Agency suggests states enact reforms to give consumers more protection in court proceedings brought by debt buyers.
To anyone who has read the stories about consumers harassed, taken to court and even jailed over debts they may not even owe, the latest Federal Trade Commission report on debt collection comes as no surprise.
The system is broken, the FTC concludes, and consumers don't have adequate protection against abuses. "The current situation is untenable," FTC Commissioner Julie Brill wrote.
The nickel-and-dime fees we're used to from banks could become dime-and-quarter fees.
The main idea behind financial regulatory reform is to prevent a repeat of the banking crisis that sent our economy into the Great Recession. But there's more to the new law than that -- a lot more.
In addition to new rules regarding supervision and regulation of U.S. financial firms, other new rules do everything from reducing the amount stores pay for debit card processing to providing more financial literacy to our nation's citizens.
While many of the bill's provisions are designed to protect consumers, some of that protection will come at a price.
Shopping on the Web for basics can be convenient -- and pricey.
Consumers running low on paper towels or dish soap used to run to the store. Now, the needed item could already be in the mail.
New sites Soap.com (a sister site to Diapers.com) and Alice.com aim to keep shoppers in supply of common household goods. Their pitch: fast and often free shipping, competitive coupons, and regular reminders when (by their estimates) you're running low.
The regularity with which consumers buy household goods appeals to Web retailers, says Dawn Iacobucci, a professor of marketing at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Even Amazon.com offers groceries and home products. "They're all hoping to hook you on the convenience of home delivery for a regular order," she says.
But that convenience does come with a cost.
The first president was also one of the richest at his peak.
Ever wondered how much George Washington was worth? How about HBO legend (and my new fave) John Adams? Or President Obama? Well, you're in for a treat, kiddos. I got a tip from one of our readers that The Atlantic recently did a story on this.
It won't help you out in your own financial endeavors, but it'll be great for convo starters. And perhaps it will motivate you a bit too.
How the card company categorizes your purchase could affect the amount of rewards or cash back you get.
One of the reasons we put 99.9% of our spending on credit cards is the rewards. A percent or more back in cash or reward points isn't going to make anyone rich, but it's a little better than getting nothing back.
At the moment we use only two credit cards, so keeping the bonus rewards categories in order is fairly simple. But there was a time when I used as many as four cards. You want to use the card that gives you the most rewards for the type of purchase you make. One important lesson I learned early on was that not all purchases are categorized as you would intuitively expect.
Failing to fully repay a loan is bad. Why that happened -- carelessness, greed, or naive foolishness -- is relatively unimportant.
In certain circles there has always been plenty of discussion of credit reports and scores. But since the Great Recession, interest in the topic has grown to the verge of mainstream consciousness. Ordinary folks now routinely consider the credit score impact of their actions, including such esoteric issues as the undesirability of closing unused credit card accounts. (It increases the ratio of used to available credit, which is bad.)
But through all this it seems as if the underlying point of credit scores has been lost. It is not a game with arbitrary rules meant to keep consumers on their toes. Nor is it a measure of virtue.
If you are in the business of lending money, what you want to know about a potential borrower boils down to a simple question:
Deals can slide south with lenders pulling back-to-back credit profiles before a sale closes.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.
Surprise! Just when you thought your mortgage loan was in the bag, your lender is likely to pull your credit report again, just before your home purchase closes. For most, it's an annoyance. But for some buyers, a second check jeopardizes the entire home purchase.
The source of the extra scrutiny is a rule change by Fannie Mae, the government-run mortgage company that buys your loan from your banker. (Read Fannie Mae's .pdf document on its Loan Quality Initiative.) Fannie is trying to make sure it doesn't get stuck with more bad loans.
Kenneth R. Harney explains in this Washington Post article:
When I signed up for a credit card, I made some rules for myself.
I'm always reluctant to cover credit cards here at Get Rich Slowly. There are other sites that do it better. Besides, I'm still not wholly convinced they're a good idea. Plus, my wife -- who is always right -- told me the other day, "I don't like it when you write about credit cards. Credit cards are boring."
Still, in today's world, effective use of credit cards is an important part of personal finance. If you don't use them correctly, you can end up deep in debt. (I've experienced this firsthand.) But if you do use them properly, they can actually help your financial situation.
Joining the dark side
When I started Get Rich Slowly, I was a staunch supporter of the anti-credit card camp. I'd been stupid with credit cards when I was younger, and they were a big reason I found myself with more than $35,000 in consumer debt.
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