(Belinda Hankins Miller)

1-In-4 Americans Turn To Payday Loans & Other High-Cost Financial Products

When discussing the topic of payday loans — or other high-cost, short-term financial products like auto-title loans and check-cashing — there can be a tendency to treat them like something that only a small percentage of Americans use. But a new report from the FDIC confirms that 25% of us have turned to one of these potentially predatory services in the past year, and that this rate has not been going down. [More]

No More Refund Anticipation Loans After This Tax Season

We’ve been warning people for years to steer clear of the “refund anticipation loans” that get you your tax refund ASAP but at the cost of usurious interest rates and fees. And between growing consumer awareness that RALs are a bad deal and the bigger banks dropping out of the business, only one bank has been backing the loans — and that’s all about to end. [More]

Jackson Hewitt Sues H&R Block Over "Trash Talk"

Jackson Hewitt Sues H&R Block Over "Trash Talk"

It probably goes without saying that I love a good cat fight, that’s why I’m licking my paws and purring with delight over the news that Jackson Hewitt has bared its claws to take on the biggest feline of them all, H&R Block. [More]

Treasury Dept. To Offer Tax Refunds On Pre-Paid Debit Cards

Treasury Dept. To Offer Tax Refunds On Pre-Paid Debit Cards

We’ve been warning readers for years against “refund anticipation loans,” where tax preparers like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt give you a pre-paid debit card now loaded with your expected return (minus fees and interest). And yet, these cards have continued to appeal to some lower-income taxpayers who don’t have bank accounts for direct-deposit of their returns. Now the federal government is providing these people with an alternative — a debit card that will accept the direct deposit. [More]

H&R Block's Refund Anticipation Loan Card Eats Your Refund

H&R Block's Refund Anticipation Loan Card Eats Your Refund

Poor Sam didn’t take our advice. He let H&R Block do his taxes and then took out a refund anticipation loan. The money, which was deposited on an H&R Block Emerald Card, is now tied up by several inexplicable holds for transactions he didn’t make. The companies supposedly holding the funds have no clue who Sam is, or why they’d be holding his money. H&R Block’s only response is to charge Sam $2 whenever he calls their customer service line for help.

Stay Away From Tax Refund Anticipation Loans

Stay Away From Tax Refund Anticipation Loans

I saw a big billboard for Jackson Hewitt showing a broadly smiling woman of indeterminate ethnicity holding a fistful of money that she just got by getting a refund anticipation loan, and it reminded me of how we need to do our annual telling of people to once again stay away from said refund anticipation loans.

Tax Advance Loans On The Retreat

Tax Advance Loans On The Retreat

The number of refund anticipation loans declined 22.5% last year as consumers took advantage of cheaper and only slightly slower alternatives, NYT reports.

Don’t Get A Refund Anticipation Loan

Don’t Get A Refund Anticipation Loan

Tax time is coming up and the National Consumers League is busy wildly flapping its arms to try to warn you off applying for a Refund Anticipation Loan this year.