Saturday, February 2

To stupid to be true!

There is a story out today about a collection agency, Nationwide Collections, Inc. of Fort Pierce, Florida, that is soon to be sued by a lawyer for a client over a $16.96 collection letter.

Apparently, the letter's author is an idiot!

According to news reports, the letter was addressed to "Sh@t Face", and the greeting line read "Dear Sh%t". I can't help but laugh! What kind of moron would send a letter out like this?

You would think that a company would require, at the very minimum, an introduction to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act before allowing someone to send out any letters.

The silver lining? The recipient of the letter says that they never had an account with the company that placed the debt with the collection agency, but is now suing for abuse of the FDCPA.

The account that was placed for collection appears to have been a music club account that was opened under the name of "Sh&t Face". I remember my brother once opened an account with one of these companies in his dogs name... Don't you think someone in subscriptions would read these things? It must be a hoot, working there and reading these things, but don't you think they'd save a little time, energy, and money and just pull those orders that had names like that?

Hire Me Direct

Friday, February 1

How to dispute a credit card error

You received your credit card statement. Good thing that you took a look at it because there is a charge on it that you know that you didn't make. Great, now what?

Well, if you're like me, you'd call the credit card company and ask them to look into it. On the surface, it would seem that this should be enough; it isn't. You have some rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and further protection under Reg Z, but in order to preserve those rights, you need to make sure that you follow the rules.

The FCBA procedures apply only to disputes about 'Billing Errors'.

  • unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50;
  • charges that list the wrong date or amount;
  • charges for goods and services you didn't accept or weren't delivered as agreed;
  • math errors;
  • failure to post payments and other credits, such as returns;
  • failure to send bills to your current address - provided the creditor receives your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; and
  • charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase along with a claimed error or request for clarification.

As I mentioned earlier, you'd think a phone call would do it, but not in this day and age! Read your billing error notice very carefully! This is usually found on the back of your bank\credit union\open end\revolving account agreement. They usually read something like this;

This notice contains important information about your rights and our responsibilities under the Fair Credit Billing Act.

Notify Us In Case of Errors or Questions About Your Bill
If you think your bill is wrong, or if you need more information about a transaction on your bill, write us [on a separate sheet] at [address] [the address listed on your bill]. Write to us as soon as possible. We must hear from you no later than 60 days after we sent you the first bill on which the error or problem appeared. You can telephone us, but doing so will not preserve your rights.

In your letter, give us the following information:
  • Your name and account number.
  • The dollar amount of the suspected error.
  • Describe the error and explain, if you can, why you believe there is an error. If you need more information, describe the item you are not sure about.

If you have authorized us to pay your credit card bill automatically from your savings or checking account, you can stop the payment on any amount you think is wrong. To stop the payment your letter must reach us three business days before the automatic payment is scheduled to occur.

Your Rights and Our Responsibilities After We Receive Your Written Notice
We must acknowledge your letter within 30 days, unless we have corrected the error by then. Within 90 days, we must either correct the error or explain why we believe the bill was correct.

After we receive your letter, we cannot try to collect any amount you question, or report you as delinquent. We can continue to bill you for the amount you question, including finance charges, and we can apply any unpaid amount against your credit limit.

You do not have to pay any questioned amount while we are investigating, but you are still obligated to pay the parts of your bill that are not in question.

If we find that we made a mistake on your bill, you will not have to pay any finance charges related to any questioned amount.

If we didn't make a mistake, you may have to pay finance charges, and you will have to make up any missed payments on the questioned amount. In either case, we will send you a statement of the amount you owe and the date that it is due.

If you fail to pay the amount that we think you owe, we may report you as delinquent. However, if our explanation does not satisfy you and you write to us within ten days telling us that you still refuse to pay, we must tell anyone we report you to that you have a question about your bill. And, we must tell you the name of anyone we reported you to. We must tell anyone we report you to that the matter has been settled between us when it finally is.

If we don't follow these rules, we can't collect the first $50 of the questioned amount, even if your bill was correct.

