breaking news

4 ways to opt out of junk mail

Published: Tuesday, March 03, 2015 @ 1:28 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 03, 2015 @ 1:28 PM

Trending on Facebook

More popular and trending stories

In the aftermath of the Anthem breach, I've recommended people do a credit freeze. Yet there's a question that has popped up again and again about what happens after you freeze your credit.

When someone freezes their credit, they may get a letter in their mailbox asking if they want to stop pre-approved credit card offers from coming to their address. The letter asks them to write their Social Security number and mail it back.

Naturally, if you're worried about identity theft, the last thing you want to do is put down your Social Security number and send it off in the mail!

How to opt out of getting preapproved credit card offers

Here's how I prefer you handle the situation: My first preference for you opting out is to go to or call 888-567-8688.

This website is a joint venture of the credit bureaus that lets you tell them you don't want their junk mail! But note this well: You will be required to give your Social Security number. That's how credit bureaus track people, so it's a necessary part of the process. This is a legitimate request for your Social Security number!

Two special notes about First, as you're doing this online, be sure you select the "Electronic Opt-Out for Five Years" option. The default selection will actually sign you up for more junk mail, so be careful! Second, opting out of these offers is especially important if you move and your mail goes to an old address, or if you have a jointly shared mailbox.

And here's another way to cut down on your junk mail: and both help you get fewer direct mailings and catalogs in your mailbox. The latter has recently been rebranded as TrustedID Mail Preference Service.

Finally, there's a low-tech kind of way that works to de-clutter your email inbox. Simply go to the search bar on your email and enter keyword "unsubscribe." Your email will then pull up all the mail from legitimate companies that offer an unsubscribe link. You can quickly go through it and unsubscribe from whatever you no longer want to receive. It's that easy!

For further reading:

Trending - Most Read Stories

6 common first-time homebuyer mistakes that could cost you big time

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

Be sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes that first-time home buyers often make Not getting a professional inspection Not putting a pause button on purchases Not keeping up with correspondence Not understanding the hidden costs of buying a home Not working with a buyer's agent Not looking into loan assistance programs

Buying a home can be a daunting task − whether it is your first or fifth time heading to the closing table. 

For most of us, it will be the largest investment of our lives. However, there are factors predicted for the upcoming year that will make purchasing a home even more stressful. 

»RELATED: House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loan

According to Redfin's 2018 projections, inventory will remain low, especially for smaller starter-homes. Additionally, thirty-year mortgage rates are expected to rise between 4.3 and 4.5 percent. Changes to the capital gains tax may also persuade many current homeowners not to sell, putting even more strain on the inventory list. However, there are still deals to be found and your dream home may very well still be out there waiting on you. 

When you find it, be sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes that first-time homebuyers often make:

Not getting a professional inspection

The idea of paying for a home inspection for a property that you might not even buy seems like a silly concept to some, but it can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. The median cost of a home inspection is $350-$600 for an average or larger sized house, according to Compared to potential issues with the foundation, electrical system or plumbing, however, it's a small price to pay.

Not putting a pause button on purchases

Buying your first house can be an exciting process and many new buyers get the urge to buy furniture and other home essentials before their closing date. While it's understandable to want to get a head start, it is very important that you not do this. According to Kayla Sweeny, a mortgage loan originator with Southeast Mortgage, a very common mistake is "buying things on credit during the mortgage process. The credit report has to be updated to add the new debt. Debt-to-Income ratios have to be recalculated and the file has to be reviewed again. This could potentially kill a deal."

Not keeping up with correspondence

Sweeny also noted that many first time buyers fail to check their mail, e-mail or messages regularly. "There could be critical loan documentation that a mortgage loan originator or processor has sent the borrower. The entire process is time sensitive. A sense of urgency is a must." This also applies to correspondence from your real estate agent, appraiser and inspector.

