Online UPDATES

December 17, 2004



Beware these bogus phone messages

A new stock scam is hitting investors' voice mail, with a caller leaving phony stock tips, warn federal regulators. The messages urge the caller's "friend" to buy shares in one of various small companies whose prices will allegedly shoot up soon. Instead, the phony calls are part of a "pump and dump" scheme, in which crooks drive up the price of a targeted stock, sell at inflated prices, and leave the victims with losses when the price plummets. If you get one of the messages, contact the SEC at www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.

More credit cards are headed your way

Banks are now free to issue American Express and Discover cards under a US Supreme Court decision. The action lets stand a lower court ruling that Visa and MasterCard can't block banks from offering rival cards. MBNA is poised to be the first US bank to offer an American Express card before the end of the year.