November 2014

Government Officials Want Clarity On Mortgage Settlements

The US Justice Department made several headlines over the past year after announcing settlements with many of the country’s largest banks.  The DOJ made a point of punishing lenders at the center of the subprime mortgage crisis that was the trigger for the 2008 recession.

The DOJ was particularly proud to reach agreements with Citigroup and Bank of America, two of the most prominent organizations under federal investigation.  Investigators reached a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup in July, and a $16 billion agreement with Bank of America the following month.

Stop Spammers Before They Strike Over The Holidays

Black Friday has arrived and with it, so too has the holiday shopping season.  The National Retail Federation estimates over 140 million Americans will be shopping the sales this weekend, and even more sales are forecast for the weeks ahead.

But the holidays are also prime time for criminals to target unsuspecting shoppers.  The Black Friday weekend in 2013 sparked the now infamous Target data breach that compromised as many as 70 million credit cards by the end of the holiday season.


Growing Number Of People Say No To Black Thursday

Black Friday became the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season throughout the first decade of the new millennium.  The volume of business conducted on Black Friday became so immense that retailers began launching the sales earlier on Thanksgiving.

However, there are dozens of petitions circling the web demanding that retailers remain closed on Thanksgiving.  Protestors have created Facebook pages that are labeled with headlines like “Boycott Black Thursday” to prevent Thanksgiving retail hours.


Should You Apply For That In Store Holiday Credit Card?

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are only days away, which means the annual holiday shopping season has returned.  The National Retail Federation expects shoppers will spend up to $800 on gifts this season, up as much as 5 percent from the same period in 2013.


Detroit Must Address Auto Insurance After Leaving Bankruptcy

The city of Detroit made history in the summer of 2013 after becoming the largest US municipality to seek bankruptcy protection.  In October, officials announced a plan for the city to emerge from bankruptcy protection, but many factors could restrain Detroit’s return to prosperity.

One of the concerns is the city’s very expensive auto insurance rates, which are reported as among the highest in any major US city.  Residents reported to local reporters that they were being quoted rates between $200 and $450 per month, potentially exceeding $5,000 annually.

Buffalo Braces For Heavy Rain After Near Record Levels Of Snow

As much as 7 feet of snow accumulated in parts of the Greater Buffalo Area last week, leading to many insurance claims as residents dug out from the storm.  But the weather is forecast for an about face today as temperatures rise well above freezing, bringing intense rain to the region.

Will You Use Your Phone To Pay Or Stick To The Credit Card?

The mobile payment industry is still in its infant stages compared to traditional credit or debit card payments.  But the successful launch of Apple Pay in October reignited interest in mobile payment technology, and analysts are expecting many shoppers to use Apple or the Google Wallet as their preferred method of payment this holiday season.


GEICO Encourages Drivers To Watch For Signs Of Car Insurance Fraud

International Fraud Awareness Week wraps up today after a week spent educating drivers about the true costs of car insurance fraud.  Scammers are prone to lying on accident or medical reports to acquire more money in claims settlements from insurers.

What many drivers do not understand is that the cost of those scams is inevitably passed onto the general population through higher insurance rates.  Car insurance quotes posted by an insurer will rise if that company pays out fraudulent insurance claims, a sign that all drivers pay the price for fraud.

Winter Storm Passes But Buffalo Should Brace For More Trouble

Winter has swept through many regions across the country over the past week.  The city of Buffalo in upstate New York bore the brunt of the early winter, but winter weariness is quickly giving way to concerns regarding widespread flooding.

Heavy snow battered the Greater Buffalo Area for three days, accumulating near record amounts of snow.  Meteorologists estimate that over 6 feet of snow fell near Orchard Park, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, and over 7 feet of snow was recorded near Wales Park on the southeast outskirts of Buffalo.

Home Depot CFO On Board With New Mortgage Lending Rules

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is amending rules for mortgage lenders that will improve their abilities to issue loans to new homebuyers.  FHFA Director Mel Watt proposed these amendments during a speech at the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention in Las Vegas last month.  Watt stated in his speech that the amendments are part of the FHFA’s strategy of continuing to steer the mortgage financing market back to sustainability.