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December 2007

Should I Answer An e Mail Asking For My Tax Information?

Jim, I received an e mail that was allegedly from the IRS. The e mail contained a link that took me to a page that requested all of my personal information as well as my Social Security Number. The e mail suggest that I was due a refund, could this be legitimate? To my knowledge, the IRS does not send out refund notices via e mail. It is very likely that what you received was a “phishing” e mail (a type of e mail used to steal personal information). The first tip off would be if the link contained in... Read more →


Jim, Can I Stop A Collection Agency From Calling Me At Work?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives all Americans the right to stop collectors from calling them, at work or anywhere else for that matter. Collection agencies call people at work to embarrass and harass them, plain and simple. If you want to stop the harassment, simply send a certified letter and put the collector on notice that they cease and desist all collection phone calls to you. Instruct them that they may only communicate with you in writing. After they receive this letter, they may be subject to fines of more than $10,000 PER CALL if they continue. If... Read more →


Is It Possible To Restore Credit After A Bankruptcy?

The answer is yes. Bankruptcy was at one time considered a 10 year curse and something that would cause a person to face serious problems borrowing for a very long time. In recent years, mortgages were made available to people just one day after the discharge of their bankruptcy. Of course, we all know that these easy to get subprime mortgages are no longer around. Despite the problems in the mortgage market, credit card companies and banks will still work with you to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy. The first thing that should be done after you have received your... Read more →


Is The Government Foreclosure Mortgage Program (FHASecure) Available Yet?

FHASecure is available, but seems to have big problems. I had a lengthy discussion yesterday with a loan officer at a lender that was offering the program. FHASecure, launched several weeks ago, was intended to be a way for Americans to get out of adjustable rate mortgages and secure long term fixed rate financing. President Bush enacted the program in an effort to provide relief for those losing their homes due to the current subprime crisis. From the FHA Website here is a basic description: WHAT IS FHASecure FHASecure is a refinancing option that gives credit-worthy homeowners, who were making... Read more →


How Does A Person Determine How Much Life Insurance They Need?

In a recent Q and A column I made reference to a rule of thumb, purchase 8 to 10 times your annual income in term life insurance. This is a very general rule. Today, I want to help you to zero in on a much more accurate way to go about this. First, my philosophy on life insurance is that it should be a replacement for lost income if a wage earner dies. With that being the premise, what we first have to do is to decide how much income we are trying to replace. Let’s say for this example,... Read more →


What Insurance Coverage Do I Need On a 10 Year Old Car?

If you have a vehicle that is worth less than $2,500 you should most likely opt to carry no collision or comprehensive coverage. Collision is the part of your auto policy that protects damage to your vehicle while you are driving. Once a vehicle reaches this minimal value, the cost of collision coverage becomes impractical. You are better off to simply save the money and take this risk on yourself. Comprehensive covers fire, theft, vandalism, and other losses that would not take place while your vehicle is being driven. For the same reasons as collision coverage, I would not suggest... Read more →


Should I Buy Mortgage Life Insurance To Protect My Family?

When buying a home many people rightly consider purchasing life insurance. The problem with buying life insurance through your mortgage company is that it will cost you much more than purchasing a simple term life insurance policy. This question has come up for years, the idea of buying an insurance policy associated with a car loan, a mortgage, a credit card, or other installment agreement. This is a huge profit center for financial institutions and many of them put a great deal of pressure on consumers to take this coverage. Rather than having multiple insurance policies, and over-paying for them,... Read more →


Should I Pay Off and Close My Credit Card Accounts?

I have just received the proceeds from a home equity loan and have been considering paying off my credit cards and closing the accounts. I heard you on the radio suggesting that doing this might hurt a person’s credit score, what should I do? This is one of those questions that I have to be very careful to completely explain myself, so that I am not misquoted later. Yes, paying off your credit cards is not just a good thing, it is a great thing to do! The second step you are planning, closing the accounts, may not be so... Read more →


Should I Pay Off My Old Debts from Over 10 Years Ago?

Jim, As a Christian I feel that I should go back and pay my creditors that were included in my bankruptcy from ten years ago. What do you think and how should I go about it? Practically speaking, this may not be as easy to do as you might think. First, if these were large corporations that you owed money to, they may not even have any record of the debt at this point. Secondly, they may have already written off the debt on their taxes and may not want to deal with the accounting that would be involved. If,... Read more →