Archives - Money Matters
March 26, 2014 A new study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds that the vast majority of short-term payday loans are not paid off within 14 days and are rolled-over or renewed. The report says this traps consumers in “spider webs of debt."
March 11, 2014 Confused about your tax return? You're not alone. The folks at TurboTax have provided me with answers to some of the most common questions they're getting. Plus, the simple way to check on the status of your refund.
March 4, 2014 A new report shows that the #1 complaint about debt collectors is mistaken identity – they want you to pay a debt that you don’t’ owe. Don’t just hang up, there’s a right way to handle this situation.
February 28, 2014 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accuses ITT Educational Services, one of the country’s largest for-profit college chains, with predatory lending. The school is also alleged to have used misleading marketing techniques to enroll students.
February 27, 2014 It’s not for everyone, but graduates who have a good job and have boosted their credit score since getting out of school, may be able to refinance. This could save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

February 21, 2014

The federal government recently issued “guidance” that was supposed to give the financial industry the green light to provide services to legal marijuana businesses. Bankers don’t see it that way. So for now, this will continue to be a cash-only industry.
February 13, 2014 Within a few years, we’ll all be using new and more fraud-resistant smart credit cards. Now, the question is what type of authorization will be required to use the card at the store: PIN or signature?

February 7, 2014 They’re not just for someone who doesn’t have a bank account anymore. Prepaid cards are growing in popularity because they help some people stick to their budget and control spending.

February 3, 2014 A report from Javelin Strategy & Research finds that financial institutions do a much better job than retailers with credit card security and protecting your personal information. Which ones topped list and what you can do to protect yourself?
January 31, 2014 Every state regulates hair dressers, but only four regulate tax preparers. Consumer groups warn that many paid tax preparers don’t know what they’re doing which could result in serious consequences for the tax payer. Here’s what to watch out for.
January 22, 2014 The data breach at Target may speed up the adoption of more secure credit card technology in this country, something that has dragged on for years. Chip-based "smart cards," already used in Europe, are difficult to counterfeit.

January 20, 2014 Most people find out there’s a problem when contacted by their financial institution. Fraud experts say we must be proactive and take steps to protect ourselves. Here are some of the most obvious red flags that a thief is pretending to be you.
January 16, 2014 For the first time, married gay couples will file as "married"
on their federal return. It’s not an option, it’s required. It will simplify the process, but may boost some couples' tax liability. Rules for state income tax are not always as simple.
January 14, 2014 Armed with your Social Security number, an imposter can file a fraudulent return. If they beat you to the IRS, they might be able to steal your refund money. It’s a serious problem that’s getting worse. What can you to do protect yourself?

January 10, 2014 These new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are designed to put an end to traps and runarounds. Lenders are now required to make a "good-faith effort" to verify that you can afford that loan. So, will this make it harder to get a mortgage?
January 3, 2014 An error in your credit report can have serious financial consequences. So, if you find an error in your file, you want it corrected quickly . But that doesn’t always happen. What then? Complain to the feds and they might be able to help.

December 27, 2013 This massive breach made it clear that credit cards provide much stronger fraud protection than debit cards. We also learned that over-reacting to a breach like this won’t do any good. Some of the advice given to victims was wrong on questionable.
November 22, 2013 A new government report shows the drastic need for more and better financial education in this country. Financial literacy is crucial in this world of confusing and sophisticated financial transactions.

November 11, 2013 There’s nothing wrong with an educational institution making money. But there is a growing sense among government regulators that some of these schools take GI and don’t deliver on their promise of providing degrees that lead to good jobs.

November 8, 2013 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has expanded its consumer complaint database to include problems with payday loans. Once a complaint is filed, the company will have 15 days to respond.

November 4, 2013 As America ages, more of us will be called on to manage the finances of a family member. There are certain rules every "fiduciary" needs to know. New guides from the feds should help.
October 30, 2013 An interesting new study looks at kids and credit cards and finds that young people are a lot more responsible with credit than generally assumed. Experts suggest the
smart way to get a son or daughter their first credit card.
October 28, 2013 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new rule gives more transparency and reliability for wire transfers outside the U.S. It requires giving accurate price information upfront and a way to dispute errors after the transaction is made.
October 23, 2013 With marijuana possession now legal in some states, the race is on to invest in this growing industry. While some people will surely get rich in this ”green rush,” many will lose their money or get taken by scammers who pitch bogus investments.

October 22, 2013 File a single claim on your homeowner's policy – even a relatively small one – and you could get dinged with a rate hike. A new study finds that the financial consequences of making a legitimate claim varies from state to state.