(For the AJC)

Not understanding the hidden costs of buying a home

Everyone knows that you'll likely require a mortgage to purchase a home. Unfortunately, many people fail to factor in the other costs associated with purchase - appraisals, earnest money, inspection costs, taxes, HOA dues, utilities and so on. Rafael Castellanos, president of Expert Title Insurance, told, "They have an idea of what their mortgage payment is going to be, but they don't realize there's much more to it."

Not working with a buyer's agent

Some first-time buyers believe that they don't need or can't afford a buyer's agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Home purchasing contracts can be long and confusing, filled with legalese that often baffle the layman. Eddie Hudson, owner of The Smyrna Team at Keller Williams, explains that "this means you have no representation, and working with a buyer's agent is free of charge as the seller is paying the commission."

Not looking into loan assistance programs

There are lots of loan programs out there for first-time buyers, from federal down to local levels. Many people don't know to look for them, though. Veterans should absolutely look at the VA program, while everyone else should look at the HUD website to see if any loan or grant programs apply to them. Some municipalities have programs to develop certain areas. The assistance offered can range from help with down payments and closing costs to discounted properties in certain areas.


Trending - Most Read Stories

Put that pen down: Why baby boomers should not co-sign college loans 

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:19 PM

The amount of student loan debt you take on could affect when you're able to retire. Here are ways to reduce the amount you’ll pay for college.

We all know that young people should show respect for their elders. In return, those elders should extend all their resources to the up-and-coming generation. Right?

Not so fast, says the Motley Fool. When it comes to co-signing for college loans, parents and grandparents in the Baby Boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) should just say no.

»RELATED: 20 financial aid terms every college student and parent should understand

A risky move

"Tempting as it may be to co-sign a loan for your grandchildren, doing so exposes seniors to significant risk," Todd Campbell, owner of EBCapitalMarkets, warned on Motley Fool. "Co-signing a student loan means that seniors are equally responsible for making payments when those loans come due, and those payments are going to put a significant dent in retirement income if the kids are unable, or unwilling, to pay."

With Reuters describing millennials as facing the greatest risk among all U.S. age groups for defaulting on their loans in 2017, that danger is real. So is the possibility of a reduced income for baby boomers who've co-signed those loans, Campbell noted. "The average Social Security payment to retirees stands at $1,294 per month, but the average student loan payment on $25,000 worth of borrowing works out to about $242 per month, or almost 20% of the typical retiree's Social Security income," he wrote.

And if older co-signers assume they'll never need to take over payments on the loan, they could get hit hard, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "As a co-signer, you're not merely vouching for someone's ability to repay a loan; you're taking full responsibility to pay back the loan. If the primary student loan borrower stops paying the loan, you're responsible for making the monthly payments."

According to CFPB, in the past decade the number of older student loan borrowers quadrupled and the amount of debt per older borrower approximately doubled. In 2015, nearly 40 percent of federal student loan borrowers age 65 and older were in default.

"It is alarming that older Americans are the fastest growing segment of student loan borrowers," former CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated. "Many of these older Americans are helping to finance their children's or grandchildren's education while living on a fixed income. We are concerned that student loans are contributing to financial insecurity for many older Americans and that student loan servicing problems can add to their distress."

From 2005 to 2015, the number of Americans age 60 or older with one or more student loans quadrupled from about 700,000 to 2.8 million, according to CFPB analysis. And the average debt owed by an older borrower roughly doubled from $12,000 to $23,500. Juggling debts and later-life expenses on fixed incomes can prove difficult and an increased number of physical and cognitive impairments can limit an aging borrower's ability to stay in the work force.

Industry practices for reclaiming student loan payments are another headache, according to CFPB, from harassing phone calls to the co-signer when the loan originator fails to pay to delaying or denying co-signers' ability to enroll in reduced payment plans if their income plummets.

