Don’t Become a Credit ‘Mule’

Cash-desperate consumers are being lured into becoming unwitting “credit mules” via a cellphone scam, the Federal Trade Commission warns. Con artists pay targets a couple hundred dollars to sign up for wireless contracts for iPhones and other mobile devices, the FTC says. The consumers then turn over the smartphones to the scammers, who “unlock” the phones so they can be used by others. The phones then are often sold overseas, where they can fetch from $500 to $1,000 apiece, says Nat …

Skipping Out on Student Loans? Check Your Wallet

So what can Uncle Sam do if you don’t repay your federal student loans?   Report you to credit reporting companies. Garnish your wages. Keep your tax refunds and Social Security payments until the debt is paid off.   That’s right, all of the above.  Only most people aren’t aware of it. Economists and researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asked this of more than 1,000 consumers – only to discover that less than one-third of them correctly answered that the …

Is Medical Debt Highly Unhealthy for Your Credit Score?

Are consumers’ credit scores unfairly dinged by medical debt? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau thinks so. The agency released a new report that says unpaid medical debt sent to collections – and appearing on credit reports – can overly penalize consumers. Credit scores, generated by information in credit reports, are three-digit numbers that try to predict a consumer’s likelihood of paying bills. The higher the number, the better. Businesses use scores to decide whether to extend credit and at what interest …

What Health Apps Tell Outsiders About You

Hundreds of health applications these days can track our weight, steps, caloric intake, blood pressure – and even our friends’ workouts at the gym. And those diagnosed with an ailment can go online to get answers to health questions or share their stories with others suffering from the same illness. Sure, this can be useful for consumers seeking to take control of their health. These new outlets, however, raise other questions: Who else is looking at our medical information? And …

Regulators Fine Bank for Overzealous Credit-Protection Sales

Bank of America is the latest major financial institution ordered to refund millions of dollars to consumers who were billed for credit card-related products they never ordered – and likely didn’t even need. Indeed, the credit and identity-theft protections sold by the North Carolina-based bank are things that people can do on their own for little or no money, consumer advocates say. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered the bank last week to return $727 million to nearly 3 million …

Payday Loan Fees Often Exceed the Amount Borrowed

If you need more evidence that payday loans can be a debt trap, look no further than today’s report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency found that 4 out of 5 payday loans are renewed or rolled over within two weeks after the end of their term. In half of these cases, the borrower renews the loan at least 10 times in a row. And repeat borrowing may be more expensive than many borrowers may realize. Fees in …