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In the Pandemic, Complaints Against Financial Institutions Rise – Business – The Times-News

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Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were up 31% in the first five months of 2020, compared with the same period last year, and many of these new

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were up 31% in the first five months of 2020, compared with the same period last year, and many of these new complaints specifically mention the coronavirus crisis.

The CFPB relays consumer complaints about loans, credit cards, bank accounts and other financial products to financial institutions. For people who are dissatisfied or otherwise frustrated with their direct interaction with a financial company, this complaint process can offer recourse, often within a few weeks. During a nationwide financial crisis, it stands to reason, these frustrations would run high.

On March 4, the CFPB received its first complaint mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic. That first complaint was about canceled travel and the inability to get a refund despite global travel warnings. Over roughly the next three months, through May 31, the cutoff date used in this analysis, the agency received 1,309 complaints mentioning the pandemic.

Our analysis looked at all complaints filed with the CFPB from Jan. 1 through May 31, 2020, and posted to its database by June 1 at 9 a.m. EDT. These complaints are not necessarily representative of consumer experiences as a whole, but they tell interesting stories of hardship in uncharted financial territory.

In the first five months of 2020, the CFPB received 142,782 complaints, 31% more than in the first five months of 2019.

Complaint narratives hint at financial strain causes

When someone files a complaint with the CFPB, they go through a series of multiple-choice selections and enter a narrative describing their gripe. That narrative can be made public, if the complainant consents, giving us the opportunity to mine those narratives for certain words, sentiments and overall trends. If they don’t consent, the complaint basics ” such as financial product, issue and associated company ” are still published, minus the detailed description. Of the complaints filed through May 31, 2020, just 33% were published with a narrative.

By searching those narratives for words including “covid,” “coronavirus” and a handful of related terms, we found 1,309 complaints specifically mentioning the pandemic. Although only a small portion of published complaints included a public narrative, considering the rise in overall complaints, it’s likely many of the others were also related to the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Among all complaints with narratives, those mentioning job loss, unemployment or a related set of synonyms were up 34% when compared with the same period last year.

Mortgage, credit card and credit reporting complaints most common

Having “incorrect information on your credit report” was the most commonly cited complaint issue in the first five months of 2020 and 2019. But among 2020 complaints explicitly mentioning “covid” or related terms, “struggling to pay mortgage” is the top issue ” accounting for 16% of that subset.

Mortgages

Among pandemic-related complaints, more than one-quarter (26%) are tagged with “mortgage” as the primary financial product. In reading through those labeled as mortgage complaints, we found many consumers frustrated with the lack of relief provided by mortgage forbearance offers. Namely, the consumers were unhappy that lenders required full repayments of delayed installments ” known as a balloon payment ” at the conclusion of the forbearance period.

Take action: Borrowers seeking mortgage forbearance may be able to negotiate different terms with their lender if a balloon payment isn’t feasible. Some lenders may allow repayment of the forbearance amount across several months or tack it onto the end of the loan term, though this isn’t always the case. Loan modification is another relief tool. It restructures your mortgage terms entirely.

Credit cards

The second most commonly cited financial product in coronavirus-related complaints are credit or prepaid cards, accounting for 23%. Combing through complaints tagged with credit cards we found many people frustrated by credit card issuers closing inactive accounts with no warning.

Take action: Having a credit card canceled unexpectedly can eliminate one source of emergency funding in tough financial times. Unfortunately, credit card issuers aren’t required to notify account holders before closing an inactive account. Occasionally using a credit card for a tank of gas or a trip to the grocery store can be enough to keep the account open and available when you need it most.

Credit reports

“Credit reporting, credit repair services or other personal consumer reports” is the third most common financial product category complained about in coronavirus-related narratives. Generally, these products are the most commonly complained about throughout the year, and while they account for just 20% of those explicitly citing the pandemic, they are 60% of the total complaints filed so far in 2020.

Reading through the narratives, we found many complaints centered on accounts being reported delinquent to credit bureaus despite being in forbearance or another payment modification program. Delinquent accounts on your credit report can make it more difficult to access new or increased lines of credit. Under the terms of the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March, participation in loan forbearances or other creditor hardship programs should not negatively impact the credit of someone whose account is otherwise in good standing.

Take action: When working with financial institutions, it’s important to ask explicitly whether suspended or late payments will be reported to the credit bureaus and to keep an eye on your credit reports for errors in the months afterward. Because of the pandemic, the CFPB has extended the time credit bureaus have to resolve such errors from 30 to 45 days.

METHODOLOGY

Using the statistical programming language R and Google Sheets, we analyzed consumer complaints received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by the date a complaint was received. The full complaint database was downloaded at 9 a.m. EDT on June 1, 2020. Because complaints aren’t published on the database until a company responds (or 15 days after initial receipt, whichever comes first), complaints received before our cutoff date of May 31, 2020, will continue to be added to the database in months to come, so the totals will change.

