We’ve seen how available balances can disappear when lenders cut credit card limits, but SmartMoney points out that lenders can cut your limit below your current balance, causing all sorts of problems. They’ll send you a notice, of course, but you may not receive it for several weeks. Your best bet is to set up your own alert system. A web-based financial service (like Mint) will send you an email or SMS alert if your available balance drops below a specified threshold.
A new quarter just started this week at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago, and on the first day back, 300 students were pulled out of class and lined up outside the school, then told to contact their parents and pay their outstanding tuition or they’d have to leave. The Chicago Tribune writes that “by lunchtime, about 100 students were sent home-some confused, some embarrassed and a few angry.” The school says parents owe around $450,000 in outstanding tuition payments, far higher than usual, and that they’re trying to avoid layoffs and other budget cutbacks. Will the poor economy lead to higher attendance at public schools? “If you want a good education, you have to dish it out,” one parent told the paper.
Missouri’s Attorney General has won a $300,000 judgment against a telemarketer that violated the state’s do-not-call list. It is the third-largest award so far.
Chase has emailed its customers a friendly reminder that if you can’t pay your taxes this year, you can charge them on your Chase credit card! Even the IRS site suggests you consider using a credit card if you can’t pay your debt. However, before you do something as debt crazy as charge up a high credit card balance, consider the following points and make sure you’re doing the most financially responsible thing.
Best Buy, Circuit City, and Sears are all contesting the FCC’s recent fines against them for not properly following analog transition rules in their stores, reports Ars Technica. Last week, Best Buy submitted a 41-page response (PDF) that claimed among other things that the FCC has no authority to fine them.
Next time you brush past your credit limit you may get hit with more than a hefty over-the-limit fee. The Red Tape Chronicles reports that credit card companies are starting to slap exuberant spenders with penalty interest rates. Compounding the danger to consumers, creditors are simultaneously rushing to slash credit limits.
Former electric heater company Vornado will pay the government a civil penalty of $500,000 and deny any wrongdoing for failing to report incidents of heater fires from 1993 to 2004, says the CPSC.
Credit card companies make it impossible for consumers or markets to know the true cost of credit, according to Georgetown Law professor Adam Levitin. The professor makes his point with a pop quiz:
… what’s the interest rate on the credit cards you’re carrying? How about the default rate? Do you know what constitutes an event of default? What will trigger a penalty fee or surcharge? How much are those fees? If you’re like most Americans, you probably cannot answer many or all of these questions.
Two advocacy groups, the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Unions, endorsed a bill yesterday that would limit the amount that wireless, cable, and telephone companies could charge customers for early cancellation of their contract. Specifically, it would require companies to waive cancellation fees for the first 30 days, and pro-rate any fees after the first 30 days (something Verizon already does, but no other mobile carrier that we know of).
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) recently announced plans to introduce our wet dream of a cellphone bill. The bill realizes our wildest legislative fantasies: a world where cellphone companies stop inventing official-sounding fees and levying harsh ETFs, and instead allow their customers to take unlocked phones to the company with the best reception according to precise coverage maps provided free of charge.
The House has passed not one, but two cleverly-named measures targeting the miscreants who make and promote spyware. Though the FTC, Justice Department, and several state attorneys general are already empowered to prosecute spyware manufacturers, the two measures would extend existing laws by subjecting spyware makers to jail terms and multimillion-dollar fines.