Robo Calls

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In March of 2016, the Federal Trade Commission settled with an Orlando based company that was making robo-calls to consumers. With the robo-calls, the company was able to make calls at less than one cent each in cost. The company used automated dialing machines with pre-recorded messages. Here is the principle which applies to robo-calls: if the call is a message from someone selling something and you have not given your permission to get calls from that company, the call could be illegal.


Credit Card Balance Transfers

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Consolidating your credit card balances may help you to manage your credit card debt. Here are some steps to take when considering balance transfers. Figure out your total credit card debt. Figure out the interest rate on each of your credit cards. Also, you need to know what is the total amount you can pay each month on your credit card debt. There is usually a balance transfer fee as well, so find out what that fee is. Having all of these pieces of information will then help you to figure out how much it will cost you to do the balance transfers and what your new monthly payment should be. Credit card companies may be able to assist you with these calculations.


Eviction Records

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Transunion, which is one of the three credit bureaus, released a report in February of 2016 about evictions. Prior evictions and rental-related collections are predictive of future evictions. People who have been evicted have 3 times as many prior evictions and rental related collections activity than non-evicted people. Eviction losses average $3,500 per unit. This includes court costs, lost revenue and other operating expenses.


Student Loan Terms

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There are certain key terms of student loans you should know. What is the interest rate on the loan? Interest rates of 4 to 10 % are common. What are the repayment terms? If you have a co-signer on the loan, they should know about the terms as well. The liability of the co-signer is usually the same as the signer. The most difficult question to answer is: how can you pay back the loan?


Short Sale

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If you are faced with foreclosure, the bank or mortgage company may allow you to do a short sale.  In a short sale, you would sell the house for a lesser price than your mortgage.  For example, if you owe $100,000 on your mortgage and you sell the house for $75,000 that is a short sale.  What happens to the $25,000 difference?  The bank may issue you a 1099 for the $25,000 debt forgiveness you received.  Check with the bank to see how they handle the debt forgiveness.   Keep in mind that you will need to keep the bank informed as to almost every step involving the short sale.  And, the bank has to agree to the short sale.


Automatic Stay Under Bankruptcy

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Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Laws refers to the automatic stay.  The automatic stay means that someone cannot start or continue a legal case against you.  The stay means that a wage garnishment has to stop.  The stay keeps your car from being repossessed.  The stay stops a foreclosure sale.  The stay can also stop your utilities from being turned off.  However, there are several exceptions to the automatic stay.  The stay does not apply to support obligations, custody and visitation and a few other proceedings.


Credit Card Terms

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When getting a credit card, there are some key pieces of information to know.  What is the annual percentage rate for the credit card?  Is the rate a fixed rate or is it variable?  If you are late on a payment, what is the penalty and late fee?  Is there a rewards program for the credit card?  How does the rewards program work?


Credit Reports

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You can obtain a free credit report once a year through annualcreditreport.com.  Try to get a credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Transunion and Equifax.  Take some time to go through each credit report and verify the reports are accurate.


Automatic Debits

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An automatic debit allows a company to withdraw a certain amount from your bank account each month to pay towards a bill.  If you are going to stop the automatic debit, check your contract with the company to see if you are still liable for payments under the contract.  If you feel you must stop the automatic debits, contact your bank to see what the procedure is to stop the automatic debits.


Upside Down Value

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You may hear about your mortgage or your car loan being “upside down.”  What does this mean?  It means that your loan amount is greater than the value of the item.  For example, if your car is only worth $10,000 but your loan amount is $20,000 then you are “upside down” on the loan.  You owe more on the car than it is worth.


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