This blog entry was provided by eXtension.org’s team of experts.
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency from a dishonest for-profit firm that embezzles clients’ money, charges excessively high fees, and/or keeps clients’ initial payments instead of prorating them among their clients’ creditors. This is especially true when for-profit firms use words like “service” or “foundation” in their company name.
You can distinguish a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency by:
- Asking if it receives funding from a local United Way or similar organization
- Checking if it is state-licensed (in states that license credit counselors)
- Finding out whether a counseling agency is associated with an industry trade organization such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
- Reviewing its 990 Form online at www.guidestar.com. All 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are required to file this form annually with the IRS.
Declaring personal bankruptcy is often a last resort option for debt management. If you declare bankruptcy, you are granted a court order saying you don’t have to pay off certain debts.
However, the effects of filing for bankruptcy are long-lasting. It stays on your credit report for 10 years and can make it hard to get a line of credit, buy a home, or sometimes even get a job.
The U.S. Courts put together a video series explaining the bankruptcy process, the relief it offers and how to find legal help you might need. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, these videos could help you understand what’s involved.
On Saturday, the Naval Observatory will add a “leap second” to the world’s clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This corresponds to 7:59:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
Time, including seconds, has historically been defined by the rotation of the Earth around other objects in space. The invention of atomic clocks allowed us to more precisely define time.
In 1970, an international agreement established two timescales: one based on the rotation of the Earth and one on the atomic clock. These timescales are not exactly the same so extra seconds are added or removed to keep them within 0.9 seconds of each other. Saturday’s “leap second” will help sync the two timescales.
The Naval Observatory and National Institute of Standards and Technology are responsible for determining the time in the United States.
Today the Supreme Court released its decision on the health care law, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Read the decision. (PDF)
Healthcare.gov has information about how the law affects you. You can read the law, learn about key features of the law, and see a timeline of what will change and when. Learn more about the health care law.
Did you know credit counseling agencies can help you create a plan to tackle your debt and rebuild your credit?
You can find a trusted credit counseling agency near you to discuss your financial options, but remember, no one can remove negative information from your credit report. Companies that offer to do this are often running scams.
The only way to repair your credit is to consistently make your payments on time.
However, if there is an error on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the major credit agencies to have the information removed.
Checking out something I received in the mail. It’s from Home Information Center, Dallas Tx 75380-9664. It said that the U.S. Congress has made available up to $20,000 for you to improve your home through the Federal Home Improvement Loan Program. This program is made available for energy conservation with home improvements. Improvements may include lifetime vinyl siding, energy-efficiant windows ,doors, and insulation. Is this for real or a scam?
Asked by Sandy on Facebook.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has information about federal loan programs for home improvements and repairs. If you’re interested specifically in financial assistance for energy efficiency, there are federal tax credits available. You might want to review this information to see if it matches the details in the letter.
Be aware that the Home Information Center is not affiliated with the federal government. You can see if other people have filed a complaint against the company by contacting the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer affairs department. You may also want to review these tips about how to spot and report fraud.
There is no such thing as a quick and easy way to get out of debt, but there are realistic steps you can take to get debt under control.
Develop a budget: Assess how much money you make and how much you spend. Writing down all your expenses is an easy way to get a realistic picture of where your money goes. Your goal should be to make sure you can pay for the essentials, like food and shelter, with enough left over to tackle your bills.
Contact your creditors: If you’re having trouble making payments, you may be able to work out a modified payment plan with your creditors. Let them know right away if you’re struggling before the accounts get turned over to debt collectors. If your accounts do get turned over to debt collectors, this video from the Federal Trade Commission can help you understand your rights.
Look into debt relief services: Credit counseling could help you set up a plan to pay off your debts. Even though many credit counseling groups are nonprofits, their services aren’t necessarily free.