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)
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.
How to Find a Trusted Credit Counseling Agency Near You
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?
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.
How to Get Help if You or Someone You Know is Homeless
If you or someone you know is homeless, contact your local homeless assistance agency to get help. These agencies can help you find temporary or permanent housing options, as well as connect you with local food banks and health care programs.
Each year, about one in six Americans gets sick from food poisoning. Although most will recover without any lasting problems, some types of food poisoning can lead to kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and even death.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with help from the American Library Association, presents its 25th annual Summer Booklist for grade K-3, 4-6, and 7-8. All of the books meet the standard of having “lasting value.”
Law Grants Automatic Citizenship to Some Children Born Abroad
Most U.S. citizens acquire citizenship by being born in the U.S., or through a process called naturalization. However, there are certain people born abroad who can acquire citizenship automatically.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 grants automatic citizenship to the biological and adopted children of parents who are U.S. citizens.
How to Get Automatic Citizenship
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 generally benefits children who were born outside the United States, are under 18 years of age and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
To qualify for automatic U.S. citizenship, a child must:
Meet the definition of “child” under immigration law.
Be under 18 years of age.
Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization.
Reside in the United States under the legal and physical custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Be a lawful permanent resident.
If the child is legally adopted, he or she must meet all adoption requirements under immigration law.
“Because citizenship law has changed over the years, if the person is now over 18 years of age, USCIS looks to the relevant law that was in effect before the child turned 18 to decide if the person acquired U.S. citizenship,” said Mariana Gitomer, an officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How to Prove You Are a Citizen
A qualified child does not need to file an application to establish U.S. citizenship, but the child will need a certificate of citizenship, which can be obtained by filing form N-600. This will ensure that all the requirements for citizenship have been met.
Once the form has been filed, an immigration officer will determine if an interview is necessary. If so, the applicant must meet with an officer and bring:
All original documents of the copies submitted when filing form N-600.
Any additional documents that will establish if the child qualifies for citizenship.
Certified translation of documents not originally in English.
How to Get More Information
These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit www.uscis.gov.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”—
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, announcing a new policy to defer deportations and grant work permits for some younger undocumented immigrants.
Once you’re retired, you’ll need to maintain 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to continue your current quality of life. That’s not always easy to do. Meanwhile, it’s possible that you’ll be retired for a long time, maybe 20 years or more, because life expectancies are getting longer.
In other words, retirement is expensive.
So in order to retire comfortably, you have to save for it. Because of how investments have historically performed over long periods of time, a little bit saved now can be worth a lot more in the future.
Men's Health Week 2012: Prevention Tips to Stay Healthy
It’s not just good luck and good genes that lead to a healthy life. Research shows that our actions have a big say in the matter, too. Many major health problems that affect men and boys are preventable through lifestyle changes, early detection, and treatment.
And yet, several things work against men when it comes to health. They tend to smoke and drink more than women. They don’t seek medical help as often as women. Some men define themselves by their work, which can add to stress.
Kick off the Men’s Health Week, the week leading to Father’s Day 2012, by checking out these top tips to help boys and men maintain good health and long lives.
Get routine exams and screenings. Ask your doctor how often you need to be examined. Ask about screening tests for certain diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, and certain types of cancer.
Eat healthy. Nutritious foods give you energy and may lower your risk of certain diseases. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk products. Learn nutrition basics and how to read a food label.
Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Find out your body mass index, or BMI, to see if you’re at risk. Eat healthy foods, control portion sizes, and be active to keep your weight in check.
Be smoke-free. Smoking is linked to many of the leading causes of death, including cancer, lung disease, and stroke. If you smoke, quit today! Also, avoid secondhand smoke. Take any medications you need. Thousands of deaths could be prevented each year by taking medications properly. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications, including those that help control conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Avoid heavy drinking, which can lead to many problems, including high blood pressure, various cancers, psychological problems, and accidents. For men 65 and younger, drinking in moderation means no more than two drinks per day. Men older than 65 should have no more than one drink a day. Find out about drink serving sizes.