Special Rule for Credit Card Purchases
If you have a problem with the quality of property or services that you purchased with a credit card, and you have tried in good faith to correct the problem with the merchant, you may have the right not to pay the remaining amount due on the property or services. There are two limitations on this right:
(a) You must have made the purchase in your home state or, if not within your home state, within 100 miles of your current mailing address; and
(b) The purchase price must have been more than $50. These limitations do not apply if we own or operate the merchant, or if we mailed you the advertisement for the property or services.

A couple of notes- You MUST write to the company, a phone call will not ensure your rights. You must WRITE to them within 60 days of the date of the notice that first contained the error. Your letter must contain your name, billing address (the address on your bill), the dollar amount of the error, and a description of why you believe there is an error.

What can you do if the creditor will not respond? You may report the creditor to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) by calling toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Or you can visit their website, or by completing and submitting this online form . Depending upon the situation and the dollar amount, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer to help you.

In case you missed the debate last night...

Were you watching the season premier of Lost or the new Eli Stone and missed the Obama and Clinton debate? No worries, it is in ten parts that automatically advance on youtube. Here you go!

Thursday, January 31

2008 IRS Anticipated Refund Dates

Click on the image to enlarge or here to be redirected to the official IRS pdf file

10 Tips: What to do with tax rebate? - 10 Tips-

10 Tips: What to do with tax rebate? - 10 Tips-

In this article on by Laura T. Coffey, we can read about 10 things we can do with a tax rebate. I especially like the suggestion of paying down credit card debt. This is a sure fire way to earn a fantastic return on your money. Paying off $2000 in credit card debt that charges 18% per month in interest is the same as earning an 18% return on the stock market, without the risk!

Here is my "Top 10 List: How to spend your tax rebate"

10. Buy a new HDTV

9. Make a lump sum contribution to your retirement account

8. Deposit the money into a high yield money market account

7. Buy a new wardrobe

6. Update your sofa and recliners

5. New tires for your car

4. Start a college fund for your kid(s)

3. Pay back the loan that your inlaws gave you

2. Pay down revolving credit card debt

1. Hold on to the money until the government
asks for it back!

Wednesday, January 30

It's getting harder and harder to get a loan


Lenders are closing the door on riskier consumer loans. It seemed like it was just the other day that we had money for everybody, but as I wrote in this post, how quickly it all changes! In light of all the foreclosures and dismal economic news, loans to people with less than perfect credit are becoming few and far between.

Have you been unexpectedly denied a loan? If so, there still may be hope. With a little more effort, you might be able to negotiate a counter offer, basically a win-win for you and the lender...

First, pull your self together and ask the lender if you can talk with them. You want to gain some insight about why you were turned down for the loan. Be willing to discuss your credit history and some of those long forgotten medical collections or that time not long ago when you were late with your credit card payment. Your credibility is at stake. Knowing what is on your credit report and being able to discuss it rationally is very import step in gaining this credibility.

Would the lender agree to make the loan with another borrower on the note with you? Someone with very good credit, a stable job, and who has lived in the area for an extended period (5-10 years)?

Do you have anything that you could offer as security (collateral)? The family silver probably won't work, but your Jet Ski or Quad might! Many lenders will be more willing to take your car as collateral over recreational merchandise simply because cars are much easier to take-back (sugar coating on repossess) if the deal goes bad.

Are there credit issues that need to be resolved before the lender is willing to talk further? Sometimes, things like large collection accounts and money judgments will keep you from qualifying for a loan. Collection accounts oftentimes turn into money judgments. With a money judgment, the creditor can seize your wages, and attach liens to your assets. Because of the potential that a judgment has on impairing your income, many lenders will not loan money to you unless and\or until these are satisfied.

No doesn't always mean no. Keep in mind that the lender wants to make loans- needs to make loans. By asking a few questions and working with the lender, you just might be able to help turn that no into a yes.

Tuesday, January 29

Banks vs Credit Unions

Great vid from Youtube! This gal did a fantastic job!

Click the word Comments below to post your comments!

Getting paid to lose money

If you're like me, you go to work each day to help your employer to make a profit. In exchange for helping your employer to make money, you get a share of that profit; its your paycheck.

Now, image that you go to work and lose money for your employer and go home. The next day, you go back to work, lose more money and go home. How many times would you need to do this before your employer told you to go home and not to come back?

