Ellen Phillips

Q Since moving to town and opening an account with a bank, I've become convinced some of its practices aren't to be trusted. I plan to change banks this week but should I let authorities know my suspicions? -- Lawrence Law-Abiding

Q: I'm getting ready to buy airfare and trip insurance for my husband's and my summer trip to New England. I'm not so sure how to avoid rip-offs for the insurance and would appreciate any advice. -- Teri Traveler

Yep, the weather's getting ready for swimming pool time, and our warm southern region is ideal for a backyard setting. Last week's query by the gentleman who asked about pool contractors gave me an opportunity to check if these specific providers' qualifications differ from the norm and how to discover the best names.

Q: My wife and I are in the market for an in-ground swimming pool. With such a major expenditure, we want to hire the best person possible. Any ideas? -- Orville Overheated

Q: I didn't send in my census form on time and now hear all sorts of stories about census takers coming to my home. What's the real story on what to expect? -- Warren Worried

Does any reader facing home foreclosure and last week’s possibility of a loan modification see some light at the end of the financial tunnel? If so, perhaps you’ve started your necessary paperwork and you’re ready for some answers about this venture, thanks to www.mortgageloan.com.

Q I’m glad the housing market looks like it’s on the upswing, but it doesn’t help me. I’m desperately trying to avoid foreclosure on my home and I thank you for any advice you can give. — Harold Homeowner

This week is National Consumer Protection Week and, while I'm absolutely certain readers memorize every smidgen of consumer advice I advocate, Herb Weisbaum from www.msnbc.com has written The 10 Consumer Commandments. This clever list succinctly incorpora

Happy Birthday to me! My mother always spring cleaned in early April and declared the house "spruce up" to be an out of the ordinary birthday gift for my benefit. (Good thing she and Daddy also gave me gift-wrapped presents, too!)

Q: My daughter's acceptance into her college of choice is wonderful, but I'm concerned about paying the hefty tuition. We've pretty much exhausted federal loan options because of my husband's and my income, and financial lenders aren't as numerous these days. She's held a job for the past three years and is an "A" student so might she be better off trying to get a loan under her own name? -- Mindy Mom

Q I'm having a problem canceling a health club membership. When I joined several months ago, the salesman assured me if I became unhappy with it, I could cancel without penalty, but that's not happening. Any suggestions? -- Eleanor Exercise

Q I think I've made a bad mistake. After maxing out my credit cards and receiving many dunning notices, I decided to seek help from a credit repair company. After several months, the company hasn't done anything to help, and I'm still in bad financial trouble. What can I do now? -- Harry Hoodwinked

Picking up from last week's column concerning agencies that regulate utilities/service organizations, grab some scissors to cut out and save the following state agencies, though I hope you never need these contacts. (Don't forget to write the head honcho

OK, you've culled and collected your unneeded junk (er, I mean treasures), photographed them from all angles and written clear scrupulous descriptions.

Q: I swiped my debit card to pay for a recent tank of gas and almost immediately learned over $200 was stolen from my bank account. The police told me crooks had "skimmed" my card that gave them access to my account.

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