It’s Friday again, and that means it’s time for the weekly SpendOnLife grab bag! Here we share some of the week’s more interesting tidbits from the world of credit and identity theft. Enjoy!
CARD Act Infographics
Two cool infographics about credit have come out recently. The one at left (click it to enlarge) from Economic Crisis Blog sums up Americans’ debt level and lists the key protections (and loopholes) of the CARD Act. The infographic at right (click it to enlarge) from BillShrink is interesting because it clearly shows which banks complied early with the CARD Act, opposed to looking for ways to screw over consumers for as long as possible. Surprisingly, all major banks got a gold star for protecting consumers early from arbitrary rate increases.
New consumer credit guide from the Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has put together a really helpful online resource that serves as a one-stop shop for consumers to learn about credit. This credit guide for consumers visually explains how to understand those offers of credit that come in the mail, as well as how to make sense of your monthly credit card statements. There’s also a handy calculator that breaks down how long it will take you to pay off your debts (remember to never pay just the minimum!)
New Mexico to move its money away from big banks
All 65 members of New Mexico’s House of Representatives voted to move state money (between $2 billion and $5 billion) from big banks to smaller credit unions. The bill now needs approval from the Senate to move forward, but this has me wondering if my money wouldn’t be happier at a credit union, too.
Big payout from rewards cards
Chris over at The Art of Non-Conformity shares how he has racked up 300,000 frequent flyer miles in only five weeks simply by opening up new rewards credit cards and receiving the bonus miles. The downside? The hours spent filling out applications, nearly $500 in credit card annual fees, and a 4% drop in his credit score. Those costs may be worth the benefits to you, just don’t try this at home if you can’t restrain yourself from maxing out open credit lines.
One student, $555,000 of student loans
Michelle Bisutti graduated from medical school with $250,000 of student loan debt. But that number has grown to $555,000 in just a few years thanks to default charges and never-ending compound interest that accrued during her residency. It was all in the fine print, but Bisutti, like so many students and other borrowers, just didn’t read it. Her debt was handed over to a debt collection agency, and that in itself cost her a $59,500 fee and tanked her credit rating. Students beware: your lenders are ultimately looking for ways to pad their profits, not do you any favors.
Tips for reigning in your medical expenses
This topic is near and dear to my heart, having been burned in the past by the cost of expensive blood tests my doctor ordered that I didn’t need and that my insurance would not cover. Now I’m hyper-vigilant to medical costs, always asking beforehand how much things are going to cost. The frustrating thing is that, many times, the medical staff and even my insurance won’t give me up front answers about costs! So I end up having to bite the bullet and hope the bill doesn’t come back too ghastly. Check out Own the Dollar for some good tips on getting the best medical care at a reasonable cost.
Housing market not all doom and gloom, from a 10-year perspective
If you’re tired of hearing about drops in the housing market (or experiencing them firsthand), then step back a little and look at the housing market over the past decade. As NPR points out, there has been a 46% increase in home prices between 2000 and 2009, so if you have been a homeowner for most or all of that time, chances are you’re still coming out ahead.
Yorkshire terrier seized in identity theft investigation
A former Kaiser Permanente employee has been busy using the stolen personal information of other Kaiser Permanente employees. Mia Garza has bought everything from liposuction to designer dogs using others’ credit card information. Upon searching Garza’s apartment for fraudulently purchased goods, police found the Yorkie puppy Garza purchased from puppymatch4you.com using a stolen credit card number. The dog was returned to the puppy broker, despite offers from some Kaiser Permanente colleagues to adopt the dog.
Cross-dressing ID thief baffles police
Michael Vash Payne has a bad fraud habit: he dresses up as a woman, goes out shopping, and pays for his purchases using fake checks bearing the name “Monica Johnson.” Payne makes off like a bandit, while the check bounces and debt collectors come after the real Monica Johnson to pay up. It’s not clear whether Payne’s cross-dressing habit is solely for the sake of pulling off the fraud or if it’s a personal preference. Payne remains at large; check out the video to see his picture: