Food Preparation: Keep It Clean

The first cardinal rule of safe food preparation in the home is: Keep everything clean. The cleanliness rule applies to the areas where food is prepared and, most importantly, to the cook.

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Preventing Foodborne Illness

The idea that the food on the dinner table can make someone sick may be disturbing, but there are many steps you can take to protect your families and dinner guests. It's just a matter of following basic rules of food safety.

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Costly Coupon Scams

Cents-off coupons are providing big bucks for scam artists who offer business opportunity and work-at-home schemes featuring coupon certificate booklets and coupon clipping services. Using the Internet to market these so-called opportunities, fraudulent promoters are promising entrepreneurs, charity groups and consumers earnings of "hundreds per week" and "thousands per month" simply by selling coupon certificate booklets or cutting coupons at home.

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The Lowdown on Chain Letters

Everybody's received them - chain letters or email messages that promise a big return on a small investment. The promises include unprecedented good luck, mountains of recipes, or worse, huge financial rewards for sending as little as $5 to someone on a list or making a telephone call.

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Auction Guides: Not So Hot Properties

Ads for seized cars and foreclosed homes in newspapers and magazines, on television and the Internet, and in coupon mailings to your home may sound like the ticket to your dream home or car. They offer the chance to buy a big ticket item at auction - for well below its market value. What deals! Just call the toll-free number for more information.

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Still Paying Private Refinance Insurance?

If you put less than 20 percent down on a home refinance, lenders often require you to have Private refinance Insurance (PMI). PMI protects the lender if you default on the loan. The Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 - which became effective in 1999 - establishes rules for automatic termination and borrower cancellation of PMI on home refinances.

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Home Equity Borrowers Beware!

Do you own your home? If so, it's likely to be your greatest single asset. Unfortunately, if you agree to a loan that's based on the equity you have in your home, you may be putting your most valuable asset at risk.

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Avoiding Home Equity Scams

You could lose your home and your money if you borrow from unscrupulous lenders who offer you a high-cost loan based on the equity you have in your home. Certain lenders target homeowners who are elderly or who have low incomes or credit problems—and then try to take advantage of them by using deceptive practices.

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A Consumer's Guide to E-Payments

The Internet has taken its place beside the telephone and television as an important part of people's lives. Consumers use the Internet to shop, bank and invest online. Most consumers use credit or debit cards to pay for online purchases, but other payment methods, like "e-wallets," are becoming more common.

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Work-at-Home Schemes: Ask the Right Questions

You can find work-from-home ads everywhere - from the street light and telephone pole on your corner to your newspaper and PC. While you may find these ads appealing, especially if you can't work outside your home, proceed with caution. Not all work-at-home opportunities deliver on their promises.

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Beware of Multilevel Marketing Plans

Multilevel marketing plans, also known as "network" or "matrix" marketing, are a way of selling goods or services through distributors. These plans typically promise that if you sign up as a distributor, you will receive commissions -- for both your sales of the plan's goods or services and those of other people you recruit to join the distributors.

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Are Cosmetics Safe?

Serious problems from cosmetic use are rare, but sometimes problems arise with specific products. For example, FDA warned consumers about the danger of using aerosol hairspray near heat, fire, or while smoking. Until hairspray is fully dry, it can ignite and cause serious burns. Injuries and deaths have occurred from fires related to aerosol hairsprays.

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Avoid Email Address Harvesting

Is your in-box clogged with junk email messages from people you don't know? Are you overwhelmed by unsolicited email offering products or services you don't want? It's no wonder. According to research by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several law enforcement partners, it's harvest time for spammers. But, the consumer protection agency says, the good news for computer users is that they can minimize the amount of spam they receive.

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