A Message from Consumer Action

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  • Graduating into debt. As students pile up ever-increasing education loan tabs, some colleges and universities are starting to question whether they should be counseling these young borrowers - before they end up with debt that will take them
  • Credit repair claims are usually false. Every day, consumers pay untold sums to companies that promise a quick credit fix. Most of the time, that money is wasted. I understand why these offers might seem enticing. Good credit can get you
  • Extent of TJ Maxx data breach grows. At least 94 million Visa and MasterCard accounts may have been exposed to potential fraud in a data breach at TJX, more than double the previous estimate by the discount retailer. The figure was included in
  • Insurance claims could haunt houses. If past history is any measure, many homeowners affected by the wildfires burning throughout Southern California will find that claims they submit to insurers will result in higher rates or even dropped policies. What they,
  • Treasury Secretary warns Congress to fix AMT. With deadlines fast approaching for printing 2007 tax forms, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. warned yesterday that Congress's delay in repairing the alternative minimum tax could affect 50 million households, or more than a third of
  • Bill would tighten mortgage lending standards. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, yesterday unveiled legislation aimed at curbing abusive lending practices that, he said, have fueled an alarming rise in foreclosures. The long-expected bill, which was immediately criticized
  • Lawmakers can't agree how to fix AMT. Millions of taxpayers could see their refunds delayed next year unless Congress acts quickly to approve a stopgap measure that would prevent a huge expansion of the alternative minimum tax, the IRS said Monday. Without
  • Bill seeks to curb abusive mortgage lending. A leading House Democrat took on the banking industry Monday with a bill to restrict lending practices partly blamed for the nationwide surge in mortgage defaults and foreclosures. The legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank,
  • Largest lender to redo $16B in loans. Countrywide Financial plans to announce Tuesday that it will restructure or refinance $16 billion in adjustable-rate mortgages that have recently reset to higher rates or will reset by the end of next year, stretching some homeowners
  • Criticism rains down on mortgage industry. Chetera Miller, a credit counselor for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, has noticed that lenders are becoming more willing to cut deals with delinquent borrowers. She's been able to help eight homeowners restructure their loans
  • Follow the bouncing checks. I've never set foot in a PetSmart and haven't owned a critter since my family's beloved boxer, Archie, slobbered off this mortal coil sometime during the Nixon years. So that $38.28 payment to the pet store
  • Buyers pounce on foreclosures. MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 21 — In a down real estate market, they came to buy. They came early, they came in numbers and they came with bank checks for $5,000. By 10 a.m. Saturday, more than 700 people filled a
  • Qué hacer con las viejas deudas. ¿Tienes alguna vieja deuda y no sabes muy bien qué hacer con ella? Tómate el tiempo necesario para evaluar la situación y no hagas nada hasta que no tengas una estrategia clara y
  • Serious about budgeting? Here's how. Sometimes the standard prescription for trimming a budget doesn't produce the desired results. So what do you do if you're still broke after fewer lattes and no more Chinese takeout? It's a question that a
  • Knowing the rules results in tax savings. Achance remark on a column about year-round tax savings has prompted a few skeptical, if not downright cynical, responses. I mentioned that my wife, Georgina, and I are in the 15 percent tax bracket, the second-lowest
  • On taking early Social Security. The day that policy wonks warned about and politicians have tried to ignore is here: The nation's first baby boomer has signed up for Social Security benefits. Kathleen Casey-Kirschling was born just after midnight on
  • Fees jack up banks' bottom line. The news that Bank of America is jacking up its ATM fee in some locations for non-customers to $3 from $2 prompted the usual muttering about money-grubbing financial institutions that nickel-and-dime people to death. But Bank of
  • Vultures circle over distressed properties. Call them grave dancers, vulture funds, turnaround specialists or the more euphemistic "opportunity investors." However you identify them, the deal is the same: When hyperactive real estate markets lose their sizzle, or property owners no
  • Fix rates to save loans. There have been many proposals to deal with the problems in the mortgage market. But the best place to begin is by looking at the poor lending standards and weak consumer protections at the root
  • Crash of '87: Could it happen again?. Wall Street loves its sayings. Buy low and sell high. Don't fight the tape. Don't try to catch a falling knife. A useful one now might be one that historians often trumpet: Those who forget

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