Mail Order Companies Who Offer Pre Approved Credit Lines by wtn20910

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									                                                         Yearly To-Do List
                                                                                                             need. If you want to remove your name from
                                                                                                             these mailing lists, visit the Direct Marketing
                                                                                                             Association’s web site at www.dmachoice.org and
                                                                                                             click on the link in the left hand box entitled
                                                         þ	 Organize	Finances	                               “Remove My Name From Those Lists” and you
                                                                                                             will have the option of completing this process
                                                         þ	 Organize	Bills
                                                                                                             online or by mail. Also, if you are still receiving
                                                                                                             “pre-approved” credit card offers, the credit
                                                                                                             bureau gives consumers the choice of opting out
  Start off the new year with these helpful tips...                                                          of these offers by visiting www.optoutprescreen.
                                                                                                             com or calling 1-888-5OptOut (1-888-567-
                                                                                                             8688). In the meantime, try to dispose of junk


    I
         t is the beginning of the year and many         alert you to due dates and put your finances in     mail immediately when you sort through your
         people talk about organizing their              perspective. If you choose, you may also choose     daily mail.
         surroundings in order to make a fresh           to use a pocket day planner or an electronic
  start for the upcoming year. Office and desk           device like a Palm Pilot. You can also visit www.
  areas are one of the common household areas in         billorganizer.missionwares.com to download a
  which massive clutter can accumulate. Paying           free bill tracking spreadsheet.
  your bills can seem even more daunting if they
  are buried under a heap of junk mail. Although            Balance your checkbook. If you
  keeping financial paperwork organized sounds           always know how much money is in your
  like a minor detail, it is one of the first steps to   checking account, you will have less of a
  achieving financial freedom. Below are some            chance of overspending and bouncing checks.
  organizational tips that will hopefully put you        Debit cards are a convenient and a practical
  more at ease with your finances.                       alternative to credit. However, you might easily
                                                         forget a purchase if you do not record it in your
     Create a filing system. Assign a folder             checkbook. As you use your debit card, keep
  for each bill. Place the bill in that folder as you    all receipts in your checkbook. When you have        Online Banking and Organization
  receive it in the mail. If you do not have time to     a moment, record all purchases in your check
  file each day, place all bills and mail in a tray or   register. If you are computer savvy, experiment      Online	banking	tools	may	help	you	reduce	
  box and put each piece of mail in the appropriate      with software such as Quicken or Microsoft           clutter	and	pay	bills	in	a	more	timely	manner.	
  folder at the end of the week. Retail stores offer     Money to balance your checkbook.                     Below	is	some	info	about	online	banking:
  a wide array of filing devices such as cabinets
  and deluxe folders. During this time of year,
                                                                                                              ü    Online banking may allow you to check
                                                           Designate days to pay your bills.                       your balance, transfer funds, and pay bills
  stores also may offer many specials and discounts      Writing and sending bills can be a tedious chore.         online.
  on these items. Online sources such as www.            You may procrastinate until the last possible
  shopgetorganized.com and www.containerstore.           day and be charged late fees. Unfortunately, it      ü	 you pay bills online, you typically enter
                                                                                                                If
  com, may have helpful organizational tools for         is a task that has to be done. Choose two days            in the payee’s billing information and your
  your home office. The ultimate goal is to find an                                                                bank takes care of sending a check. Most
                                                         per month to pay bills. Correspond the days
  inexpensive organization method that meets your                                                                  likely, you will save money on paper checks
                                                         with your pay dates. Write out checks on a desk
  needs.                                                                                                           and postage stamps.
                                                         or table and keep all supplies such as stamps,
                                                         envelopes and address labels handy.                  ü	 the fees that your bank may charge
                                                                                                                Know
    Use a calendar. A large                                                                                        for online services.
  desk calendar usually works                                                   Eliminate junk
  best for keeping track of due
                                                                                                              ü	 bank may also offer “automatic bill
                                                                                                                Your
  dates. You can purchase a
                                                                               mail. In order to stay              pay” with their online banking option. In
                                                                               organized, you may                  other words, your bank will automatically
  basic one for approximately                                                                                      deduct an amount from your checking
                                                                               choose to eliminate a lot
  $5 at office supply stores.                                                                                      account the same time each month and
                                                                               of the incoming junk
  At the beginning of each                                                                                         send it to the appropriate company.
                                                                               mail that you receive.
  month, fill in all information                                                                                   Although this service can save time, it can
                                                                               Extra advertisements or
  relating to your finances.                                                                                       cause havoc if an unexpected emergency
                                                                               catalogs can not only
  In the appropriate date                                                                                          occurs and you do not have enough time
                                                                               be cumbersome and
  squares, write down all                                                                                          to prevent a check from being sent. Know
                                                                                annoying, but can also
  pay dates, bill due dates,                                                                                       your bank’s policies before signing up for
                                                                                tempt you to purchase
  automated checking account                                                                                       this service.
                                                                                items that you may not
  deductions, etc. This task will

