Bill in Maryland legislature would strike credit history from insurers’ access
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Posted by admin on 03/30/2015 in Credit History | Short Link

Maryland state lawmakers are considering legislation designed to help low-income drivers afford insurance.

Lawmakers are looking into insurance profiling, a process companies use to determine how risky they think you are and charge accordingly, and many said its unfair to drivers.

Drivers may not realize the scope of personal information some insurance companies may consider when coming up with the cost of a policy.

They can pull your credit report for a new policy and look at your credit. They can look at education. If you have a high school education, you pay more than if you have a college degree. If youre married, you pay less than if youre single, and if you rent, you pay more than if you own a home, said Marceline White, executive director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, as reported by WBAL-TV.

Maryland law requires drivers to have insurance coverage, and thats why so many people find it unfair that insurance companies are allowed to use so many factors unrelated to driving to determine cost.

When the state requires you to have insurance, then you ought not have all these stipulations for people to get insurance, said Baltimore City Sen. Catherine Pugh, the bills sponsor, as reported by WBAL-TV.

Read the full story at WBAL-TV: Bill would strike credit history from insurers access | Politics WBAL Home.

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Dallas audit finds loose cash controls for building permit fees
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Posted by admin on 03/30/2015 in Cash | Short Link

Cash handed over to the city of Dallas in building permit fees is not well controlled and may be vulnerable to theft, City Auditor Craig Kinton has found.

An audit report from Kinton to the Dallas City Council gives no indication of whether money is believed to be missing from the Department of Sustainable Development and Construction, which collects about $26.8 million a year in commercial and residential building fees. But it said the department’s internal controls are lacking, suggesting, at least, that the system is vulnerable to abuse.

Among other shortcomings, Kinton found that the building department does a poor job of tracking who has access to the software that the city uses to manage cash collections. Five people who no longer work in the department, for example, still have access to that software. And some employees have a higher level of access to the system than they need, with no oversight to see how they’re using that access.

The audit added that the department does not maintain documentation to show that employees are being properly trained, or even that those employees show up for training sessions. Nor is it evident that workers are required to undergo follow-up training according to any fixed schedule.

“Cashiers and supervisors receive training when hired and are re-trained as supervisors deem appropriate,” it said.

The auditor recommended 10 changes to department policies and practices. The building department agreed to enact those changes this year.

The audit also criticized failures in the area of “segregation of duties.” Essentially, it said, the responsibilities of different employees aren’t always properly divided up as a way to provide checks and balances. In one division, it said, the same person may have authority to collect cash from customers, to modify the fees that are charged, and to void transactions — all without a supervisor’s approval.

The department has no procedures for counting cash drawers daily or for entering revenue collections into the software system. Some cashiers fill out their own bank deposit slips for the fees that they collect.

“Missing cash collections may not be readily identified,” the audit said.

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Dash for the Cash winner Tom Visotsky to donate prize to VCU Massey Cancer …
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Cash | Short Link

RICHMOND, Va.  Tom Visotsky, 63, of Midlothian, won the ATamp;T Dash for the Cash at the 2015 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Visotsky said he planned to donate his $2,500 prize to the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Toms wife is a cancer survivor. In association with the race, the Visotskys have raised close to $20,000 for the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

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Here’s what bad credit can mean for car insurance rates
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Credit History | Short Link

In states where a credit-based insurance score is allowed to influence rates, the impact of bad credit can be severe. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Editors note: This article first appeared on Insurance.com and is reprinted here with their permission. Clickherefor the original post.

A bad credit history wont just boost the cost of your car loan. It will probably jack up your car insurance premiums.

More than 90% of insurance companies consider credit history as one of the factors when setting car and home insurance rates.

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Consolidated school debt-sharing bill heads to gov.
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Consolidating Debt | Short Link

A bill creating a countywide taxing authority that utilizes debt sharing between residents of the former Oktibbeha County School District and former Starkville School District on July 1 now awaits Gov. Phil Bryants approval.

As filed, HB 572 originally was a consolidation bill for the upcoming Holmes-Durant Consolidated School District, but a Senate Education Committee amendment added specific taxing instructions for Oktibbeha County.

The additional language creates the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Consolidated School Districts countywide taxing base — all taxable property within the entire county — and states both former systems outstanding debt shall be assumed and become debt of the newly formed district when they merge this summer.

