Almost You is NOT You – Online Login or Password

Had your online login or password exposed in a data breach?  Here is a checklist of what to do, provided by the Federal trade Commission: Online login or password Log in to that account and change your password.  If possible, also change your username.  If you can’t log in, contact the company.  Ask them how you can recover or shut down the account. If you use the same password anywhere else, change that too. Is it a financial site, or is your credit card number stored?  Check your account for any charges that you don’t recognize. Do not throw good money at stolen accounts. Your credit may be compromised if an ID thief gets your personal and/or financial information.  Protect your credit by addressing any form of identity theft.  For other checklists on various types of information exposure, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website at https://www.identitytheft.gov/info-lost-or-stolen.html.     Read More

Cyber Monday Tips

In 2014, the Monday after Thanksgiving was the biggest online shopping day ever (the first to tip over the $2 billion mark sales).  For those who do not cherish large crowds, sore feet, or a marathon of waiting in line, may the peace of the season rest at your fingertips.  Here are some online shopping guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission to help you deal with legitimate retailers…and avoid those who are not. Shopping Online Follow these tips for hassle-free online shopping: get the details, pay by credit card, keep records, and protect your personal and financial information. Get the Details Pay by Credit Card Keep Records Protect Your Information How to Report Online Shopping Fraud Get the Details Know who you’re dealing with. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don’t reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information that way. Know what you’re buying. Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like […] Read More

Almost You is NOT You – Social Security

Had your Social Security number exposed in a data breach?  Here is a checklist of what to do, provided by the Federal Trade Commission: IdentityTheftFTCgov   Note that in some cases the Social Security administration may issue a new Social Security number, but that can create new problems as follows: The credit bureaus may combine the credit records from your old Social Security number with records from your new Social Security number. A new Social Security number may give you a blank credit history, making it difficult for you to get credit.  While a new number may erase the bad credit an identity thief gave you, it may also erase the good credit you had. Just because you have a new Social Security number does not mean it is immune from theft.  The new number can be stolen, just as the old one was. Despite the problem of bad credit on your old Social Security number, you may be better off to keep it rather than to request a new number, depending on the circumstances. Your credit may be compromised in a data breach if an ID thief gets your personal and/or financial information.  Protect your credit by addressing any […] Read More

Welcome to the Jungle – New Home Loan Closing Disclosure

The new home loan closing disclosure scheduled to go into effect in August has been delayed until October 3, and could delay the home lending process a lot longer than that. Dodd-Frank has come up with a new four-letter word:  “CFPB” which stands for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The idea is to help the average consumer understand their financial product when purchasing a home loan.  “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”  The CFPB will generate more paper that nobody is going to read. With the new home disclosure, the consumer is going to have three days to review it.  The problems with this may include the following: How is the lender going to comply with this?  Time will be of the lender’s essence.  I do not see lenders getting loan approval too far in advance. It only protects the buyer.  What about the seller? Slows down closings. It will force people to pay certain closing items up front or outside of closing. What is a consumer loan?  There are other definitions that matter.  The private investor who does more than five loans could be affected, but then they could become an LLC and get around it. Too […] Read More

Consumer Protection Week – Debt Settlement

Some business practices are better than others, especially the legal ones.  Just because something is printed on legal paper does not necessarily make it lawful.  Protect your rights with knowledge. March 4 through 10 is National Consumer Protection Week.  Are you feeling safer already?  So this week I will highlight legal issues that gain purchase when you pay for a good or a service.  Do not open your wallet to just anyone.  Make sure you are getting the deal you want. Debt Settlement sounds like good karma, but it can lead to bad credit.  Look twice at debt settlement deals because they may get a double take of your money. The following information is brought to you by The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee:   If you enter a debt settlement program, you need to understand that, if you stop paying your creditors, the amount you owe will increase due to added interest and fees, your credit will be negatively affected by nonpayment, and you can be sued. If you are having trouble paying your bills, contact your credit card company and try to negotiate a settlement, even if you have been turned down before. If you decide to […] Read More