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Consumer Confidential: Mortgage mods, online Office, dubious diapers

Here's your they-went-thataway Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Having trouble making mortgage payments? If you're a Bank of America customer, you may be in luck. The nation's largest consumer bank says it has modified about 56,000 mortgages this year under a government program aimed at reducing the number of foreclosures. The program allows qualifying borrowers to temporarily reduce interest payments or modify mortgage terms in other ways. After a three-month trial period, the bank can then make such changes permanent. BofA, like many big banks, had dragged its feet on helping homeowners. Now, it seems, it's stepping up to the plate.

--Microsoft has launched a new version of its hugely popular -- and profitable -- Office software. And there's a big switch in the company's strategy: It's offering online versions intended to compete with similar offerings from the likes of Google. Consumers will have access to free versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, although their data will be stored online, and Microsoft still hopes people will upgrade to the full software.

--Federal authorities are investigating Pampers over reports that new, thinner diapers can cause severe rashes and blisters. But Procter & Gamble says sales remain strong, with consumers flocking to the Dry Max diapers. For what it's worth, P&G says it's "completely false" that the diapers pose a threat to little ones' bottoms.

-- David Lazarus

 
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