Oktibbeha County has about $350 million worth of assessed property within its borders. With homestead exemption waivers applied, an OCSD mill brings in about $64,639 (about $70,000 without), while a city mill yields about $254,842 with the same exemption (about $280,000 without), officials said.

OCSD currently operates a 58.92-mill budget in which 2.92 mills are allocated for debt service, while roughly 14 mills of SSDs overall 66.57-mill rate are set aside toward indebtedness.

Since the value of a mill will increase once a countywide rate is established, those who live within SSDs territory will see a slight decrease in taxes, while residents of the former county school system could see their taxes decrease by about 4 mills.

Rough estimates, however, show spreading indebtedness equally across the county could mean current county school district taxpayers would face an overall increase — the 4 mills saved would be negated by an almost 9-mill increase — while city taxpayers could experience about a 3-mill decrease from their current rate.

Ultimately, it is believed a countywide tax rate could fall between 63-64 mills, but exact figures were unavailable Thursday.

The House concurred with the Senates amendment by a 101-14 margin Monday, and both chambers signed the enrolled bill Thursday.

Action is due from the governor by April 1.

Debt sharing became a rallying cry by those who forced a proposed $13.2 million OCSD construction bond to a referendum earlier this year. Many who signed petitions circumventing Conservator Margie Pulleys ability to issue the bond said the debt burden should not fall entirely on the shoulders of residents within OCSDs territory.

Calls for an election became moot when Pulley rescinded the intent notice in lieu of a voter base generally opposed to the measure — the bond was not expected to pass since 60 percent approval was needed to move it forward, and already 20 percent of the electorate called Pulleys issuance into question.

Historically, OCSDs electorate has not supported school bonds.

With the money, officials would have procured local funding for a one-of-a-kind demonstration school on Mississippi State Universitys campus. The university previously pledged $5 million and 43 acres for the proposed 102,000 square-foot, grades 6-7 school. As proposed, all city and county pupils would have attended the demonstration school.

Even without construction of a new campus, all students within Oktibbeha County will utilize other sites in both former school districts. West and East Oktibbeha County elementary schools will continue to service outlying county kindergarten through sixth grade students, while county pupils will attend the city campuses home to seventh through 12th grades.

School officials and state representatives both said the combination of two school systems should create a system where students share resources and taxpayers equally foot the bill.

Since all the kids (will eventually attend city school campuses), then everybody should be paying their fair share, said state Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, who sits on the House Education Committee.

Consolidating debt service also eliminates a potentially convoluted process in which older debt would have been retired by separate taxing bases and rates in addition to a countywide levy.

This bill puts both of our debts together and divides them equally. The county will help pay for ours, and we will help pay for theirs, said SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway, who will become the consolidated school districts leader on July 1.

Its the right thing to do, he added.

Hurdles still exist

Moving forward, the combined school district could attempt a future construction bond for the school, one that would require a lower tax increase since the value of a mill increases July 1.

A potential tax increase would be shouldered by all residents of the county, but a referendum is not expected during this election cycle.

Plans for the demonstration school were developed by the Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure, the merger study group created by the legislature in 2013. Besides building the new school and closing the countys two high school campuses in favor of sending those students into the city, the group did not suggest building any additional facilities.

Since new construction is off the table for the 2015-2016 school year, the consolidated school district will face capacity issues that could drastically impact student-teacher ratios.

July 1, were going to be out of capacity unless we do something extremely creative with Overstreet, but thats not on the table. We looked at (sending a middle school grade) there, but it doesnt make sense logistically because its easier to float additional teachers than it is to float services (like food deliveries), Holloway said. When we bring in 200 students to (Starkville High School), well be maxed out there, too. Theres no capacity for growth until the (grades 6-7 demonstration school) is built.

If funding sources can be secured — thats still a big if considering the current SOCSD-MSU plan requires a pledge from the Legislature — the school could make a number of changes to alleviate the influx of students: SHS would service sophomores, juniors and seniors; grades 8-9 would be bundled together; grades 6-7 would attend the demonstration school; and the countys elementary schools would have more capacity.

Holloway said he is optimistic lawmakers will help fund the school, but Chism said funding Oktibbehas consolidation sets a dangerous precedent for future school mergers.

Once you come under the one system, were going to allow you to paddle your own boat. I think weve done as much as possible to make this palatable, he said.

