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Banks offer confusing and conflicting information about overdraft protection, making it hard for customers to understand the real costs.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 3:31 PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe costs and risks of overdraft protection are not well understood by many Americans. So it's no surprise that a new study using mystery shoppers found that big banks' explanations of overdraft protection programs are inconsistent and unclear.


Checkbook © Royalty-Free, CorbisThat was one major finding in a report (.pdf file) by the California Reinvestment Coalition, Woodstock Institute, Reinvestment Partners and New Economy Project. The four organizations are calling upon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and federal banking regulators to toughen up consumer protections.


A little background: Banks used to automatically enroll customers in so-called overdraft protection, which enabled the bank to cover the overdraft and then charge the customer a fee. In 2009, a new federal rule said customers would have to choose or opt in to this overdraft program if they wanted it. It's clear that many people are still confused.


According to a press release about the report:

 

Your cyber love affair could be a threat to your bank account. Here are the warning signs to look for.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 26, 2014 1:18PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAfter years of searching for love in all the wrong places, you've finally hit the jackpot. Prince Charming is only a keystroke away, and you found him via social media or at an online dating site.


Broken 'love' cookie © Ingram Publishing/SuperStockBut is he really "the one"? Online dating scams are common, and they cost victims more than $50 million a year, says ThreatMetrix, a cybercrime prevention company.


They come in several forms. A story reported by the BBC last week is typical: A woman in England became involved online with a man who claimed to be a United Nations medic in Syria. The BBC said:

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, met the man on an online dating site and developed a "close friendship."
In March he told her he was sending a package for her to keep, which he had been given by a Syrian sheik.
According to fake customs papers, the package supposedly contained 34 gold bars, which he was sending with his personal possessions.
 

Everyone makes an occasional misstep with the plastic. The key is to learn from your mistakes.

By Credit.com Aug 26, 2014 1:15PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyNobody's perfect. Even when you spend all day trying to learn everything you can about a subject, you still make mistakes.


Credit card © Fancy, Veer, Corbis For instance, even some of the top credit card experts have made some embarrassing moves, yet we were all willing to share them so that you can learn from our experiences.


Brian Kelly

Brian is the founder of The Points Guy, a website that teaches credit card users how best to earn and spend their credit card rewards. Here are some of his biggest mistakes:

 

The risk of earthquakes in the Golden State is rising, but homeowners buy less insurance than they used to.

By Money Staff Aug 26, 2014 12:52PM

By Alyssa Abkowitz, Bloomberg BusinessWeek


Bloomberg BusinessWeek on MSN MoneyEarly estimates suggest the economic losses from Sunday’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Northern California, the largest quake to hit the Golden State in 25 years, could hit $1 billion. When it comes to rebuilding, much of the cost will come out of people’s own pockets.


The percentage of homeowners with earthquake insurance in California and across the U.S. has declined, despite rising estimates of the risk of an earthquake.


A crumbling facade at the Vintner's Collective tasting room in Napa, Calif. © Noah Berger/AP

A survey by the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit that’s funded by the insurance industry, found that 7 percent of U.S. homeowners have earthquake insurance, down from 13 percent just two years ago. In the West, ground zero for U.S. quakes, 10 percent of homeowners have coverage, down from 22 percent a year ago; in California, about 12 percent do, according to the California Earthquake Authority.


But as fewer people opt for earthquake insurance, the government is upping its assessment of the risk of a sizable shake. Last month, the U.S. Geological Survey updated its seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008. The update showed an increased earthquake risk for almost half the country. Parts of Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, among others, moved into the top two hazard zones. The San Francisco Bay area, for example, shows a 63 percent chance of one or more major earthquakes before 2036, according to the agency.


So why are people buying less earthquake coverage when estimates of risk are growing?

 

Labor Day sales are all about the end of summer, so we expect lots of deals on patio furniture and last-minute hotels. But who knew it was a great time to grab luxury labels, too?

