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Consumer Confidential: Less debt, smarter ATMs, smell like Bruce Willis

July 7, 2010 |  9:58 am

Here's your woefully Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Looks like we're finally getting smart about plastic. The number of consumers behind on their credit card payments fell to an eight-year low during the first three months of the year, according to the American Bankers Assn. The high unemployment rate and bumpy housing market apparently took people to school when it comes to prudent money management, prompting more of us to pay off our plastic on time. About 3.88% of bank credit card accounts were past due by 30 days or more in the first quarter -- the first time since 2002 that the rate has dropped below 4%. Now let's see if we can keep that up.

-- Money management is one thing. Keeping it safe is another. A bank in Poland, BPS, says it's the first in Europe to install biometric technology at ATMs, allowing customers to make withdrawals with the touch of a finger. The "finger vein" system was developed in Japan and uses an infrared light to scan the veins in your fingertip. It then matches what it finds with the scan on file for each customer and -- voila -- no more need for a debit card. Apparently there's only a one-in-a-million chance that someone else could access your account without your actual finger. And the technology apparently won't work with a chopped-off finger.

-- If you're like me, the one thing missing from your life has been the ability to smell like Bruce Willis. No longer. Big Bruce will unveil an eau de parfum, hair and body wash, deodorant spray and aftershave balm this week, enabling all men to bear the aroma of the kind of guy who can fight a skyscraper full of terrorists or take down an airport full of baddies. The "Die Hard" star says his smell stands for "individuality, uniqueness and sustainability." And in case you're wondering, Bruce Willis has hints of grapefruit, pepper and vetiver. I don't what vetiver is, but it must be tough.

-- David Lazarus

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