Posts Tagged ‘money’

Transparency! Protect your access to low fares!

December 14, 2016

Delta Air Lines and other carriers are blocking information about fares and fees from travel sites like TripAdvisor. As a result, some fares are hidden — which may prevent consumers like you from making informed decisions about air travel. This lack of transparency also reduces competition, leading to higher fares.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has asked the public to weigh in on fare transparency, and since TripAdvisor amplifies the voices of travelers, we want to hear from you! Visit Airtravelfairness.org to tell the government that fare transparency matters.

http://airtravelfairness.org/

Freedom Debt Relief, Behind The Hype

September 14, 2016

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2010/07/freedom-debt-relief/index.htm

The spokesman says you can “reduce your debt by up to 50 percent and make one low monthly payment,” in a TV ad for Freedom Debt Relief. The company says it can help you eliminate debt in as little as 24 to 48 months without credit counseling or declaring bankruptcy. Instead, it will negotiate with your creditors to reduce the amount you owe. But according to a recent lawsuit filed against the company, many people who signed on with Freedom Debt Relief increased their debt loads; some declared bankruptcy.

A lawsuit claimed FDR’s promised debt reductions fell far short of 50 percent.

The real deal

Freedom Debt Relief (FDR) claims to be a leader in the debt-settlement industry and says it has helped consumers erase more than $500 million in debt since 2003. (FDR is also an umbrella group that includes Bills.com, Freedom Financial Network, Freedom Tax Relief, and several others.) It operates like other settlement companies often do. Customers deposit about 15 percent of the amount they owe into a bank account and give FDR power of attorney so that it can access the money to settle their debts.

A 2009 lawsuit brought by the district attorney’s office in San Mateo, Calif., charged that the company often “did not even contact all of the consumers’ creditors to negotiate a settlement.” After months of being told FDR was settling their accounts, many consumers found that creditors had sent their accounts to a collection agency or had initiated legal actions against them, the suit alleged. It also charged that many clients never finished the debt-relief program, even after months or years. But Freedom Debt Relief continued to charge them for administrative and service fees for about the first 18 months the accounts were open. In addition, the suit said, customers who wanted to find out the status of their settlements were often rebuffed by the company, and some were denied the money-back guarantee it advertises.

To settle the lawsuit, FDR agreed to pay the San Mateo County district attorney’s office and the California Department of Corporations $450,000 in fees and court costs and $500,000 in refunds to customers without admitting wrongdoing.

As a result of the suit, an earlier complaint by the California Department of Corporations alleging that FDR operated in the state for seven years without a license, in violation of a 2002 desist and refrain order, was withdrawn. FDR has also been forced to refund money to customers in Colorado and Rhode Island. And New York’s attorney general is investigating FDR and 13 other debt-settlement firms.

The bottom line

People who are deep in debt should first talk with each creditor to see if it has a plan for hardship cases that might allow them to reduce their payments. If collection agencies are calling, try to negotiate a reduction in principal, which is what a debt-resolution company promises to do. If you’re successful, you may have to pay taxes on the total that was forgiven.

If you can’t handle negotiating with creditors on your own, find a nonprofit credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, at nfcc.org, or by calling 800-388-2227.

If those strategies don’t work, you may want to declare bankruptcy. Contact the American Bankruptcy Institute (www.abiworld.org) or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (nacba.org) to find an attorney who can help you.

This article appeared in Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

Poor Joe :(

September 22, 2010

Joe has inventory tomorrow. But as usual, his manager is defeating him. I wonder if the guy is just stupid or deliberately making more work for him?!?! For instance, a large pallet of candy was in the back with an inventory sheet (paper with what and how much was on pallet) all wrapped up in plastic. The manager undid the plastic, tried putting some on floor, which wouldn’t fit and isn’t on current weeks paper. THEN he unloaded the rest and put it on the FLOOR in the dairy box!! Which is a health violation in and of itself! Two night stockers found it and told Joe it took them almost an hour to put all boxes on another pallet! PLUS the manager mixed the bags of candy up! NOW, it needs to be re-counted. Saboteur or idiot?! He comes home so frustrated!

I’ve applied to several merchandiser companies. It’s what I’ve been doing for almost 10 years, but no call back. When I speak to team members they are desperate for workers. *sigh* More waiting!

I finished my course on Torts:

I passed with an A!!

