Over-the-limit fees aren’t the only tactic in the credit card companies’ bag of tricks. There are a slew of penalties, fees and other billing practices that can cause consumers to find themselves drowning in debt.
But even borrowers who pay their bills on time can fall victim to deceptive practices used by the card issuers and get slammed with rising interest and hidden fees, which have become the industry norm in recent years.
many banks calculate finance charges using what’s called double-cycle billing, a confusing practice that averages out the balance from your previous two bills. So if you carry a balance and pay a finance charge one month, you’ll get hit with a finance charge on your next bill as well, even if you’ve paid off the balance.
Then, there’s a practice known as “trailing interest” – another “gotcha” to watch out for, Arnold said. If you send in a payment according to the full amount on your statement, you may find that you still owe a small balance next month. That’s because you accrued interest between the time you sent the payment and when it was posted to your account.
As previous posts have pointed out you really need to keep your eye on your credit card company as though they will trick you out of your money given any chance to do so.
An update e-mailed to ShadowStats subscribers at the beginning of the month warned darkly that “GDP (gross domestic product) and Jobs Data Appear Rigged” and “Despite Manipulated Data, the Recession Deepens.”
By his reckoning, the economy shrank 2.5 percent in the year that ended in March, unemployment is really 13 percent and year-over-year inflation is 7.5 percent.
If I was to believe one of those I would pick 7.5% inflation (or at least something a bit closer to that than to and the government figure). If I had to pick one I think is way off, I would pick the unemployment rate. One thing people need to remember is that numbers can be questioned. Often people see a number and just believe it must be true because it is a number (they usually don’t consciously think this but do so sub-consciously). I am losing confidence in the inflation figures quoted by the government (they just seem to far from what seems to be happening). The GDP is never exact, so being off by a couple percent depending on what assumptions you make is not impossible to understand (yet the news media, politicians, business press… act as though the figure is exactly accurate).
John Williams’ web site, Shadow Government Statistics, has the feel of someone that is a gadfly. And I don’t accept his statements, but I believe the government figures are indeed deserving of more scrutiny. It makes perfect sense for inflation to more accurately take into account the substitution effects people can make but that also allows the figures to be more influenced by judgments of what is a fair substitution (and also what is increased quality worth…). And those questions on inflation can directly effect whether the economy (GDP) grew by 1% of shrunk by 2%.
Inflation is a real threat. I guess it is good the Federal Reserve finally seems to be taking the risk somewhat seriously. They can’t be taking it very seriously with the fed funds rate at 2%. Inflation can create havoc in the economy once it gets started and it may already be too late to try and address it. There could be some real problems ahead. An economy can’t exist forever by printing money (the government’s huge debts) and consumers financing extravagant living by borrowing from foreigners. Pretty much the textbook on what will happen if this is done is bad inflation.
For more than a decade other countries have continued to finance the excess spending by the USA which delayed the inflation (they were more concerned with growing trade than anything else). That has changed as they are now interested in consuming themselves and sensibly growing concerned about the inflation risk of investing in dollar assets (especially bonds). There are now numerous risks to the economy (high gas prices, credit crisis, housing crisis, huge federal debt, huge consumer debt…). Still it is amazing how well the economy is doing. Hopefully that can continue but the risks are serious.
The Senate was unable to find a compromise that both satisfied payday lenders and eliminated the debt trap that bill supporters said forced too many borrowers to take out new loans to pay for old ones. So it did what the House did last month: dropped the hammer.
“I think everybody said there is just no way to redeem this product. It’s fundamentally flawed,” Bill Faith, a leader of the Ohio Coalition for Responsible Lending, said of the twoweek loans. The industry “drew a line in the sand, and the legislature kicked the line aside and said we’re done with this toxic product.”
House Bill 545 would slash the annualized interest rate charged by payday lenders from 391 percent to 28 percent, prohibit loan terms of less than 31 days and limit borrowers to four loans per year. It also would ban online payday lending.
Yes in a small number of cases payday loans are helpful. In the vast majority of cases they harm citizens and the economic well being of society. Legislators should act to fix practices that harm the economy.
Assessing how much further house prices are likely to fall gets even trickier. One route is to look at market expectations: investors expect a further 20% drop, judging by the prices of futures contracts linked to the Case-Shiller 10 city index. But the futures market is small and illiquid and may overstate the possible declines.
Using a model that ties house prices to disposable incomes and long-term interest rates, analysts at Goldman Sachs reckon that the correction in national house prices is only halfway through. They expect an 18-20% correction overall, or another 11-13% decline from today’s levels. But their models suggest that six states – Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, California and New Jersey, could see further price declines of 25% or more.
Optimists dispute this gloomy assessment, pointing out that some measures of housing affordability have dramatically improved. According to NAR figures, monthly payments on a typical house with a 30-year mortgage and 20% downpayment were 18.5% of the median family’s income in February, down from almost 26% at the peak – and close to the historical average. But this measure of affordability is misleading, not least because credit standards have tightened so much.
