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Consumer Confidential: Playboy in play, low credit scores, steady gas prices

July 12, 2010 | 10:40 am

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

--You're never too old to be a player: Hugh Hefner says he's willing to pony up about $122 million to buy the shares of Playboy Enterprises that he doesn't own and take the company private. The pajamaed one, who is 84, says he doesn't want the company he founded to be merged with some other business -- rival Penthouse, for example, which is said to be interested in acquiring the bunny hut. Hefner's offer values Playboy at $185 million and represents a 40% premium over Friday's closing stock price.

--Do you know your credit score? Perhaps not -- many people don't have a clue. And maybe you don't want to know. FICO Inc., which compiles most people's credit ranking, says 25.5% of consumers, or nearly 43.4 million people, now have a credit score of 599 or below. That's not good. A score that low marks you as a poor risk for lenders, making it tougher to get loans and increasing the likelihood that you'll pay more interest. FICO rates people from 300 to 850. Generally speaking, a score above 700 reflects good spending habits. Anything lower, not so much.

--And what about gas prices this summer? AAA says it looks like they'll stay pretty level, without any big rises or falls. The national average for a gallon of unleaded now runs $2.715 (it's a good deal more in California, as you know). Analysts say they don't see any reason for major price movements for the remainder of the summer unless something totally nasty happens, such as a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The big oil companies will be reporting their quarterly earnings this week. That should provide some clues as to how they see prices trending. It should also make us all feel miserable as we see these guys waddle around with bulging pockets.

-- David Lazarus