Thursday, July 19, 2018
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
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Updated: 1 hour ago

State record of $321 million in unclaimed property back to residents and businesses

More than $321 million was returned to Florida residents and businesses from the state’s unclaimed property in the past fiscal year.Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis took office in July 2017 and said this year’s total broke last year’s rec...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday. In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Get this: Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender

Get this: Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender

This surprised me: Little ole Bank of the Ozarks is the country’s largest construction lender, loaning out more to the industry than financial heavyweight Wells Fargo and Bank of America.Those factoids were part of a lengthy profile of the bank pub...
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Published: 07/19/18
OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

CLEARWATER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open inspection into a safety-related incident involving Clearwater-based MagneGas Corp. A federal investigator opened the inquiry into the publicly-traded alternative fuel...
Published: 07/19/18
Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

TAMPA — Winn-Dixie unveiled another remodeled store, the sixth in the area, after promising to remodel much of its chain following its emergence from bankruptcy this year.The made-over store at 805 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. has a host of ne...
Published: 07/19/18
Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

WASHINGTON — Starbucks has more than 8,000 stores nationwide. One of them will soon be run entirely in American Sign Language.Starbucks’ first signing store in the United States will hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners with the r...
Published: 07/19/18
State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

TAMPA - State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, says she’s fed up with Florida’s problems with the SunPass tolling system that have persisted since early June.She’s asking the state to address what she referred to as the "gigantic racket" with the following ...
Published: 07/19/18