Debts that just
■ Credit scam
■ Take a break!
■ Beware of
won’t go away
THE “ZOMBIE DEBT,” or the debt that won’t die.
This problem comes back to haunt people when a
company sells off an old debt to a new collection
agency. The agency demands payment, even if the
debt was paid or discharged in a bankruptcy.
The collector “re-ages” the debt by reporting it
to a credit bureau as a new obligation. The practice
has been illegal since 2003, but, according to the
Federal Trade Commission, it continues to be used
in secret. Even though the agency doesn’t keep specific statistics on re-aging, it was recently swamped
with a 70 percent increase in complaints about third-party debt collectors.
If you find a “zombie debt” reappearing on your
credit history and you are turned down or downgraded for a loan, get a copy of your credit report
from the reporting agency. Reports are available, at
no cost, under those circumstances. Also, write to
the creditor and ask for verification of the paid debt.
Then, write a letter disputing the debt to the credit
bureau that provided you with the report. Both
must investigate your dispute, and the credit bureau
has to notify you of the results.
Federal statistics show about 43 percent of
office workers now take a computer on vacation, up
from 23 percent in 1995. One in four employees
spent three or more hours working on vacation.
Most reported that they were committed to the job
or just had a pressing assignment to complete.
I can appreciate employees completing a task
for work and then spending the rest of the time in
R & R. But for those workaholics who never leave
work behind, the portability of an office computer
can mean, literally, all work and no play.
MY DAUGHTER and son-in-law purchased a
house last year, and I am
listed on the deed and
mortgage. They are now
divorcing and can’t pay
the monthly mortgage.
I ended up paying
through July 2006, but
could no longer make
payments. How can I
save my credit rating
and my own home?
North Hollywood, CA
Here’s a credit-improvement plan to watch for
that can plunge unaware people deeper in debt. A
computer sales company advertises itself as a “
debt-repair system.” It promises to help you rebuild credit
by buying one of its computers: You can earn a good
mark on your credit report by paying it off on
schedule. The theory is that once those initial payments are made, the company reports payments to
the three major credit bureaus, which supposedly
helps to improve your credit history.
But at what cost? The buyer must pay $29.99 a
week for a full year. The actual cost comes to a
whopping $1,650 to buy a low-end computer that
might sell for about $450 retail.
Credit experts advise that overpaying for an
item in the hope that one good credit mark will
erase a history of bad listings makes no sense. The
Institute for Consumer Financial Education suggests that someone in debt is better off researching
the purchase of a computer and then saving up to
buy it for a reasonable price.
JOSEPHINE, I think you
should consider selling
your daughter’s house
as soon as possible. Even
selling it at a loss is bet-
ter than losing the home
through foreclosure and
equity and a favor-
able credit rating.
I suggest that
you and your
for a short loan
to cover the pay-
ments for sev-
while you put
the house on the
market. Talk to the
original lender and
see if they will grant
you an extension on
back payments. They
also have an incentive
to save the property
rather than lose it
If the lender refuses
to help, then I suggest
you check out other
short-term lenders in
the area where the house
DNA home health tests?
I was astounded when I
found people are buying DNA
home health testing kits from various Web sites, mail-order companies and other sources.
These health kits claim to
warn people of disease
risks, such as cancer and
report warns buyers
not to put their faith
or dollars in do-it-yourself health testing
kits. Another report
found that many outfits gave misleading or
meaningless information, and little guidance
The Food and Drug
Administration is investigating the people
selling these kits. For
more information, see
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at www.fightback.com.
© 2006 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
Less leisure with laptops
The number of Americans who work during
their vacations has nearly doubled, making laptop
computers a near necessity for white-collar workers.
As a result, portable computers have replaced cell
phones as the most useful tool for working in and
out of the office.
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