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Archive for May, 2014

Should You Do Debt Consolidation?

Almost everyone at one time in their lives found themselves having trouble paying all the bills. Even if it wasn’t true, because you hadn’t verified your income versus how much you owed, you probably had some discomfort when it came to a question of whether or not you were managing your money properly.

If you ever find yourself in trouble, you have a few options.

3D Shackled Debt
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Chris Potter via Compfight

One is to ignore it and wait for the phone calls to start coming in; we wouldn’t recommend that.

Another is to borrow money from friends and family. This might be a solution but, unless you don’t have to worry about paying them back, it can end up in family strife and probably isn’t a great option.

The best option is to look at some kind of debt consolidation program or process to help get out of debt, or at least to get some control of your finances so you at least know what’s going on.

We’ve talked in the past about things one should do when you’re having problems with bills, and those are great first steps. Being proactive is always a better option than sitting around feeling nervous and scared and waiting for things to happen.

One thing you can think about doing is, if most of your debt is in credit cards, moving balances to the cards with the lowest interest rate. While this doesn’t quite eliminate debt, it will give you fewer payments, lower total payments overall for a while, and if you can make larger payments you will reduce your debt faster.

The problems here are twofold. One, you might already be close to being overextended, thus this isn’t a viable option. Two, you have to be disciplined enough not to use the cards you clear, which might mean you’d have to do something as drastic as cutting some cards up to stop yourself. You have to do a major self evaluation here; if a lack of discipline is that put you in trouble to begin with don’t even think about this as an option.

Another thing you can do is some credit counseling. You can go to someone like an accountant, who can help you get a handle on your bills and even pay them for you, or set you up to pay things down while putting you on an allowance. Or you can look for free services like Consumer Credit Counseling, who will help negotiate payment terms with your creditors with the caveat that your accounts are closed at the same time. And no, you don’t get to keep a card in reserve, although you can always use your debit card.

A final thing to think about, if you own a home, is a debt consolidation loan via the bank where your mortgage is. This might be harder to do if you have high balances on all of your cards because the bank might not see you as a great credit risk, but if they do extend you credit it’ll end up becoming a part of your monthly mortgage payment, which will be less than what you pay now for your mortgage and bills, and the interest rate will probably be lower also.

The best option overall is to address any potential issues early so you don’t have to consider doing any of these things. Help is always available; you just have to ask for it.
 

4 Scams Looking To Take Your Money

If you have any money whatsoever someone’s out there trying to get it. Some of those people aren’t nice at all, but instead of walking up to you and robbing you they’re going to try to trick the money out of you.

Most scams seem pretty easy to spot by a lot of people but if they didn’t work the scammers wouldn’t continue putting these things out there. Many come to you via email and phone calls but some of these also comes through the mail.

We put this alert out to you because both individuals and businesses get caught up in these things. As always, if something looks dicey, your best bet is to look it up online because if it’s happening to you, it’s a sure bet it’s happened to someone before you.

1. The IRS will never contact you by email. It’s just not their way. And yet, thousands of people get fooled by official looking emails saying that they owe large sums of money to the government and to click on said link to make payment arrangements, or possibly to talk to someone about it.

Some of these emails will just take you to a website and load some malware or a virus on your computer, and as nasty as that is, you’d be considering yourself lucky. Some people are led to pages where payments are requested or you’ll get a phone number to call and whoever is on the other side will try to convince you to pay them something. Just ignore all of these emails because they’re fake.

2. You might get an email from your bank saying there’s some kind of problem and you should click on a link or call a phone number. Whereas it’s possible that you might receive email from your bank, if there are ever any problems they’re going to call you first, followed up by a regular letter. Also, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also be getting lots of these same emails from banks you don’t have accounts at. Send them to your trash bin.

3. Have you ever gotten a call from the Fraternal Order of Police, saying they’re raising money for charity? This is a scam, yet they collect hundreds of thousands every year across the country. There are unions with this name but there’s no such charity. You might think about trying to call the police but they’re no help in this instance because they don’t even know where to start. Just say “no thanks” and hang up before they get into their scam pitch.

4. Every once in a while you might get an invoice in the mail for something that looks legitimate, for something you own, but it’s a scam. For instance, if you have a website you might receive something telling you that your domain is being shut down unless you pay a big amount of money.

You should know where you purchased your domain name from, even if you don’t remember when it might be up. If it didn’t come from that company you know it’s fake. Not only that, but almost all online companies are going to send you email and they’ll have a little bit of information that only they would have so you’ll know it’s legitimate. Many people pay these things without paying attention; don’t be one of those people.