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New York stores threaten to display photos and call the police if suspected thieves don't pay $400 on the spot.

By Teresa Mears Jun 22, 2010 1:58PM

Owners of several stores in New York City have found a novel way to combat shoplifting: They photograph the accused shoplifter with the stolen items, then threaten to call the police and display the photo unless the accused antes up $400 or so.


In a report on this practice, The New York Times wrote:

In an example of the wall-of-shame style that certain stores use, a grocery called NY Tak Shing Hong, on East Broadway in Manhattan's Chinatown, posts photographs near the cash registers, some bearing names, addresses and Social Security numbers of the persons depicted. Several also include simple descriptions in Chinese, like "Stole Medicine" and "Thief."

Many of the stores that use this practice cater to Chinese immigrants, who are willing to pay to avoid encounters with the police. Those who don't have legal immigration status fear being deported if they are arrested. A shoplifting conviction can even result in the deportation of a longtime legal immigrant with a green card.


It's unclear whether what the stores are doing is illegal or a violation of the shoppers' rights.


In real life, jail is not a safe harbor, and bankruptcy is not the end of the road.

By Karen Datko Jun 22, 2010 11:17AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


When it comes to games, Monopoly is probably one of the most iconic. While I haven't played Monopoly in years, the game and its rules are still fresh in my mind. Nowadays the board games we play are slightly more complicated than Monopoly -- games like Settlers of Catan or Dominion -- but Monopoly still holds a special place in my heart.

If, however, you were to look at the game itself and compare it to real life, you'd find a lot of differences. Some of the differences are inconsequential: The prices for properties ($400? $120?) reflect both an earlier time and a need to improve playability (no sense having people count out $50,000 in increments of $500, a bill that doesn't even exist). Others are more subtle and, if a child were to use Monopoly as a proxy for the real world, really misrepresent the world.


They are, in short, lies.


If you have a debit card, the cost for using it is likely to drop -- for your local merchant.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 22, 2010 9:50AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


Wall Street reform is coming -- and a compromise has been reached regarding one of its most hard-fought provisions.


Negotiators from the House and Senate have agreed to allow the Federal Reserve to regulate fees for debit card transactions. The fees, known as "swipe" or interchange fees, are paid by merchants in exchange for accepting debit cards. 


Credit card swipe fees will remain unregulated.


A survey by identifies readers' thoughts on the rudest flight attendants and other flight-related topics.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 5:22PM

There's nothing scientific about reader polls, but sometimes the results can be quite satisfying. Take Airfarewatchdog's first -- and they hope annual -- subscriber poll. We appreciated the sentiments behind this finding:

83% of respondents have traveled with children in the past 12 months; however, 68% think there should be a separate section of the plane for passengers traveling with kids.

And what if little Johnny is incessantly kicking the back of your seat?


Proceeds from a class-action settlement could be sitting in your account.

By Karen Datko Jun 21, 2010 4:06PM

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


Current and former users of travel booking site might have a little extra in their site accounts.


As part of a class-action lawsuit settlement, Expedia paid out $123.4 million in cash and site credits earlier this month. The lawsuit, filed in 2005 and settled in 2009, alleged that the company's bundled tax and service fees were excessive and that bundling the charges unfairly prevented consumers from assessing the amount and nature of individual fees. Expedia denies any wrongdoing. (Expedia responded by directing SmartMoney to its public filings on the lawsuit. Seattle firm Hagens Berman, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of consumers, did not return calls for comment.)


So, what's in it for travelers?


People who lose their jobs today don't get a 65% government subsidy for their COBRA health insurance payments.

By Stacy Johnson Jun 21, 2010 3:20PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


If you lost your job on May 31, Uncle Sam will pay 65% of your COBRA health insurance bill for up to 15 months. But if you lost it on June 1, you're on your own.


The 65% subsidy was part of the $787 billion stimulus legislation passed in 2009. The subsidy was originally slated to last nine months, but was later increased to 15 months. It applied to those who lost their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010. There was talk of extending the benefit until the end of 2010, but Congress ultimately concluded the nation couldn't afford the additional $7.8 billion it would have cost.


If you build it yourself, a cat enclosure can be an inexpensive way to keep your felines happy. And you want to keep them happy.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 1:39PM

We could dismiss the latest "catio" craze story in The New York Times as just another waste of money on pets.


Except that we have cats. And we have a catio of sorts, a small screened porch built by the previous owner for humans. Living in a small space with cats, we can't tell you how valuable that tiny porch is. But the felines really want a bigger one.


While you can spend hundreds of dollars on ready-made cat enclosures or kits to create them, you can build your own catio using common, inexpensive materials.


Chains are offering free games to children, and some offer cheap games to adults who come along.

By Teresa Mears Jun 21, 2010 12:04PM

Are your kids already driving you crazy with wails of "I'm SO bored"? And summer has just started.


We suggest you meet those laments with a list of household chores that need doing, and your kids are likely to find something wildly interesting to do within minutes.

Maybe you can send them bowling. Several chains are offering "kids bowl free" summer promotions.



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