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. …

Can You Pick Out the Online Dating Scammer?

No matter how happy and confident we singles feel about ourselves and dating, there’s a part inside that leaves us all feeling vulnerable. One of my more serious concerns is being bamboozled. Human scammers and bots — short for online robots, though it’s actually software pretending to be human — lurk on dating sites searching for unsuspecting romantics. I am committed to not being victimized, and you owe the same to yourself. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center reported in …

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 …

Arbitration Clauses for Credit Cards, Other Services May Harm Consumers

Millions of consumers may not be getting a fair resolution in disputes with their financial institutions over products and services, according to a report released Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB examined the arbitration clauses in contracts for credit cards, prepaid cards, private student loans, payday loans, cellphone service and checking accounts. These clauses generally permit companies to resolve consumer complaints using arbitration. Most bar consumers from filing class-action suits, which may provide a fairer and more …

FTC: $1.7 Billion Lost to Fraudsters in 2014 — ID Theft Top Complaint … Again

Consumers reported losing $1.7 billion to scams and frauds in 2014, according to an annual review released by the Federal Trade Commission. That figure is likely a fraction of actual losses, since many people never report their victimization. For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but with more people reporting …

Banks Ease Terms for Struggling Student Borrowers

Big banks are beginning to cut some slack to distressed student-loan borrowers. Wells Fargo announced a new program this week that will lower the interest rate on loans so payments will be more affordable based on a struggling borrower’s income. The bank will review borrowers’ financial situations to determine whether they qualify for short- or long-term loan modification. >> 8 Hidden College Expenses According to the Wall Street Journal, both borrowers and cosigners will have to show financial hardship to get a modification. Modifications …