FCC Says Robotexts Are Also Subject to Do Not Call Lists

A June 18 FCC release … makes clear that text messages and Internet-to-text messages are afforded the same protections as phone calls.

(h/t InsideCounsel)

Working Full Time Won’t Put a Roof Over Your Head

Even in states with higher-than-the-federal minimum wage, you will still need overtime or a second job to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Your best bet is in South Dakota, it turns out, where just 49 hours a week at minimum wage will get you a one-bedroom apartment. You’ll need to work longer hours if you plan to eat, of course.

There are (at least) two ways to interpret this report:

  1. There aren’t enough affordable rental units.
  2. The minimum wage is (way) too low.

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Half of the U.S. Has Little or No Savings

In the Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014″ (pdf):

Forty-seven percent of respondents say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.

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Put Your YMCA Membership on Hold for Just $10/Month

We have been members of the YMCA for a couple of years, now. It’s great in winter, when none of us want to stay warm. When the weather is nice, though, we would all much rather play outside. It seems silly to pay $122 per month for the five months we aren’t actually going to the gym.

And it is. There is a better option.

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$83 Million Verdict Against Portfolio Recovery Associates

From Yahoo! Finance:

The jury found Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC guilty of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, for which it will pay $250,000 in damages, as well as maliciously prosecuting the woman, Maria Guadalupe Mejia, over the debt that did not belong to her. For the malicious prosecution, the jury awarded Mejia $82,990,000 in punitive damages.

Wow.

(h/t Reddit)

“Netflix opposes the use of VPNs”

A sharp-eyed Redditor picked up on a change to Netflix’s terms that effectively prohibits the use of a VPN to watch Netflix.

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Mandatory Arbitration: the Gaping Loophole in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act suspends judicial and administrative actions against service members while they are in active service so they can devote their attention to their duties. But there is a big, gaping loophole: mandatory binding arbitration.1

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  1. Then there are the companies that apparently just ignore the SCRA when it is convenient to do so. Like Santander, which recently paid $9.35 million to settle with the Justice Department over claims it repossessed active-duty service members’ cars without getting a court order first. 

Minnesota Restaurant Association Info

Recently, @panndder was tweeting about the Minnesota Restaurant Association’s bill to cut the minimum wage for servers. “We should create a public database of Minnesota Restaurant Association members,” he wrote.

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Illegal Signs Show Predatory Lending is Alive and Well

At MinnPost, Bill Lindeke reports on a silent war going on in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Predatory lenders staple their signs to utility poles and plant them in boulevards, and do-gooders like St. Paul City Council member Amy Brendmoen and North Minneapolis activist Jeff Skrenes take them down. It has even escalated — literally. Skrenes carries a 10′ ice scraper to reach the signs, which the lenders are posting out of reach to try to keep them up longer.

The signs are illegal, and the people and companies posting them are generally engaging in some form of DIY predatory lending — offering a bad deal to people struggling with a mortgage that was probably a bad deal to begin with. It must work, because the signs keep going up even though people like Brendmoen and Skrenes keep taking them down.

But there are better options for homeowners struggling with a mortgage. Both the Minnesota Homeownership Center and Habitat for Humanity have phone hotlines and can help homeowners figure out what they can do. The best option is almost certainly not taking a fraction of the equity in cash or converting bad mortgage into a bad contract for deed.

Wall Street Banks Prove they Have Too Much Political Power

Back in December, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, said that the big Wall Street banks should be broken up. Here are her remarks in the Senate:

Instead of passing laws that create new bailout opportunities for too-big-to-fail banks … let’s pass something — anything — that would help break up these giant banks. … Teddy Roosevelt said ‘we should break them up because they have too much political power.’ Teddy Roosevelt said ‘break them up because all that concentrated power threatens the very foundations of our democratic system.’

Proving her point exquisitely, Wall Street banks including Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America are apparently considering withdrawing their campaign contributions to Senate Democrats as a form of protest. According to Reuters, the banks are also getting together to “discuss ways to urge Democrats … to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street.”

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