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Averaging over $3 a gallon for the third week in a row, Iowa’s gas prices are at their highest level in more than two years. The last time Iowa gas prices topped the $3-per-gallon mark was October 2008. Rising gas prices may be bad news for your New Year’s budget, but the good news is that there are simple steps you can take to cut costs at the pump. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following tips:
Still paying the price from the holiday shopping craze? It’s not uncommon to overspend during the holidays and then find yourself trying to get your head above water during the following year. Credit card debt can linger for years if you don’t take care of it quickly. Here are some tips to help you start off 2011 on the right foot.
1. Open a holiday savings account. Many banks offer a Christmas Club or holiday savings account program to help customers save for holiday expenses throughout the year. Saving a little money each month will help you avoid facing the same spending crunch in December 2011.
Where is my gift card? That’s probably a question many of us have asked at some point and—if we’re not careful—may be asking again after the rush of the holiday season has passed. Gift cards have become a popular option for that hard-to-shop-for person on holiday lists. In fact, Americans spent an estimated $87 billion on gift cards in 2009.
Although gift cards may be at the top of everyone’s list, surveys have shown that gift cards often become misplaced or simply go unused. The American Bankers Association Education Foundation offers the following tips for buying and using gift cards wisely:
With holiday shopping in full swing, the FBI reminds consumers that cyber criminals continue to aggressively create ways to steal money and personal information. Here are some of the most common scams identified by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), along with tips to avoid becoming a victim.
Fraudulent classified ads and auction sales
Internet criminals post classified ads and auctions for products they don’t have. When fraudsters receive an order from a victim, they charge the victim’s credit card for the amount of the order, and then use a separate stolen credit card for the actual purchase. They pocket the purchase price obtained from the victim’s credit card and have the merchant ship the item directly to the victim. Consequently, an item purchased from an online auction but received directly from the merchant is a strong indication of fraud. Victims of such a scam not only lose the money paid to the fraudster, but may be liable for receiving stolen goods.
Many holiday shoppers will buy some, if not most, of their gifts on the Internet. According to the National Retail Federation, 50.8 percent of Americans will make at least one holiday purchase online. But as more consumers turn to the Internet to do their shopping, so do the fraudsters with their scams.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online.
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