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State Launches Probe Of Student Debt Relief Cos.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his newly established Student Protection Unit took its first official action by issuing subpoenas to 13 student debt relief companies as part of an investigation into concerns about potentially misleading advertising, improper fees, and other consumer protection problems in that industry.

In particular, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) Student Protection Unit is probing concerns that this industry is charging high, improper fees without adequate notice for enrolling students in debt relief programs that are available for free through the federal government.

The rising tide of student loan debt has made it more important than ever that we put in place strong consumer protections for New Yorks students, Cuomo said. Any company trying to sell students a raw deal using misleading or deceptive practices should know that well continue to work vigilantly to root out consumer abuse.

As part of his 2014-15 Executive Budget, Cuomo established a new Student Protection Unit within DFS to serve as a consumer watchdog for NewYorks students. The DFS Student Protection Unit is dedicated to investigating potential consumer protection violations and distributing clear information that students can use to help them make smart, long-term financial choices.

Socking students with high fees for a service that is already available for free through the federal government is an immediate red flag, added Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services. The Cuomo Administrations new Student Protection Unit will vigorously investigate this industry and any other potential violations of students consumer protection rights.

Student debt relief companies typically charge students fees to assist them with consolidating multiple student loans into a single loan. However, the same programs that these companies advertise are often available to borrowers free of charge through the US Department of Education.

Concerns have arisen about whether these private companies are charging improper, high upfront fees for simply funneling students into free government programs. A recent National Consumer Law Center report detailed these and other troubling practices within this industry.

Some companies also offer debt relief services in connection with private student loans. These private debt relief companies may charge inappropriate fees and may misrepresent their ability to obtain the results that they represent they can achieve.

The DFSs Student Protection Unit issued last Wednesday, Jan. 22, subpoenas to 13 student debt relief companies for a range of documents, including advertising materials, contracts, consumer disclosures, and fee schedules.

The companies to which DFS issued subpoenas include AlphaOne Student LLC; Brelvis Consulting, LLC (dba. The Student Loan Help Center); Consumer Protection Counsel, P.A; Debt Be Gone, LLC; Default Student Loan Assistance, LLC; Interactiv Education, LLC (dba Direct Student Aid, Inc.) Omega Capital Advisory LLC (dba. Federal Student Aid Relief); Student Consulting Group, Inc.; Student Loan Relief Center, Inc.; Student Loan Service; US Student Loan Helpers, Inc.; US Student Loan Services, Inc.; and Xtreme Products LLC (dba. USA Student Loans).

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), the amount of student loan debt nationwide has more than quadrupled in the last decade. FRBNY data also show that in New York the average student debt per borrower is $27,310the third highest of any state. Estimates from the FRBNY and the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put the total amount of student loan debt outstanding nationwide at approximately $1 trillion.

Any New Yorker who would like to file a complaint with the Cuomo Administrations Student Protection Unit about a student debt relief company or other potential abuses can contact the Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline at 1-212- 480-6400 or 1-800-342-3736 for assistance.

The Cuomo Administrations Student Protection Unit has also issued a consumer alert on the DFS website, www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/ alert_ student_ debt_ rc.htm with information on student debt relief companies.

3 Best Credit Card Consolidation Companies For Minnesota Residents …

Best Debt Consolidation Loans ranked the top 3 credit card consolidation companies that provide their services in the state of Minnesota.

St. Paul, MN (PRWEB) March 27, 2014

Consumers living in the state of Minnesota who are looking for professional debt help can visit http://www.BestDebtConsolidationLoans.org to find the three companies that are rated as the best in the industry. The reviewers of this site ranked various companies in terms of their debt solutions, service fees and customer satisfaction.

The three companies that ranked the highest are National Debt Relief, CuraDebt and American Debt Enders.

With a consistent A rating from the Better Business Bureau, National Debt Relief is the clear winner. Their high customer satisfaction is proven by the high rating that they continuously received from BBB.org. The reviewers of Best Debt Consolidation Loans also gave this company a 5 star rating because of their custom debt solution. The company review each and every client based on their debt and financial history. They use the unique financial condition of the client to come up with a debt solution that is both affordable and effective. With $7,500 debts or more, residents of Minnesota can avail of their services. They can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that the best debt relief company is working on their debt problem.

CuraDebt is second on the list with a 4 star rating. This company is given a high rating by the reviewers of the debt relief website because they have the lengthy tenure in the industry. This allowed them to develop a respectable working relationship with credit card companies. This can come in handy when negotiating debt in behalf of their clients. Those who have debts of $10,000 or more can avail of their services that does not only cover credit card debt but also tax debts, student loans and other defaulted loans. The company also provides custom tailored debt solutions to ensure that the client can afford their debt payment plan.

