Getting Tough on Mortgage Lenders Who Won’t Help Homeowners

November 30, 2009

Homeowners facing foreclosure may have a little help on the horizon.  Of course, we’ve all heard that before. The Department of Treasury just announced a new ‘get tough’ policy that will punish mortgage lenders with fines, unless they speed up efforts to help homeowners.

With foreclosures still on the rise, the administration says this is an effort to make sure banks come through on offers to lower payments through mortgage modifications.  Click here to read an article by Reuters on the new effort.

For many homeowners who have been unable to get their mortgage company to work with them, there may still be hope with the “Produce the Note” strategy.  Click here to learn more.

Bank Lobby Tries to Deep Six Consumer Protection

November 30, 2009

Efforts to pass new legislation that would protect consumers from corporate abuse by lending institutions are under attack.  The American Financial Services Association, which lobbies for finance companies, is already celebrating that it looks like the bill is fading fast.  The proposal is for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would provide protection for consumers against lending abuses. Click here for an eye-opening article by Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank.

All of your lawmakers in Washington want you to believe they’re looking out for you, the average, middle class, hard working individual trying to make ends meet. But guess what?  Money talks. This time, citizens should talk louder.  Write to your Congressmen and let them know it’s time to stand up for the people.  Click here to write your Congressman and let them know what you think.

Safest Car? Ford Wins Again in 2009

November 25, 2009

Safest CarsThe safety ratings are in for the 2009 cars, and Ford came out a big winner. The Consumer Warning Network reported earlier this year that Ford made the safest cars in 2008, so that’s two years in a row on top. Although Ford (and Volvo, owned by Ford) did well in the IIHS ratings (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), however, the Ford Fusion slipped off the list completely.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The IIHS rates cars based on safety in front, side, and rear collisions and on rollover safety. The Institute also looks at factors such as electronic stability controls in cars.

Ford/Volvo had six winners in the four classes of automobiles (large, midsize, small and SUV’s), the Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS, Volvo S80, Volvo C30, Volvo XC60, and Volvo XC90. Obviously, when Ford acquired the Swedish Volvo company, it bought itself a new safety reputation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

A federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, released its own 2009 ratings based on highway crash tests. Of the top 5 “safe” vehicles, Volvo’s XC90 made the list, as did the Audi Q7, Mitsubishi Outlander, Saturn Vue and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

There is, however, one curious thing about these N.H.T.S. ratings. Every one of them is an SUV. None of them are noted for having good gas mileage. Indeed, some (the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes M-Class) are downright gas guzzlers. SUV’s are usually built on truck frames and are heavier than other vehicles, so it should not be surprising that they do better in crash tests (except rollovers).

There’s more to safety than just a heavy frame. Using that standard alone, the safest vehicle on the road should be the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank. With 70 tons of steel, its crash tests would be over the top with hardly a dent after even a head-on collision. Of course, your M1A2 will only get you 2 gallons per mile on its 500 gallon gas tank, so you’ll spend a lot of time and money at the pump! It does, however, go from zero to 20 mph in only 7.2 seconds, so buckle up.

This illustrates the problem with using safety tests as the most important factor in buying a car. Heavier is safer, but you have to strike a balance between what constitutes perfect safety and what is good for your pocketbook and the environment. Look for extra safety features like bracing at key points in the car, anti-sway devices in vehicles that are used for towing, anti-lock brakes, and other similar devices that help increase safety without simply putting you behind a truck that looks like a car.

Fried Turkey for Thanksgiving Can be Dangerous

November 25, 2009

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wish you a happy and safe holiday.  Click here to see why roasted turkey is better than deep fried.

Best Buy’s Late Fee Gotcha

November 20, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

Consumers, brace yourself.  We’ve uncovered yet another way customers are getting zapped by using a credit card.  This time, giant electronics retailer Best Buy engages in some tricky billing that slaps a customer with a late fee for paying early.  It may sound crazy, but just click here to learn more and watch the story above.

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Banks say Thank You: Loan Shark Rates on Credit Cards

November 17, 2009

loan sharksBy Terry Smilijanich:

America’s major financial institutions received billions and billions in taxpayer bailout money last year. How did they repay the favor? Simple – they went to war against their customers by raising interest rates, penalties, and fees on credit cards, ever since.

Rate Hike Binge

Congress saw this coming as early as February of this year, and passed the “Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009,” preventing such companies from raising interest rates and penalties to new outrageous levels. Good law. One small problem.

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A Foreclosure Family Saga

November 17, 2009

Nightline’s Vicki Mabrey takes a heart-wrenching look at one family’s struggle to fight foreclosure.  Hard times, from job loss to medical bills, ultimately got the best of them, and the mortgage company was not inclined to help.  Click here to see the story of this average American family’s battle to stop the foreclosure process.

Rip-off Overdraft Fees Getting the Ax

November 13, 2009

New protections for consumers against predatory overdraft fees were just announced by the Federal Reserve. The new rules will ban banks from charging overdraft fees on debit cards and ATM transactions unless they get the consumer’s okay first.  Click here to  hear from consumers who’ve been affected and learn more.

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Top Ten Gas Guzzling Cars of 2010

November 12, 2009

gasNew car models are out. They are slicker and more fuel efficient than ever, because we all know that cheap gas is a thing of the past.  So what new models throw gas prices in our face and say with pride “I am a Guzzler”.  Here is the list:

10. Hummer H3 Alpha

9. GMC Sierra 1500 4WD

8. Nissan Armada 4WD

7. Lexus LX 570

6. Mercedes-Benz GL 550

5. Nissan Titan 4WD

4. Infiniti QX 56

3. Land Rover LR4

2. Land Rover Ranger Sport

1.  And the winner is… Porsche Cayenne GTS.  At 405 horsepower it is the guzzlingest car on the road, getting a mere 13 mpg.  But if you can pay $71,600 for an SUV, the price of a gallon of gas may not mean too much to you.  For a detailed report on each car go to this site.

Free Credit Report Isn’t

November 4, 2009

THIS ONE’S FREE

By: Larry Wiezycki

FreeCreditReport.com is a $700 million a year business.  It has nine million subscribers who visit the website looking for their government-mandated free credit report after seeing their catchy TV ad. The ads warn that you must “Know your Score” or fall prey to identity theft, sudden rate hikes and further financial crises! But now the Federal Trade Commission has created its own TV ad (click here to watch it) warning about FreeCreditReport.com and other sites that bait their hook with that ‘free’ credit report snagging unsuspecting consumers with fear of the unknown.

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