UPDATE

May 19, 2006

On finance and practice

Assistance if your identity is stolen

Chubb also offers complimentary access to ID theft restoration services to its homeowners customers.

New ratings for ETFs

Morningstar now issues star ratings for exchange-traded funds, which should make it easier to compare them to each other and to conventional mutual funds. Using essentially the same five-star system that rates traditional funds, Morningstar covers 107 ETFs that are at least 3 years old, at http://www.morningstar.com. ETFs are rated against themselves and conventional funds in their respective categories (large-cap, small-cap, etc.).

An electronic piggy bank

Using your debit card can earn you a small stash of cash if you enroll in a savings plan introduced by Bank of America. The no-fee Keep the Change savings program rounds up the amount of purchases made with a Bank of America Visa debit card to the nearest dollar and transfers the change from your checking account into your savings account. For the first three months, the bank will match your transfers by 100 percent. After that, it'll contribute 5 percent, up to a maximum of $250 each year. But you won't get any of the matching funds until after one year, and then only if you're still enrolled in the service. The plan isn't available in Washington or Idaho.

Finding reputable credit help

To help steer consumers away from shady operators, the Feds have posted an online list of approved credit-counseling agencies. To find their names and contact information by state, go to http://www.usdoj.gov/ust and click on Credit Counseling & Debtor Education in the Bankruptcy Reform box.

New sources of trip deals

Finding cheaper plane tickets is easier with a new breed of travel search engines that scour the web for the best deals, then let you book your trip directly with the airline. Sites such as Kayak ( http://www.kayak.com) and SideStep ( http://www.sidestep.com) also allow you to search for savings on hotels and car rentals.