Personal finance from around the Web to get your week started:
- UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance carrier, sent an email to 75,000 employees urging them to protest against government-run health care. The incident is one of many campaigns led by major insurers to recruit company employees as political advocates in the debate over health reform. [Washington Post]
- A new debit card identity theft scheme is popping up in California, Missouri, Wisconsin, and other states. The thefts are largely tied to Hancock Fabric stores, in which debit card information and pin numbers are stolen and money is withdrawn from the account. Authorities estimate around a $40,000 loss for banks. [The Consumerist]
- Reports from the Commerce Department confirm that retail sales rose 1.4 percent in October because of rebounding auto sales. While sales look favorable for the upcoming holiday season and Black Friday discounts, economists are concerned that the boost is a sign of “double dip” recession. [NPR]
- Digitizing money is an increasingly tangible concept. Programs like ShopSavvy allow shoppers to buy an item on their phone just by taking a picture. PayPal and eBay have taken huge steps in phone sales — users can pay medical bills or pick up coffee with a click of a button. In Japan, wireless carriers are offering a cellphone banking system over a secure network. [The New York Times, BusinessWeek]
- Did your landlord install individual electric meters in your complex? It turns out that individual meters are not only legal, but also encouraged by municipal organizations because it allows the landlord to seek permission to exclude electricity and reduce rent accordingly. [Bucks]
- Most of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to relieve the economy have helped Wall Street, but they haven’t helped improve the unemployment rate, which now stands at 1t for the 10.2% unemployment rate. Despite the 62% boost in stocks, officials are still wary of the stagnant job growth needed to revive the economy. [Bloomberg]
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