The bottom line: co-signing a college loan when you're in your 50s or 60s is not a good idea. "It's okay for you not to co-sign for the kids," Santa Barbara financial planner Andrew Anable told the 30secondsMom blog. "It sounds harsh, but the kids need to know this can impact your retirement as well as your credit." If you do opt to sign for some part of a college loan for a child or grandchild, keep the total loan amount below half of one year's income, Anable advised.

What to do if you're already stuck paying back loans

If you're an older borrower who has already incurred student loans on a millennial relative's behalf and you find yourself on the hook for repaying them, the CFPB offered these four tips for helping baby boomers navigate common problems with student loans:

  • Exercise your right to apply for a repayment plan based on your income. CFPB noted that it received numerous complaints indicating certain student loan services don't tell borrowers about the option to request lower payments if they've had a drop in income. "The Department of Education offers numerous plans to borrowers with federal student loans, including most Parent PLUS borrowers, that help make payments more affordable, including 'income-driven repayment' (IDR) options that can set your monthly payment based on your income." To start an IDR plan, enroll at or contact your loan servicer about enrolling. 
  • Check into co-signer release options. When you first co-signed the loan, if your lender promised an opportunity for you to be released after reaching a set number of timely payments, see where you stand. For more information, check out the CFPB's consumer advisory on release options.
  • Request access to account information. If you're in the dark as to what's going on with the loan repayment plan, you are allowed to request access to account information even though you're not the primary borrower. Keep in mind that missed payments can have a negative effect on your own credit rating, even if it's a surprise to you
  • Register a complaint if your protected benefits are at risk. "Social Security benefits are protected from offset for delinquent or defaulted private student loans." Don't cave to the harassing collection tactics and threats some loan servicers may try when the primary loan recipient fails to pay. "Your Social Security benefit usually may only be offset to pay back an outstanding debt to the U.S. government, like a federal student loan. Debt collectors may not offset your Social Security benefit in order to repay a private student loan."
In any of the above cases, the CFPB can assist consumers with submitting a complaint and receiving a timely response. 


Trending - Most Read Stories

Moldy comforter among latest product recalls

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:32 PM

Moldy comforter among latest product recalls

The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 


The Hudson comforters by UGG under recall were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and may contain mold which could pose a risk of infection or respiratory issues in people with a mold allergy or compromised immune system. 

The comforters come in four colors: garnet, navy, grey and oatmeal. They were sold between August 2017 and October 2017. 

No injuries have been reported. 

If you have one don't use it and return it to the store for a full refund. Call Bed Bath & Beyond at 800-462-3966 for more information. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Multipro Baby Cradle N Swing bassinet sold on poses a fall and entrapment hazard for babies. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports the bassinets fail to meet mandatory federal safety standards. 

It is recommended that you take the bassinet apart and throw it away. No injuries have been reported. 

Amazon has contacted purchasers and issued full refund gift cards. 

If you have one of these products and did not yet receive a refund contact Amazon at 888-280-4331. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Two Coldwater Creek snow globe models pose a fire hazard. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports light refraction through the globes may melt or singe things placed near them. 

Once incident of damage has been reported. 

The Reindeer snow globe has the model number XC7484. 

The Vintage charm snow globe contains a silver snowman and has the model number 3WGL120. 

They were sold in Coldwater Creek stores and online. 

Stop using the snow globes and contact Coldwater Creek at 888-678 5576 to return the product for a full refund. 


The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fujifilm is recalling some digital camera power adapters because they could shock you. 

The adapter plug can break or crack exposing live electrical contacts, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

The AC-5VF power adaptors were sold with six Fujifilm digital camera models in stores and online. 

Don't use the adapter and contact Fujifilm at 833-613-1200 for a free replacement. 

No injuries have been reported. 

Trending - Most Read Stories

Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:52 PM

Here are some tips from experts Only sell valuable stuff Understand the fees Avoid the scams Optimize your title Take great photos Don't try to profit from shipping charges

Too much clutter, too little money, too many gifts you didn't like... an eBay auction is one of the simplest solutions to all three issues.

