2009 7:27PM

Be sure to scrutinize your cell phone bill carefully. That “free game” you played on Facebook may come with a $10-per-month charge, writes Steve Alexander of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.


Alexander writes that most people are savvy about Internet scams that involve giving out your personal information on the Internet, which can lead to identity theft.


They should be equally cautious about giving out their cell phone numbers before they read ALL the fine print. Otherwise, they may find themselves signed up for an expensive “premium SMS,” or text, service –- in essence, agreeing to pay a company to send them advertising.


Flu is keeping many home from work and school. I hope I'm not next.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2009 7:23PM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.


People are dropping to the left of us and dropping to the right of us. We seem to have a serious H1N1 flu epidemic going on in our parts.


Recently on the Evening Play-Nooz we heard that thousands of cases have been diagnosed in Arizona, and a number of people have died. Given that many people can't afford to go to the doctor with a case of the flu, the figures are undoubtedly just a fraction of the real number.

For the first time in recorded memory, our choir director didn't show up for midweek practice. He fell ill the morning after the wedding for which we sang, and ended up flat on his back. His doctor told him to stay in bed for seven days, and absolutely not to leave the house.


A vigorous and healthy man, this guy hasn't missed work as long as I've known him, which has been a while. If he's laid low, we frail old bats haven't got a chance.


New study says loan servicers lack financial incentive to modify mortgages.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2009 6:11PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site


At the start of the foreclosure crisis, personal-finance experts urged struggling homeowners to contact their lenders if they started to fall behind on their mortgages. The lenders want to do everything they can, homeowners were told, to avoid a foreclosure.


Now, the experts aren't so sure that's the case.


Consumers who have jumped through a frustrating series of hoops to achieve a mortgage modification -- a lower interest rate or more manageable payments -- are convinced that conventional wisdom is flawed.


Buck at The Buck List has a knack for finding sites you might not know about.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2009 4:01PM

One thing we love about The Buck List -- and there are many reasons to love that blog (not many undertake the task of writing a humorous post about funeral planning) -- is the occasional cool Web site blogger Buck Weber finds and shares with readers.


Buck, whose blog focuses on how he makes and saves money in his current unemployed state, seems to be a magnet for the odd cost-cutting or time-saving Web site. Read his blog closely. He sprinkles them about like blogger's word candy.


For instance, is an appliance like the dryer or dishwasher not working right in your home? Buck suggests you visit with the Samurai Appliance Repair Man at


Good timing, Buck. The microwave hasn't been heating evenly or well. We checked to see what the Samurai Appliance Repair Man had to say about that.


The Bank of America offer of free coverage has a catch.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2009 12:20PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


I remember a few years ago when credit card companies would send out $5 checks to customers. The catch with the $5 check was that it enrolled you in some sort of service, usually identity theft or employment-related coverage, which was free for a month.


After a month, there was a monthly fee that was either flat, in the case of the identity theft service, or a percentage of your balance, in the case of the employment-related service.


Last week, I received letters from two banks reminding me of their complimentary offer of accidental death and dismemberment insurance. It’s clear in both cases that they're marketing promotions trying to get you to buy AD&D insurance from their partners. However, the two offers are very different in how they approach the customer.


Taking these precautions could greatly reduce your risk.

By Karen Datko Oct 20, 2009 8:41AM

This guest post comes from Adam Baker at Man vs. Debt.


Identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the world. The Federal Trade Commission has stated that there are more than 9 million cases of identity theft per year in the United States alone. Even if you've been able to avoid any issues thus far, chances are that you know someone whose identity has been compromised.


It's estimated that well over 50% of all cases of identity theft were perpetrated by someone the victim knew.

Note from Karen: It's National Protect Your Identity Week, sponsored by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Here's some related reading that you'll find very informative.

·         Find 'shredding parties' in your state

·         Are you safe? 10 questions to find out

·         Steps to take if you've been victimized

·         Questions on identity theft? Ask an expert

If you take anything from this post, realize you can never be too safe with your personal information. You need to be on your toes, especially around your co-workers, friends and family. Although you likely won't be liable for any fraudulent charges and/or spending, it can takes months of consistent effort to clean up. Here are some ways you can avoid becoming a victim:



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