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Pensacola Consumer Protection Blog

How to maximize 529 college savings plans in Florida

Attending college today is more expensive than ever before. According to the Orlando Sentinel, a college graduate in Florida carries an average of $23,000 in student loan debt. If you're a parent preparing your student for a post-secondary education, you might be using a 529 savings plan as a tax-free strategy to pay for tuition and other expenses. You know that putting money aside for a child's education is worthwhile, but do you understand how to maximize your savings?

The advantages of an out-of-state 529 savings plan

Many parents choose to start a 529 savings plan in Florida due to convenience or lack of knowledge about the potential benefits of saving out of state. Like college tuition, whether you choose an in-state or out-of-state program can make a difference in costs. What should parents in Florida know about the benefits of saving out of state? 

Just how problematic are subprime auto loans?

One of the many consequences of the recent recession was that lenders became far more reluctant to extend other types of credit outside of just home loans. Interestingly enough, however, there was at least one anomaly: auto loans. Indeed, this type of credit proved readily available during these turbulent economic times, a trend that has continued to the present day with total auto debt in the U.S. now sitting at over $1.1 trillion.

While this might not seem that noteworthy to those who have purchased or leased a vehicle via a loan from a bank or the dealer, and are able to make regular payments, it's a much different story for the millions who have had to turn to subprime auto loans.

Consumer rights hit with major setback in important FDCPA case

Back in April, we discussed how the number of justices on the Supreme Court of the United States was finally restored to nine, as Justice Neil Gorsuch officially took his place on the bench for oral arguments.

We also discussed how one of the first cases in which he participated was Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, which examined what many called a critical oversight in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was passed back in 1977.

What you should know about your rights under the ECOA - III

In a series of posts, we've began exploring how those individuals who find themselves in the unenviable position of having a loan application rejected -- whether for a home purchase, business opportunity, educational pursuit or other prospect -- shouldn't be too hard on themselves, as financial institutions often decline to extend the necessary funds. 

We also discussed how prospective borrowers can take some comfort in the protection afforded by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits credit discrimination and empowers victims to hold lenders accountable for engaging in prejudicial conduct. In today's post, we'll continue this important discussion by exploring what lenders can't consider when evaluating income or setting the terms of a loan.

CFPB report highlights vulnerability of older consumers

The population of older Americans here in the U.S. is growing at a remarkable rate, fueled almost entirely by the baby boomer generation, whose members are enjoying longer, healthier lives. If you don't believe it, consider that statistics show as many as 10,000 Americans are turning 62 every day.

While it's encouraging to see this new generation of older Americans leading vibrant and fulfilling lives, it cannot be denied that there are certain risks to aging. Indeed, many older individuals often face limited resources, debt struggles and, sadly enough, financial exploitation.

How you can help yourself when your identity is stolen

Thanks to everything from news reports to the experiences of friends and family, most people are well aware of the damage that can result when a person's identity is stolen. It's for this reason that so many are careful to shred their mail, devise complex passwords and exercise restraint when it comes to giving out sensitive information.   

While such vigilance is a good idea, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes it's simply not enough. Indeed, a careful person may nevertheless find that someone has opened a credit card in their name or run up some manner of charges with neither their knowledge nor their permission.  

How debt collectors are modernizing their tactics -- II

In a post last week, we started discussing how consumers should be aware that debt collection companies are finally starting to evolve from a technological perspective, jettisoning antiquated tactics and deploying everything from avatars to ringless voicemails.

We also discussed how this newfound tech savvy is causing some consternation among consumer advocates, many of whom are calling these new approaches questionable at best. In today's post, we'll continue exploring the high-tech tactics gaining popularity among debt collectors.

How debt collectors are modernizing their tactics

For decades, debt collection companies have relied on two primary tools in their efforts to collect on past due accounts: the letter and the phone. In fact, this largely proved to be the case even as technology advanced by leaps and bounds from the proliferation of WiFi and smartphones to the rise of social media.

While this inability to change with the times was perhaps a source of comfort to consumers, recent developments show that debt collectors are now becoming more tech savvy -- sometimes using tools that many advocates are calling questionable.  

Understanding your options if a health insurance claim was denied -- II

Last week, our blog began discussing just how distressing it can be for individuals and families dealing with serious injuries or life-threatening illnesses to learn that the insurance company has denied coverage for their major medical event.

We also discussed how even though this anxiety is certainly understandable, consumers must know that they are not resigned to financial ruin and do have options, including resolving the matter via a simple phone call or through the mailing of an appeal letter. Furthermore, we mentioned how legal action might be an option if the insurance company is acting in bad faith.

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