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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
You should record all collection calls if it is legal for you to do so.
You need to keep a record of any agreements you make with the debt collector (like a payment plan) or promises the debt collector makes (like stopping collection activity while you are current on your payments). Without a recording, any agreements or promises will be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.
You also need to protect your legal rights. If a debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act during a call, you need to be able to prove what they said or did to violate the FDCPA. And if a debt collector does violate the FDCPA, you are entitled to up to $1,000 — or even more for egregious violations. A jury in Texas awarded [$1.5 million for 8 especially racist voicemails](](http://caveatemptorblog.com/3627/jury-awards-1-5-million-to-consumer-abused-by-debt-collector/). While that sort of verdict is far from ordinary, the point is this: it can be well worth your time and a little bit of money to record your calls.
Yes, it is technically illegal to put people in jail for not paying a debt. However it is perfectly legal to put people in jail if they don’t pay a court fine, which isn’t technically a debt because a court isn’t technically a creditor. Even though you owe money to it. Make sense?
No, not really. Because whatever you call it, you can end up in jail if you don’t pay it.