October 21, 2013 A new government report says companies hired by lenders to collect payment for private student loans don’t always act in the borrowers’ best interest. Sometimes, these loan servicers do things to increase the total cost of higher  education.
October 10, 2013 Paying with cash may not be cheaper if there are costs to get that cash. Some costs are obvious, others are not. A new study puts the cost for the average American family at $1,700 a year.

October 6, 2013 A new study finds that significantly more people believe they are on track financially for retirement now than in 2012. Yet, most Americans are not taking the steps necessary to reach that milestone. What gives?

October 2, 2013 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reminds employers that it’s against the law to force their workers to get their wages on a prepaid debit card, what’s often called a payroll card. The agency said it would prosecute violation of the law.

September 24, 2013 Sometimes, it pays to complain. A new report shows that most of the people who contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with a problem about their bank do get some form of relief.


September 10, 2013 In this video podcast, Herb talks to teens about budgeting and the value of money. He also explains how to avoid costly debit card overdraft fees. work. It’s good information for anyone in the family.


September 4, 2013 These popular cards let you earn points and miles or even cash back, but a lot of people who have a rewards card don’t know really know how they work. Also, J.D. Power names America’s Favorite Credit Card.


August 20, 2013 A new student debt relief industry has sprung up to cash-in on
the millions of Americans drowning in student loan debt. They
promise dramatic results -- for a fee. If you have federal loans, you can get all the help you need for free.
August 5, 2013 After more than 40 years, ATM technology is about to take a big leap forward. Some new machines give you access to a human teller. Others let you use a mobile app to do an ATM transaction in just seconds.
July 10, 2013 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now taking complaints about abusive debt collection practices. The Bureau has also created form letters that you can use when corresponding with a debt collector.
June 21, 2013 We all need credit, but it’s not easy to understand how the credit rating system works. Will this hurt my score. Will this raise it? I sat down with an expert to find out more about credit cards and credit scores.

June 11, 2013 A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds that overdraft protection programs are complex and many people are confused about how they work. This can lead to more fees than the customer expects to incur.  

May 30, 2013
A new study finds that some banks still have" hidden fees" that make it hard to comparison shop for a checking account. Bankers don't see what all the fuss is about.. Are new federal rules required? Hear what both sides have to say.

May 29, 2013
Would you open a new bank account for $50? How about $100? A number of banks and credit unions will pay you that much or more to become a new customer. Free money is good, but is there a catch?  

If a bank teller suspects an elderly customer is about to be swindled out of a lot of money, should they do something? Yes. The feds say privacy laws do not trump the need to protect seniors.
May 17, 2013
How do you respond when your high school student says he or she wants their own credit card? Misuse could have negative consequences for years.  There are options.

May 16, 2013
A new study finds that early baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1955) may be the last group of Americans to retire with enough savings to maintain their financial security through their golden years. Gen-Xers are really in bad shape.

May 15, 2013
A bad score could prevent you from getting a credit card, loan or renting an apartment. It could keep you from getting a job. And yet, a lot of people don’t know how credit scores work and how they’re determined.
May 13, 2013
They’re nothing to write home about, but Internet banks continue to pay higher rates than traditional banks for both money market and savings accounts. And the spread between the two types of institutions keeps growing bigger.
May 9, 2013
A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the growing burden of student loan debt is a "roadblock" to opportunity for millions and is also hurting the overall economy in various ways.
May 8, 2013
A new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau makes it easier for spouses and unmarried partners who run the home to get approved for a credit card. They will no longer be penalized for their lack of income.

April 25, 2013
The Families and Work Institute announces its Work Life Legacy awards honoring companies for going the extra mile to hire veterans and support them as they return to civilian life. The story contains links to numerous resources.
July 22, 2013 A new study finds that some of the country’s major insurance companies use education and occupation to premium rates for auto policies. The Consumer Federation of American says this is unfair and discriminatory.

April 23, 2013 A new study finds that people who by green homes are 32% less likely to default on their mortgage than the average borrower. Should underwriters consider energy-efficiency as a risk factor, like they do your income and credit score?

April 17, 2013 Experts say some of these cards can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to a checking account if you choose wisely. There are still a lot of ‘gotcha’ fees to watch out for. Here’s how to choose.

April 12, 2013 Most parents say they regularly talk to their kids about money issues – and that’s good. But a new survey by T. Rowe Price shows they’re not talking about the right things and they're not making good long-term plans.

April 9, 2013 Unless Congress stops it, the interest rate on new Stafford student loans is set to double on July 1 – from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. These government-subsidized loans are used by million of students to pay for their college education.