                                                                   Yearly To-Do List • UCAN Corner • Tax Time
VOLUME 7
                                                               Credit Corner • Inspiring Thoughts • Spare Change
   #1
          Corner
                                                      F
                                                             or most of us, preparing income tax            located within your zip code.
 UCAN Gives Clients                                          may seem like a confusing and daunting
                                                             task, especially if you have a complicated     Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs): With
Personalized Attention                                situation. Below are some resources and tips that     another tax season gearing up, consumer
                                                      may help you complete your taxes.                     advocates at the National Consumer Law Center


  I
       f you are a victim of collector                                                                      (NCLC) and Consumer Federation of America
       harassment, you may have considered            Tax forms: Visit the Internal Revenue Service’s       (CFA) are warning taxpayers to steer clear of
       filing a complaint with the Federal            web site located at www.irs.gov if you need           refund anticipation loans (RALs), extremely
Trade Commission (FTC), the government                to download a particular form. All forms are          high-cost bank loans secured by the taxpayer’s
organization that oversees the collections            available on this site.                               expected refund. These loans usually last about
industry. Although this is an appropriate                                                                   7-14 days until the actual IRS refund repays
course of action, you may have to wait a long         Free File: This free tax preparation and              the loan. That is the first indicator of how
time for your problem to be solved. Many              electronic filing initiative begins its sixth year.   unnecessary most RALs are. According to NCLC
individuals do not realize that the FTC does          Free File Alliance companies will participate in      and CFA, most taxpayers could have their refund
not get involved with the individual cases of         the program run by the IRS and the Free File          in two weeks or less if they use electronic filing
consumers. Instead, they look for patterns of         Alliance, a consortium of tax preparation                   and have the funds deposited directly into
violations which could eventually result in           software companies. This program                              their bank account. Taxpayers should
action against a collection agency.                   is available to taxpayers that have an                       also realize that they are responsible for
   When you first contact the knowledgeable           adjusted gross income of $54,000 or less.                    the RAL even if the refund is denied or is
                                                      Each company sets its own criteria for who                   smaller than expected.
consumer advocates at United Consumer
                                                      can use the service. Visit www.irs.gov and
Advocacy Network (UCAN), we will
                                                      click on the “Free File” link. You can                      Use your refund to boost your settlement
immediately assess the problem and determine          then read the requirements and search                       fund. If you are deciding on the best
the best course of action. Remember that              for participating companies.                                  way to spend your tax refund, consider
UCAN is always on your side. In fact, we may                                                                        putting it towards your settlement fund.
eventually notify the FTC about your case.            TCE: The Tax Counseling for the                               Extra monies may help us negotiate
   You also may not know that if the FTC fines        Elderly (TCE) Program provides free                           your debts quicker and help you achieve
a collection agency as a result of a complaint        tax help to people age 60 or older.                            financial independence.
that you and hundreds of other consumers              For more information, you may also
filed, you will not receive any monetary              call the IRS at 1-800-TAX-1040,                                    Be aware of all new tax law
settlements. However, if we feel that a collector     press #1 followed by option #5.                                     changes. We strongly urge you to
has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices       AARP also offers the Tax-Aide                                       consult a qualified professional when
Act (FDCPA), especially if the violation has          counseling program for elderly                                      preparing your taxes. Regardless if
caused undue harm or ill effects to you, we           individuals with low incomes. Visit www.aarp.org      you hire a tax specialist or if you take advantage
may refer your particular case to our attorney        for more details.                                     of the free services mentioned in this article, it is
network for a free consultation. Your assigned                                                              wise to receive expert advice. According to H&R
attorney will decide whether or not to file           VITA: The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance             Block, six in 10 taxpayers are unaware of the new
a claim against the collector. If your case           Program (VITA) offers free tax help to                tax law changes. The IRS also estimates the $1
results in legal proceedings and you receive a        individuals with low and moderate incomes             billion in credits and deductions are overlooked
settlement, your attorney will collect their fees     (usually $40,000 and below). VITA sites are           each year. A professional may be able to inform
only from any settlement paid.                        usually located at libraries, schools, and shopping   you of tax credits in which you did not realize
                                                      malls. Call the IRS at 1-800-TAX-1040, press          you are were eligible. You want to receive as large
   As you strive to settle your debts, we are aware
                                                      option #1 followed by option #5. Ask the              of a refund as possible so you can apply that
of the extreme and unethical tactics that some
                                                      customer service representative for a VITA site       money toward achieving your financial goals.
collectors might use to intimidate you. We
realize that you need assistance immediately.
As consumer advocates, we dedicate ourselves
to eliminating unlawful collector harassment.
   If you feel you have been a victim of
disturbing collection activity, contact UCAN                                           As of February 18, 2009, the FCC recently made the decision to
right away. We will give you personalized                                              phase out analog television reception and switch all airwaves to
attention and show sensitivity towards your                                            digital. Therefore, households that receive television reception via
difficult financial situation. Please call us at 1-                                    an antenna will no longer be able to view a picture. Consumers
877-462-8226 or email UCAN at info@ucan.                                               that will be affected by this change may be eligible for $40
net. Our normal business hours are Monday                                              coupons to cover the cost of converter boxes, which are expected to
through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST                                            cost between $50-$70. Visit www.dtv2009.gov or call
and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.                                                 1-888-DTV-2009 for more information.
                                                        income ratio. If you have just two or three credit
                                                        cards and you have been in good standing with
                                                        that creditor for awhile, you may wish to keep
                                                        the original card open, with a zero balance. A
                                                        long and solid credit history can reflect favorably
                                                        on your credit score.

