At The Motley Fool, Morgan Housel has an excellent article on how to actually save money. The bottom line: stop fooling around trying to drink less coffee or make your own lunches and focus on three things:
Pinching pennies is all well and good if you like pinching pennies. But savvy consumers don’t pinch pennies; they pinch dollars by the thousands. [The Motley Fool, h/t @DanielGershberg]
The FTC is going after debt collectors in a big way:
The cases announced today bring to 115 the total number of actions taken so far this year by the more than 70 law enforcement partners in the Operation Collection Protection initiative.
The FTC is mainly targeting debt collectors trying to collect debts the consumers don’t actually owe.
Debt collectors targeted by the FTC and various state law-enforcement agencies include BAM Financial, Delaware Solutions, K.I.P., and National Check Registry.
The class-action complaint (pdf) alleges the city of Austin routinely jails people too poor to pay traffic tickets and other fines. This is only the most recent in a series of similar lawsuits. Earlier this month, the ACLU sued a Georgia county. Other lawsuits include Benton County, WA, Biloxi, MS, and New Orleans. [BuzzFeed]
Last week the FCC started releasing a regularly-updated spreadsheet of robocall complaints, including the number displayed on Caller ID during the call. This should make it pretty easy for companies to create apps that block calls from those numbers. It could be like a crowdsourced spam blocker for phone calls and text messages. [the Verge]
That database was created to ensure payday lenders can comply with a law that limits a person to $500 in payday loans at any one time. The payday loan industry sued to stop the creation of the database, of course. [Montgomery Advertiser/AP]
This article is mostly about why student-loan servicers are terrible, but the reality is they just make a bad system worse. [New York Times]
“‘How the Other Half Banks,’ by Mehrsa Baradaran” [New York Times]
In many states, if you are convicted of a crime you will be charged a fee for the cost of prosecution (and sometimes defense). Then, after you have served your time, you can be tossed in jail again if you don’t pay those fees.
Charging criminal defendants for the cost of prosecuting them makes a certain kind of sense. The problem is that many criminal defendants can’t afford those fees, so the end result is debtors prison. It is unjust, and the ACLU is looking to make an example of Benton County, Washington. It’s not a random choice. “[L]ast year, an NPR analysis of jail records found that about 1 out of every 4 people in jail for a misdemeanor offense was there because he failed to pay court fines and fees.”
That’s insane. A quarter of the people in jail for a misdemeanor in Benton County are there because they didn’t pay court fees! Sounds like the ACLU lawsuit was long overdue, if anything.