If your trash might be someone else's treasure, an eBay business is simple to start and accessible to just about anyone. "It has low start-up costs and it can be started out of your home," noted the New Life Auctions blog, written by sellers who have been active since 2000. "You can work at your own pace and on your own time."

»RELATED: 5 side hustles you can do from the comfort of your home

Within that flexible framework, though, are certain strategies for making far more money and clearing out a lot more junk as an eBay seller.


»Here are 10 tips from NLA and other experts: 

Only sell valuable stuff

Yes, you're trying to profit by selling stuff you don't want, but you want to make sure there are some potential buyers who will disagree with you. Start by perusing eBay's own list of what's selling well.

Understand the fees

While it's easy to enter the world of eBay sellers, sales involve fees and you'd do well to balance them against earnings, according to NLA, which offers an eBay fee calculator that allows you to compare which listing formats and categories have the lowest fees, and how much each listing upgrade will deduct from your bottom line.

Avoid the scams

You might be surprised to learn that plenty of the scams that surround eBay sales affect sellers. "Many of the scams take advantage of sellers not knowing all the rules for safe trading on eBay," NLA said. "It is very important for a seller to completely understand PayPal's seller protection program." One scam involves a buyer using PayPal, waiting for the item to be delivered and then opening a dispute with PayPal if you didn't check "delivery confirmation."

If you don't use PayPal's "signature confirmation" option to sell higher-priced goods on eBay, a scammer might open a dispute with PayPal claiming the item wasn't received. "Unable to show proof of delivery, PayPal takes the funds out of the seller's account and returns it to the scammer," NLA noted. The blog outlines other potential scams and ways to avoid them, including credit card chargeback, fake money order and "you have been chosen to sell our products" scams.

Optimize your title

Your title, not the item description, drives search results. Include critical keywords, using a search of keywords for similar completed listings to guide you. Try to include the same keywords as the listings that sold for the highest price. Avoid words like "look" or "incredible" in your title, advised NLA, since no one uses those words to search. If you have a few words leftover in your title, consider adding a common misspelling of the primary keyword to catch the eye both of bad spellers and bargain hunters who search using commonly misspelled listings

Emma Drew, who blogs about money on, said you should include terms you would use when searching for something on eBay. (Be sure to check out her "10 weird things that actually sold on eBay" post each month.)

Spell it right

Most people can't find listings with the primary keyword spelled wrong. That means fewer bidders. 

Take great photos

A picture may not be worth the proverbial thousand words on eBay, but it's pretty close. eBay itself recommends these tactics in its section on taking great pictures:

  • Use a plain, uncluttered backdrop to draw attention to your item.
  • Turn off the flash, instead using diffused lighting to prevent shadows and reflections.
  • Use a tripod to prevent softness and blur.
  • Fill the frame with the item.
  • Capture all angles, details and blemishes.
  • Show the scale.
  • Don't use props.
  • For fashion items, use a model, dress form or mannequin so buyers can see fit.
  • Shoot shoes from different angles so buyers can see the front, top, sides and bottom.

List on Thursday nights

It is common knowledge that eBay auctions ending on Sunday evening are the most profitable and popular, noted Drew, and listing for 10 days on a Thursday gives you two Sunday nights. 

Allow international buyers

"Every bid counts, even if it comes from the other side of the world," according to NLA. "Odds are they won't win the auction, so why not let them bid?" If an international buyer does win your auction, you are able to charge a separate handling fee to compensate for your time filling out the customs form. You'll also want to make it a policy to insure all international packages.

Don't try to profit from shipping charges

If your shipping rates are unreasonable, most buyers will be on to you in a flash, according to NLA. "People know that they are being ripped off and they will leave your auction and not return. Charge a reasonable handling fee." 

Resist the urge to end an auction early

If someone e-mails you with an offer that requires you to end your auction early, don't take it, NLA urged. Even the best early offers are usually just a fraction of what your item is really worth.


Trending - Most Read Stories