By DealNews.com Aug 26, 2014 12:47PM

This post comes from Marcy Bonebright at partner site DealNews.com.

Deal News on MSN MoneyPack up the grills and bust out the sweaters, folks: Labor Day heralds the end of summer! A holiday that honors workers, the first Monday in September has also come to represent the close of the summer shopping season.


Sale tags © Image Source/CorbisAs such, Labor Day sales are a great time to score end-of-summer travel deals and patio furniture clearance. Unfortunately, September's relative proximity to November means you're bound to run into some pre-Black Friday price increases — which is why Labor Day isn't the time to buy a plasma TV.

We've consulted price trends past and current to put together our 2014 Labor Day buying guide. Read on to get the skinny on this year's sales!

 

If you have a mortgage from Bank of America or Countrywide, you'll want to stay on top of this.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 26, 2014 12:38PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyLast week the Department of Justice announced the largest civil settlement ever from a single entity, an eye-popping $16.65 billion from Bank of America. The settlement arose from the handling of residential mortgages by Bank of America and subsidiaries Countrywide and Merrill Lynch.


Bank Vault © Radius Images, JupiterimagesHere's this week's reader question:

I just read about the B of A settlement and I'm wondering how it will affect people who had a B of A mortgage that was then sold to Countrywide? Will we see any monetary relief from this settlement or will it all go to pay off the lawyers and the fines? -- Beth

Let's look into what Bank of America did to deserve this unprecedented penalty and if American homeowners will see any of the proceeds.


To understand what B of A did wrong, you first have to wrap your mind around the basics of the American mortgage market. Not to worry: While it may sound mind-numbingly dull, how mortgages work is kind of interesting and not all that complicated.

 

Allstate ranks 200 cities by how often they file collision claims. You're likely to go three times longer between fender benders in some cities.

By QuinStreet Aug 26, 2014 12:00PM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site Insurance.com.


Insurance.com on MSN MoneyThe safest drivers in America, for the fourth year in a row, hail from Fort Collins, Colorado, according to the 10th annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report.”


Businessman driving © Pixland, JupiterimagesDrivers in the city of 150,000 north of Denver can expect to go 14.2 years between accidents, according to the insurance giant’s claims data. Contrast that with 200th-ranked Worcester, Massachusetts, where drivers go just 4.3 years between claims.


On average, nationwide, drivers can expect a collision about every 10 years, Allstate says.


Claims frequency in a city or ZIP code is one of many factors as carriers calculate your car insurance rates – along with state laws and your driving record -- but it’s a big one.


A car owner with a clean record shopping for full coverage on a 2012 Honda Accord in Fort Collins, for example, would pay about $936 a year. In Denver, the same driver would pay about $1,221, according to an average of rates from six carriers gathered by Insurance.com.


Here are the safest-driving cities in America, according to Allstate, along with the number of years a driver can expect to go between collision claims:

 

Nearly 3 in 4 young adults said their grandparents influence their saving and spending habits.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 25, 2014 4:01PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWho needs to hire a financial adviser when you have grandparents you can talk to for free? When it comes to discussing money matters, grandparents have more influence than they realize.


Family © Big Cheese Photo, PictureQuestAccording to a recent survey from financial firm TIAA-CREF, 85 percent of young adults said they'd like to discuss money and saving with their grandparents. And what's more, 73 percent of young adults said their grandma and grandpa influence their saving and spending habits.


Interestingly, just 3 in 10 grandparents think they can impact the money habits of their grandchildren. A survey press release said:

"Young adults are surprisingly open to talking with their grandparents about money, regardless of the generation gap," said Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, who collaborated with TIAA-CREF on the study. "When it comes to saving for college, most young adults feel unprepared, and grandparents aren't fully aware of how they can help. Conversations about money over time could help young adults more than their grandparents realize."

Coughlin suggests grandparents start discussing money matters with their grandkids when they're young.

 

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