                                                           Read the fine print. Although this is a
                                                        very tedious task, it is important for a variety of
                                                        reasons. Many credit card offers may advertise
                                                        “1.9% interest on balance transfers” in large, bold
                                                        print on the outside of the envelope. However,
  Credit Corner                                         the verbiage by the asterisk may state that
                                                        applicants must meet credit criteria. Therefore,
                                                                                                                 Inspiring Thoughts
                                                                                                                A
   As you strive to settle your debts, most of you      you may not qualify for 1.9%, but may receive                     t one time, huge lines of credit
have made a commitment to rely on cash instead          a 10.9% interest rate. Also, find out if the                      may have inspired us to be overly
of credit cards. After you complete your debt           company charges any fees to perform the balance                   generous. For example, you may
negotiation program, you will probably want to          transfer. Be aware that many credit card issuers      have always insisted on “picking up the tab”
re-establish your credit. As you probably know,         retain the right to increase your interest rate if    when you dined with a group of friends at
credit cards can cause serious financial problems       you are late on a payment following the transfer      an expensive restaurant. During holidays and
if they are not used properly. Periodically, this       or even if they discover some new negative            birthdays, you may have been the person that
column will discuss a credit card issue and give        information in your credit report. As with any        showered everyone with costly gifts.
you tips on responsible credit card use. This           important financial decision, it is necessary to         When it came time to manage your debt,
month’s topic is balance transfers.                     read and understand all provisions before signing
                                                                                                              people that you encountered or articles that
                                                        your name.
                                                                                                              you read may have advised you to become


  I
       n the past, you may have received a                                                                    more “frugal.” Hearing this word may make
                                                         Stay current on your payments                        you cringe because you may associate frugal
       solicitation in the mail from a credit card
       company asking you to transfer your              during the balance transfer. Keep an                  with being cheap. With some new insight and
balance for a lower rate. Some credit card issuers      open line of communication with both credit           lifestyle changes, you may realize that frugality
give consumers the option to transfer a balance         card companies in regards to how long the             can be fun, creative, and less stressful.
from another card because they, of course, want         balance transfer process will take. You do not           Frugal living encompasses many concepts
as much business as possible. If the interest rate is   want to pay on both cards at the same time; nor       such as using things that you have on hand
lower, transferring a balance may be beneficial to      do you want to be delinquent with your old            instead of purchasing something new. For
you. Here are some key points that you may want         credit card company.
                                                                                                              example, a frugal person would cook dinner
to keep in mind if you ever consider a balance                                                                with items that they already have in their
transfer.                                                 Try not to keep a balance on any                    kitchen cabinets instead of ordering take-out
                                                        card. This article is intended to educate you         or buying more food at the grocery store.
  Close out all high-interest rate                      on the balance transfer process. However, upon        Rather than hosting a child’s birthday party
accounts. If you do transfer a balance to               completion of your debt negotiation program, we       at Chuck E. Cheese, a frugal parent would
another credit card, you may want to close the          recommend that you do not keep a balance on           organize an imaginative party theme for a
high-interest account if you have more than             your credit cards. In an avid attempt to remain       small group of children at their home. For
one or two cards. As you may know, keeping              free of debt and to re-establish your credit,         example, parents of daughters could have a
too many active cards may tempt some people             consider having only one or two open credit card      princess party where little girls make their
to acquire more debt and defeat the purpose of          accounts. Charge amounts that you can afford
                                                                                                              own crowns.
finding a lower interest rate. You also run the risk    to pay in full each month. If you make timely
                                                                                                                 Frugality may have a negative connotation
of acquiring a large amount of debt that you may        payments and use your credit cards wisely, you
                                                        may not have to concern yourself with balance         because some people relate it to deprivation or
not be able to pay. Having many open accounts                                                                 being stingy. There are times in life when we
with available credit may also lower your debt-to-      transfer offers and will be affording yourself the
                                                        opportunity to better your credit rating.             may not be able to be as frugal as we want to
                                                                                                              be. For example, if a child desperately needs
                                                                                                              cough syrup at midnight, most parents would
                                                                                                              purchase it at the local convenience store
                                  According	to	a	survey	conducted	by	ChangeWave	Research	                     rather than wait until the discount grocery
                                  (www.changewave.com),	34%	of	surveyed	consumers	                            chain opens the next morning. Being frugal
                                  say	that	they	will	spend	less	during	the	next	90	                           is not sacrificing basic needs in order to save
                                  days. Reasons include inflation, high                                       money.
                                  energy	costs,	and	the	desire	to	                                               During the upcoming month, meet with
                                  reduce	debt	loads.                                                          your family to discuss ways in which you can
                                                                                                              become more frugal. Can you refinish or paint
                                                                                                              a piece of bedroom furniture instead of a
                                                                                                              buying new set? Would your family be willing
                                                                                                              to dine out one night less a week or reduce
                                                                                                              the number of premium television services?
                                                                                                              Over time, your family may begin to integrate
                                                                                                              many innovate ideas in order to create a frugal
                                                                                                              lifestyle. In the end, these changes may make
                                                                                                              you more relaxed because you will know how
                                                                                                              to live richly without spending a lot of money.
Spare Change
                                                                                                                                                                     Check your receipts. According to
                                                                                                                                                                  the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act
                                                                                                                                                                  (FACTA), businesses must shorten credit and
                                                                                                                                                                  debit card numbers and omit expiration dates
News, financial tips, and other                                                                                                                                   on any electronically printed receipts in order to
                                                                                                                                                                  reduce the risk of identity theft. The FTC urges
information regarding personal                                                                                                                                    consumers to review their receipts and report any
                                                                                                                                                                  violations at www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-
financial freedom                                                                                                                                                 HELP.


