March 2013

CFPB Releases Customer Complaints Database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) posted the details of its financial complaints database this week.  The database is a compilation of complaints from customers regarding financial products such as mortgages and credit cards.

The CFPB began compiling the complaints on July 21, 2011, and finished recording data at the end of February this year.  Over that time span, the CFPB recorded over 131,000 complaints from customers dissatisfied with their financial products.

Sound Advice For Homeowners Listing Property For Sale

According to the National Association of Realtors, the national housing market is roaring back to life.  Demand for homes outweighs supply, and there were more home sales during February than any other time in the last three years.  However, resurgent demand doesn’t guarantee that every property on the market will sell.

North Carolina Debates Changing How Car Insurers Set Their Rates

North Carolina lawmakers are reviewing a bill that will amend how car insurance providers set their rates.  Supporters of the bill believe it will provide drivers with more affordable options, while opponents believe the change will lead to excessive rate hikes.

Medical Credit Cards And Their Hidden Costs

Medical centers are now regularly offering applications for medical credit cards to their patients.  The medical community advertises these credit cards as a great way to finance medical expenses, but consumer advocacy groups say the cards are a bad deal.

Medical credit cards are designed to pay for unexpected medical expenses that allow patients to get the treatments they require.  Applications are available at the doctor’s office, and medical experts indicate approval ratings are very high, even for patients with bad or no credit history.

Housing Experts Advise Americans To Buy Homes Now

Freddie Mac reported slightly lower mortgage rates last week, after its 30-year fixed rate reached the highest reported figure for 2013 the previous week.  Nevertheless, the organization’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, predicts the most affordable home buying opportunities are a thing of the past.  Nothaft expects mortgage rates will continue to rise throughout 2013, and considers the present market the definition of “a good time to buy.”

Florida Community Faced With Third Sinkhole In Four Weeks

The town of Seffner in Hillsborough County, Florida has been dubbed “Sinkhole Alley” after three sinkholes occurred in the community in less than a month.  The third hole in the ground opened up around 7pm on March 24, less than three miles from where a deadly sinkhole tragically ended the life of Jeff Bush on February 28.

Sandy Ravaged Homes Now Weighed Down By Sinkholes

Home and flood insurance companies are at last providing financial relief for homeowners whose properties were devastated by Hurricane Sandy last fall.  Families are hard at work rebuilding their homes, but some are coming across unexpected sinkholes that are a result of the storm.  Engineers say many of these sinkholes are unnoticeable to the untrained eye, and pose significant dangers to homeowners.

International Tourism Increasing According To Visa

According to reports from Visa’s Travel Snapshots data, international travel and tourism remains popular for Visa credit card holders despite global economic uncertainty.  Visa credit councilors directly link travel and tourism to positive economic growth.

Louisiana Jury Trial Threshold Blamed For High Car Insurance Rates

Drivers in Louisiana can’t seem to get a break with their car insurance.  The state ranked as the most expensive jurisdiction for drivers to insure a car in for the third year in a row.  Industry experts suggest Louisiana’s unique judicial system is partially to blame for the higher rates.

North Carolina Researchers Study Greener Homes And Affordable Mortgages

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina performed a study analyzing the link between energy efficient homes and the likelihood of their owners defaulting on the mortgage.  The team’s goal was to prove the long-standing assumption that Americans saving money on utility bills and energy costs are more capable of paying the mortgage on time, and they took their findings to Washington to improve the mortgage loan qualification process.