American Debt Enders is the third company to rank high in the review done by Best Debt Consolidation Loans. They got a 4 star rating for having one of the most compassionate and honest debt experts in the industry. They are well versed on different debt solutions that can help their clients achieve debt freedom. With a debt of $5,000 or more, the company can provide their service to consumers residing in Minnesota. In case the consumer would like to get help for their credit score, this is also a service that they can provide. Consumers who are interested in availing of their service can simply visit the website of American Debt Enders to find out more about them.

Best Debt Consolidation Loans encourage consumers from Minnesota to consider these three companies when searching for professional debt help. They are also urged to do their own research to ensure that the company can really help their unique debt situation.

To read the full review done on National Debt Relief, CuraDebt and American Debt Enders, visit the website of Best Debt Consolidation Loans.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/best_ccard_consolidation/companies_Minnesota/prweb11696756.htm

5 ways you’ve been saving money wrong





Like a big fat bowl of broccoli, discussing the contents of our bank accounts is one of the most unsavory topics known to mankind.

How to Confront Debt Before You Retire

It used
to be that once Americans neared retirement, they had whittled down (or
eliminated) their debt. Freed from monthly principal and interest payments, these
fortunate individuals were prepared to retire with dignity.

Times
have changed.

Preretirees are mired in debt.Here is the harsh reality
confronting preretirees:

  • Thirty-nine
    percent of households with one person who is 60 to 64 years-old had primary
    mortgages in 2010, according todata from Federal Reserve, which was analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal.
  • Twenty
    percent of those households had second mortgages.

The average debt of all Americans
is staggering. Americans
of all ages are awash in credit card debt. The average credit card debtfor US adults was $4,878 in
the first quarter of 2013, TransUnion reported. Almost 40 percent of Americans fail to pay off their credit cardsin full, according to the 2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey,carryingcredit card debt from month to month. Often, these card holders pay
exorbitant interest rates. According to Bankrate, credit card fixed-rates, as of February 26,
were 13.02 percent. Variable rates were 15.38 percent.

Personal bankruptcy filings
remain high. Although personal bankruptcy filings for 2012
fell from the prior year, the total number was still high, at nearly 1.2 millionfilings, according to theAdministrative Office of the US Courts. That whopping number is actually understated because approximately 31
percent of bankruptcy filings arejointly filed.

Explore non-bankruptcy options. Before you push the button for
the “nuclear debt option” of bankruptcy, you should first explore your ability
to restructure your debt. You may want to enlist a qualified credit counselor
to assist you with restructuring. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bottom
feeders who prey on desperate people seeking help in dealing with their credit
issues. They charge high fees for little or no service. Avoid them.

Legitimate
credit counselors are paid by banks and other creditors. Remember, your
creditors are highly motivated to receive some payment from you, rather than
taking their chances if they push you into bankruptcy, where they may get
nothing. You can find a list of reputable credit counselors on National
Foundation for Credit Counseling website.

According
to to the NFCC, more than one-third of all consumers who work with its members
are able to manage their debt after receiving financial education and
counseling.

Your goal
is to come up with a debt management plan. Typically, this involves making a
monthly payment to a credit counseling agency, which then pays your creditors. Competent
credit counselors have vast experience in structuring these plans. They can
often obtain reduced fees that will make it easier for you to make your
payments. Once you have fulfilled your obligations, these counselors can assist
you in re-establishing your credit.

The fact
that you used a credit counselor is not reported in your credit report. But if
you negotiate a reduced payment, or go into a debt management plan, these facts
will be disclosed. If you make payments pursuant to the terms of your plan on
time, those payments will be reported as being made on time.

Implementing
a debt management plan typically takes two to three years. At the end of this
period, you should be debt-free (excluding your mortgage). Once you have
successfully concluded your plan, you will find it surprisingly easy to re-establish
your credit.

Last resort: File for bankruptcy.
If you are
hopelessly in debt, and have exhausted all other choices, bankruptcy is an
option. It’s not a panacea. Your bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit
history for 10 years. During that time, your filing may affect not just your
ability to obtain new credit, but possibly your prospects for employment.

Bankruptcy
involves filing a petition in federal court. You are not required to retain an
attorney, but the process is complicated and difficult for those without
specialized expertise. You should look for an attorney who specializes in
bankruptcy matters. Accountants and other attorneys may be good sources for
referrals. You could also access the National Association of Consumer
Bankruptcy Attorneys website. It has a feature that will give you a list of its
members in your area.

