Consumer and Housing News
Please check this page frequently for the latest in news that affects you as a consumer. In our Library, we have more topics and forms for you to use for Consumer issues.
We also have several free legal forms on our Free Legal Forms page that help with Consumer problems.
File your 2012 Federal taxes for FREE! Clickwww.taxact.com/icanefile
A waitress gets a shock when she asks a customer for her ID and sees the picture is familiar.
It was her own driver's license, stolen two weeks before.
Brianna Priddy (right), a server at a Lakewood, CO, Applebee's, called the police and waited for them to arrive.
"I put on my server smile and tried to take care of the customers, but I was shaking like crazy," she said.
The New Loan Sharks
The Dec. 2012-Jan. 2013 issue of AARP Magazine has an investigative story about payday loan companies and how you should avoid the traps. Read it here.
Complaints Against Lenders
The New York Times reported that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 23,500 complaints about mortgage lenders from last December through this past June, according to a recently released semiannual report. And, not surprisingly, just over half the complaints centered on the problems borrowers encountered when they were unable to make payments. Read the story here.
On July 30, 1965, Medicare was implemented under President Lyndon Johnson. Prior to that, nearly half of US Senior Citizens had no access to health insurance. Read more about it.
The five most frequent consumer complaints
Have you been unhappy with your bank in the past year? Or gotten an unpleasant call from a debt collector? You're not alone.
The Federal Trade Commission received more than 1.8 million gripes from consumers last year about identity theft, used-car sales and advance-free loans, among others. That marked a 24 percent increase from 2010 and the fifth straight year that the number of complaints rose.
Read more about it here.
From 60 Minutes: Is your credit record accurate?
A mistake on your credit report can cost you money. It can increase the interest you pay on loans, prevent you from getting a mortgage or buying a car, landing a job or getting a security clearance. Its not uncommon. A new government study by the Federal Trade Commission and released February 11 indicates as many as 40 million Americans have a mistake on their credit report. Twenty million have significant mistakes.
The venerable "60 Minutes" also did an investigation of the credit reporting industry and found that those mistakes can be nearly impossible to get removed from your record. Read about it here.
Read more about poverty in Kansas and other parts of the U.S. here.
Protect yourself from identity theft -- from the Kansas Attorney General's office, this information sheet will give you helpful tips.
Another resource for learning more about Identity Theft that helps you
- determine if you are the victim of Identity Theft and
- how to recover from Identity Theft is here.
The Federal Trade Commission has created this resource to help consumers. The letters suggested in this booklet can be created through the interactive interviews below.
Identity Theft is the largest consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) annually. If you have been the victim of identity theft, it means someone has used your name to make purchases, get credit cards, rent an apartment or obtain utilities, without your permission. It may also include someone using checks onyour account. This could be from stealing your checkbook or electronically obtaining access to your checking account. Use of an ATM card or credit card that you did not approve is also identity theft.
Even if you are able to resolve the issue with your bank, this use of your name and credit history can result in you getting collection letters for thinkgs you did not purchase. It can also result in unfavorable entries on your credit report, causing you problems in getting credit or paying a higher interest rate.
In response to this problem, the FTC has created letters that consumers can use to notify a debt collector or credit bureau of the theft of your identity.
To use these letters, you must first report the crime of identity theft to the police. You do not need to know the name of the person who used your identity. You would show the police the debt collection letters or other confirmation that you are the victim of this crime. The forms below use the FTC-created forms.
Look for the to identify interactive interviews allowing you to create the forms you need.
To use the interactive interview for responding to someone collecting a bill that is in your name, but a bill you did not authorize, you will need a copy of the bill in hand when you start the interview.
You will also need to provide a copy of your proof of your identity.
Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to a Creditor, directly collecting their own bill. This might be a credit card statement you received that contains charges you didn’t make or authorize. It can be any situation where your credit or identity was used without your permission.
To use the interactive interview for responding to a company or law firm that is a Debt Collector, or collecting a bill that is in your name but you did not authorize, you will need a copy of their letter in hand when you start the interview.
You will also need to provide a copy of your police report and proof of your identity, by copying these and putting them in the letter. Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to Debt Collector.
To use the interactive interview to create a letter to a Credit Bureau, seeking investigation and removal from your credit report of items that are the result of identity theft, you will need a copy of your credit report in hand when you start the interview.
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau here.
You do not have to pay for a copy of your credit report. One credit report from each company is available to you free each year.
You will mail the letter and attachment, a copy of your credit report with the incorrect items circled, a copy of the police report you made of the identity theft and proof of your identity with the letter.
Click below to use the interactive interview for a Letter to a Credit Bureau.
DEBT COLLECTION - LOANS
8 Signs of Predatory Lending -- from the Center for Responsible Lending. These are signs you should look for to protect yourself from predatory lenders when you are shopping for a mortgage loan.
Notice to Creditor - If all your income is from Social Security, you are entitled to notify your creditor of this fact. This may discourage a creditor from going the the process of bank account attachment. Use this form to notify any creditor. A copy should be filed with the Court and a copy sent to the Creditor. No court costs are required for filing this notice.
Your bank should help you in notifying the creditor that only Social Security money goes to your account. The Bank is required to protect an amount up to total of two months of your Social Security benefits. If the bank doesn't help, you can file a complaint with the Controller of Currency, a Federal agency that oversees most banks. You can learn more about the bank's obligation regarding attachment here.
Bankruptcy Counseling and Education through Housing & Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI)
Kansas Legal Services provides consumer bankruptcy legal services through our Reduced Fee program. This program is limited to families or individuals with income at 250% of the Federal poverty guideline. Contact Kansas Legal Services at 1-800-723-6953 Or please apply online.
Credit Report Dispute Letter Read about it here.
For tips from The National Consumer Law Center on what to check in your credit report, click here
To file a credit reporting complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that oversees the credit reporting industry, click here
The National Mortgage Settlement will offer various forms of relief for distressed families who qualify. Details are still being ironed out, but this preliminary guide offers information for those who may be eligible.
HUD Online Housing Complaint -- file it online