Chism previously said lawmakers could choose to give MSU the funding required for the construction, but that money would come out of its expected yearly contributions for capital improvements.

Another uncertainty is how the longstanding desegregation order from the Department of Justice will factor into consolidation.

Holloway said SSD filed a 700-page plan explaining the state-mandated merger but has not yet received a response.

I expect theyll send experts in to assess the districts and talk to the community. How long will it take? Well, it took Ackerman over a year, so I dont have any expectation that itll be done by July 1, he said.

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Why Dave Ramseys Cash-Only Policy Is Genius for Saving Money
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Cash | Short Link

Photo credit:Ukko.devia Wiki Commons.

Lets face it — budgeting money in todays card-flashing times can be difficult to master. Having to come up with a budget that actually works is hard enough to do, but its especially challenging when debit and credit cards allow you to transfer money out of yoursavings accountwithout even seeing or touching it.

When the advances of online banking and electronic payments start breaking apart your finances, something has to change.Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert and creator of the Financial Peace University, advocates a budgeting method that was used in simpler times: theenvelope system.

What is the Dave Ramsey envelope system?
From the get-go, the idea that using something so outdated as a paper envelope (email is so much more efficient) to stay within your budget seems a bit far-fetched and simply too easy — but thats exactly the point.Saving moneyhasto be easy in order to stick with it and adopt the habit long term.

The envelope system literally uses labeled envelopes as a way of allocating various budgets throughout the month. For example, one envelope is labeled Groceries, while another envelope is labeled Gas, and so on. There is no limit to the number of budgets, or envelopes, you can have.

Once youve determined what your budget categories are, its time to crunch some hard numbers and establish how much physical cash to put into each. This amount is the only fund you can use for the entire month; once you run out of cash, theres no using a debit or credit card as a back up.

Dave Ramsey explains thatusing cash onlywhen making purchases triggers a pain response in your mind that naturally deters you from overspending.

Theres something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic, Ramsey said. It might be a bit unnerving to know that youre deliberately participating in an act that is meant to be painful, but the point is to condition yourself to have greater awareness of what it really means to spend money.

4 ways to find success using the envelope system
Like any other budgeting strategy, Dave Ramseys envelope system requires you to set yourself up for success from day one to see the savings results you want. Here are a few tipsto help you stay on track using cash only with the envelope system:

1. Account for every penny
The most boring part of any process is often the most important. When determining how much to allow in each budget, accounting for every expenditure is essential. Whats also important is to calculate how much youd need in each budget by adding up how much youve spent in the past on bills, such as utilities and groceries — to the penny. Rough estimations from the depths of your memory will only harm your ability to budget accurately.

2. Budget realistically
You might have big savings goals, but being unrealistic with each budget will be your own worst enemy. If you know you spend $200 on gas every month, which primarily goes toward your daily work commute, why set your budget to $100? In this particular scenario, youve already set yourself up for failure since spending $200 to get to work is non-negotiable in most cases (unless your employer is in walking distance or you have the opportunity to carpool).

3. Leave plastic cards at home
When going out on supermarket runs or to a restaurant, a key component to saving money with the envelope system is to leave any debit cards or credit cards at home. Doing so prevents you from letting your willpower buckle at checkout.

If you absolutely must pay for something urgent and unexpected thats beyond your budget, you can adjust how youve divided up your money by pulling money from a more flexible budget, like groceries. At the end of the month, you would have still kept within your total spending budget anyway.

4. Let yourself have fun
Too much restriction for the sake of saving money can set yourself up for failure with theDave Ramseyenvelope system. For this reason, give yourself permission to set up an entertainment or weekend budget for a few fun activities you can indulge in throughout the month. Soon enough, you wont even feel like youre wanting when it comes expenses like treating yourself to a night out with friends.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.

The article Why Dave Ramseys Cash-Only Policy Is Genius for Saving Money originally appeared on Fool.com.

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Tips on how to repair your credit score
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Credit History | Short Link

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What to Know Before Your Teen Gets a Credit Card
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Posted by admin on 03/29/2015 in Credit History | Short Link

When your childrens concept of pocket change involves actual change, helping them keep track of their money is pretty easy. But when they start needing serious coin to gas up a sports utility vehicle or travel abroad, you need more sophisticated financing alternatives like a credit card.

