Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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As last week’s column concerned a question from a vacationing reader, I decided the next few summer columns should also feature travel news that readers can apply this season or stick aside to use for future vacations. This week concerns one of my least favorite before-trip chores: packing. Most of the following suggestions are commonplace, although sometimes we need a nudge to remember to follow them.

Happy Belated 4th of July.

In the past few months, I’ve lost one phone and my husband’s was stolen. Since we both maintain confidential information on our phones, what precautions can we take to protect ourselves?

Continuing with last week’s info concerning how to eliminate nuisance phone calls/telemarketers that number right at 200,000 complaints monthly, my research shows that DoNotCall.gov does help some, but don’t stop there. While we also discussed Nomorobo.com, do add the following suggestions to your help list.

It used to be that dinner time was THE time telemarketers dialed your number to sell products, request votes, solicit money, announce you’ve “won” contests, and all else on the “Leave Me the Heck Alone” list (as opposed to the “Do Not Call).

I need some information to make purchasing a new car easier. Please help.

As many of you may recall, ShopSmart, an arm of Consumer Reports, is one of my primary go-to research resources, and the current issue is no exception.

Q: How can I be sure that when I travel, Wi-Fi connections are secure?

Q. Money is especially tight this year. Growing children, plus my husband and I, need many new clothes. Obviously I shop sales, but what other advice can you share to help me get the best price to save the most money? — Betsy Bewildered

Finding good in-home care for senior family members is inordinately expensive.

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