Single complaint records could be duplicate issues, filed by a single consumer more than once. Because the complaints are anonymized, we did not account for this.

When searching for complaints specifically related to the coronavirus pandemic, we searched for the following terms: “coronavirus,” “covid,” “pandemic” and “quarantine.” When searching for complaints specifically related to job loss, we searched for the following terms: “unemployment,” “unemployed,” “job loss,” “laid off” and “lost job.” All searches ignored letter case.

More From NerdWallet

COVID-19 and Your Money: A Guide Mortgage Relief Programs During the Coronavirus Crisis How to Get Student Loan Relief During the Pandemic and Beyond

Elizabeth Renter is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @elizabethrenter.

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How DIY Debt Relief is Simplifying The Road to Financial Freedom

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Los Angeles, California, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — “Debt” is an anxiety-inducing topic for most Americans. According to financial experts, about 80% of Americans have some form of consumer debt and are $38,000 in debt, excluding mortgage debt. Unfortunately, financial literacy isn’t a topic that’s extensively covered in schools. As a result, many Americans lack valuable knowledge on personal finance topics — including how credit cards and loans actually work, or how to get out of debt quickly should they experience financial hardship. When times are tough, the concept of “free” money is very appealing and overrides reservations about amassing large amounts of consumer debt.

While consumers have numerous debt-relief options — ranging from consumer credit counselling to debt settlement to bankruptcy — the actual road to recovery is fraught with numerous hazards that include repayment terms with unaffordable monthly payments, repayment terms that take too long, exorbitant fees, and false promises.

With over a decade of experience in the credit and finance industries, these are problems the founders of DIY Debt Relief understand all too well. Debt relief — specifically settling delinquent accounts with creditors and collectors — cost consumers more time and money than most can afford. Compounding the problem are unscrupulous service providers that make promises they can’t keep — charging too much for the service they provide and taking too long to provide said relief. It was with these issues in mind that DIY Debt Relief was created. 

DIY Debt Relief is a web-based company that provides educational videos and supporting materials to offer a “do it yourself” alternative for distressed consumers. By eliminating the need for a third-party service provider, consumers can avoid the prohibitive fees they charge — which in turn reduces the amount of time needed to settle accounts, pay off the agreed upon balances, and become debt-free. Additionally, even creditors and collectors who often refuse to work with third-party service providers are all too eager to work with consumers directly.

 The content, tools and resources DIY Debt Relief provide are designed to help consumers assess, evaluate, and improve their financial situation. The information is based on United States federal laws and regulations which govern the actions of creditors and debt collectors, which means they can be accessed and utilized in all 50 states. With these assets in hand, consumers can create a plan of action to get their delinquent, unsecured debt paid off as quickly and as affordably as possible. And with the belief that credit repair is the next logical step after the debt settlement and repayment process is completed, DIY Debt Relief provides additional resources and information teaching consumers how to quickly and correctly rebuild their credit profiles and FICO scores. 

The DIY Debt Relief process is easy to follow, gives the consumer control, is less expensive to implement, takes less time to complete, and can provide better results. Rather than relying on a third-party to entrust your financial future to, consumers now have the option of taking the initiative and doing the necessary work to get themselves to the debt-free future they deserve. With the goal of taking DIY Debt Relief internationally, the eventual next step is to make the videos in other languages. For right now, DIY Debt Relief’s videos educate on debt relief only in the United States — but its possibilities are endless, its effect promising, and its only trajectory from here is up.  

DIY Debt Relief IG: @diydebtrelief   www.diydebtrelief.com

Media Contact: support@diydebtrelief.com

This news has been published for the above source. DIY Debt Relief [ID=15547]

Disclaimer: The pr is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, express or implied: The content publisher provides the information without warranty of any kind. We also do not accept any responsibility or liability for the legal facts, content accuracy, photos, videos. if you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.  

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How DIY Debt Relief is Simplifying The Road to Financial Freedom | 2020-12-02 | Press Releases

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Los Angeles, California, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — “Debt” is an anxiety-inducing topic for most Americans. According to financial experts, about 80% of Americans have some form of consumer debt and are $38,000 in debt, excluding mortgage debt. Unfortunately, financial literacy isn’t a topic that’s extensively covered in schools. As a result, many Americans lack valuable knowledge on personal finance topics — including how credit cards and loans actually work, or how to get out of debt quickly should they experience financial hardship. When times are tough, the concept of “free” money is very appealing and overrides reservations about amassing large amounts of consumer debt.

While consumers have numerous debt-relief options — ranging from consumer credit counselling to debt settlement to bankruptcy — the actual road to recovery is fraught with numerous hazards that include repayment terms with unaffordable monthly payments, repayment terms that take too long, exorbitant fees, and false promises.

