• U.S.

Your Money: Mar. 1, 1999

2 minute read
Daniel Eisenberg

Kids’ Allowances Go Online

Worried that your kids are blowing their allowance on video games or Spice Girls CDs? A new website will let them shop in cyberspace while you monitor their spending habits. At icanbuy.com which launches next week, overanxious parents will be able to use a credit card to set up online debit accounts for their children, who get fixed weekly or monthly withdrawals and a list of acceptable shopping sites. Parents can then watch their hard-earned money evaporate in real time.

Insurance: Don’t Get Churned

If a life-insurance agent tells you to replace your policy with a new and improved one at no extra cost, be wary. A popular ruse, known as “churning,” gives him a fat commission, but it uses the cash value of your policy to pay the initial costs of a larger one, and could soon mean bigger premiums. As part of a class action, millions of State Farm customers recently won a multimillion-dollar settlement after being taken by that phony pitch, among others. For added coverage, a separate, supplemental policy is better.

Slamming the Slammers

Telecom customers will soon have a new weapon in the fight against “slamming,” the notorious practice in which a long-distance provider swipes your account without your permission–subjecting you to big charges. Under new FCC guidelines that take effect in the next two months, slamming victims can pay their chosen carrier at normal rates instead of paying the higher, disputed bill. Also, telcos will no longer be able to make a switch just because you failed to mail back a firm “no” to their offer.

–By Daniel Eisenberg

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