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Are debt collector calls causing you to lose sleep? Here are four steps to stop the calls and get on with your life.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:35 PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe next time you're in a room with six other people, look around. One of you is probably being hounded by a debt collector.

An April report from the Center for Responsible Lending found that 1 in 7 Americans is on the receiving end of debt collection activities. More concerning is the fact that some of these consumers may not owe the debt at all. Accounts are bought and sold, and balances may be incorrectly stated, or settled accounts erroneously listed as in default.


Retailers' advertised sale prices may really not be that great of a deal.

By MSN Money Partner Wed 12:31 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDon't be so quick to celebrate saving $30 on that new set of sale-priced dishes.

It turns out many retailers trick consumers into thinking they're getting a great deal when they shop during a big sale. In reality, many retailers simply bump up items' original prices, then mark the prices down, duping customers into thinking they're scoring a big discount.

"Thanks to a combination of slick pricing, frequent couponing and confusing discounting, retailers routinely trick consumers into thinking they got a great deal on an item -- when in fact they paid way more than they should have," MarketWatch said.

Sale tags © Image Source/CorbisEarlier this year, we told you about a J.C. Penney worker  who claimed he was fired after revealing Penney's sales practices.

J.C. Penney isn't the only retailer that's been accused of fooling customers into thinking they're saving a bunch of money when they're not. According to Consumer Reports:


Beware of this shady collection scam.

By Wed 11:57 AM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyAs the mother of five children and the wife of a disabled husband, Ashley was scared when she received a call telling her that one of her loans had gone into default and that if she couldn’t cough up the $398 she owed right away “they would send a sheriff to my job or home to serve me with court papers and I would be ‘behind bars’ for six months.”

Blank Credit card © Astock/CorbisShe shared her story on the blog, where she explained that the collector talked her into getting a “Vanilla reload network card” which she purchased at Walgreens in the amount of $300. Over the phone, she gave them the 10-digit number on the back of the card.

Fifteen minutes later she received another call demanding she do the same thing – for another loan. She realized she had been scammed.


Here's the fine print on the differences between consumer and business credit cards.

By Tue 3:54 PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site on MSN MoneyIt is not unusual to see a credit card offered in versions for both consumers and business users. In addition, there are many business credit cards that offer competitive rewards and benefits. Therefore, some sophisticated credit card users will carry both business and personal credit cards for everyday use.

However, business credit cards can be so appealing that some cardholders are left to wonder: What's that catch? Let's take a look.

Credit card © Corbis1. They're exempt from many Credit CARD Act protections

 The Credit CARD Act was one of the most far-reaching pieces of consumer protection legislation to ever affect the credit card industry. Yet because those protections were meant to help consumers, lawmakers chose to exempt credit cards used by businesses.

For example, the Credit CARD Act prohibits double-cycle billing, which is when card issuers calculate interest based on the previous two billing cycles, often including transactions that were already paid. Other Credit CARD Act provisions include banning interest rate increases based on information from other lines of credit, and unfair payment allocation that credited payments to the balance with the lowest interest rate first. Thankfully, many business credit cards voluntarily comply with some of the Credit CARD Act provisions enforced on consumer cards, but business card users need to closely examine their card's terms and conditions.


Sure, you can write your own will. But why would you?

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:59 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAs any financial adviser worth their salt will tell you, having a will is mandatory, no matter your age or net worth.

Will © Image Source Pink/JupiterimagesA will doesn't have to cost a lot. But this week's reader question is from someone who would rather pay nothing by simply writing a will on a piece of paper.

I have received various answers to this question, Stacy. Can you tell me if I can write my own will (my permanent address is in Florida), and if so, have it witnessed and should it be notarized?
Also, can you give me a source to properly know why a power of attorney is necessary even if one is not incapacitated -- or perhaps you can give me an answer to that. I have been told I should have one, but keep it in a safe place. Why? And that it is automatically invalid when I die and my will takes over. -- J

Can you write your own will?

When you die, your estate is born. The person in charge of your estate, known as the executor or administrator, will be given the authority to dispose of your remains according to your wishes, distribute your money and possessions, and provide for the care of any minor children you leave behind.

How does the executor get named and know what to do with your body, possessions and children? It's all spelled out in your will. If you die without one, these decisions will still be made. They'll just be made by a court instead of you.

There are several ways to get a will.


Don't get caught up in a financial scam when you're on vacation.

By Tue 1:34 PM
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site on MSN MoneyWhen you check into a hotel, don't set let scam artists or misbehaving companies check into your wallet. It's summer travel season, and that means vacations, road trips and hotel stays.

It also means you'll be facing a minefield of gotchas. So don't let your healthy skepticism go on vacation when you do.

Hotel maid © Simon Jarratt/CorbisThere's ripoffs, and there's sneaky fees, but to your wallet, they are the same thing. Together, I call them all "gotchas." So before you pack your bags, here's a quick reminder of what to watch out for the next time you check into a hotel.

The Federal Trade Commission just published a list of "hazards" consumers can face at hotels. These identity theft-related scams are a good place to start.


Some hospitals are using patients' credit card data to identify patients at risk for poor health.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:26 PM

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

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyCanceled your gym membership? Bought a few packs of cigarettes? It appears your doctor may be privy to these types of unhealthy activity choices, even if you didn't disclose them yourself.

According to Bloomberg, a number of hospitals are using detailed consumer data reports to develop patient profiles in an effort to identify those at risk of getting sick, so they can step in before it happens.

Medical doctor © Sean Justice/Corbis"Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke," Bloomberg said.

In other words, the doughnut and soda you routinely have for breakfast may not be as secret as you think.

A hospital chain in the Carolinas is already compiling data for millions of people, trying to identify high-risk patients.

But many Americans are worried that health care's embrace of consumer data mining is an invasion of privacy. There are concerns over its impact on doctor-patient relationships.


Medical bills can cause a financial pile-up months after you are in a car wreck.

By Tue 11:18 AM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyImagine you’ve been in a car accident. You have health insurance as well as coverage for medical bills through your auto insurance -- or through the policy of the person who was at fault -- so you aren’t worried about the bills. But to your shock, you find out months later that some of your medical bills have been turned over to collections and your credit has been damaged.

Car Accident © Stockdisc, CorbisHow can that happen?

There are several reasons why this scenario -- which is not uncommon, unfortunately -- occurs. The first is that auto insurers typically don’t pay medical bills as you incur them, but rather wait until all the bills related to the accident come in. In the meantime, your health care providers don’t want to wait months -- or even years -- for your claim to be paid. Unpaid balances are turned over to a collection agency.

The second is that medical providers are often reluctant to bill your health insurance, which may pay negotiated rates that are less lucrative than payments from an auto insurance settlement.



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