Given the typical pace of rental growth, Mr Feroli reckons house prices (as measured by the Case-Shiller index) need to fall by 10-15% over the next year and a half for the rent/price yield to return to its historical average.
Actually predicting the where the declines will stop is very difficult. But this articles provides some very good thoughts on what the future holds. While things may not go as those quoted guess their guesses seem pretty reasonable and the explanations make sense.
Who will watch the watchmen? The USA is in desperate need for some people in power that support the ideas of Jefferson et. al. Taking your laptop into the US? by Bruce Schneier (a leading authority on computer security matters).
Lastly, don’t forget your phone and PDA. Customs agents can search those too: emails, your phone book, your calendar. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do here except delete things.
This is so sad. The continued erosion of liberty is amazing. I think we need to wonder now how much longer we can expect the right to openly criticize bad government policy. It used to be the USA government looked down on “soviet block” spying on those visiting the country. That the leaders of the USA have so abandoned liberty is very sad.
20 years from now when the consequences of such anti-liberty behavior results in the much more rapid emergence of other countries that respect the rights of visitors we can wish we didn’t follow this bad path. People can gnash their teeth and wonder why the USA threw away its central role in international trade, science, engineering… This continued path of stupid behavior is condemning the USA to a poorer future.
So far my worry has been the failure of the USA government to take sensible proactive steps. Increasingly however, my worry is growing from that to include growing concern at very damaging policies that serve to isolate the USA from those leaders of the future that of course will shun those that strip their liberties as a condition of dealing with the USA (some will continue to put up with the ludicrous demands as long as their is money to be made but I bet they will be anxious to find more willing partners as soon as they can).
The decision was swift as it was simple: move to Cambodia to provide jobs for poor women. I first
visited Phnom Penh in April 2006 and was back the next month to look for a house.
I approached the job placement arm of an NGO in Phnom Penh (PP). There are many NGOs who train poor Cambodians, but what this country needs is jobs. You can train people all you like, but if no one employs them, you’ll have frustrated skilled people who are unable to use their
Bloom has a savings plan for staff. Every month staff are encouraged to put away a percentage of their income which goes towards buying a sewing machine. Bloom will then subsidize the cost of the machine. With the machine, workers will be able to become small business owners, supplying bags not only to Bloom, but to other sellers, like small shops in the tourist markets.
Related: Bloom Bags Blog – Using Capitalism to Make the World Better – Make the World a Better Place – Kiva – Provide a Helping Hand – Aim for everybody to gain: workers, customers, suppliers, shareholders… – Obscene CEO Pay
- We believe in the right of all people to a decent life, free of poverty, and with access to education
- We believe you can be rich by helping the poor
The best method to avoid problems with debt collectors is to avoid debt problems (Create Your Cash Reserve – use your credit card responsibly – Buy less stuff). But if you do run into problems and get stuck dealing with debt collectors in addition to the financial trouble you may find yourself very frustrated and stressed. The Fair Debt Collection resource of the Federal Trade Commission provides useful information:
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:
- use threats of violence or harm
- publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)
- use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone
Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives
- falsely imply that you have committed a crime
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau
- misrepresent the amount of your debt
- indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
- indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are
Why is such a resource needed? Because many debt collectors have behaved unethically and illegally. To file a complaint use that link or call toll-free, 1-877-382-4357.
You might think that increased gas prices lead to less driving, but historically that has not been the case. Gas demand is very inelastic (or gas prices are very elastic): which means demand changes very little as prices increase.
How much has consumption actually decreased in the face of huge increases in prices? The US government predicts .3% this year: and there is evidence it might actually be declining more in the last few months. Finally a significant reduction in demand may be upon us. Previously the only significant reaction was increased complaints but little change in behavior.
Related: Bigger Impact: 15 to 18 mpg or 50 to 100 mpg? – Gas Tax – $8,000 Per Gallon (ink not gas) – South Korea Invests $22 Billion in Overseas Energy Projects – The Rebirth of Cities – Traffic Congestion and a Non-Solution – Energy Future – Designing Cities for People, Rather than Cars – Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit
As the credit card companies continue to prove they are not interested in providing value to the customer and making a fair profit from the value they provide. Instead they attempt to do whatever they can to get money from customers. I would guess because they can get more from careless customers that don’t block each attempt to take their money than the companies have to pay back or pay in fines.
Canceling cards from companies that repeatedly treat customers as a source of ill gotten gains is wise. Unfortunately most options seem to be led by the same unethical tactics. Some credit unions seem to actually believe in providing a fair service and treating customers with honesty and integrity (though many just outsource credit card service to a company that has no interest in the mission of the credit union to serve members). During the era of the robber barrons it was accepted that business was amoral. Since then it is understood morality applies in the business world – some people just case less about morality than cash.