I did get my first F in this class, but I made sure it was my last. The instructor isn’t very good nor does or would she tell you the corrections. She just grades. The paper I flunked was to be used throughout the course. I had to go to another student to get a correct version. Why? She said “I’m worried that the answers will be circulated to other students.” It’s an online school, who else do I know?!?!

Well, need to go feed the beasts!!

Myrtle Beach bank seized by FDIC

April 13, 2010

Staff and wire reports
Friday, April 9, 2010

A Myrtle Beach lender has become the first South Carolina-based bank to fail in years.

Regulators shut down Beach First National Bank today, marking 42 bank failures in the U.S. so far this year amid mounting loan defaults, especially in commercial real estate.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Beach First, which had $585.1 million in assets and $516 million in deposits. Bank of North Carolina, based in Thomasville, N.C., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank. In addition, the FDIC and Bank of North Carolina agreed to share losses on $497.9 million of Beach First’s loans and other assets.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/apr/09/myrtle-beach-bank-seized-fdic/

Dollar Bulls Beware

March 16, 2010

By late 2009, as the U.S. dollar flirted with multi-year lows against most foreign currencies, big investment players crowded into trades that shorted the greenback. Commentators noted that the anti-dollar momentum had taken on a life of its own and that the trade had become too crowded. It is true that markets have a nasty tendency to move against the crowd. When a lot of traders agree on a particular trade, it’s more likely that in the short-run the opposite trade will be a winner.

The 2008 “flight to safety” rally of the U.S. dollar was a once in a lifetime event that presented huge opportunities for aggressive currency traders. By December 2008, after rallying 25% over the previous five months, the dollar topped out. However, there were many speculators who had come somewhat late to the party, as well as many others who had ridden the dollar up and were thus sitting on huge unrealized gains.

Those technical reasons, combined with the re-emergence of strong growth in emerging markets and solid earnings from overseas companies, redirected investment flows away from the dollar. 2009 became a year of dollar weakness, with the buck giving back nearly all of its gains. At that point, most people made the reasonable conclusion that the decline would continue.

As is often the case, an unforeseen event came along that made mincemeat out of the consensus’ well-conceived strategy. Once some fiscal squabbling grabbed headlines in the eurozone, the negative sentiment that had built up on the dollar was suddenly diverted to the euro. Catalyzed by the Greek debt crisis, the greenback surged by about 8% in six weeks.

From a technical standpoint, the short dollar trade of late 2009 was too crowded; but from a fundamental standpoint, I don’t think it was crowded enough. As with stocks, there can be no long-term substitute to examining a government’s fundamentals to determine its currency’s worth. Based on the fundamentals, far too many investors remain far too confident about the greenback’s underlying viability.

In fact, I do not think I have ever seen so rapid a change in sentiment in my career. The crowd had completely switched sides, with most now betting on the demise of the euro rather than the dollar. This is looking like July 2008 all over again, with the dollar poised to put in over-sized gains. It also presents a good opportunity for those who keep their heads.

In my opinion, the market is now perfectly positioned for a massive dollar sell-off. The fundamentals for the dollar in 2010 are so much worse than they were in 2008 that it is hard to imagine a reason for people to keep buying once a modicum of political and monetary stability can be restored in Europe. In fact, the euro has recently stabilized.

My gut is that the dollar sell-off will be sharp and swift. Once the dollar decisively breaks below last year’s lows, many of the traders who jumped ship in the recent rally will look to re-establish their positions. This will accelerate the dollar’s descent and refocus everyone’s attention back on the financial train-wreck unfolding in the United States.

Any doubts about the future of the U.S. dollar should be laid to rest by today’s announcement that San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen has been nominated to be Vice Chair of the Fed’s Board of Governors, and thereby a voter on the interest rate-setting, seven-member Open Markets Committee. Ms. Yellen has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest inflation doves among the Fed’s top players.

Looking for an ally to paper over the administration’s gaping fiscal holes, it is not surprising that president Obama made this selection. Yellen has consistently downplayed the dangers of inflation and has made statements that indicate she views the Fed as an extension of the Labor Department, rather than a guardian of our currency. Last month, in discussing what she saw as the Fed’s obligation to promote employment, she said, “If it were possible to take interest rates into negative territory, I would be voting for that.” She may very well make Chairman Bernanke look like a tightwad by comparison.

It is anyone’s guess which sparks will be responsible for igniting the falling dollar powder keg. From a trader’s perspective, a sharp reversal in the dollar will catch many investors completely off guard. Those who stepped off the short-dollar train will be stuck on the platform as it speeds away. Those who refused to give up their seats are in for a hell of a ride.

