Guard your credit from thieves


After Target and Neiman Marcus told tens of millions of shoppers that their credit and debit card information had been stolen, the retailers offered them a year of free credit monitoring. But that service does little more than give consumers a false sense of security because it does nothing to protect them from fraudulent charges on their credit and debit card accounts.

More than 85 percent of identity theft cases involve existing account fraud, according to the Department of Justice. Credit monitoring, security freezes and fraud alerts are designed to thwart much less common — but much more serious — new-account fraud.

In that type of identity theft, a crook uses your Social Security number and other personal information to open credit accounts in your name. If it happens to you, it’s worth considering credit monitoring, along with a security freeze or fraud alert. Here’s what each does:

Beyond the oil change


Most of us know that vehicles need regular oil changes.

But if your maintenance starts and stops with an oil change, you could be in for a bumpy ride.

First job: Summer employment can be a great learning experience for teens


Sydney Rau was a little nervous before her first job interview.

What should she say? How should she dress?

Five Spot: Cracking the egg code


When it’s time to buy eggs, are you chicken? There are so many choices — cage-free, organic, omega-3, vegetarian-fed, Grade AA or A, brown or white — that you might be tempted just to grab a familiar type or brand.

But think twice. Our experts recently tested different varieties and found little difference in taste although some cost twice as much. Here are some definitions of terms that might matter when you shop. Whatever eggs you choose, look for those with a carton date far away from the purchase date.

Going green: Tips to help your lawn


If the lawn outside your window is giving you the blues, join the club. After a brutal winter walloped much of the country, the magazine’s Facebook and Twitter feeds have been buzzing with lawn care woes from exasperated homeowners (#moles #barespots, anyone?).

Fortunately, many of the most common problems have fairly straightforward fixes. Consumer Reports offers the following solutions to common problems:

Costly lies: 1 in 3 adults admits to ‘financial infidelity’


CHICAGO — One in three adults admitted to “financial infidelity” in a recent National Endowment for Financial Education poll, and 76 percent of those respondents said the deception affected their relationship.

The national survey of 2,035 respondents age 18 and older found that three in 10 have hidden a purchase, bank account, statement, bill or cash from their partner. Sixteen percent said they’ve lied to their partner about how much debt they have, and 14 percent admitted lying about their income.

Child’s work


It’s the dirty work of home life: dusting the shelves, mopping the floors and doing the laundry, load after load. Yet asking kids to help has gotten harder for some parents, caught up in the blur of today’s competitive, time-pressed, child-focused world.

“Parents feel very conflicted about getting their kids involved in housework,” said child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, who sees a wide range of what kids are asked to do and how strongly the completion of chores is enforced.

For some, a basic phone is smarter


John Wieg of Illinois might have a degree in mechanical engineering, but he does not have a smartphone.

“Are you kidding me?” the retiree said as he waited outside Trolley Dogs in Kenosha on a recent afternoon. “I wouldn’t know how to use it.”

5 Spot: Tips for dog-friendly gardens


The beautiful flowers and plants in your garden can be very dangerous to your four-legged friends if ingested. The American Kennel Club offers the following dog-friendly gardening tips.

— Poisonous plants. There are many common flowers and plants that are dangerous for dogs, and can even prove fatal. The unsafe part could be in the flower, fruit, roots or leaves. Plants dogs should avoid include Calla Lilies, Sago Palm, Azalea and Rhododendron.

Formula for smart shopping


It’s the common shopping dilemma: Buy what you love now versus what you think you’ll love in 10 years.

The former might be a trendier, possibly less-expensive item, while the latter might have a higher resale value, and could be a classic piece but may not be the product you lust after at first sight.

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