Friday, December 15, 2017
Business

For older consumers keen to preserve their savings, report offers a helping hand

Now that I am officially an "older" consumer — at least based on this report's criteria — I can offer firsthand confirmation that predatory lending and a poorly monitored debt collection industry are both alive and well in Florida.

That's why a 35-page report issued Thursday — Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace — that looks at financial complaints filed by folks 62 and older to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resonates more to me now than it might have a decade ago.

The report analyzes specific complaints sent to the CFPB from older consumers nationwide. It's no shock that the 8,469 complaints from older Florida consumers was second in volume only to the 10,986 from California, a state with nearly twice the population of this one.

RELATED COVERAGE: U.S. and states accuse subprime mortgage servicer Ocwen of years of abuses.

The report is a collaboration of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Frontier Group public policy firm. The report's part of a series of analyses looking at how consumers are dealing with the changing U.S. financial industry. The collapse of the financial industry in 2008 sparked Wall Street failures, forced mergers of major Wall Street investment firms like Merrill Lynch and others, and saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummet in March 2009 close to 7,000.

The CFPB was established in 2011 as a federal response to consumers needing more help dealing with volatile and often unfriendly financial markets and firms. Now that the economy has strengthened and the Dow has rebounded dramatically, trading this past week above 22,000, the Trump administration is eager to do away with or at least sideline the influence of the CFPB via newly proposed legislation.

This report aims, in part, to justify the value and preserve the clout of the CFPB for consumers. But that's a political agenda for another story. The latest report also has valuable insights for older consumers dealing with their financial affairs. Among the report's key findings:

• Mortgages, notably existing mortgages, account for 31 percent of complaints by older consumers.

• Among older consumers, 5 percent of mortgage complaints relate to reverse mortgages, loans solely available to older consumers that allow them to use their home equity as security. Understanding reverse mortgages can be tricky. Remember those TV ads with spokesmen like Fred Thompson and Tom Selleck earnestly pitching reverse mortgages? The CFPB has taken action against reverse mortgage companies (including the one featuring these actors) for misleading consumers about risks.

PAST COVERAGE: Complexities of reverse mortgages snag homeowners.

• Older consumers often report inaccurate debt appearing on their credit reports, including medical debt.

• Most debt collection complaints assert either inaccurate debt, or mistreatment by the debt collector.

Adding to recent concerns, if you have a credit report, there's a chance you're one of the 143 million U.S. consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach earlier this year at Equifax, one of the nation's three major credit reporting agencies.

"After the Equifax data breach, we looked closely at complaints from older Americans about credit reporting companies," states Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, the report's co-author. "We found that for older consumers, credit reporting is the second-most complained about type of financial product. And two thirds of those complaints allege inaccuracies on credit reports."

Comments
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Two Tampa area widowers whose wives died of ovarian cancer are suing Johnson & Johnson, joining nearly 5,000 other plaintiffs across the country who blame their illness on the daily use of the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder.Bryan Isa’s wife, ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenue Thursday.The St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest public companies — posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Even though the United States Men’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, that hasn’t diminished local fans’ excitement about the upcoming international event.Ariel Martinez, owner of Best Buy Soccer and Lacrosse, has already receiv...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

Tampa chamber names first companies for minority business accelerator

TAMPA — Four firms in marketing, construction and secure cash logistics will be the first to go to through a new Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce program designed to help black- and Hispanic-owned companies grow their businesses through two years of...
Published: 12/14/17
FCC votes down Obama-era ‘net neutrality’ rules

FCC votes down Obama-era ‘net neutrality’ rules

NEW YORK — The Federal Communications Commission has voted on party lines to undo sweeping Obama-era "net neutrality" rules that guaranteed equal access to internet.The agency’s Democratic commissioners dissented in the 3-2 vote Thursday.The FCC’s ne...
Published: 12/14/17
From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

You don’t have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart. Beyond the downtowns of St. Pet...
Published: 12/14/17
American Social booming on Harbour Island

American Social booming on Harbour Island

HARBOUR ISLAND — Downtowners, conventioneers, hockey fans, concert-goers and anyone hungry for waterfront dining are discovering American Social Bar & Kitchen on Harbour Island. Panoramic views, accessible boat slips and walkability to Amalie Arena a...
Published: 12/14/17
A healthy dining option opens in Downtown Tampa

A healthy dining option opens in Downtown Tampa

SOUTH TAMPA— Vale Food Co., a health food restaurant, hopes to make its mark on the bay area foodie scene with the opening of its first location in Tampa.In 2014, Sunny Ilyas was a Florida State student trying to find an affordable, healthy meal for ...
Published: 12/14/17

Tampa Bay is above average in minority homeownership

Tampa Bay ranks 22nd among the nation’s 45 largest metro areas in the percentage of minority homeowners. According to Abodo, an online apartment marketplace, 46.2 percent of minorities in the bay area own their homes, which have an average value of $...
Published: 12/14/17