March 22, 2013 § 2 Comments
Renegotiating home mortgages seems to be the name of the game these days, whether homeowners are behind on payments or underwater on your loan. Let’s face it, with these low interest rates now is the time to refinance if you can. But beware, not everyone who says they can help you find mortgage relief and renegotiate your loan are legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission offers consumers information on the most prominent scams that can separate a homeowner from their hard earned money, hope and in some cases their homes.
The first thing to remember is that although reputable realtors and loan modification specialists may contact you through advertising letters and postcards with wording like “Stop Foreclosure!” “Get a Loan Modification,” and/or “Keep Your Home” disreputable advertisements may also use these headlines, but often offer half-truths and outright lies to get your business. If postcards claim “90% of our customers get result,” “100% Money Back Guarantee,” or promise their special relationship with the banks can save you, they are most likely scams. Reputable realtors and loan modification specialists will not offer guarantees-with or without money back. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Check their track record by googling the company name and the word scam. You would be surprised how often disreputable companies are advertised as such through customer reviews and rip-off reports.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the following scams are most prevalent:
Phony CounselingThe scam is you pay them a fee and they’ll negotiate a deal with your lender to reduce your mortgage payments and save your home. They may claim to be attorneys or representatives from a law firm. The big red flag is that they will counsel you NOT to talk to credit counselors, your own attorney or your lender. They will take your money and do nothing. Remember, if you do not have to do any part of the work, it is too good to be true. Fairy Godmothers who twinkle in to save the day are one of the “too good to be true” things.
The Forensic Audit
In an exchange for an upfront fee, forensic loan auditors (also called foreclosure prevention auditors and mortgage loan auditors) say they will have an attorney review your loan docs to insure your lender complied with the law. The auditors say you can use their reports to avoid foreclosure, speed loan modification process or even have the loan cancelled. There is, however, absolutely no evidence that forensic loan audits do anything to help you get mortgage relief. Direct that money towards your loan or a reputable attorney instead.
Con Artists tell you to sign over the title of your home to them as part of a deal that allows you to stay in the house as a renter and buy it back later. They will tell you surrendering the title allows you to avoid the hit to your credit rating so you can get a new loan at a better rate to repurchase the property. However, the deals are structured so they are so expensive buying the house back becomes impossible. Then they scammers raise the rent so you are unable to stay in your home so they are free to sell your house and keep all the profits. Again, too good to be true? Too easy? Just walk away. It’s a scam.
Bait and Switch
In this scam, you are given papers to sign, supposedly to get another loan to bring your mortgage payments current. However, buried in the paperwork is a document that surrenders title of your home in exchange for the rescue loan. Never sign anything without reading it first. If it effects your legal rights the phrase, “Don’t worry, it’s all boilerplate,” should mean nothing. Know what you are signing. If you don’t think you can make sense of the documents, hire a lawyer to review the docs. The extra $200-$450 could save your house.
Rule #1: Do not sign over the title to your home. Transferring title will not transfer what you owe on the mortgage. You will be out of a home and still on the hook for the loan.
Rule#2: If it sounds too good to be true. It probably is not true. Do your due diligence and check them out BEFORE you give them your time, your money or your home. Fraud happens. Protect yourself.
Rule #3: You don’t have to pay any money until the company delivers results. It is illegal for a company to charge you ANY money until they have either 1) given you a letter of offer for loan modification or other relief from your lender, or 2) you accept the offer and the company gives you documentation showing the changes to your loan. The company must also tell you the entire fee it will charge for services.
Rule #4: No company can stop you from talking directly to your lender. Try and get the best deal you can for yourself and check up on the proceedings regarding a loan modification/mortgage relief from your lender. Know your rights and stand up for yourself.
Rule #5: You may be behind on your payments. You may be drowning in an underwater mortgage. But you are no victim. You are not defined by the circumstances you find yourself in today. This may be today’s problem, but tomorrow’s solution is just around the corner.
January 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
How much are you paying for tv service? Satellite TV, like Dish and DirectTV, can cost as much as $100 per month. Cable can run you even more. And though bundling telephone and television service may be cheaper, you may not have those service options in your area. So how do you enjoy some good old fashioned TV downtime without having to work an extra job to afford it?
Streaming television services like Netflix and Hulu Plus may provide the savings and entertainment you are looking for. Netflix will run you $17 per month for two television streaming and a single disk via mail, as often as you like. That’s right, movie rental and your favorite television programs for pennies on the dollar of regular satellite or cable service. The only issue with Netflix is that streaming shows are at least a season behind. Of course, a season behind to watch Weeds and your other favorite Premium Channel shows is still a bargain.
Hulu Plus offers more recent television offerings, though you must wait till watch till the next day. So if your favorite show comes on Thursday, you get to watch on Friday. This service is also only $17 per month.
