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July 17th, 2010
05:26 AM ET

Not Paying Debts Could Land You Behind Bars?

Yes, it’s true! If you have unpaid debts floating out in collectionville beware. Prior to the mid 19th century debtors' prisons were a common way to deal with unpaid debt. Currently, the practice of giving prison sentences for unpaid debts has been mostly eliminated, with a few exceptions. In Minnesota, judges have issued arrest warrants for people who owe as little as $85, which is a fraction of the cost it would take to house the inmate overnight. Debtors targeted for arrest owed a median of $3,512 in 2009, up from $2,201 five years ago. A judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man "to indefinite incarceration" until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt, but it appears as though that those jailed for debts may be the least able to pay.

What can you to make sure that you’re protected and you’re rights are not violated?
Know the law. I’ve read several stories of people who are fighting back, simple by being armed with the law and in particular the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which covers personal, family, and household debts, including money you owe on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical bill, and your mortgage.

The way that most people are ending up behind bar is ignoring a court summons. Collection agencies are feeling the pinch of the economy as well as most business across America, so in turn they are playing hard ball. If they are unsuccessful reaching you by telephone to attempt to settle the matter, they have the option to file suit against you. Once the suit is filed the court will request your appearance, but if you neglect to attend, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. In many cases people have remained behind bars until bail was made, which is often the amount they owed the collection company.

It’s more important now than ever to know your rights. Visit the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) website http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm to get additional information to make sure you’re equipped to avoid being placed in the slammer for your unpaid debt.

July 10th, 2010
05:00 AM ET

Have you opted out of your banks Overdraft Protection Program?

You’ve probably received a letter in the mail from your banking institution by now, directing you to opt in before it’s too late. Sign on the dotted line and allow them to charge hefty fee’s for the privilege of them covering your bounced checks.

For months, I’ve been hearing about all the new restrictions on overdraft fees and how it will lead to "the end of free checking" as banks seek to replace the billions in fees they're about to lose.It's true that banks are adjusting their fee structures, and you'll need to pay attention to the changes, or your wallet could suffer.

Banks have begun to reassess their checking accounts because of a Federal Reserve rule that, as of July 1, which will require customers' consent before they're covered by so-called courtesy overdraft. That's the kind of overdraft program that allows people to spend more than they have in their accounts and then clocks them $35 or so per transaction for the privilege.

Banks raked in $38.5 billion in overdraft fees last year, while the new restrictions will decrease the fee income by $2 billion this year.

What is it Overdraft Protection?
The program amounts to a short-term loan with interest rates that can be astronomical.
In the past you had this coverage no matter if you wanted it or not & had to opt out.

What should you do
Look out for the letters in the mail to get you to opt in
Just Say “NO”
Get true overdraft protection that links to a savings, credit card or a line of credit

Facts
Several institutions give this option at the ATM as a trick to encourage overspending
Moderate- and low-income customers paid the bulk of these fees, and one-quarter of the charges were paid by people over 55.
Currently, about half of all checking accounts are unprofitable (cost about $250-$300 to maintain a checking account annually). Most profitable keep 3K balance or have 10 overdrafts a year.

Do The Math
If you average 3 overdraft fees a month @ $35, you will pay $1,260 a year in fees.
A $2 coffee turns into a $37 coffee

September 13th, 2009
08:14 PM ET

Obama Looking Forward

Obama will continue to discuss issues on the economy and healthcare reform. Hear some of the key issues that the Obama administration will continue to tackle this week from White House Correspondent, Ed Henry.

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Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield