Daughter Dies And Wells Fargo Bank Goes After Parents To Repay Student Loan

The story begins with a 22-year-old student who is attending college working on two degrees. The student, being an adult, secures student loans totaling $45,000 to further her education. The loans were given to her and her alone and no one, including her parents, co-signs for the loans. Now the unfortunate part. The student develops a rare form of cancer in her tear ducts, and after chemotherapy and radiation treatments, subsequently dies.

One would think that the misery for the family dealing with their young daughters death, would be enough for any family to deal with. Two of the lenders forgave the girls debt since she was deceased. But in steps Wells Fargo Bank and their bean counters. Wells Fargo Bank wants the parents to pay the debt in the amount of $6,000 and will not forgive nor forget what is owed to the bank.

In steps the local television station and confronts Wells Fargo Bank, who suddenly and inexplicable, forgives the debt. No sorry, no we made a mistake, no thing except the debt no longer needs to be paid by anyone.

What is surprising is that different lenders have different policies covering the death of a student who owes them money. What is also hard to understand is that the girls parents had no idea their daughter had even borrowed money and could not obtain any information because of the existing privacy laws. All they knew is that the bank wanted their money and that was that.

The bank continued to harass the family via letters and phone calls demanding payment.

Had the TV station not stepped in and made Wells Fargo Banks appear like loan sharks, one can only guess to what lengths the bank would have gone to get their blood money.

It is stories like these that make us all hate the banks, no matter which bank it is.

Comments welcome.

Source – kctv5.com

Source – ABC Money

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Credit Card Thief Shares His Expertise On How To Protect Yourself

I just finished reading an article in which a credit card thief shares the secrets of his trade and how crooks steal your credit card information. In addition he provided information on how your identity can be compromised and what to do to protect yourself online when making purchases. What is scary is that there are people out there who can steal your information so easy, it is kind of scary.

One scam that I wasn’t aware of is that waiters or waitresses can carry hand-held skimmers and scan your credit card number off of your card. They then sell this information online for $10 to $50 to scammers. The scammer takes the information and encodes it on a new credit card, and then makes purchases with the fraudulent card.

Here is some other information you should be aware of:

What about debit cards?

I always recommend against them. With debit cards, it’s your real money in your bank account you’re playing with. So if someone gets your debit card information and uses it, your cash is gone until you fill out a lot of paperwork and persuade the bank to give it back to you. Credit cards are much better at protecting you against fraud.

Is online shopping safe?

You’ve got to be careful. It is really easy to create a fake online store or to create a store that sells stuff, but its real purpose is to collect credit card information. I’d try to stick to reputable sites or at least to sites that have reviews.

That’s the reason it’s so important to access secure websites if you’re putting in any sensitive data, so look for “https” in the Web address.

So how do you protect yourself from all of the scams and scammers?

What’s your No. 1 tip on how consumers can protect themselves?

You’ve probably heard this before, but the most important thing really is to watch your accounts. And I don’t mean just checking your statement once a month. If you’re only checking your statement once a month, someone can start using your card at the beginning of the billing cycle, and they can do a lot of damage before you catch it. You’re talking thousands of dollars, and it will be a lot harder to catch them and dispute it. I use Mint.com, which is a free aggregation service that allows you to put all your accounts on there and monitor everything at once. I check that every day. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report at least twice a year to make sure no one has stolen your identity.

I don’t know what you do, but I follow the above advice religiously. I check my accounts and credit card statements at least once a week or more. I also do get my credit reports and scan them carefully. It is an eye opener when you see the erroneous information on your credit report. I recall several years ago that one of my reports showed two dates of birth. Go figure.

I only shop at trusted online merchants like Amazon. I rarely stray away and normally avoid unknown online business shops.

I also avoid using ATM machines when possible. I carry some emergency cash on my person just in case I feel uncomfortable using my credit card, especially when I travel.

What do you do to protect yourself?

Comments welcome.

Source – Yahoo Finance

What Does Bank Of America Fear From WikiLeaks?

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)

It was October 19th, 2008 that my wife and I were watching the 60 Minute interview of CEO Ken Lewis, the head of Bank of America. During the interview it seemed that Mr. Lewis was truthful in his talk and careful explained the bank’s position. In his first remarks he stated that:

The head of Bank of America, Ken Lewis, says that when he and the others met at the Treasury Department, it became clear that Secretary Paulson’s “offer” was an ultimatum – no negotiations.

The total was $125 billion of taxpayers’ money. Bank of America, Lewis says, didn’t need the money … but got $25 billion anyway.

Later in the interview he stated that:

“It’s said that one of the main reasons the [Bank of America] is doing well is because of your decision not to get into sub prime mortgages,” Stahl said.

“In 2001, my first year as CEO, we decided that we just didn’t like the business. It was too risky. And so we decided to get out of it.”

So impressive and convincing was Ken Lewis that I actually believed what he had to say. It was a year or so later that we learned he had lied through his teeth and that Bank of America had been involved in sub-prime lending.

So what could WikiLeaks have on Bank of America? Well if you have the top honcho of the company not telling the truth, one would suspect that this kind of behavior could flow downwards.

I seriously doubt that any of us truly believe the bankers, people on the stock market or mortgage lenders when they spin their tales of what caused the mortgage mess. Plus it is hard to believe those in the government who are trying to fix the mess.

So what do we believe in? Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.

Source – 60 Minutes

Source – Bloomberg

B of A Foreclosure Mistake – Dead Husband’s Ashes Missing

The foreclosure mess has claimed another victim, this time in Truckee, California. It seems that Bank of America foreclosed on the wrong home and sent in its goon squad of contractors to remove the owner’s contents. Along with all of the furniture, clothing, and other personal items, were the ashes of the dead husband of the owner. After finding out that the bank had erred and subsequently revoked the foreclosure, the husband’s ashes are nowhere to be found.

Needless to say the family is upset about the incident and have filed a lawsuit against Bank of America. In one recent article it also stated that:

In an era when millions of homes have received foreclosure notices nationwide, lawsuits detailing bank break-ins like the one at Ms. Ash’s house keep surfacing. And in the wake of the scandal involving shoddy, sometimes illegal paperwork that has buffeted the nation’s biggest banks in recent months, critics say these situations reinforce their claims that the foreclosure process is fundamentally flawed.

Identifying the number of homeowners who were locked out illegally is difficult. But banks and their representatives insist that situations like Ms. Ash’s represent just a tiny percentage of foreclosures.

Many of the incidents that have become public appear to have been caused by confusion over whether a house is abandoned, in which case a bank may have the right to break in and make sure the property is secure.

Some of the cases appear to be mistakes involving homeowners who were up to date on their mortgage — or had paid off their home — but who still became targets of a bank.

I love the statement that these types of mistaken foreclosures make up a small amount of all foreclosures. It is only a small amount if you are not one of the victims. I am sure Bank of America will settle this case out of court, but if it chooses not to, I would love to be on the jury.

Get the rope! LOL

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

Low Tech Crook Steals Cash From ATM Using Napkins

In a day and age when we rely on high-tech gadgets to do are bidding, the ingenuity of people never ceases to amaze me. While crooks use scanners to gain access to consumers ATM information, one crook in San Francisco has resorted to using napkins to steal cash from ATM customers. A local merchant watched as the suspect took napkins and jammed them into the cash slot at a local ATM. He contacted police who responded and subsequently arrested the man. During their investigation the police found another ATM machine that also had the cash slot jammed with napkins.

According to a report, the suspect jams the cash slot with napkins. He would wait until a customer tried using the machine, until the person became frustrated in not receiving their funds. The suspect would wait until the customer left, remove the napkins and also the cash.

If this happens to you and your cash does not appear in the slot, reach up inside the machine. You may just find a napkin blocking the cash from coming out.

Comments welcome.

Source – SF Examiner

How Can You Tell When A CEO Is Lying? Their Lips Are Moving!

Some of you may recall the 60 minute interview of Ken Lewis, who at the time was the CEO of Bank of America. Lewis described how Bank of America was forced to take money from the Feds, though he stated that B of A did not need. In an article it states that:

“It’s said that one of the main reasons the [Bank of America] is doing well is because of your decision not to get into sub prime mortgages,” Stahl said.

“In 2001, my first year as CEO, we decided that we just didn’t like the business. It was too risky. And so we decided to get out of it.”

We later learned that Lewis was lying through his teeth and that B of A was up to their elbows in sub-prime mortgages.

So should any of us doubt the fact that almost all CEOs are liars? According to another article here is a way to spot the CEOs who lie to the public:

Larcker and Zakolyukina pored through the transcripts of thousands of corporate earnings calls when CEOs and chief financial officers take questions from analysts.

And then they studied the words of executives at companies that later had to restate earnings, which often happens after fraud has occurred. The researchers identified some key indicators of deception.