With over a decade of experience in the credit and finance industries, these are problems the founders of DIY Debt Relief understand all too well. Debt relief — specifically settling delinquent accounts with creditors and collectors — cost consumers more time and money than most can afford. Compounding the problem are unscrupulous service providers that make promises they can’t keep — charging too much for the service they provide and taking too long to provide said relief. It was with these issues in mind that DIY Debt Relief was created.

DIY Debt Relief is a web-based company that provides educational videos and supporting materials to offer a “do it yourself” alternative for distressed consumers. By eliminating the need for a third-party service provider, consumers can avoid the prohibitive fees they charge — which in turn reduces the amount of time needed to settle accounts, pay off the agreed upon balances, and become debt-free. Additionally, even creditors and collectors who often refuse to work with third-party service providers are all too eager to work with consumers directly.

The content, tools and resources DIY Debt Relief provide are designed to help consumers assess, evaluate, and improve their financial situation. The information is based on United States federal laws and regulations which govern the actions of creditors and debt collectors, which means they can be accessed and utilized in all 50 states. With these assets in hand, consumers can create a plan of action to get their delinquent, unsecured debt paid off as quickly and as affordably as possible. And with the belief that credit repair is the next logical step after the debt settlement and repayment process is completed, DIY Debt Relief provides additional resources and information teaching consumers how to quickly and correctly rebuild their credit profiles and FICO scores.

The DIY Debt Relief process is easy to follow, gives the consumer control, is less expensive to implement, takes less time to complete, and can provide better results. Rather than relying on a third-party to entrust your financial future to, consumers now have the option of taking the initiative and doing the necessary work to get themselves to the debt-free future they deserve. With the goal of taking DIY Debt Relief internationally, the eventual next step is to make the videos in other languages. For right now, DIY Debt Relief’s videos educate on debt relief only in the United States — but its possibilities are endless, its effect promising, and its only trajectory from here is up.

DIY Debt Relief IG: @diydebtrelief www.diydebtrelief.com

Media Contact: support@diydebtrelief.com

This news has been published for the above source. DIY Debt Relief [ID=15547]

Disclaimer: The pr is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, express or implied: The content publisher provides the information without warranty of any kind. We also do not accept any responsibility or liability for the legal facts, content accuracy, photos, videos. if you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.


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Wannabe Wired: Don’t get scammed by fraudulent phone calls | Columnists

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A few weeks ago, I told you about how you can filter out spam phone calls. This week, I’m going to teach you a few of the warning signs to look out for if you are one of the unfortunate souls who has to answer every phone call that comes through.

It’s hard to believe that phone calls still play a major role in fraud scams. But despite the fact that most people won’t even answer their phone if they don’t recognize the number, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported last year that of the more than one million fraud complaints they received, 74 percent were phone scams.

The sad truth is that people lose a lot of money to phone scams. And even though we like to think they won’t happen to us, we can never be too cautious. Over the years these scams have become more sophisticated by mimicking numbers that look trustworthy, have local area codes or even familiar names attached to them. There have even been reported instances of people receiving fraud calls from their own phone number.

The good news is, the people on the other end of those calls are using scams that aren’t nearly as sophisticated as their number spoofing software. Most scams use formulaic narratives that are easy to recognize once you know what to be on the lookout for. Below are some of the most common scams and how to recognize them according to the FTC.

The Unentered Lottery

This is one of the most common scams out there. A caller tells you that you’ve been selected for a prize or some kind of lottery you don’t remember entering. But the catch is, you have to send them some kind of cash retainer so you can claim it. That or they start asking you for personal information like date of birth and Social Security number. Don’t fall for it.

The Threat

Some scammers resort to fear to try and extort people. They will give you a call and pretend to be with some kind of authority, threatening to have you arrested if you don’t fork over payment for some amount they claim you owe. Legitimate representatives from law enforcement or federal agencies will not call and threaten you like this.

The Imposter

A scammer calls you up, complete with fake number and caller identification, claiming to be someone you know, maybe a boss, maybe a distant relative, maybe even someone from a government agency. They are always in trouble and always need you to help by sending along gift cards or prepaid visa cards. Quick tip: if someone calls needing you to send them money in a method that is untraceable and nonrefundable like a gift card, don’t.

The Charity Case

Since it’s that time of year again, be on the lookout for fake charity solicitation. Scammers love posing as charities. If you are planning to give to a charity this year, make sure to do your research beforehand and call the charity directly, or better yet go online and give.

There are plenty of others of course, far too many to list in detail here. But here are a few more should also watch out for: extended car warranty scams, loan scams, debt relief or credit repair scams, one ring scams in which your phone rings once and then you call the number back to find out it is a scam, among many others.

And if all else fails just follow my golden rule, if you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

For a complete list of potential scams check out the FTC’s website at consumer.ftc.gov.

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