Senior Editor, Money Team

Eileen Ambrose is a senior editor and writer for the Money Team. She previously was a personal finance columnist with the Baltimore Sun.

Students Turning to Grandparents to Help Pay for College

How are families paying for college? Grandparents. Or, at least, grandparents and other relatives are kicking in more for a student’s education. The amount of money from relatives — often grandparents — and friends rose to an average of $1,247 this year, a 40 percent increase over last year. That’s according to Sallie Mae’s annual report, “How America Pays for College,” which is based on a survey of 1,600 parents and students. Student loan giant Sallie Mae found that families …

Get the Latest Dirt on Your Bank

How well does your financial institution treat its customers? You can now find out by going to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. There you can read in the customers’ own words about their problems with financial products and services, and how the institutions offering them responded — or not. It’s sort of like Yelp for banks. The agency has been collecting complaints about financial service companies since 2011, and it has received more than 627,000 so far. …

Consumers Finally Get Help Limiting Irritating Robocalls

For everyone who hates getting automated robocalls on their phone or spam text messages, the Federal Communications Commission has gotten the message. This week the FCC issued rulings designed to clarify and strengthen consumer protections so people can block these unwanted phone intrusions. The agency received more than 215,000 complaints last year about unwanted calls, its largest category of gripes. “It’s a significant deal,” says Linda Sherry, spokeswoman for Consumer Action. “The FCC took a stand for consumers.” Unwanted robocalls, …

Most Adults Flunk Social Security Quiz

Most adults likely have heard of Social Security — or seen the taxes for it taken out of their paychecks. But when quizzed on some of the basics of the program, only 28 percent got a passing grade. That’s the finding of a survey by MassMutual, which polled more than 1,500 adults on Social Security rules, including the full retirement age, benefits for ex-spouses and whether benefits can be reduced for government workers. Granted, Social Security can be complicated, particularly …

When the FBI Calls, Hang Up?

In just one month, Linda Blase received 74 phone calls — 57 of them from illegal telemarketers or robocallers. “It’s rampant,” the Dallas small-business owner told the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this week. “These callers are an unwanted intrusion into my home.” It’s been nearly a dozen years since the federal government launched the Do Not Call Registry, allowing consumers to request that telemarketers not call them. But advances in technology since then make it easy for disreputable …

CFPB: Reverse Mortgage Ads Can Confuse More Than Inform

Advertisements touting reverse mortgages often leave older consumers confused about the loan terms and unaware of the risks, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Perhaps most concerning of all, the ads left the consumers believing that if they purchase a reverse mortgage loan, they will be able to rest assured that they can live in their homes and enjoy financial security for the rest of their lives,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a teleconference. …