Debt Collectors Hound Millions of Retired Americans
It may be hard to imagine Grandma unable to pay her bills or Grandpa being hounded by debt collectors. But for millions of Americans, this is the harsh reality of retirement.
Faced with a fixed income and constantly rising cost of living, many seniors now spend their “golden years” juggling bills and fending off debt collectors.
“If they get a phone call at 10 o’clock at night and the caller is harassing them for a debt, it can be very scary,” said Amy Nofziger with the AARP Foundation. “We know that it causes a lot of stress for seniors because some of these debt collectors can use foul language and other forms of harassment to try to collect the debt.”
Nofziger told NBC News that some people pay off debts just to stop the calls, even though they don’t believe they truly owe the money.
“Older Americans deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently reported that for older Americans, debt collection is the top complaint. About one out of three complaints submitted to the agency by seniors is about debt collection. The major complaints include being hounded for medical debts currently in dispute, attempts to collect the debts of deceased family members from their relatives, and illegal threats to garnish Social Security and other federal benefits.
Harassment endangers health
“Older Americans deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray.
The CFPB report noted that some of the seniors who complained about debt collectors expressed concern that “the distress of being harassed by a debt collector aggravates existing medical conditions and thereby endangers their health.”
Cindy Sebrell, vice president of public affairs at ACA International (a national trade group for the credit and collection industry), says legitimate, professional debit collectors “are respectful in all conversations with consumers” and only try to collect debt that is justly-owed.
“Attempting to knowingly collect a debt from the wrong consumer is not only problematic from a legal perspective, it is also economically inefficient for the debt collector – it is a waste of time and resources, leads to complaints that must be resolved, and could quite possibly lead to expensive litigation,” she wrote in a statement to NBC News. “Every legitimate debt collector would want to avoid that situation.”
But not every debt collector plays nice.
The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a non-profit advocacy group, sees a system where “profiteers” can take advantage of people in financial distress.
“American consumers are profoundly and negatively affected by wrongful debt collection tactics on a daily basis,” said CRL’s Lisa Stifler in a statement. “No one should be forced to deal with illegal collection activity, and debt collectors should not be allowed to exploit vulnerable seniors in order to make a profit.”
The calls just wouldn’t stop
Michael, a 77 year-old retiree who lives in the Seattle area (he asked that we not use his last name for privacy reasons) realized he could not pay his credit card bills after he stopped working. So he contacted the two card companies and made payment arrangements that he could handle. That worked for a while, but eventually, they turned it over to collection. The calls started immediately, he said.
This week’s radio show is now available.-Lou Listen Here
Just in time for Christmas Lasagna. Gee those food stamps just don’t go as far as they used to.-Lou
$4.20 Per Pound: Price of Ground Beef Climbs to Another Record
(CNSNews.com) – The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high — $4.201 per pound — in the United States in November, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS. In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound, and in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound. In November, the average price hit the highest price ever recorded — $4.201 per pound.
A year ago, in November 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.477 per pound. Since then, the average price has increased 20.8 percent in one year.
Five years ago, in November 2009, the average price of a pound of ground beef was $2.062, according to the BLS. The price has since climbed by $2.139 per pound, or 103.7 percent.
The overall Consumer Price Index measures the relative change in the prices of a basket of goods and services relative to a basis of 100. Subordinate indexes measure the relative change in price for individual goods or services or categories of goods and services.
The price index for seasonally adjusted, uncooked ground beef hit an all-time high of 296.616 in November, up 1.4 percent from October when it was 292.588. In 1947, the earliest year in this index, it was 26.5.
This is a significant problem for Russia and is affecting markets worldwide. Putin is being backed into a corner and may lash out in some unfortunate way.-Lou
Russian ruble suffers steepest drop in 16 years
(Reuters) – The ruble plunged more than 10 percent for the second day on Tuesday and recorded its worst fall since the Russian financial crisis in 1998 as confidence in the central bank evaporated after an ineffectual overnight rate hike.
The rouble opened around 10 percent stronger against the dollar following the overnight 650-basis-point rate hike, but it reversed gains in early trade and fell to record lows, pushing losses this year against the dollar to over 50 percent.
At 0637 ET, the rouble was down over 11 percent against the dollar at 73.00 after dipping past 74 rubles per dollar for the first time. It was more than 15 percent weaker versus the euro at 92.99, dragged lower against both currencies by falling oil prices, increasing market panic and Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Russia’s dollar-denominated RTS share index at one point was down as much as 15 percent, extending similar losses from Monday. Russian sovereign dollar bonds fell and money market rates jumped.
President Vladimir Putin has blamed both the slide in oil and the rouble on speculators and the West. A weak rouble poses a major test for Putin, since his popularity in part depends on his reputation for guaranteeing prosperity and stability, and it stokes inflation.
“The central bank will have a very hard time stabilizing the rouble as long as the sharp sell-off in oil prices continues,” Vladimir Miklashevsky, an economist at Danske Bank, said in a note.
Brent crude prices fell over $1 per barrel on Tuesday to below $60 for the first time since July 2009. That hurts the outlook for Russia’s oil-dependent economy, which the central bank says is likely to contract early next year.
The ruble’s fall also reflects declining confidence in the central bank, whose Governor Elvira Nabiullina now appears powerless to stop the currency’s slide. The market ignored televised Nabiullina comments that the rouble was undervalued on Tuesday.
“If such an interest rate rise didn’t impress the market, then they (the central bank) have left the option of interventions of $10 billion a day. They are in (the market) every day,” said Natalia Orlova, chief economist at Alfa Bank.
The central bank has spent over $80 billion defending the rouble so far this year, including more than $8 billion since it floated the rouble in November. The country still has reserves of around $416 billion.
A picture is worth a thousand words they say. Here are some charts that show the crash in oil, the rollover of the stock market and the bullish turnaround on gold and silver. The risk of a stock market crash is rising.-Lou
Dow Jones Industrials
What do they know that we don’t?-Lou
Why Is The US Treasury Quietly Ordering “Surival Kits” For US Bankers?
The Department of Treasury is spending $200,000 on survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation. As FreeBeacon reports, survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States and includes a solar blanket, food bar, water-purification tablets, and dust mask (among other things). The question, obviously, is just what do they know that the rest of us don’t?
The Department of Treasury is seeking to order survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation.
The emergency supplies would be for every employee at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which conducts on-site reviews of banks throughout the country. The survival kit includes everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets.
The government is willing to spend up to $200,000 on the kits,according to the solicitation released on Dec. 4.
The survival kits must come in a fanny-pack or backpack that can fit all of the items, including a 33-piece personal first aid kit with “decongestant tablets,” a variety of bandages, and medicines.
The kits must also include a “reusable solar blanket” 52 by 84 inches long, a 2,400-calorie food bar, “50 water purification tablets,” a “dust mask,” “one-size fits all poncho with hood,” a rechargeable lantern with built-in radio, and an “Air-Aid emergency mask” for protection against airborne viruses.
Survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States including Bank of America, American Express Bank, BMO Financial Corp., Capitol One Financial Corporation, Citigroup, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Company, and Wells Fargo.
The agency has roughly 3,814 employees, each of which would receive a survival kit. The staff includes “bank examiners” who provide “sustained supervision” of major banks in the United States.
It is not clear why the Treasury Department is ordering the kits.