April 8, 2013 You can file complaints about credit cards, mortgages,
banks and private student loans and the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau will try to help get your problem resolved.
The Bureau’s complaint database is open to the public.
April 3, 2013 millions of Americans are racing to get their tax returns done. When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to overlook credits or deductions that can reduce your tax bill. Here’s some great advice from the experts.
March 30, 2013 We all complain about them, but we're using the costly overdraft service provided by banks and credit unions more and paying the price. Bank  revenue from overdraft charges hit $32 billion in 2012. Why is this happening?
March 26, 2013
Bank of America just rolled out a new type of reward credit card that lets people earn up to $25 cash back each quarter or $100 a year for making more than the minimum payment each month and making that payment on time.
March 20, 2013 The Overdraft Protection Act of 2013 would limit checking account overdraft fees and ban practices that increase the likelihood that you will overdraw your account. Banks are opposed. Consumer groups want to stop the price gouging.
March 19, 2013 Tired of paying your bank for checking? Want a checking account that's ‘free’ without having to maintain a big balance? Most large credit unions in the U.S. still offer free checking with no minimum balance required.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says some dealerships that offer third-party financing are discriminating based on race. A person of color often pays more for the same auto loan than a white person with a similar credit score.
March 15, 2013 Millions of Americans buried in debt took advantage of a debt settlement offer last year. Now it’s time to pay taxes on the part of the debt that was forgiven if it was more than $600. The IRS considers that taxable income reported on form 1099-C.
February 28, 2013 This is because of a provision that was written into the law that averted the fall off the fiscal cliff. And Congress made this tax break retroactive for 2012. That means, there may be some extra money in your paycheck. A lot of people don't know about this.
February 26, 2013 Unlike many other debts owed to the federal government, unpaid taxes are not reported to credit bureaus. Federal law prohibits sharing this information. But Congress could always change that. What are the pros and cons of doing this?
February 22, 2013 Charge a fee to use your credit card? It’s legal for merchants to do that, unless barred by state law. Ten states already ban such a surcharge and lawmakers in at least a dozen more states are considering such a ban.
February 20, 2013 A new report from the calls into question the main marketing claims used to sell payday loans. It says these loans are not affordable and often not short-term So why do 19 million Americans use them each year?
February 11, 2013 Maybe it’s time to get a "free" checking account that pays 3 to 4 percent interest – with no minimum balance required. Kasasa checking is offered at some community banks and credit unions. Do you qualify?
February 8, 2013 Good drivers are supposed to get the best insurance rates. But new research shows safe drivers with lower income are frequently charged more than those who recently caused an accident. How can this be?
February 7, 2013 Tax relief services prey on people in distress. They promise to drastically reduce or even eliminate your tax debt and stop collections. Of course, they want your money upfront. Don’t do it!
February 3, 2013 It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and not get the money. But it happens all the time. Is there an unclaimed payout with your name on it?
January 29, 2013 Now there's a way to pay for your tax preparation with no out of pocket expenses - use your refund. It's called a Refund Anticipation Check and consumer groups say it’s a waste of money.
January 25, 2013 As of Jan. 27, some merchants who accept Visa or MasterCard credit cards are allowed to add a service charge to the purchase price, unless prohibited by state law. It’s part of the settlement in an antitrust lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know.
January 18, 2013 Tax refunds are the biggest financial windfall most Americans get each year. But is this poor money management? Sometimes, but not always. Financial experts discuss the pros and cons.  
January 17, 2013 The offers are mighty tempting: a “guaranteed” pay day loan without a credit check. But to get the money you have to pay some fees up-front. Don’t do it! It’s a scam! Victims are losing thousands of dollars.
January 10, 2013 The Biebs will be the face for the new SpendSmart prepaid debit card which is billed an easy way for parents to teach their kids how to manage money. But is it? And what about the fees? Financial experts say there are better options.
January 7, 2013 It may not seem fair, but a company can stop you from suing them to settle a dispute. Mandatory arbitration clauses are routinely used by all sorts of businesses. Are these legal? Is there anything you can do?
January 3, 2013 TurboTax has a new version of its tax preparation software created specifically for military filers. It’s free for junior enlisted personnel (rank E-1 to E-5) in any branched of the Armed Forces until February 14.
December 27, 2012 Despite their popularity, gift cards are not the same as cash. They can expire (unless prohibited by state law) and have non-use fees. A bill before Congress would ban all gift cards from expiring and prohibit inactivity fees.
December 3, 2012 Most people buy it and forget it. But that can be a costly mistake. Premiums vary wildly from company to company. Experts say you should comparison shop every few years. Here’s how to quickly see if you’re getting a good deal.
November 19, 2012 A federal review of ads by lenders and mortgage brokers finds problems. Some are misleading; others may be illegal. Here’s what to watch out for if you plan to take out a home loan or refinance.
November 14, 2012