Zakolyukina says lying executives tend to overuse words like “we” and “our team” when they talk about their company. They avoid saying “I.”

She says there’s a reason for that: “If I’m saying ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘mine,’ I’m showing my ownership of the statement, so psychologically I’m showing I’m responsible for what I’m saying.

But here is the real clincher on how to stop a liar:

Lying CEOs also tend to use a lot of words that express positive emotion — things are fabulous and fantastic and extraordinary.

I don’t believe that the problem is that one or two CEOs lie. The problem is that the majority of them lie. This seems to be a normal practice and the public cannot trust what the CEOs from any company says.

Comments welcome.

Source – CBS

Source – NPR

Are Some Courts Jailing People To Collect Debts?

Though we no longer have debtor prisons, some courts appear to be acting as agents for collections agencies. In particular are cases that are coming from the court system in Yakima, Washington. This one jurisdiction seems to be issuing bench warrants for anyone who does not appear at a financial hearing. In a recent article it stated:

Even though the constitutions of Washington and most other states explicitly prohibit jailing people for debt, and debtors’ prisons in the U.S. were closed in the 19th century, Leslie and many other people in Washington and throughout the country are still being incarcerated in civil debt cases. They typically are charged with contempt of court for failure to appear at a hearing.

In many cases, judges order that their bail money be turned over to the collection agency to satisfy their unpaid debt — a practice the Federal Trade Commission recently urged Congress to halt. Sometimes bail is set at the same amount as the judgment debt, which makes the court look like an arm of the collection agency.

“We’re supplying this big collection tool for collection agencies,” says Fred Corbit, senior attorney for the Northwest Justice Project in Seattle. “Creditors get bailed out, and taxpayers are paying a lot to help them in the process.”

Meanwhile,  the American Civil Liberties Union has released a report documenting five cases, including in Washington state, where people have been imprisoned for failure to pay fines and costs associated with their criminal sentences.

While courts in Washington and around the country do not compile statistics on how many people are jailed in such cases, the practice is not at all uncommon. During the Aug. 19 debt collection calendar hearings in the Yakima County District Court, Judge Ralph Thompson issued bench warrants against half a dozen judgment debtors who didn’t show up.

This is extremely interesting when our court systems start to work for the debt collectors. But there is one thing that is evident in reading the story. It wasn’t explained why these people did not show up for the financial hearings in the first place.

What do you think?

Comments welcome

Source – Crosscut

Do Colleges Make Big Bucks Selling Student Names To Credit Card Companies?

Colorado colleges, universities and alumni associations are allegedly making millions of dollars from banks and credit card companies. It seems that the colleges are selling the names of students, faculty and alumni members to credit card companies to be used to solicit credit card applications. Some schools even get a percentage of every credit card and debit card  transaction made by students or alumni.

Colleges claim they are helping their students by having them learn financial responsibility. According to a recent article it also states that:

“Young people are the future. If a bank can get them at the beginning, its long-term marketing,” said Gale Hillebrand, chief counsel at Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. “The debt treadmill is designed to generate revenue for years.”

“Providing young individuals with an introduction to basic banking services, like checking accounts and savings accounts, helps further financial literacy and bestow individuals with the basic tools to develop responsible financial habits,” Colorado Bankers Association spokesman Tim Powers said. “Universities are able to receive a source of income during a time when they are particularly stressed — income that does not have to come from tuition or the state.

In some cases, the contracts are worth millions of dollars to the school groups, which typically provide extensive lists of student and alumni names, addresses, e-mails and telephone numbers. It’s a virtual marketing gold mine for the banks.

I guess if the colleges open up brothels, they could say it helps the students to learn about sex. How about on campus saloons so the students could learn about drunkenness? The bottom line us that anything can be twisted to illustrate the benefits when any fool can see it is all about the money.

Comments welcome.

Source – denverpost.com

The Future Is Now – 21 Banks And Credit Unions That Accept Remote Deposits

You know the scenario. You receive a check of some type and need to go down to your local bank to deposit the check. Wonder if you could deposit the check into your account by scanning or by sending a copy of the check via your phone? Well now you can and there are over 21 banks and credit unions that support this technology. Here is a list of banks and credit unions:

  • Addison Avenue Credit Union (scans)
  • Alliant Credit Union (scans)
  • Boeing Employees Credit Union (scans)
  • Chase Bank (iPhone)
  • Digital Federal Credit Union (scans/Android/iPhone)
  • Everbank (scans)
  • First Command Bank (scans)
  • First Internet Bank of Indiana (scans)
  • The Golden 1 Credit Union (scans)
  • Hanscom Federal Credit Union (scans)
  • NASA Federal Credit Union (scans)
  • PenFed Credit Union (scans)
  • Penn State Employees Credit Union (scans)
  • Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union (scans)
  • Sharon Credit Union (scans)
  • Service Credit Union (scans)
  • Summit Bank (scans)
  • Texas Security Bank (scans)
  • USAA Bank (scans/Android/iPhone)
  • Vystar Credit Union (scans)
  • WV United Federal Credit Union (iPhone)

When I first read about remote deposit I quickly envisioned how this could change the way that we all do our banking. I would love to have this service available at my local bank. Though the bulk of my banking deposits are made via direct deposit, there are still the occasional checks that need to be deposited the standard way.

What do you think? Would you use remote deposit if it were available?

Comments welcome.

Source – Consumerist

Would You Buy Divorce Insurance?

If you don’t have enough insurances like life, auto, home and health insurances, there is now one insurance you can add to your list. A company called SafeGuard Guaranty Corp. is now offering divorce insurance online. They even  provide a Divorce Probability Calculator to determine your odds of not remaining in martial bliss [see link below]. On their website the company states the following information:

Would you make a bet that might cost you your house? Are you someone who would turn over your life savings to a complete stranger without knowing their qualifications and background? Are you someone prone to street drag racing? If so then you’ll probably be comfortable without Divorce Insurance. However, if you make educated financial decisions after careful research, you work hard at protecting your hard earned assets and you’re someone who wants to ensure that their family is protected against living in poverty for any amount of time, then like the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared”, you’ll want to know more about Divorce Insurance.

We know it’s a lot to think about. We know it’s not something ANYONE really likes to think about, but neither is death or disability and we’ll wager that if you already have a sound financial plan, then you have insurance coverage against one or both of those. Divorce is no different. In today’s society the risk is real and tangible. No one knows what the future holds and if you’re like most people, you already know someone who has suffered some dire financial consequences as a result of divorce. More than likely through no fault of there own.

So there you have it. Divorce insurance for those who might want to protect against the possibility of getting a divorce. But I know what you are thinking? How much is this going to cost me?

The insurance can be bought in units at $15.99 a month for $1,250 of protection.  Need $12,500 of protection?  Well, you can do the math.There is also a $250 yearly management fee as well.

What do you think. Is this something worth getting?

Comments welcome.

Divorce Probability Calculator

Source – SafeGuard Guaranty Corp.

Source – NY Times

Hackers Love To Attack Hotel Databases To Grab Credit Card Info

In a recent survey it was found that 38% of credit card hacking cases happened at hotels. In its report, Spider Labs, which is a data-security consulting firm for Trustwave, confirmed this fact. For many of us who thought that most credit card thefts occurred at retail locations, this should be an eye opener. The hotel industry wants to keep the information away from the public, since the current recession has already cut deep into its revenues. The report also stated that because of the decline of revenue, many hotels are unable to upgrade their security which adds to the problem.

In a recent N.Y. Times article it went on to state that:

Why hotels? Well, to paraphrase the bank robber Willie Sutton, hackers hit hotels because that is where the richest vein of personal credit card data is. At hotels with inadequate data security, “the greatest amount of credit card information can be obtained using the most simplified methods,” said Anthony C. Roman, a private security investigator with extensive experience in the hotel industry.

“It doesn’t require brilliance on the part of the hacker,” Mr. Roman said. “Most of the chronic security breaches in the hotel industry are the result of a failure to equip, or to properly store or transmit, this kind of data, and that starts with the point-of-sale credit card swiping systems.”

ABC News reported that Destination had been victimized by “an intense database attack that lasted over three months,” and quoted law enforcement authorities saying that losses, which totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars, averaged $2,000 to $3,000 on each of the estimated 700 credit card numbers stolen.

Which brings up two things I do on a regular basis: I check my credit card statements several times a week looking for any suspicious activity; I also have a credit card I use when away from home that has a $1,000 limit. I also use this same card to make purchases on the Internet from various online merchants.

What do you do to protect yourself?

Comments welcome.

Source – N.Y. Times

36% Annual Percentage Rate Is Not Enough, Says Check ‘n Go

Arizona has followed the lead of some 16 other states in regulating how much pay-day lenders can charge clients. Some pay-day lenders had been charging as much as 460% annual percentage rates, which will come to an end this Thursday in Arizona. The new rate will be limited to only 36%, a rate which has been previously imposed on banks and other lenders. But one company, Ckeck ‘n Go, says it can’t make it with such a miserly interest rate and plans on ceasing operations in the state.