What if instead of getting canned for losing money, you got a bonus? I'm not sure how it works, but there is a way to do this. Just ask Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup.

Citigroup awarded Chief Executive Vikram Pandit $26.7 million worth of shares and 3 million stock options six weeks after he took over the largest U.S. bank, and a week after the company reported a record $9.83 billion quarterly loss. USA Today

Jeeze, I need to stop trying so hard!

Monday, January 28

Canceled: No More Refund Anticipation Loans?

This comment on the heels of the IRS saying that it may restrict the tax preparer from sharing the tax payers information with lenders.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement "people all over the country are getting ripped off by these so-called refund loans, and it's time to stop them dead in their tracks." He called the loans "usurious."

I found this article from March of 2006 on that talks about the very high price for a RAL-

Tax preparers, both independent operations and major chains, charge interest rates that can run on an annualized basis well into triple figures, all for the privilege of getting money a few days earlier. The IRS further mitigates the risk to lenders with its Debt Indicator service, alerting them to any claims (child support, unpaid federal student loan) against refund-loan applicants' refunds.

The IRS and Treasury announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR)regarding the marketing of RAL's. Read the entire notice here Following is a summary:

SUMMARY: This document describes rules that the
Treasury Department and the IRS are considering proposing, in
a notice of proposed rulemaking,regarding the disclosure and
use of tax return information by tax return preparers. The
rules would apply to the marketing of refund anticipation loans
RALs) and certain other products in connection with the
preparation of a tax return and, as an exception to the general
principle that taxpayers should have control over their tax
return information that is reflected in final regulations
published in T.D. 9375, which is published elsewhere in this
issue of the Federal Register, provide that a tax return preparer
may not obtain a taxpayer's consent to disclose or use tax return
information for the purpose of soliciting taxpayers to purchase
such products. This document invites comments from the public
regarding these contemplated rules. All materials submitted will
be available for public inspection and copying.
DATES: Written or electronic comments must be received by April 7,

Stock prices for H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt took a nose dive on this news...

The 137th Carnival of Personal Finance

Be sure to pay a visit to The Dividend Guy who is hosting this weeks 137th Carnival of Personal Finance. Some great posts! Thanks Dividend Guy!

Sunday, January 27

The value is dropping, so I'm not paying!

I am watching a segment on 60 Minutes on the mortgage meltdown. Interviewed was this couple that said that is doesn't make any sense to pay $3200 per month for a 1200 square foot home, so they're just not going to make the payment to the lender.

They feel that if the property value keeps going down, and that payment keeps going up, why should they keep paying?

Hows about because they signed their name, giving their word that they would pay the loan back. So much for integrity! The lender is holding up their end of the deal, helped them finance what they wanted, and now their going to walk away? Tell me, how did this become the lenders fault? What could the lender possibley do to increase the market value of their home so that they feel better about repaying their loan?

I wonder if they would just stop paying if the property value went up? It seems to me that it shouldn't matter what the property value is. Sure, it wouldn't be fair, but a deal is a deal. Afterall, they admitted that they could afford the payment, but it didn't make any sense for them to repay, so they weren't going to.

Sure, they felt trapped. They couldn't refinance because they owed more than what the house was worth. I wonder why they bought this house? Was it to be their home, or was it an investment?

If it was to be their home, then what difference would the value make? It is their home, no other place like it!

If it wasn't their home, then was it an investment? Were they speculating on the value of the home, planning to sell it as soon as they could get a tidy profit? Were they gambling on the future value of this property?

Many people gamble and speculate every day. Some people win big, some people lose big.

Maybe these people in the interview never made an 'investment' in a car. Let's say that they paid cash for a new car, drove it for a couple of months and then found that it no longer was worth what they paid for it. What would they do? Bring it back to the dealer and demand their money back? What if they had financed it? Would they just stop paying for it? Probably, and probably.

I know a car is much different than real estate, but the principle is the same. In my opinion, it's people with attitudes like these that give those with real problems a bad name.

Do you think that this mortgage crisis is made up primarily of people that were speculating on future real estate values, or do you think that it is from people who just didn't have a clue about what they were doing?