Keith Singer saw the light when his teenage sons backpack was stolen at school, and he realized there had been $300 in his wallet. He lost all his money, said Singer, a wealth manager from Hollywood, Florida.

Related: Last-Minute Tax Moves That Can Still Save You Money

Here are some options, along with what you need to know before you give your teen access to credit:

Your Credit Card
Pros: Adding your child as an authorized user should take a simple phone call, and the child will have her own card to use. You can usually get a separate accounting of their charges.

Cons: The card will have your credit limits. Plus, no restrictions will be imposed on spending. Also, US cards do not always work in foreign countries. They often have high transaction fees abroad, especially for cash advances.

Parents say: Its hard to trust a teen with your own credit. Curtis Arnold, editor-in-chief of cardratings.com (cardratings.com), added his two oldest children as authorized users on his accounts, but never gave them the cards. Weve never felt comfortable handing them a card other than for one-time use, he says. His top fear: they would lose it.

Bank Account with ATM Card
Pros: It may take an in-person visit to a bank to open up an account for a minor, but then you can link it to a parents account to easily transfer funds. The ATM card makes it easy to get cash while traveling and can be used as a credit card. If you do not sign up for overdraft protection, transactions will be denied when funds are not available.

Related: Want to Retire But Cant? Blame Your Kids

Cons: Beware that fees can rack up if the account does go negative or below a required minimum. Debit cards do not offer all the same consumer fraud protections as credit cards. They may incur overseas transaction or ATM service fees, and they require parental attention to keep adding funds.

Parents say: When one of Elizabeth Powells 16-year-old triplets went to England last summer, he opened up an account at his dads credit union. Then she transferred in several hundred dollars a month. The teen was able to use the debit card for his needs in British pounds, with minimal fees. The system worked perfectly, Powell said.

Keith Singer says one additional benefit for the bank account he opened for his son, who is now 17, is that it encouraged the teen to deposit his summer earnings.

Prepaid Debit Card
Pros: Getting one is easy, and most have slick mobile interfaces. As they are not linked to any bank account or credit line, there are fewer worries about overspending, loss or identity theft. Some cards, like Oink (www.oink.com/oinkcard), allow parents to restrict spending in certain categories, like alcohol.

Related: Get Ready for a Spring Consumer Spending Surge 

Cons: Some prepaid cards come with lots of hidden fees just to access your own money. They do not help build a credit history.

Parents say: Arnold likes the Bluebird card (www.bluebird.com/) offered by Wal-Mart Inc and American Express Co because, he says, its like a credit card on training wheels.

Most of all, he likes the relative safety of it. His oldest son had a credit card that was compromised while he was a senior in college. With a prepaid, you dont run that risk because they could wipe out the account, but not the whole checking account, Arnold says.

Personal Credit Card
Pros: Building a credit score at 18 is smart. A typical newcomer does not start at zero, but rather at around 600, says Greg Lull, head of consumer insights at Credit Karma (www.creditkarma.com/). That is in the middle range between the top of 850 and the bottom of 300.

Cons: If your young adult is not ready to handle the responsibility, his credit score will drop, and he will build up debt. Most young adults bottom out at age 21 before turning things around, says Lull.

Parents say: When our kids are ready, well go for it. Arnold says of his third child, who is now 17: Once he gets through freshman year of college, maybe well do regular debit card, and then as an upper classmen, get a student credit card for him.

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Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Urges Consumers to …
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Posted by admin on 03/28/2015 in Credit History | Short Link

Nashville, TN – Two cyber attacks this year at Anthem and Premera Blue Cross health benefits companies have potentially exposed millions of Americans – including thousands of Tennessee residents – to identity theft and fraud by cyber criminals.

Identity theft is a serious crime that can ruin your finances, your credit history and your reputation. Once identity thieves steal your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on credit cards, open new utility accounts or get medical treatment on your health insurance.

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Cuddling for cash: How the professional cuddling industry made its way to N.J.
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Posted by admin on 03/28/2015 in Cash | Short Link

Becky Rodrigues clients are all male. Most are white and in their 40s or 50s.

A majorityhave been single for some time, while others are divorcees.

At least one-thirdare in long-term relationships and claim to lack affection from their steady partners, but theyd rather not let their wives or girlfriends know about the meetings.

I cant discriminate based on relationship status,Rodrigues said of her clientele.

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