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Peter Schiff is one of the few non-biased investment advisors (not committed solely to the short side of the market) to have correctly called the current bear market before it began and to have positioned his clients accordingly. As a result of his accurate forecasts on the U.S. stock market, commodities, gold and the dollar, he is becoming increasingly more renowned. He has been quoted in many of the nation’s leading newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Arizona Republic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Christian Science Monitor, and has appeared on CNBC, CNNfn, Fox News and Bloomberg.

http://www.howestreet.com/articles/index.php?article_id=12749

Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals

February 25, 2010

John Carney | Feb. 19, 2010, 2:57 PM

“Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change,” Citigroup said on statements received by customers all over the country.

What’s going on? It seems that this is something of an error. The seven day notice policy only applies to customers in Texas, Ira Stoll reports at The Future of Capitalism. It was accidentally included on customer statements nationwide.

“Whatever the explanation, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Citi,” Stoll writes. “But it’s hard to believe a bank would be sending out a notice like that on its statements.”

UPDATE: According to Stoll, Citi issued a statement saying that it has been required to make this change by Federal regulations–and it no longer sounds like it’s limited to Texas:

Update: Citibank has now released the following statement by way of explanation: “When Citibank moved to unlimited FDIC coverage in 2009, we had to reclassify many checking accounts to allow for immediate withdrawals in order to ensure all customers qualified for the additional coverage. When we moved back to standard FDIC coverage with most major banks in 2010, Citibank decided to reclassify those accounts back to make them eligible again for promotional incentives. To do so, Federal Reserve Reg D requires these accounts, called NOW accounts, to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice of withdrawal. We recently communicated this technical requirement to our customers. However, we have never exercised this right and have no plans to do so in the future.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/citigroup-warns-customers-it-may-refuse-to-allow-withdrawals-2010-2

Colorado Springs cuts into services considered basic by many

February 9, 2010

Colorado Springs cuts into services considered basic by many
By Michael Booth
The Denver Post
Posted: 01/31/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/03/2010 04:39:29 PM MST

COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won’t pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

“I guess we’re going to find out what the tolerance level is for people,” said businessman Chuck Fowler, who is helping lead a private task force brainstorming for city budget fixes. “It’s a new day.”

Some residents are less sanguine, arguing that cuts to bus services, drug enforcement and treatment and job development are attacks on basic needs for the working class.

“How are people supposed to live? We’re not a ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ anymore,” said Addy Hansen, a criminal justice student who has spoken out about safety cuts. “We’re the second-largest city, and growing, in Colorado. We’re in trouble. We’re in big trouble.”
Mayor flinches at revenue

Colorado Springs’ woes are more visceral versions of local and state cuts across the nation. Denver has cut salaries and human services workers, trimmed library hours and raised fees; Aurora shuttered four libraries; the state budget has seen round after round of wholesale cuts in education and personnel.

The deep recession bit into Colorado Springs sales-tax collections, while pension and health care costs for city employees continued to soar. Sales-tax updates have become a regular exercise in flinching for Mayor Lionel Rivera.

“Every month I open it up, and I look for a plus in front of the numbers instead of a minus,” he said. The 2010 sales-tax forecast is almost $22 million less than 2007.

Voters in November said an emphatic no to a tripling of property tax that would have restored $27.6 million to the city’s $212 million general fund budget. Fowler and many other residents say voters don’t trust city government to wisely spend a general tax increase and don’t believe the current cuts are the only way to balance a budget.
Dead grass, dark streets

But the 2010 spending choices are complete, and local residents and businesses are preparing for a slew of changes:

• The steep parks and recreation cuts mean a radical re-shifting of resources from more than 100 neighborhood parks to a few popular regional parks. The city cut watering drastically in 2009 but “got lucky” with weekly summer rains, said parks maintenance manager Kurt Schroeder.

With even more watering cuts, “if we repeat the weather of 2008, we’re at risk of losing every bit of turf we have in our neighborhood parks,” Schroeder said. Six city greenhouses are shut down. The city spent $19.6 million on parks in 2007; this year it will spend $3.1 million.

“If a playground burns down, I can’t replace it,” Schroeder said. Park fans’ only hope is the possibility of a new ballot tax pledged to recreation spending that might win over skeptical voters.

Community center and pool closures have parents worried about day-care costs, idle teenagers and shut-in grandparents with nowhere to go.