Though streaming tv means you may have to go out to watch the big game or other live event, it also means watching your favorite shows for about $800 less per year. Now that’s savings that can mean a new HD television or a vacation in the real world. Cause let’s face it, with $800 more per year in your pocket, there is sure to be more real life you can afford to enjoy.
November 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As the holidays approach, as we are shown by all the holiday shopping commercials that started before Halloween this year, our children begin to get excited over what they want. Whether or not your kids believe in Santa, it is never too early to help them realize that things come with a cost and money does not grow on trees.
Dave Ramsey taught his daughter this lesson early. By the age of 5, Rachel Ramsey understood that money came from work. Dave Ramsey’s kids didn’t receive an allowance, which teaches kids money just happens. There is no work required for an allowance, just show up, be cute and here’s the money. This does not foster early money smart education. In fact, it may be a precursor to debt later in life.
Dave’s kids earned a commission for work they did around the house beyond their basic household chores. This allows children to learn first hand that living in community requires some work you never get paid money for. There are other benefits, like a clean room, but not cold hard cash. Cash or rather commission is tied to chores above and beyond the basics.
List chores with dollar values added. If posted on a chalkboard with space for a child to put his initials it is easier to keep track of who is claiming that chore. A 24 hr. deadline to complete the chore sign up for is recommended. So, if a chore is signed up for Thursday after school, it must be finished by Friday after school or it goes back into circulation. This keeps one child from claiming all the easy jobs. It also sets up boundaries for expectations for when chores will be done.
Each chore should come with a dollar amount ($5 for mopping floors, $2 for washing the dog, $1 for cleaning all the mirrors, etc). Once a chore is signed up for and completed within the 24 hr. time frame, a parent inspects the work and the commission is rewarded.
It is amazing to see the joy on a child’s face when they realize they can generate their own pocket money. This system engenders entrepreneurial spirit in kids. It can make them excited to work, because they can see the rewards. Then, if a child has no money for the things they want, they also know they have only to do some extra work to earn the money to pay for what they want. It is a great way to cut down on the “please, please, but I need it,” one-sided conversations.
So put an end to allowances and help your child realize that work equals money. And they’ve had the power all along.
August 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
According to Consumer Reports testing, some very popular cars are better left to look pretty on the showroom floor. Here are 5 suggestions for cars to avoid and better vehicles for purchase in each class. Some of the “don’t buys” will surprise you. Read on.
For original article, go to http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/08/five-popular-cars-to-avoid.html
Five popular cars to avoid
Aug 6, 2012 3:00 PM
Just because a car generates a lot of buzz or is a best seller doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for you. The five models here may be on a lot of buyers’ shopping lists, but we suggest you steer clear. They didn’t perform well in our testing or they suffer from subpar reliability. Either way, there are better choices.
For years, the Civic has been an iconic small car. But Honda took too many shortcuts in its latest redesign. The Civic is still one of the more reliable and fuel-efficient cars in its class. But the current model suffers from a choppy ride, noisy cabin, vague steering, and mediocre interior quality. The Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra, and Mazda3 are better small cars with similar or better fuel economy.
You might be drawn to this SUV’s rugged looks. But that style comes with an equally rugged and unrefined driving experience. The Liberty can tackle tough off-road terrain. But on pavement its ride is unsettled and handling is clumsy. The interior is cramped and cheap feeling. And the engine is noisy and thirsty, getting only 16 mpg overall. All of this has earned it one of the lowest road-test scores of any vehicle we’ve recently tested. You’ll give up some off-road prowess, but the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester are much nicer SUVs overall, with notably better gas mileage.
Toyota Prius C
It’s all the buzz: a less expensive Prius with great gas mileage. What more can you ask for? Plenty. Yes, this new subcompact gets a stingy 37 mpg in city driving and 43 mpg overall, 1 mpg shy of the larger Prius hatchback. But all-around quality really drops. Related to the lackluster Toyota Yaris, the Prius C suffers from a stiff ride, noisy cabin, slow acceleration, and cheap-looking interior trim. Though it can’t match the C’s stellar mpg, the Honda Fit scored much higher in our tests and costs thousands less.
Dodge Grand Caravan
This is one of the best-selling minivans on the market. It’s versatile, comfortable, quiet, and well equipped. But according to our annual reliability survey, it’s also the most problematic minivan, suffering from numerous reports of squeaks and rattles, loose interior trim, and power-equipment and sliding-door troubles. The Grand Caravan also didn’t measure up to its competitors in our testing, delivering unimpressive gas mileage of 17 mpg overall and sloppy at-the-limit handling. We favor the front-wheel-drive Toyota Sienna, which has had better reliability and gets 20 mpg.
Ford Edge (V6)
The stylish lines of this crossover SUV might catch your eye, but we suggest that you keep on looking. In our testing of the V6 all-wheel drive version, we found a jittery ride, pronounced road noise, and distracting controls, especially with the complicated and unintuitive MyFord Touch infotainment system. And in our annual survey of subscribers, it had much-worse-than-average reliability. There is also a turbo four-cylinder engine that works well and gets better fuel economy, but it can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. For about the same price, better alternatives include the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano, and Mazda CX-9.