A
competent bankruptcy attorney will first determine whether you qualify to file
for bankruptcy. If you do, he or she will explain the pros and cons of filing.
Consumers often focus on the possibility of discharging most debt and obtaining
a stay against legal proceedings by creditors. However, bankruptcy might mean
losing the right to a tax refund and the inability to discharge certain debts
like taxes, alimony, child support and most student loans. Filing for
bankruptcy can also risk the loss of property that is encumbered by liens.

Evaluating
the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy is a delicate balancing act. It’s
critical to have the benefit of advice from a lawyer with many years’ experience
handling personal and small business bankruptcy matters.

Credit cards can get you further in debt

Earning interest can be the reward for saving money, and paying interest can be the cost of borrowing money, business Professor N. Mai Lai Eng said.

When an individual doesn’t pay a credit card in full each month, the cardholder is charged interest on the remaining balance, she said. That’s what the credit card company earns, and it adds to what the cardholder owes.

Eng said if someone pays $500 for tuition with a credit card and repays only $100 each month, the credit card company will charge them interest on the remaining balance.

“It could end up costing you more,” Eng said. “That $500 tuition can end up costing you more if you take a long time to pay that balance off.”

Eng said interest increases every bill cycle, and a credit company will re-evaluate the interest based on the remaining balance after someone has made a payment.

“You’re paying interest on your interest,” she said. “It will end up making you spend more money than you would’ve if you had paid it off.”

She said one major problem with some students is credit card debt because of unpaid balances.

She said people should not use credit cards unless they really need to. Instead, use cash for everything, including small purchases.

“You should be very careful with how you use your credit card,” she said. “That’s the best thing that I can say for students.”

To earn interest, she said people should think of how to make their money work for them by putting their money in accounts that generate the most interest.

“You need to learn how to make your money work for you versus you work for your money,” Eng said.

Eng said it’s hard to find a place that’s going to pay a good rate of interest because of financial problems in the economy.

She said in 1978, people could find a savings account with a $500 deposit and earn 5.25 percent interest annually, but today they’re lucky to find an account paying 0.05 percent annually.

It is hard to save a small amount of money because it will take a while to generate a noticeable amount of interest unless people continue to deposit money into the account.

Building additional principle in an account will generate a greater amount of interest.

5 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

According
to Experian’s 2013 State of Credit report,
the average credit score in the United States is 681, and for many, carrying a large
credit card balance, making late payments and other factors that can lower
scores are a way of life. But that doesn’t mean obtaining the elusive score of
850 is impossible. It’s becoming easier to get anabove-average credit score. Here are five guidelines to follow on your
quest to credit score perfection:

1. Monitor your credit history. Before
you start trying to increase your credit score, it’s important to learn
more about your credit history and the various accounts that affect it.
Regularly examine your credit report for mistakes. Incorrect credit limits,late payments or collection items can affect your overall score. If
your report is wrong in any way, you should immediately contact the credit
bureaus, which are required by law to respond with findings within 30 to 45 days. If
the credit bureau cannot provide evidence of a debt incurred, it is lawfully
required to remove it from your credit report.

2. Pay down debt. It’s
always good to tackle credit card debt first. Paying off student loans or
mortgages can help raise your score, but getting rid of credit card debt will
have the biggest positive impact. Getting your balances below 10 to 30 percent of the
credit limit on each card should improve your score. Prioritize
paying down the cards that are closest to their limits instead of paying off
the cards with the highest interest rates.

3.Sign up for a secured credit card. For people with poor credit, a secured credit card can be an excellent tool for rebuilding a credit score. When you sign up for a secured credit card, you are
required to put down collateral cash, which in turn becomes your credit limit. For example, if you put down $500 on the secured card, $500 is the maximum
amount you can spend for the month. You can then use the secured credit card as
you would a regular card, by making purchases and paying off the balance each
month. This is a great way to show that you’re responsible with credit and can
maintain a positive payment history.

4. Avoid cancelingany credit cards.
Cutting up your credit card and closing the account may seem like a way to celebrate after making your last payment, but doing so wont help you. Believe it or not, canceling credit cards actually will lower your credit score. Even if you don’t use a credit card, keeping older
accounts open and paid in full shows lenders that you have a long track record
of good credit behavior. In addition, closed accounts will still show up on
your credit report and can be factored into your score. Its especially important to keep this in mind if you’re applying for a mortgage, car
loan or large line of credit in the future.

5. Pay bills on time. Late payments
have the biggest negative impact on your credit score, so keeping your finances current is the best way to get closer to that coveted 850. Use personal
finance tools to see where your money is going and to alert you when bills are
due. Consider setting up automatic bill paying through your checking account to ensure your payments are on time.

Building up a good score from a low point will take time and discipline. Keep working at it, as a high credit score is essential when planning your financial future.

Hitha
Prabhakaris a consumer spending and retail analyst and mint.comspokeswoman, a leading Web and mobile money
management tool that helps people understand and do more with their money.

National Debt Relief Provide 10 Tips To Help Deal With Medical Debt

National Debt Relief published an article that provide consumers with 10 helpful tips to help them deal with medical debt.

New York, NY (PRWEB) February 28, 2014

National Debt Relief understands how consumers are struggling with the rising costs of health care. They have helped a lot of consumers deal with medical debt and this is a familiar financial situation for them. While they can assure that these debts can be solved, they also want to equip consumers with the knowledge that can keep it from getting out of hand.

With that in mind, the debt relief website published the article titled “10 Tips When Dealing With Medical Debt” last February 25, 2014. The article explained how medical debt is a rising problem simply because healthcare costs are more expensive every year. The article mentioned how it is a problem for all ages – from children to the elderly.

When left unpaid, medical debt can be sent to collections and can ruin the credit score of the consumer. If they are not careful, it can really ruin their financial standing. With their experience helping clients with their medical bills, National Debt Relief provided a couple of suggestions for consumers to follow. These tips are meant to help them solve this type of debt problem even on their own.

First of all, the debt relief company advised consumers to keep themselves from ignoring the bills. This is never a good idea because it will only lead to a bigger problem – especially if the debt is taken to court. Apart from that, the article also advised consumers to check their medical bills thoroughly. Sometimes, the hospital charges treatments and services that was not given to the patient. These should be corrected before the consumer makes any payment. While the consumer is checking the details, they should also check for entries that should have been sent to their insurance company and not to them.

When all of the details are in order, the article encouraged consumers to create a payment plan. National Debt Relief mentioned that consumers have to find a way to pay the off – regardless of their financial condition. If that means earning more or cutting back on expenses, that is what they should do. Not only that they are also advised to get debt help if needed. It could mean getting a professional to help negotiate their debts or filing for bankruptcy.

To view the 10 tips completely, consumers can read it by clicking on this link: http://www.nationaldebtrelief.com/10-tips-dealing-medical-debt/.

National Debt Relief have helped thousands of consumers get out of debt through debt settlement. Give them a call through 888-703-4948. Consumers can also look at their website to find a lot of articles about personal finance and other debt issues.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/medical_debt/prweb11614698.htm

5 Smart Uses For Credit Cards As Revealed By National Debt Relief

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) March 03, 2014

National Debt Relief understands how credit cards have been given a bad publicity because of the financial difficulties that consumers have gone through with credit card debt. But while this is true, the debt relief website believes that there are certain payments that should be paid with credit cards.

This is the reason why they wrote the article titled “5 Credit Card Uses That Are Actually Smart” and published it on March 2, 2014.

The article mentioned that although the company believes this, they still encourage consumers to be responsible with their credit card purchases. Not only that, they should be smart about where they will use their cards. With this, the article revealed the 5 uses of credit cards that are considered to be smart.

1. For online purchases. Credit cards should be used for online purchases primarily for protection. In case the purchase does not turn out to be as expected, the consumer can reverse the transaction and thus be protected from being scammed. Credit card accounts also offer stronger warranties and return policies.

2. For expensive purchases. When the consumer is buying electronic appliances or other big purchases, they can avail of zero interest installment payments for that account. This is usually only possible with credit cards. Not only that, the card can offer extended warranties for these purchases.

3. For renting vehicles. The article explained that renting vehicles without a card is not possible with some credit card companies. If they do allow it, they will put a hold on the bank account of the client for the next 14 days. It can be quite an inconvenience when that money is needed.

4. For travel expenses. In case the card gets stolen, the consumer can call the credit card company so they can freeze the account. Not only that, there are credit cards that can be efficiently replaced within 24 hours and some creditors will send cash assistance too.

5. For hotel accommodations. This is similar to the car rental. The hotel will put a hold on the account of the consumer so they are guaranteed that they will be paid. This hold will not be lifted immediately.

National Debt Relief strongly encourage consumers to think twice before using their credit cards even for these purchases. They also provided consumers with instances when using their credit card is not too smart. To read the full article, click on this link: http://www.nationaldebtrelief.com/.

National Debt Relief have helped thousands of consumers get out of credit card debt. They can also help consumers with medical debt, unsecured debts and specific secured loans. They also have a website that is filled with hundreds of helpful information about debt relief and financial management.

