■ Rebate puzzle
■ Web addicts
of creative loans
I REPORTED RECENTLY about the upsurge in a
type of mortgage fraud in which eager borrowers
inflate their income and net worth to qualify for a
home loan. The deception often gets the borrower
into trouble when he or she can’t meet the
monthly obligation, which can force the lender to
foreclose on the loan.
In recent years of “creative” lending, some popular forms of mortgages facilitated, if not actually
encouraged, what is known as “liar loans.” They’re a
byproduct of stated-income loans and other lim-ited-documentation mortgages aimed at self-employed applicants, allowing these people to
bypass standard underwriting requirements.
Such loans often don’t require copies of W- 2
forms or other proof of income, or income-tax
records. The borrower only has to assure the loan
officer that he or she earns enough to qualify for the
mortgage, without documented proof. As a result,
application fraud has become an estimated multi-billion-dollar problem each year, with falsified
income-tax filings an important factor.
Now the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is
attempting to make it easier for lenders to confirm
an applicant’s information and avoid fraud. Lenders
will be able to request transcripts from the IRS that
summarize an applicant’s income and tax data, as
far back as four years. Experts say this should not
only uncover but deter liar-loan applications.
for rebates—which keeps profits higher.
The bottom line is that without rebates and
their extra profit margin, prices could go up across
the board, and more bargains might bite the dust.
Editor’s note: Costco has an established rebate program that offers easy ways for members to submit
rebates and track their status. For full details, including
products currently offering rebates, go to costco.com
and click on “Rebates.”
Losing rebates might raise prices
Shoppers are always looking for “loss leader”
bargains or cut-rate prices on a must-have item with
a tantalizing rebate. But getting a rebate can require
clipping UPC codes from boxes, filling in tiny-print
forms, copying receipts and beating a deadline.
In the best case, the rebate check arrives in a few
weeks. However, sometimes the rebate is refused
because the person sending in the forms overlooks
some minor detail. Or, the check simply doesn’t
come. So, it’s no surprise that so-called rebate rip-offs have become a major sore spot with both consumers and government regulatory agencies.
In response, many major retailers are fighting
back by reducing or eliminating rebate programs.
And many companies are dropping rebate programs altogether, and instead are lowering prices.
But even though prices are being lowered, the
elimination of rebates could ultimately lead to higher
prices, according to consumer advocates. Many manufacturers actually count on some buyers to fail to file
The new couch potatoes
Studies are finding physical and
mental maladies stemming from too
much time on the Internet.
One study found that more
than one in eight U.S. adults
are hooked, finding it hard
to stay offline for several
days at a time. Internet
addiction can lead to disregard for health or
appearance, sleep deprivation, decreased physical activity and social
interaction with others,
injuries. Another report
says that 5 to 10 percent
of the population likely
will experience Internet
addiction and might need
Here’s an idea: Keep
your Web activities to a
reasonable level and make
sure the Internet is a good
thing, not bad. C
IN JANUARY I ordered
2 tons of wood pellets
from a company in
Tennessee I found on
the Internet. I ordered
online, making payment through PayPal.
The company gave me
an invoice number and
said they’d deliver in
September. It never
arrived. The Web site is
gone and the phone is
no longer in service.
PayPal says the deadline has passed to file a
complaint, so I am out
$398. What would have
been a tipoff that this
was a scam? Can I get
my money back?
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
© 2007 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
YOUR TIPOFF was
that you never got
a receipt and the
gave you a firm
ordering so far
in advance, you
lost out on the
that PayPal offers.
Contact the police
department where the
company was located. If
they can track down the
company, then file a complaint. You should also
file a complaint with the
Tennessee Division of
Consumer Affairs. These
agencies might be able to
investigate, and perhaps
file charges. Whether you
can get your money back
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to
www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the greatest
interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the permission of the
contributor and will be posted on