A recent article stated:

Some stores already have shut their doors, and an industry spokesman said more will follow. Payday lenders left in droves from other states that have imposed similar caps.

“What you are going to see is the smaller operators with one, two or three stores will close,” said Lee Miller, a spokesman for Arizona Consumer Financial Services, a trade group that represents payday lenders. “The large companies are looking around and trying to find new products to meet the credit needs of Arizona consumers.”

Miller said that to stay in business, many payday lenders likely will offer auto-title loans, which can generate annual returns of up to 204 percent, according to state law. The Center for Responsible Lending said more than 200 payday stores in Arizona have received auto-title loan licenses in the past two years, as it became more apparent payday licensing would end. Some payday lenders also will continue to offer check-cashing services.

But some large businesses are just throwing in the towel.

Check ‘n Go, licensed under Southwestern & Pacific Specialty Finance Inc. in Cincinnati, stopped offering payday-loan services a month ago in Arizona and began closing 11 of its 34 stores on June 12. The company, which has 102 Arizona employees, plans to close all stores by the end of summer.

I find it hard to believe that any company would be allowed to charge 460% annual percentage rate for any type of loan. This smells of legalized loan sharking.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – azcentral.com

If You Can Pay But Walk Away, Fannie Mae Will Follow

Fannie Mae is going to go after homeowners who walk away from their home loans if they have the ability to pay what they owe. The government controlled agency that needed to a massive bailout using our tax dollars now wants to go after the delinquent borrowers who simply do not want to play the game of Monopoly now that housing prices have fallen.

An article in the L.A. Times states:

Fannie Mae’s get-tough policy on so-called walkaways is the latest fallout from the housing meltdown, which has eroded the once widely held belief in homeownership as the path to household wealth.

Foreclosures continue at a rate of 2.5 million a year, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair said, and some 11 million households owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

Fannie Mae’s new policies are designed to prod borrowers into pursuing alternatives to foreclosure, including short sales — transactions in which lenders allow a home to be sold and cancel the debt while accepting less than full payoff of the mortgage.

But should Fannie Mae be allowed to go after those who walk away?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – LA Times

To Rent Or Own A Home In 2010 – What’s Your Opinion?

We have all heard the horror stories about people who are paying for homes that are worth less than the mortgage they are trying to pay off. In some markets home prices have fallen over 50% in value during the past few years. There have been a flood of TV news programs, including 60 Minutes, that have interviewed folks who are just walking away from their obligation and giving their home back to the bank.

What brought this topic to my attention was a recent article at Chicago Now in which the question was asked whether one should buy or rent a home in 2010. After comparing the cost of rent and then a mortgage, taxes, and homeowners fees, the article concluded it was cheaper to buy.

A 1 bedroom condo on the 34th floor is renting for $1770.  It’s all remodeled with a gorgeous view of the city and lake.  The same unit is for sale for $179,000.  Not bad. To assist me with working the numbers to see if this condo is worth buying instead or renting, I called my longtime trusted mortgage man:  Jeff Slater with BancGroup Mortgage. He’s the guy that gets it done.  Jeff is always there to answer any questions that my clients or I have when purchasing a property.

With a listing price of $179,000, I think it can be safely assumed that a reasonable selling price is in the $170,000 range.  So, for $170,000 there would be taxes of $2811 per year and a monthly association due of $419.  Guess how much that comes out to be for monthly payments?  $1563 per month with 10% down and $1383 per month with 20% down.  In this instance, it is best to…


But is it really that simple?

During the 60 Minutes sequence on CBS, it stated:

It’s estimated that one million Americans walked away from homes “underwater” or worth less than their mortgages even though they could afford the payments. Morley Safer reports on this trend, called strategic default, that threatens the economic recovery.

This is kind of a bag of mixed nuts in our family. My wife and I are fortunate to live in an area that did not experience a large number of foreclosures. In fact, homes are being built as I write this. Our middle daughter and her husband did not fare so well. They have a home in Waterford, CT on the water that they paid $880K for three years ago. They have it listed at $700K and still cannot sell it.

Our youngest daughter lost her home in 2008 and it was foreclosed upon. She is now a renter.

So what do you think? Is it better to buy or rent?

Comments welcome.

Source – CBS

Source – Chicago Now