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Michigan Attorney General Announces Top 10 Consumer Complaints Reported in 2019

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| 3 min read | from MI Newswire |

March 3, 2020, LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel today recognized National Consumer Protection Week by releasing her office’s Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2019 to help consumers make well-informed decisions about where to spend their money. In 2019, the Michigan Department of Attorney General received more than 9,200 consumer complaints. 

“By taking a proactive approach and educating residents about the top threats we’ve noticed, we hope to stop as many scammers and deceptive business practices as we can from causing further harm to Michigan consumers,” Nessel said. “I would like to thank the thousands of Michigan consumers who have taken the time to file formal complaints with my office. Those files are valuable pieces of information that may help us build a case against bad actors and allow us to hold accountable those who attempt to break the law.” 

Nessel’s Top 10 list is compiled by analyzing the more than 9,200 written complaints filed in 2019 with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team. The department recovered more than $680,000 in consumer refunds, forgiven debts and state recoveries in 2019.   

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Consumers can submit a complaint online or by calling 877-765-8388. 

Personal Service Provider Concerns Tops Complaint List 

Personal Service Provider complaints topped the 2019 list with more than 1,100 complaints. Many of the complaints were against spas, health and beauty companies, or fitness companies. The Attorney General took action on Family FitnessGo Workout and Crown Jewel Spa and Salon in 2019.   

While the Top 10 complaint categories remained mostly the same from 2018, several of their rankings did change. Five of the 10 complaint categories kept their places, but the most surprising change was the rise in complaints against personal service providers, which jumped from seventh to the No. 1 spot due to aggressive action by the Attorney General’s office in 2019. Travel complaints also make an appearance on the list in the No. 10 spot, replacing a category of complaints related to gasoline fuel prices and energy providers. 

Top 10 Consumer Complaint Categories of 2019 

  1. Personal Service Providers: Moving up from the seventh spot last year. This jump was directly attributable to the large number of complaints against Western Michigan-based gym chain Family Fitness, Go Workout, Crown Jewel Spa and Salon and Light RX. Complaints in this category additionally range from dating services and beauty shops to home security and tax preparation services.
  2. Telecommunications, Cable and Satellite TV: Holding steady at No. 2 this year. This category includes complaints involving issues like robocalls, telemarketing, wireless communications, and cable and satellite TV services. Despite staying in the second spot, the department received more than 20 percent more complaints in this category. Many of those complaints were the result of the robocall initiative announced by the Attorney General’s office in November.
  3. Motor Vehicle and Automobiles: Also holding steady in the No. 3 spot. The total number of complaints in this category was up by 10 percent. Complaints against used car dealers continue to top this category, with other top complaints involving motor vehicles, new car dealers and passenger car rentals. The department took a notable step in protecting consumers’ interests when it reached a settlement with Executive Car Rental, securing nearly $40,000 in reimbursements for customers.
  4. Credit and Financial Concerns: Moving from first to fourth this year, there were 769 complaints. Complaints in this category cover a variety of areas including debt collection and reporting, credit repair, payday lending and mortgage brokering. In October, the Attorney General’s office filed suit to stop the predatory lending practices of online tribal lender Sierra Financial.
  5. Retail: Again, holding steady in the fifth spot from last year, retail complaints included concerns about general merchandise, food and furniture stores, business services, and eating and drinking places.
  6. Internet: Moving down two slots this year from four to six, the total number of complaints in this computer-based category stayed virtually the same. The majority of these complaints involved online purchases, and a significant number of complaints were filed against computer communication and internet service providers.  In 2019, the department opened an investigation into Blvck Pods LLC and Blvcked Pods LLC for running a drop-shipping operation that relied on a Chinese company to supply wireless earphones to consumers who believed they were buying customized products.
  7. Landlord and Tenant: Moving up a spot from eight to seven, this category held steady with almost 500 complaints. Most of the complaints in this category involved apartment owners and managers; complaints against mobile home site operators and condominium associations accounted for the majority of the total complaints in this category.
  8. Contractors: Moving down two spots from last year’s list are complaints about residential building construction services, landscaping services, plumbing, heating and air condition services, and special trade contractors. In 2019, consumers filed 176 fewer complaints in this area than 2018.
  9. Health Service Providers: Staying in ninth place, this category’s total complaints increased by more than 17 percent compared to 2018. The category includes health service providers like doctors, dentists, hospitals and medical clinics.  
  10. Travel: New to the Top 10 this year is the category of travel, which bumped out the category of complaints for gasoline fuel and energy providers from the 2018 list. This category includes complaints about companies like Outdoor Adventures, travel agents, travel companies and time-share companies. 

Consumer Education Key to Prevention 

Attorney General Nessel is committed to aggressively going after those who take advantage of Michigan residents. 

The more consumers know about how scams work and the more careful they are in responding to requests for money or personal information, the less likely they are to fall for a scam artist.  

The Michigan Department of Attorney General is conducting a series of “Scam Jams” around the state to focus on the Attorney General’s efforts to help consumers spot and stop scams.  

As part of Consumer Protection Week, the Attorney General will conduct her first “Scam Jam” at the East Lansing Public Library on March 4, 2020.  

The Attorney General’s office is working to schedule additional Scam Jam events throughout the year. Those will be publicized once dates and locations are finalized. 

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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