Hillside Community Center, on the southeastern edge of downtown Colorado Springs in a low- to moderate-income neighborhood, is scrambling to find private partners to stay open. Moms such as Kirsten Williams doubt they can replace Hillside’s dedicated staff and preschool rates of $200 for six-week sessions.

“It’s affordable, the program is phenomenal, and the staff all grew up here,” Williams said. “You can’t re-create that kind of magic.”

Shutting down youth services is shortsighted, she argues. “You’re going to pay now, or you’re going to pay later. There’s trouble if kids don’t have things to do.”

• Though officials and citizens put public safety above all in the budget, police and firefighting still lost more than $5.5 million this year. Positions that will go empty range from a domestic violence specialist to a deputy chief to juvenile offender officers. Fire squad 108 loses three firefighters. Putting the helicopters up for sale and eliminating the officers and a mechanic banked $877,000.

• Tourism outlets have attacked budget choices that hit them precisely as they’re struggling to draw choosy visitors to the West.

The city cut three economic-development positions, land-use planning, long-range strategic planning and zoning and neighborhood inspectors. It also repossessed a large portion of a dedicated lodgers and car rental tax rather than transfer it to the visitors’ bureau.

“It’s going to hurt. If they don’t at least market Colorado Springs, it doesn’t get the people here,” said Nancy Stovall, owner of Pine Creek Art Gallery on the tourism strip of Old Colorado City. Other states, such as New Mexico and Wyoming, will continue to market, and tourism losses will further erode city sales-tax revenue, merchants say.

• Turning out the lights, literally, is one of the high-profile trims aggravating some residents. The city-run Colorado Springs Utilities will shut down 8,000 to 10,000 of more than 24,000 streetlights, to save $1.2 million in energy and bulb replacement.

Hansen, the criminal-justice student, grows especially exasperated when recalling a scary incident a few years ago as she waited for a bus. She said a carload of drunken men approached her until the police helicopter that had been trailing them turned a spotlight on the men and chased them off. Now the helicopter is gone, and the streetlight she was waiting under is threatened as well.

“I don’t know a person in this city who doesn’t think that’s just the stupidest thing on the planet,” Hansen said. “Colorado Springs leaders put patches on problems and hope that will handle it.”
Employee pay criticized

Community business leaders have jumped into the budget debate, some questioning city spending on what they see as “Ferrari”-level benefits for employees and high salaries in middle management. Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each.

Businessman Fowler, saying he is now speaking for the task force Bartolin supports, said the city should study the Broadmoor’s use of seasonal employees and realistic manager pay.

“I don’t know if people are convinced that the water needed to be turned off in the parks, or the trash cans need to come out, or the lights need to go off,” Fowler said. “I think we’ll have a big turnover in City Council a year from April. Until we get a new group in there, people aren’t really going to believe much of anything.”

Mayor and council are part-time jobs in Colorado Springs, points out Mayor Rivera, that pay $6,250 a year ($250 extra for the mayor). “We have jobs, we pay taxes, we use services, just like they do,” Rivera said, acknowledging there is a “level of distrust” of public officials at many levels.

Rivera said he welcomes help from Bartolin, the private task force and any other source volunteering to rethink government. He is slightly encouraged, for now, that his monthly sales-tax reports are just ahead of budget predictions.

Officials across the city know their phone lines will light up as parks go brown, trash gathers in the weeds, and streets and alleys go dark.

“There’s a lot of anger, a lot of frustration about how governments spend their money,” Rivera said. “It’s not unique to Colorado Springs.”

Michael Booth: 303-954-1686 or mbooth@denverpost.com

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_14303473?source=pop_section_news#ixzz0f2o69b7o

I HATE BB&T

January 28, 2010

I absolutely hate BB&T. I transferred out all my money to close out the account tomorrow on my day off.

Guess what?!?! They charged me $2 for “The Plus Fee” THEN $7 for the overdraft protection fee! And considering it’s 12:41AM EST there is NO customer service!

Joe is ticked. Can’t even call Customer Service until 6AM! What a GREAT way to start the day!

Anything to screw you! I had to fight them with PAST print outs of my account to prove THEY deliberately held up 5 small payments for one BIG one. I proved they small ones should have gone through a WEEK before the big one. But they held it up to charge me $170 in overdraft fees!

Took me 2 weeks to get them to fix it, WITH them holding up my next deposit. I just got it cleared up, then transferred the money out this week and was going to go in tomorrow to close account.

But they got me. ONE DAY! What a bunch of blood suckers!