  Changes are underway in the                                                   Commission charges that it violated federal                                         Consumer groups call for a one
credit card industry. According to                                              regulations. The FTC’s complaint alleges that                                     stop complaint system. The Consumers
                                                                                Northbrook, Illinois-based American United                                        Union and the Consumer Federation of America
CardWeb.com, the leading information and                                                                                                                          recently called upon Congress to endorse the
news site for the payment card industry, some                                   Mortgage Company violated the Disposal,
                                                                                Safeguards, and Privacy rules. This organization                                  Financial Consumer Hotline Act of 2007. This
changes in the credit card industry will occur                                                                                                                    act establishes a single toll-free number and
this year primarily due to the recent mortgage                                  failed to properly dispose of credit reports or
                                                                                information taken from credit                                                                       unified complaint system that
problems. Most of these changes may have a                                                                                                                                          makes it easier for consumers to
positive impact on consumers. Cardweb predicts                                  reports and failed to develop or
                                                                                implement reasonable safeguards                                                                     complain about their bank. Five
that card issuers may expand financial education                                                                                                                                    different federal agencies oversee
programs, give customers more leeway on late                                    to protect customer information.
                                                                                Northbrook also did not                                                                             national and state-chartered
and over-limit fees, and increase fixed-rate credit                                                                                                                                 banks, savings and loans, and
card promotions. The mortgage crisis may also                                   provide customers with privacy
                                                                                notices. Improperly disposing of                                                                    federal credit unions, each with
cause credit card companies to impose higher                                                                                                                                        their own complaint system. At
credit card qualifying requirements and reduce                                  financial documents could lead
                                                                                to “dumpster diving,” which                                                                         present time, the Federal Reserve
credit lines.                                                                                                                                                                       Board does have a helpful web
                                                                                involves criminals searching
                                                                                through trash and dumpsters to                                                                      site in which consumers can
  Company will pay $50,000                                                      acquire financial information                                                                       file a complaint against a bank
penalty for tossing credit report                                               such as credit card and bank                                                                        and read useful information
information in unsecured dumpster.                                              account numbers. Remember                                                                           about issues such as checking
A mortgage company that left loan documents                                     to adequately shred your                                                                            accounts, electronic banking,
with consumers’ sensitive personal and financial                                documents before putting them                                                                       and foreclosures. Visit www.
information in and around an unsecured                                          in a trash can.                                                                                     federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov
dumpster has agreed to settle Federal Trade                                                                                                                                         for more details.

   The Road to Financial Freedom (RTFF) is published by The Premier Institute for Financial Freedom. While articles in the RTFF newsletter are factual and accurate, they are not intended to replace the advice of professional financial,
     accounting, and/or legal advisers. As with all decisions regarding your finances, the advice, techniques, ideas and suggestions offered herein should be followed under the supervision of the appropriate competent professional.




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