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Web site helps sift fact from fiction in forwarded e-mails. No, Bill Gates is not going to send you money.

By Teresa Mears Apr 7, 2010 1:17PM

Be warned that if you ever send me a forwarded e-mail warning me of dire consequences (hypodermic needles at gas pumps, assailants in the back seat of my car, cell phone numbers being given to telemarketers), I will send you back the words “another urban legend” with the link to the debunking of the tale at


I am always amazed that otherwise intelligent people actually believe this stuff. I guess that’s why popular scams, such as the Nigerian letter scam, remain persistent. Here’s my first piece of advice: If information comes to you in a forwarded e-mail, there is a good chance it’s not true.


And, of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


For 14 years, David and Barbara Mikkelson of California have been researching -- and debunking -- widely circulated misinformation for


Manufacturers settle class-action suit that alleged they lied about the horsepower of gas-powered lawnmowers.

By Karen Datko Apr 7, 2010 12:05PM

This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site


Spring has finally arrived, and with it the obligation to get the yard back in shape. This year consumers have another reason to be thankful for their lawn mowers: a class-action lawsuit settlement that entitles many buyers to a check and possibly a warranty extension.


The lawsuit, filed last May in federal court in Wisconsin, claimed that advertisements for more than 20 gas-powered lawn mower brands exaggerated their horsepower.


People can submit a claim if they purchased certain lawn mowers containing an engine with up to 30 horsepower between Jan. 1, 1994, and April 12, 2010.


Here are the best tools for zeroing in on money-saving deals among all the tweets.

By Karen Datko Apr 7, 2010 9:55AM

This post comes from Ann Smarty at partner blog Wise Bread.


Twitter is huge. Someone is very likely to be tweeting a great deal right now, and unless you know how to "hear" that tweet, you will miss it.


Luckily, there are quite a few tools to help make sense of that clutter. The key is to choose the tool that will fit your needs. Here are the best tools for finding and tracking deals on Twitter.


Every year the FTC compiles a list of problems that drew the most complaints. Here's the new list, which still includes the Nigerian letter scam.

By Stacy Johnson Apr 7, 2010 7:06AM

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


If you know where potential problems lie, they should be avoidable. That’s the apparent logic behind the Federal Trade Commission’s report of top consumer complaints. Every spring, the FTC puts out a list of the top reported sources of consumer problems. Unfortunately, however, it normally doesn’t get a lot of national media attention.


That's too bad, because if we all took just a little time to understand the issues on this list, we’d probably be richer, and a lot of scam artists would have to find a real job. 


To really cash in as a value investor you need to be contrarian, buying what others scorn. Good luck with that.

By Karen Datko Apr 6, 2010 5:56PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


A search of Bad Money Advice shows that in what is fast approaching 300 posts I have never discussed collectibles. Although it is true that there is relatively little bad money advice out there on this topic, just about everybody who mentions it, even in passing, says it is a poor place to invest -- it is an area in which people often make money mistakes. So not writing at least one post on it is an oversight that needs correcting.


In particular, I want to talk about a scheme to make money that has, at the very least, occurred to all of us at one time or another. It is buying, or merely not disposing of, the near-valueless noncollectible in the hope that it will one day become a valuable collectible.


The reason this has occurred to us all at some point is that the collecting world is full of examples of easy-money-in-hindsight. Just spend time on eBay. A quick scan recently told me that the first issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine (Autumn 1992) goes for $250. It was $3.95 on the newsstand. That’s an annualized gain of nearly 26% for 18 years. If only I’d thought to buy a thousand copies.


After losing much of her income, blogger sold her house and now lives in other people's vacant homes.

By Karen Datko Apr 6, 2010 1:53PM

We’re fascinated by unusual lifestyle choices people make, like campground hosting or hiking the Appalachian Trail full time. Lose your job and you may be even more inclined to consider new possibilities.


That happened to Mary, the 48-year-old single woman whose insightful blog, SimplyForties, shares her adventures and great recipes. When her income suddenly dropped, she sold her lovely old home, hit the road and embarked on house-sitting full time.


That’s right: house-sitting, usually a low-cost way to visit exotic/expensive locations, as an occupation. She explained how she began in a Consumerism Commentary guest post.


Spirit Airlines becomes the first carrier to charge for carry-on luggage as well as checked bags. Will others follow?

By Teresa Mears Apr 6, 2010 12:55PM

Spirit Airlines has become the first U.S. airline -- and maybe the first airline in the world, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat Terminal blog -- to charge passengers for carry-on bags.


Charges will range up to $45 each way, with a low of $20 for members of the $9 Fare Club who reserve a bag in advance (and don’t forget your $39.95 annual club membership). Non-members can carry on a bag for $30 if they pay in advance.

Lest you think you can disguise your carry-on bag as a purse or computer case, be warned that Spirit will have “bag sizers” at the gate to make sure your “personal items” don’t measure more than 16 by 14 by 12 inches.


Census jobs are available, but you don't need to pay someone to get federal employment.

By Karen Datko Apr 6, 2010 11:49AM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


We've all heard or seen the warnings about the possibility of being scammed by purported census takers who are out to steal our identities. But what about those who cheat people looking for honest work taking the government headcount?



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