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Consumer Confidential: Carry-on fees, asthma danger, Medicare scam

April 19, 2010 | 10:13 am

Here's your mystically Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- When Spirit Airlines announced it would start charging up to $45 for carry-on bags this summer, it was widely believed bigger carriers would happily follow suit. Apparently not -- at least for now. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, U.S. Airways and JetBlue Airways each have told New York Sen. Charles Schumer that they won't charge for carry-on bags for the time being. Lawmakers warned that they might pass legislation that would tax airlines for such fees, which seemed to have had the desired effect. For now.

-- If your kids' school is near a freeway (and chances are, it is), heads up: A new study finds that kids at such schools have a 45% greater chance of developing asthma. "While residential traffic-related pollution has been associated with asthma, there has been little study of the effects of traffic exposure at school on new-onset asthma," says Rob McConnell, a professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine. One factor is that kids do a lot of running around during school hours, potentially making them more vulnerable to traffic-related pollutants. Not that there's much that can be done at this point. Just saying.

-- One more heads up: Authorities say scammers are targeting Medicare recipients with phone calls purporting to be part of a process for issuing new identification cards. In reality, the calls are an attempt to get people to reveal their Social Security number and other personal info. The scammers are so aggressive that when a would-be victim declines to reveal such information, a "supervisor" comes on the line to say that the person can be dropped from Medicare unless he or she comes across with some data. Don't do it. Bottom line: Never give your Social over the phone unless it's to someone you totally, absolutely know and trust. And even then, be careful.

-- David Lazarus

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