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  • When Debt Collectors Attack (Disabled American War Heroes)

    Government Blog Personal Finance Money 

    When it comes to scandalous behavior by debt collectors, I thought I’d heard it all. This is an industry known for its bottom feeders, who routinely bully and intimidate the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Many debt collectors berate and humiliate people into paying off debts that never existed, and pursue people for years, even after the law, common sense, and human decency all demand that they cease and desist. Now, not all debt […]

  • Why Romney the Closer Is a Consumer Nightmare

    Government Politics Blog 

    Politicians often have a lazy relationship with the truth. Everyone knows that these folks will say damn near anything to get elected. The Romney-Ryan ticket has put new luster on this homespun truism, revealing a brave new world of lying — beyond Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the echo chamber — that will mean trouble for America if the GOP retakes the White House in November. In my field, the same tendency takes the form […]

  • Two Sure Things in Life: Death & Facebook

    Social Media 

    What happens to our Facebook profile when we die? Who gets to connect with us on LinkedIn, post pictures of us on Pinterest, or view our photos on Flickr after we have shuffled off this mortal coil and left these worlds — both the physical and the virtual — behind? These are brand-new questions that privacy experts, social media companies, political leaders, and families and friends of the deceased are all grappling with. The answers […]

  • Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and Paul Ryan

    Politics Blog 

    Lies, as Mark Twain famously observed, come in three flavors. If he were around today, Paul Ryan would have inspired him to create a fourth category. Everyone knows Paul Ryan is a liar. He’s the guy who boasted about running a “two hour and 50-something” marathon, placing him on par with the guy who took 85th place in this year’s Olympics marathon. Branded the GOP’s “leading intellectual,” policy wonk and budgetary expert, Ryan seems to […]

  • What Mitt Romney and Liar Loans Have in Common (Be Very Afraid)

    Politics Blog 

    As I watched Governor Romney in the Presidential debate Wednesday night I was reminded of a financial tactic the candidate’s political supporters and financial backers on Wall Street used during the mortgage boom–the one that netted them billions of dollars while simultaneously pushing the American economy off a cliff. I’m talking about the liar loan, a line of credit based on smiling assertions without a shred of proof–the practice that helped flatten the mortgage market […]

  • Banks Still Raking In the Profits from Overdraft Fees

    Financial Literacy Personal Finance 

    If you’ve ever witnessed a great white shark attack, you know the meaning of the word “relentless.” The giant creature’s dorsal fin traces a circle in the water as it spots a vulnerable victim; the shark makes a first strike, then a second and a third, coolly and methodically; the victim struggles, weakens and finally succumbs to the massive loss of blood. Some victims survive, of course — but for many, once marked for attack, […]

  • 5 Ways President Romney Would Screw the 47 Percent

    Politics Blog Personal Finance 

    Mitt Romney’s now-infamous statement, “My job is not to worry about those people,” pretty much sums up the Republican nominee’s true feelings about who he represents. And if you’re in serious debt, it looks like he’s talking about you too. If you are among the 22.4 million people who owe college debt, a record 20 percent of all American households, Romney makes clear that he represents big student loan companies, not you. If you are […]

  • The Alarming Ties Between Debt Collectors and District Attorneys

    Government Blog Personal Finance Money 

    Of all the debt collection scams, the ones that inspire the greatest panic come over the phone. A menacing, often almost incomprehensible voice, claiming to represent a creditor, demands immediate payment of a supposed debt. Otherwise, the caller threatens, the consumer could be arrested and thrown in jail. “Outrageous!” we tell the many consumers who contact us every week seeking help after being cowed and frightened by these bullies’ threats. To each of them, we […]

  • 94 Million Exposed: The Government’s Epic Fail on Privacy

    Government Blog Privacy Identity Theft 

    When you hear a number like “94 million” in the news, it’s usually because somebody won the lottery. This time around, no such luck. This 94 million is the number of Americans’ files in which personal information has been exposed, since 2009, to potential identity theft through data breaches at government agencies. Go ahead, count the zeroes: 94,000,000. That’s like releasing the personal data of every man, woman and child in California, Texas, New York, […]

  • The Great iPhone ID Caper: What Really Happened?

    Blog Privacy Technology 

    If you’re someone who cares about your privacy, these are indeed strange times. When everything from your iPhone to your iPad (and every derivation in between) is secretly tracking your every move from behind its colorful screen, when advertisers gather enough information about you to know you’re pregnant even before your parents do, it’s clear that we are living in a twilight zone. What we think we know about staying safe, and what we actually […]