It has been one year since Hurricane Sandy, a storm system that was over 1,000 miles wide, battered the northeastern United States, damaging or destroying millions of homes and businesses. The government promised billions of dollars in federal aid to help the victims rebuild their lives. However, a year later, many still have their lives on hold as they await those funds.
The federal government will fully reopen for business on Thursday after Congress passed a bill to provide short-term funding to the government. The bill also raised the debt ceiling.
One of the more controversial aspects of the government shutdown is the closure of hundreds of national parks, monuments, and museums. Now some individuals are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to ignoring the alleged “shutdown” of these sites. Continue reading
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) committee announced earlier this week that three long-time and widely recognizable stocks are being replaced in calculation of the average.
The only time it is ever a good idea to cash in a 401 (k) retirement plan early is if you are the beneficiary of the deceased owner of the 401 (k), you actually are in dire need of the money, and you are in a situation where the tax implications for doing so do not cause you any additional penalties. Other than that, there is really not many good reasons to ever cash in a 401 (k) retirement plan retirement account early. Continue reading
The word memorial literally means remembrance to the English speaking people of the United States. Today is Memorial Day, a day we have annually set aside in remembrance of those U.S. Citizens who have served their country in the military and lost their lives during that service. Continue reading
Robot call operations, commonly called robocalls, are electronically-operated telephone calls programmed to automatically send advertisements to consumers who might be potential future customers. They are received as telephone-recorded messages directing the interested consumer to a telephone number or website. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a federal government owned and operated consumer protection entity, has historically monitored advertisements to consumers for illegal activities. The FTC monitors a wide variety of media including robot call type activity. A recent news article, posted on the official FTC website, reported the FTC has shut down one particular robot call operation illegally targeting US consumers. Continue reading
Identity theft is one of the largest growing industries in the world. This good piece of news comes at a time when the world is already in a tough financial situation, but it is tough financial times like these that seem to spawn the growth for the more desperate measures like identity theft.
Anyone that can effectively hack into computers, can hack into computers located anywhere in the world. These freelance hackers have a chance to make a bundle of money off of identity theft. All they need to start working is computer skills, the internet, and a computer.
It has been no secret the hackers have recently hacked into many large credit card banks through their hacking practices, stealing hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers, and the names and addresses of the owners that go along with them. They have stolen not only the credit card numbers, but they have gotten expiration dates and CVV codes on the back of the cards.
What do the thieves do with this information they have gained from identity theft? The answer to that question is evolving.
In 2009, reports came out through researchers that suggested organized crime had a large hold on this scamming industry. Through the organization, stolen credit card numbers were reported going for as little as 6 cents each if you bought 10,000 at a time. The price could be $30 per card for small orders. People that bought the cards used them one time or a few times for large purchases and then destroyed the cards, so there is an obvious market for them.
According to the reports in 2009, the cyber gangs were related to organized crime and had a high sense of operating within a confined set of rules set by the organization. Whether true or not, things are still evolving fast, especially in the cyber underworld of crime.
In 2011, hackers from all around the world have joined the hunt for fast identity theft money. One of these new styled hackers was reported December of 2011 in a Bloomberg news report. The report said, “an Eastern European hacker who goes by the handle “Poxxie” broke into the computer system of a U.S. company and helped himself to 1,400 accounts, which he then turned around and sold on an e-commerce site for cyber criminals for a mere $3.50 a pop.”
If an Eastern European hacker can hack into a United States company to get information, then a hacker can come from anywhere else in the world including the Juhu slum of the Slumdog Millionaire fame. There is no economic firewall that prevents anyone who has the skills from hacking.
All you have to be successful in identity theft is have the skills and be desperate enough to want and need the money. You will always find a buyer of your product. The “mob” can’t kill all the hackers in the world, so identity theft is evolving.
Likewise, cyber security is also evolving. American universities are currently teaming up with large computer technology companies in the United States to overcome the world’s information loopholes in the hacking realm.
The National Science Foundation is currently funding a long term project that will be proactive rather than reactive against hacking. If successful, the new security system will act like a defense mechanism similar to what our bodies do to fight off disease. The entities involved in this project are concerned that the new breed of hackers out in cyber world could effect the United States infrastructure or U.S. Networks, so they are vigorously working to close any holes in cyber dykes.
Whatever the group comes up with, it will eventually be available for the average computer user in the United States. But in until that time occurs, remember, these are tough times, so be careful out there in cyber world.
The Proposed Law Change
The Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2011 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Il.) on May 26, 2011. This act, if passed, will “revise federal bankruptcy law with respect to the exemption from the exception to discharge in bankruptcy for certain educational loans if excepting such debt from discharge would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and debtor’s dependents.” As the law now stands, it needs to be revised.
The current status of the act today is that it has been introduced only, but it is a bankruptcy law change worthy of discussion concerning the fairness of how America currently helps millions of its citizens pay for their college education.
The Importance of Education
We have all heard the mantra, “Get a college education if you want to succeed.” From the Baby Boomers on, up to 28% of the work force today have heeded the advice that a college education is the most successful way to succeed. There is an overall direct correlation in America between the amount of education workers have and the amount of financial success they have in life time earnings.
The Problem with Student Loans for College Education
With only 28% of our current work force college educated, obviously college is not for everyone. One of the greatest reasons more people do not pursue college is the rising costs. From 1985 to 2005 the cost of college increased 439% compared to 108% for the consumer price index. That means college costs have increased 4 times faster than the cost of living.
One of the ways Congress has been combating this national problem is through programs guarantying student loans. To help compensate for the overwhelming need for more money, Congress has given lenders representing private student loans the same authority enjoyed by federal student loans.
Private student loans have been the most profitable and fastest growing segment of the student loan industry. Since the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was passed, private student loans have enjoyed the same status as federal student loans in exemption from bankruptcy, but private student loans have enjoyed a more lenient environment as to interest rates, fees, and collection practices. Many of the private loans have interest and fees comparable to the credit card industry.
With the student private loan cut in the industry coming to over $1 trillion dollars of debt a year, the industry has surpassed the credit card industry for debt. The average student loan is $24,000, but only 56% of the 2010 graduates were able to find employment. This relates to more borrowers of student loans not being able to repay their loans.
The Solution to the Problem is in the Act
Federal student loans are much different than private student loans. With federal loans, there can be repayment assistance, forgiveness, and relief programs. Private student loans are no different than any other kind of private loan.
The Struggling Student’s Act of 2011 proposes to return private student loans to their former status as non-exempt in bankruptcy. Anyone having gone through the tough US Bankruptcy Court System will attest how important fairness is in starting over and how unfair it is that private student lenders enjoy such elevated status.
- Private Student Loan Scam and How Bankruptcy Law Contributes (betterbankruptcy.com)
- Sen. Durbin Finds Law Students Reluctant to Talk About Loan Debt (legaltimes.typepad.com)
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Being bankrupt this time of year must seem a whole lot like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but if you stop to think about it, it really doesn’t have to be that way to those who believe.
The Hope for Forgiveness and Better Times
To the Christian who celebrates Christmas, Christmas is all about good news and glad tidings. During the Christmas season, Christians celebrate the coming of the God-man into this world, the baby Jesus, the one whom they believe brought the hope of eternal salvation to them. The baby, who grew up to be the God-man in their faith, brought hope for a better time and a new world to any who will believe.
There is probably little doubt how much Christian influence was generated by our country’s Founding Fathers in their approach to bankruptcy. The Founding Fathers provided for those of you who might go bankrupt by placing a provision for bankruptcy into the Constitution of the United States. This provision has allowed millions of Americans throughout the history of the United States forgiveness and a fresh new beginning.
Many of our Founding Fathers experienced the harshness of debtor’s prison, and their new found attitude toward forgiveness and a fresh new beginning must have reigned in their hearts with their new found sense of independence. So, it should not come as a surprise the Founding Fathers were quick to make a provision for a sense of financial hope in the Constitution.
In the Christian religion, the God-man, Jesus, taught his followers to forgive one another, and the Christian belief in the new spiritual birth certainly simulates the spirit of a new beginning, a fresh start.
To those of you who currently find yourselves bankrupt during this season of glad tidings, hold your heads up. Your redemption may be drawing near! There is still reason for hope during the celebration of Christianity’s hope because it takes place right before the New Year.
The Financially Practical New Start
New Year’s celebrations in America have historically been about a new beginning, a fresh start. Filing for bankruptcy protection for those of you who are bankrupt can and should be all about a new beginning, a fresh start.
So, although it may seem like the Grinch stole Christmas, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make up your mind right now that the New Year is going to be something financially better for you and yours. You can use this Christmas season as a season for hope that things will get better for you in the future, a chance to look forward to a new beginning.
Christians believe the season of Christmas is not so much about the ability to give gifts as it is about the gift of hope, forgiveness, and a fresh new beginning provided by God.
Let all of us here at bankruptcyhome.com take this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to all of our American friends who have become bankrupt and wish you the very happiest and prosperous of New Years.
Allow us to help you find the way to hope and a fresh new start financially. God bless and provide for you.
- One Jew’s Christmas (themoderatevoice.com)