Do we have an emotional connection to our money? Could be. A new study shows that the physical appearance of money can alter people’s behavior. We tend to spend more to get rid of worn out bills and hold on to new currency.
November 4, 2012
The Internet makes it quick and easy to compare credit card offers. But in some cases, the information you get is biased by referral fees – and the site may not make that clear to users.
October 25, 2012
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has heard all the horror stories about abusive collectors. Starting in 2013 it will oversee the country’s larger debt collection companies to make sure they treat people fairly.
October 23, 2012
Good laws can have unintended consequences. As a result of the CARD act, many stay-at-home spouses were unable to get credit cards in their own name. The Consumer Financial Protection Board wants to change this.
October 15, 2012
 The world's largest retailer rolls out a prepaid debit card that can be used without paying any fees. Bluebird by American Express is designed to be a checking and debit alternative.
October 10, 2012
Credit card companies are currently offering some of the best terms ever on balance transfer offers. If you have a large balance you want to pay down - and good credit - it may time to make the move.  
October 3, 2012 Final approval of a proposed $7.25 billion settlement about credit card "swipe fees" could be in jeopardy or at least delayed by more legal wrangling. Six big trade groups who brought the lawsuit say they oppose the deal. 
September 24, 2012 The 2012 Checking Survey from shows checking account fees have hit unprecedented highs. At the same time, it’s becoming harder to get a truly free checking account, one with no strings attached.  
September 5, 2012 Yes, these cards have a lot of fees. But a Pew study suggests that for someone who has a lot of overdraft fees, they may be cheaper than a checking account. Even so, these cards are not the same as a bank checking account.
September 5, 2012 Those college bills may seem overwhelming, but you might have options. The Student Debt Repayment Assistant can point you in the right direction and suggest what to do if you’ve fallen behind on your loan payments.
August 22, 2012 Many colleges and universities see debit cards as a convenient and more efficient way to distribute financial aid. Critics don’t like the hidden fees. There are alternatives you should know about.
August 17, 2012 You can qualify for that mortgage, but if the appraisal comes in too low the loan might be denied. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed a rule to insure a borrower knows well in advance what the appraisal shows.
August 7, 2012 Most college students these days need some financial help to pay for their education. But it’s not always easy for families to compare financial aid packages from different schools. The New Shopping Sheet should help reduce the confusion.
July 16, 2012 America’s big credit bureaus are about to get some new scrutiny. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has adopted a rule that allows it to keep an eye on this industry which has been blamed for sloppy record Keeping that can have devastating consequences.
July 11, 2012 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants mortgage disclosure forms to be short, simple and in plain English. It's proposed “Know Before You Owe” forms were unveiled this week. The agency wants your comments.  
July 6, 2012 Use your credit card when you travel outside the country. It’s safer than cash, better than a debit card and you'll get the best currency exchange rate. But watch out for that foreign transaction fee!
June 28, 2012 A reverse mortgage seems simple enough: a way for seniors to borrow against the equity in their home without selling it. But a federal study calls these loans “inherently complicated products” that are not easy for the average consumer to understand.
June 21, 2012 A high percentage of customers are so unhappy with their bank that they might pull their money. A new report from Javelin finds that customers at two mega-banks say they might switch financial institutions.
June 8, 2012 Researchers at the Pew Charitable Trusts carefully read checking account disclosures from the country’s largest  banks and credit unions. They found long and confusing documents which can result in costly  and unexpected overdraft penalty fees.
June 5, 2012 Travel is never cheap. One way to cut the high cost is to use a rewards credit card. A few of these cards are offering extremely high bonuses right now. Card Hub compared more than 1,000 offers to find the cards with the best bonuses.
May 7, 2012 Will you pay a fee if you make a purchase with your debit card or get cash from an ATM and overdraw your checking account? Many people don't know. Congress could act to clear up the confusion.  
  April 17, 2012 Why are so many people using these prepaid cards instead of checks or regular debit cards? Don't they know how many fees they might have to pay?  
February 22, 2012 A growing number of families facing financial ruin from staggering student debt can’t get relief through bankruptcy.
February 12, 2012   Two new studies show that gas company credit cards are not the way to save money on your fill-ups.  
January 12, 2012  Is it really “better than cash” as she claims? The credit experts I spoke to give Suze’s card mixed reviews.         
January 4, 2012 These free offers are truly free with no hidden charges or fees.

                      Home  |  About  |  Helpful Links  |  Get Help  |  Scams  |  FAQs  |  Archives  |  Calculators  |  Podcasts


                      Knowledge is power. The ConsumerMan gives you the information you need to be a smarter consumer.

 © 2016 Herb Weisbaum, The ConsumerMan. All Rights Reserved.

  PRIVACY POLICY: The ConsumerMan site does not collect or keep personally identifiable information. Third-party vendors and their ad networks (including Google) use cookies, clear gifs, or web beacons to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to and other sites. You may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the advertising opt-out page. You may opt-out of many other third-party cookies by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out page.