Kroger is ever so thoughtful. Maybe a little creepy, too. Michael received an e-mail from the grocer notifying him that a product he’s bought in the past–Lender’s frozen bagels–won’t be available anymore. That’s sad, but we’re sure that he’ll muddle through somehow. “Nice to know they’re concerned about our finding products we’ve shopped for….” he writes. [More]
The last time I uncovered an obvious error with my Citibank checking account, I realized it was time to move on. Our tipster Roarke may have just reached that same conclusion, only in his case Citibank has already passed along the account for him–just not the thousand dollar electronic payment he made on it a few days prior, which Citibank says it plans to hang on to for another 30 days. [More]
Before the recession hit, roughly 15% of Americans had FICO credit scores below 600. But after the past couple of years of late payments, defaults, and foreclosures, that number has grown to 25%, or about 43 million people. At the same time, the number of people with excellent scores (800 to 850) has increased nearly 5% from pre-recession average, which the Associated Press says is partly a result of people cutting spending and working to pay off loans more quickly. [More]
When you borrow from a bank where you also keep your day-to-day cash, you might be opening yourself up to problems down the line. Most banks have a right of setoff, which means they can tap other accounts you hold with them to repay themselves money you owe. For a woman in Atlanta, this meant Wells Fargo legally drained her checking account without warning, leaving her and her husband with no cash and $385 in overdraft fees, due to some ongoing confusion over a student loan. [More]
In yesterday’s Money section, USA Today talked to some consumers who refuse to carry credit cards, and looked at the hidden costs. One 24-year-old says they make her uncomfortable; a guy working at a gas station to pay for college says he doesn’t want to get accosted by endless junk mailings once his name enters the pool of potential customers. Then there’s the bankruptcy lawyer who canceled his cards on principle 8 years ago, after seeing how lenders behaved when their customers suffered financial setbacks: [More]
There’s an interesting detail at the end of this New York Times article on borrowers who strategically default–that is, they choose to walk away from the home when its value is significantly less than the mortgage balance. It turns out that the homeowner mentioned at the start of the article applied last fall for a loan modification with Bank of America after his income level had dropped, and this was BofA’s response: “The lender came back a few weeks ago with a plan that added more restrictive terms while keeping the payments about the same. ‘That may have been the last straw,’ Mr. Koellmann said.” [More]
Be very careful about activating any sort of over-the-counter prepaid debit card, reports the New York Times. They looked at a handful of prepaids currently on the market and discovered ridiculously high hidden fees—the first two months of use can cost you up to $80.
Earlier this week, a group of 70 law professors from universities across the country released a 16-page Statement of Support (pdf) detailing why they’re in favor of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Act. You can read the statement yourself via the link above, but we’ve summarized them below.
There’s a judge in Brooklyn, NY, who has tossed out nearly half of the foreclosure cases brought before him over the past year, because the lenders have such messy paper trails that they can’t prove ownership anymore.
The Better Business Bureau has released a warning to be aware of scammers calling to threaten people with arrest “within the hour” for defaulting on payday loans. What makes them stand out from normal debt collecting scammers is these callers have huge amounts of personal info on their victims, including Social Security and drivers license numbers; old bank account numbers; names of employers, relatives, and friends; and home addresses.
Mirosiichenko said his company would not employ debt collectors to get its money back if people refused to repay, and promised no physical violence. Signatories only have to give their first name and do not show any documents. “If they don’t give it back, what can you do? They won’t have a soul, that’s all.”
Two Harvard doctoral students in economics compared how credit unions and banks operated their credit card divisions, and concluded that the recent CARD act “is likely to bring about moderate, and even positive, changes,” as banks begin to emulate parts of the fairer business model of credit unions. Specifically, they say, all the doom and gloom from the banking industry about how consumers will get shafted by the new rules is mostly fearmongering.
The next time you apply for a credit card, your credit report and income will be only a part of the criteria used to determine your creditworthiness. For that matter, as long as you have the card, what you use it for will be noted and added to a growing set of data that makes up your psychological profile, which will then be referred to every time the bank deals with your or reevaluates your risk as a customer.
It’s a good week for consumer protection against abusive credit card practices. Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, and this afternoon President Obama is meeting with officials from 14 credit card companies to tell them “that greater consumer protections are coming for their customers, with or without their cooperation.”
Here’s a new tactic we haven’t seen before: mortgage originator AmTrust called blogger BeThisWay and offered her $50 to voluntarily close her home equity line of credit (HELOC), possibly in response to the recent class action lawsuit against them for illegally closing HELOCs. She writes, “Well, I’d like to keep my HELOC. But I have to figure out AmTrust’s next move. What will they do if not enough people voluntarily surrender their HELOCs? Are cancellations next? Am I better off taking the $50 now, or waiting, hoping they don’t cancel it?”
Fewer than half of loan modifications made at the end of last year actually reduced borrowers’ payments by more than 10 percent… [while] nearly one in four loan modifications in the fourth quarter actually resulted in increased monthly payments.
SmartMoney’s Anne Kadet looked into the process by which the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—investigate and correct errors on credit reports. What she found was that the process is “almost entirely automated,” and that “many lenders respond by simply rereporting the erroneous data.” Here’s how it works, and your meager options when something goes wrong.