Congressional Inaction Could Set the Housing Recovery Back Years

In 2007, a law was enacted to give homeowners tax relief as housing prices plummeted. But those big benefits are now gone.

The law was extended twice, but expired as of January 1, 2014. The end of the tax break will bring a lot of uncertainty to the housing market and could even hurt your homes value.

What is the MFDRA?
The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act prevented homeowners who enter in to a short sale, principal forgiveness modification, or foreclosure from being taxed on the amount of their forgiven mortgage debt.

Before the law, any part of the mortgage debt the lender cancelled or forgave through foreclosure, short sale, or loan modification was considered part of the homeowners income as far as the Internal Revenue Service was concerned, and was taxed as such.

The MFDRA gave tax relief by permitting homeowners to exclude this income on tax returns. The law was only applicable to primary residences and had a ceiling of $2 million that could be excluded each year. 

How does this work? Heres the story of Mr. Tony Janega. Mr. Janega had been in the midst of a short sale on his home for the last three years. It was finally approved in the first week of February 2014. Because there was no extension, there is currently  no tax exemption. His home sold for $125,000 less than what he owed on his mortgage, and that amount is now considered taxable income. When he files, Mr. Janega could owe the government upwards of $30,000 depending on his tax rate. 

As you can see, this is a big deterrent for a short sale. Thats also a big problem.

Is credit card debt the new emergency fund?

SALT LAKE CITY Gwenyfar Rohler manages her familys bookstore in Wilmington, NC, and wishes she had an emergency fund.

Im going to have to walk if the car breaks down, Rohler says. If my dogs have an emergency veterinary bill, there is no way to meet it. It is just roulette at this point.

Changes in the book-selling industry and a down economy took its toll on Rohlers bookstore. It got worse when the bookstores building was condemned and Rohler had to find a new location in 2010. That was the last time Rohler, who is a freelance writer and radio personality, had an official paycheck from her business.

When it comes time to do payroll for the staff, sometimes I swipe the credit card through the machine if we are $400 short, she says. Then I am in that terrible game where I can make a minimum payment and then have to borrow back the money as soon as I pay it.

A new poll by Bankrate.com, a Florida-based consumer financial services company, found that only 51 percent of Americans say they have more emergency savings than credit card debt. This is the least amount of savings Bankrate.com has found since it started tracking the issue in 2011. The amount of people who have more credit card debt than emergency savings is 28 percent, while 17 percent say they have neither emergency savings nor credit card debt.

Emergency credit

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, says people are likely using credit cards as an emergency fund and this is a problem. Credit cards carry very high interest rates, he says, and card issuers are prone to cut credit limits at the time you would need them as a emergency fund such as at times of financial crisis.

This is why emergency savings are a better idea, he says: Money in the bank is yours, he says.

Yet, as the Bankrate poll shows, Americans are not saving as much as they should.

The household savings rates following the recession are still anemically low, McBride says. People need more savings than they have. They havent prioritized savings high enough.

McBride says, however, that people recognize the value of emergency funds more than before but stagnant income and high household expenses or even prolonged periods of unemployment and underemployment have kept savings down.

And sometimes people just are not aware of how they are spending their money.

I cant tell you how many times people say they have no money to save while holding a $400 phone in one hand and a $4 coffee in the other, he says.

Insuring emergencies

Jerry Mason, who teaches personal finance classes at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, likes emergency funds, but doesnt think they should be the first pillar of financial independence.

The first is having a good insurance package, Mason says. An emergency fund of $2,000 or $3,000 isnt going to help in big emergencies.

Insurance protects against huge losses, he says, and is a better expense than an emergency fund.

But an emergency fund comes along quickly as the next important thing to do, he adds.

One of the things Mason recommends is that people keep track of all their expenses check, credit, and debit purchases on their check logs.

That way they have one number to see how much they have, he says. Most people who use credit cards, however, dont do this. People need to focus on how much they have to spend.

He says the high credit card debt isnt a result of using them for emergencies as much as it is using credit cards for impulse buying although he says medical bills are huge problem for people as well.

Getting started

McBride says he thinks savings is often a personal choice: People need to make tough decisions in regard to building their savings, he says.

One way to get started, he says, is to set up direct deposit into dedicated savings accounts.

Rohler, unfortunately, does not have that luxury and is looking for the economy to improve and her business to grow. She does have one good thing going for her: an emergency fund that money cant buy.

When the bookstores building was condemned in 2010 her family had to put the inventory into storage and find a new location.

Nearly 300 people from the community came to help move the inventory into storage and then later about 200 showed up to help move the books into the new store location.

I know what it is like to be in the final scene of Its a Wonderful Life, Rohler says.

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com. Twitter: @degroote. Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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