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Consumer Confidential: Shoplifting on rise, Google scam, rotary engines

October 7, 2011 | 10:37 am

Shoppic Here's your full-frontal Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Consumer spending may be on the ropes, but not shoplifting. The retail Industry Leaders Assn. says there's been an increase this year in thefts from retail stores and pharmacies. It blames a growing black market for stolen goods in these troubled economic times. More than half of retailers surveyed by the organization said shoplifting by individuals and organized bands of thieves is on the rise. Nearly two-thirds said they see their stuff being resold on the Internet. An association official says the group is disappointed but not surprised by the increase in five-finger discounts.

-- Speaking of theft, there's a new scam online targeting cyber-merchants. The email appears to have been sent by Google asking AdWords users to update their payment information. It provides a link to an official-looking page where you can resubmit your name, address and credit card number. Needless to say, the email isn't really from Google. It's from scammers that want to go on a shopping spree with your plastic. AdWords is one of Google's online advertising services. According to Google's actual AdWords support page: "Please remember that Google's AdWords team will never send an unsolicited message asking for you to provide your password or other sensitive information by email or through a link."

-- It used to be that the big selling point for Mazda vehicles was the rotary engine, which commercials told us was better than those clunky piston engines. But the days of the rotary engine are ending. Mazda will stop making cars with its signature rotary engines after a 45-year production run. Poor sales and the high costs of meeting modern emissions standards have made rotary engines uneconomical to produce. The Japanese automaker introduced its first rotary engine car in 1967 and is the only automaker in the world that makes rotary engine vehicles. Such engines have fewer moving parts and are quieter than comparable piston engines but are more expensive to manufacture and consume more fuel.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Retailers say they're being overrun by shoplifters. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images