UPDATE: Focus on finance

Home sales; reliable cars; shop and give



Focus on Finance

By Yvonne Chilik Wollenburg

Jump to:Choose article section... European cars lose their luster Home sales could soon cool off Shopping for charity Watch out for phony "fraud alerts"

European cars lose their luster

Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are no longer the stalwarts of reliability, says a new J.D. Power and Associates study. These European 2000 models earned below average ratings for dependability over the past three years. The industry average was 273 problems per 100 vehicles after three years of ownership. On average, American cars bested European models, with 49 fewer problems per 100 cars.


The most dependable cars . . .. . . and the least dependable
 Problems per 100 vehicles 2000 models Problems per 100 vehicles 2000 models
Infiniti174Land Rover441

Home sales could soon cool off

The housing market should stay strong for the rest of this year, but will probably slow down in 2004, says the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. The group expects a record 6.8 million homes to be sold in 2003, a 4.4 percent increase over 2002. Meanwhile, the national median price for an existing home is projected to rise 6 percent to $167,800, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the median price of a new home should increase by 3.8 percent to $194,700.

But the real estate market may run out of steam next year. MBA forecasts a 3.6 percent decline in the number of houses sold in 2004, and another 2.7 percent drop in 2005. Another prediction: Prices won't drop, but they probably won't rise as quickly, either.

Shopping for charity

Support your favorite cause when you shop, by signing up with a rebate service. Tricordia Partnerships for Giving will contribute to a designated group whenever members use credit cards that have been registered at its Web site (www.tricordia.com) with participating merchants. The stores, which include Target, Barnes & Noble, and the Gap, agree to pay a rebate—ranging from 2 to 20 percent of your purchases—to Tricordia, which then shares with your favorite cause. Purchases made in stores, on the phone, or online can qualify for the program, which is free to consumers.

Two other programs also donate to charities without a fee for consumers, though they include only online purchases. iGive.com (www.igive.com), which sends up to 27 percent of qualified purchases to charities, has donated more than $1 million to nearly 18,000 charities since 1997. GreaterGood.com (www.greatergood.com) sends up to 15 percent.

Watch out for phony "fraud alerts"

Bogus e-mails claiming to come from eBay, Best Buy, Bank of America, and other companies are warning online customers about alleged problems with their account. The e-mails direct consumers to fraudulent Web sites, where they are asked to provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other information, say company and federal officials.

Before entering any personal data at a Web site, check with the company to make sure the site is legitimate, says the FTC. Type the company's Web address into your browser, rather than using a hyperlink in an e-mail message. If you're not sure of the address, use a major search engine, such as Google.


Yvonne Wollenberg. UPDATE: Focus on finance. Medical Economics Sep. 5, 2003;80:13.