July 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Craigslist, the ultimate online swap meet and community board, is plagued by scams. We have seen rental housing scams and car selling scams. Now we are seeing phishing scams. Craigslist itself posted warnings about scams trying to get you to click-through links of fraudulent email to log into your Craigslist account. The idea was scammers want to get into your account and then post scam ads under your name.
Well, the latest scam is much more directly focused on your wallet. Scammers send very realistic looking Craigslist email after you have posted job or services to Craigslist. The email states that your ad has been removed because,
“As part of our efforts, your account has been limited pending additional account verification. Unfortunately, during the suspension you won’t be able to use Craigslist in any way, including using existing accounts or registering new accounts….You may reinstate your account by making a one-time payment through PayPal. Important: Reinstatement account fee in $2.50. Failure to do this will lead to restricted access on your account.”
Now, scammers are trying to get you to log into your PayPal account through a link so they can have access to your PayPal account and attached credit cards and bank accounts.
1. Never click a link through an email to log into any online accounts. If the email is true and correct, you should be able to access the same information through the official website. Type the address in yourself or Google the company name and click the search engine link to access the official website.
No info that looks like email available on website? Yes, that was an attempted scam. Forward the email to fraud department of the company used in the phishing scam. The more info they have, hopefully, the better they can protect their company and the consumers who use them.
Never decide to just send the money and get this piece of business off your plate because it is only a few bucks. Please note that even if an item is only $2.50, if you do not actually owe that $2.50 why have it leave your pocket and go to someone else? Write letters, email companies and tell them you refuse to pay and why. Copy everything so you have a paper trail. Push scams are prevalent and much like this Craigslist scam, the $2.50 is usually just a way to get access to the rest of your money.
July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Pfizer maker of Centrum Vitamins has been threatened with a lawsuit by non-profit, Center for Science in the Public Interest because of claims regarding Centrum Vitamins’ ability to positively effect breast and colon health.
According to Centrum advertising before July 5th, Labels for Centrum Ultra Women’s and Centrum Silver Women’s multivitamin supplements currently say that those products support “breast health,” while Centrum Ultra Men’s and Centrum Silver Ultra Men’s labels say they support “colon health.” According to the CSPI, Pfizer based the claims in part on the inclusion of vitamin D in those products. But the evidence on vitamin D’s relationship to breast cancer is limited and inconsistent, the group said, and the evidence on colon cancer isn’t conclusive.
According to Center for Science in the Public Interest Centrum advertising claims led consumers to believe these multivitamins could protect from breast cancer and colon cancer, claims which supplement companies are legally forbidden to make. Pfizer has acquiesced and has changed advertising as of July 5.
July 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Bright colors are all the rage in fashion this summer. Accessories of sunny yellow, mint green and cerulean blue are flying off the shelves as women don the latest distinct fashion-must-have. But those bright colors are coming at a very high cost. Toxic levels of lead have been found in purses and wallets currently on the shelves at top department stores.
Two years ago, manufacturers agreed to restrict the amount of lead used in purses and accessories for the safety of consumers. According to Wikipedia, “Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bone, intestines, kidneys and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.”
The worst offender was a bright yellow wallet by upscale designer Tori Burch, purchased for $200 at Neiman Marcus. The Center for Environmental Health, a California-based environmental watchdog group, said it had nearly 200 times the acceptable level of lead. The designer’s company has issued a statement saying it takes the lead issue very seriously, and is now investigating.
June 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You receive an email from a trusted friend, relative, colleague who tells you about a great work from home using the internet. They don’t believe in scams. You trust them. You click through. Access Income Institute says they have a free kit that tells you how to make $250-$500 a day with no experience, no degree and no waiting.The page tells you they have been mentioned on CNN, MSNBC and other trusted news sources. There are a slew of comments with pictures of people holding checks, updates with status reports of having earned more than $500 in a day. This is the dream we’ve all been waiting for—less work for more pay.
Sound too good to be true? It is. The free kit can, apparently, cost you between $47 and $97 depending on the scam page you are sent to. You are given a tremendous amount of info that you must do then and there, as attempting to back up a page hits the firewall immediately, according to complaint reports. Then, you should receive confirmation that you must reply to for complete access to the information that can make you as much as $10,000 a month, working from home with no prior experience or degree.
The confirmation email never comes. Access to Access Income Institute is impossible. Busy Signals. And, according to reports, contact lists are hacked while you are on their site. Then the company send email to your contact list offering this great work from home deal. Now you are the trusted ally who offers access to the too-good-to-be-true work from home scam.
A scam report site Scambook.com has a report page for Access Income Institute has 23 scam reports since May 1, 2012. Total reported damages equal $2,230. That may not seem like very much lost per person, but that also represents another freshly dashed hope for someone desperate to find work in this economy. And that cost can be too much to bear.