2016’s Surprising Top Robocall Scams

Robocalls aren’t just annoying; increasingly, they are the initial contact that scammers use to get you. With autodialers that can blast millions of prerecorded calls per day, fraudsters simply program sequences of phone numbers — dialing X telephone numbers with Y area codes or prefixes over Z period. Follow the message instructions, or sometimes just say “Hello,” and you’re transferred to a live call center, where the hard sell begins. (Even pushing the keypad to supposedly “opt out of future …

America’s Top Consumer Complaint Is Doubled Among Military Members

It’s bad enough that everyday citizens file more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about sleazy debt collectors than about any other consumer scam. Now, another government watchdog agency reports that military personnel are especially popular targets of collector abuse — often for debts they don’t owe. In an annual report from its Office of Servicemember Affairs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that active military personnel submit debt collector complaints at twice the rate of civilians. Ways to save, …

Preventing Child ID Theft With a Credit Freeze

No matter where you live, a credit freeze is a great way for you to prevent identity theft — particularly the opening of new credit cards, loans and service accounts in your name. But depending on where you live, a freeze isn’t easy to get for your offspring. Although legislation has been introduced, currently there are no federal laws concerning credit freezes for children, and only 23 states have passed laws requiring credit reporting bureaus to freeze a minor’s credit …

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 …

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. …

Reverse Mortgages Now Harder to Get

If you’ve thought about taking out a reverse mortgage, be aware that new rules that recently kicked in might make it harder for you to qualify. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development tightened lending criteria late last month. The changes require that lenders determine whether would-be borrowers have enough income to keep up with property taxes and homeowners insurance so they don’t default on the loan and, possibly, lose their home. HUD’s Federal Housing Administration insures most reverse mortgages. …