This starts out as a completely ordinary debt collection story. A consumer falls behind on their credit card bills, eventually they get sued by Messerli & Kramer, and Messerli & Kramer gets a default judgment, probably due to Minnesota’s permissive “pocket filing” rule. But in this case, the consumer in question is the Republican Minnesota House Speaker, Kurt Daudt. And it’s a little embarrassing.
So this happened:
Seven armed U.S. marshals arrived at [Paul Aker’s] door in Houston last Thursday, arrested him on the spot, and took him to jail. He owed all of $1,500, outstanding since 1987. Aker told Fox 26 that without any warning, his 29-year-old debt was forcibly being collected; the marshals took him to federal court and made him sign a payment plan.
Along with many who saw the story, I was convinced there had to be more to it. Well, there sure is.
This is an extraordinary quote from an article in the New Yorker:
In February, 1932, the Times published an account of community resistance to the eviction of three families in the Bronx, observing, “Probably because of the cold, the crowd numbered only 1,000.”
Now, evictions rarely attract crowds. According to the same article, “the majority of poor renting families spend more than half their income on housing,” with the predictable result that millions of Americans are evicted every year. Evictions are no longer unusual. They are so common the idea of a crowd showing up for every single one is inconceivable.
This is another profound quote from that article:
If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.
The consequences overlap. Both convictions and evictions land on records, and both make it harder to get a job, credit, rent an apartment, and ultimately get out of poverty.
I don’t mean to suggest that it is wrong to evict people who aren’t paying their rent. What’s wrong is that so many Americans can’t pay rent, and that so many of the Americans who can’t pay rent are black. Those are complicated problems. Criminal justice reform is finally getting some attention, but we really need to work on both issues.
That image comes from an email sent out to consumers affected by a PayPal class action settlement. For some reason, the default color and underlining were removed from the link to submit a claim.
It didn’t happen by accident. It’s obvious from the code that someone deliberately set the link’s color to black (
color:#000000) and the text-decoration to none (
text-decoration:none), which removes the underlining.
But it probably wasn’t an attempt to deceive. The settlement administrator, Epic Systems, Inc., was just following the email template precisely. Here is the email template included in the settlement agreement:
Guest post by Paul Kuzmickas.
The latest bankruptcy scam targets bankruptcy filers and those with significant debt. In the last few weeks, bankruptcy filers have been receiving phone calls from con artists disguised as bankruptcy attorneys, using software to look like a law firm on caller ID. These con artists are asking for immediate payment of outstanding debts and threatening to arrest those who do not comply.
All you need to know about personal finance is right there, according to Harold Pollack. Now, Pollack is not an investment manager or financial planner; he’s a professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago. But his index card (that’s it, above) was so popular he wrote a book, The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated, with Helaine Olen.
In an interview on Minnesota Public Radio, Pollack identified the most important thing on the index card:
The most important of the index card guidelines is the one many Americans do not follow: “Pay your credit card balance in full every month.”
“Credit card debt is so deadly,” Pollack said.
Like the rest of the advice on the index card, that’s solid advice everyone should follow. [Minnesota Public Radio]
Edit: If you like short-form financial advice, the New York Times asked eight financial writers to squeeze their best tips onto index cards, too.
Just because you make millions, that doesn’t mean you should blow it all on cars. Or at least, that seems to be the lesson of some of the young stars on the Washington Redskins.
Two-time pro bowl running back Alfred Morris, who makes a base salary of $1.5 million this year, has taken to riding a bike to work and leaving it in his reserved parking space. On days when it’s too cold or otherwise inconvenient to cycle to the facility, Morris switches to a splashier ride: a 1991 Mazda 626, which he drove up from Florida as a rookie in 2012.
Well this sucks:
A recent report from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that, on average, products geared toward girls and women cost 7% more than similar goods for males. The agency, which analyzed almost 800 products from more than 90 brands sold in New York City, found that items targeting women cost more than the male versions 42% of the time
This is especially true for children’s toys, like the identical-except-for-color scooter pictured above. The report acknowledges that there are sometimes legitimate reasons for the price discrepancy. The “boy” products might be cheaper to make, for example, or less popular so they are put on sale. But that doesn’t apply across the board. Forty-two percent of the time, women pay more.
Not always, but frequently the things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint will also save you money. At the top of both lists: travel less.
Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to fly less; just one or two fewer airplane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all of these other actions combined.
That’s pretty easy when it comes to vacation. There are plenty of things you could do in your own state that would involve less travel and cost. Avoiding travel might be harder when it comes to work, because sometimes there is no substitute for face time. But if you don’t need to be there, don’t go there. You’ll save money, time, and help the environment. [New York Times]