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Debt Help for Your Secured and Unsecured Debt

August 26th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

If you find yourself swimming in debts and falling behind your payments, you must be frantically looking for a way out. If you would like to eliminate your liabilities without the help of a third-party then it is not a very easy task. Loans and credit agreements are generally differentiated into two key groups: secured and unsecured. A secured loan is one in which a creditor has a legal interest in your property and your loan amount is secured against it, whereas unsecured loan is a loan obtained without collateral. Knowing the difference between these two types of loans is the key for consumers who are looking forward to do it yourself (DIY) secured and unsecured debt elimination. However, remember if your personal negotiations with the creditors are unsuccessful, you may have to seek the help of a third party, Debt Settlement Company to reduce your debts.

Unsecured debts

Your unsecured debt incorporates the line of credit that involves no collateral to secure the balance. For example if you have huge credit card bills, medical bills and payday loan advances, they all come under unsecured debts. If you have robust credit score and a positive payment history, you can approach your lenders for a discount on your overall balance, on condition that you will pay the debts all at once. Once you realize that you are able to pay back the debt amount if the lenders reduce your debt loads, you can try to negotiate a lower interest rate or partial debt forgiveness by writing to your lender with an explanation of your current financial impediment and your willingness to settle the debts. By doing so you might be successful in lowering your debt by up to 60 percent.

Secured Debts

In order to get rid of a secured debt, sometimes you have to allow the lender to repossess the property that you offered as collateral against your loan. For example, if you default on your auto loan, the lender can repossess your vehicle or if you miss your mortgage payments, it could result in foreclosure. You can attempt to negotiate a lower interest rate and an extended repayment period with your creditors as well. In addition, you can also try to refinance the debt at more favorable rates or obtain a home equity loan to repay your secured debts at a low, tax-deductible interest rate. If none of these attempts succeed, the last resort is to sell the item you financed, and use the money to pay off your secured debt balance.

Final Thought

If you find it impossible to handle your secured and unsecured debts on your own, you are recommended to seek expert help from a debt counseling service. However, remember, according to the Federal Trade Commission you should thoroughly investigate about the debt counseling company via consumer reviews and complaints with your state attorney general office, as well as the Better Business Bureau before hiring a service. If you fall on the trap of a scam company you could end up doing more harm than good to both your credit report and your debt balances.

How to Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

March 25th, 2011 at 09:50 am

With auto insurance fraud on the rise itís important to know how to spot a staged accident. Itís also important to know that staged accidents arenít the only type of fraud. If youíre involved in a fender bender it may be truly an accident but fraud could still be perpetrated by the other person. If they had previous damage to their car this could be a perfect opportunity to get you to pay to have it fixed. Another form of insurance fraud is policies that promise far more than they ever intend to deliver. These are usually sold door-to-door or by unsolicited telephone calls. You think youíre protected until it comes time to file a claim, then the agent is nowhere to be found or you discover that virtually every conceivable reason is given to deny the claim. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from auto insurance fraud.

Basic Types of Fraud

There are two basic types of fraud, with a myriad of variations on each. The first is called hard fraud, which usually involves some sort of staged accident. The second is called soft fraud, and it consists of things like including extra body work from a previous accident into a claim or saying a vehicle is worth more than it actually is in order to receive more money.

Deliberate Accidents

There are a lot of ways crooks can stage an accident and make the authorities and your insurance company believe itís for real. Some involve more than one vehicle, or even an "innocent bystander" who just happens to witness the collision. These types of deliberate accidents can be avoided, but scammers can be very sophisticated. As a result, these "accidents" have occurred often enough to be given a title.

Sideswipe

When there are multiple turn lanes be prepared for the sideswipe artist who will deliberately but slowly move into your lane and then claim it was you who drifted into them.

The Drive Down

This scam involves a driver that is waiting to pull into traffic. They notice an oncoming driver wave them into the lane. As they pull out that driver speeds up and hits their car. Of course, that driver claims not to have waved and the one who pulled out is considered at fault.

Swoop and Squat

This is where a vehicle with a number of passengers will suddenly stop in front of you while a partner in another vehicle blocks your way so you canít avoid hitting the first car. The blocking car will quickly leave and it will appear youíre at fault. The passengers in the car you rear ended will all claim injuries.

The T-Bone

A very dangerous scam, the t-bone involves a car that waits at a crossroads, like a four way stop, until another vehicle goes through the intersection. They pull out quickly and hit that car in the side, and then claim the car never stopped at the corner. Frequently these scammers will be accompanied by a witness or two who just happened to see the whole thing take place and will back up the perpetrator.

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from a hard scammer is to drive defensively. Make sure you donít tailgate and are aware of your surroundings. Give yourself plenty of distance between vehicles and focus on your driving. Donít be distracted by cell phones or CD players. If youíre in an accident get as much information as possible from everyone involved, and call the police immediately. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can, and try and get as much visual evidence as possible by using a digital camera or camcorder.

Soft Fraud

These types of deceptions may be more difficult to spot, but they end up inflating the claim and ultimately costing you money because your insurance rates will probably go up. In order to protect yourself itís important to get visual evidence of any damage as quickly as possible. If there were any bystanders try and get a statement from them. Call the police immediately and donít settle on the spot, always contact your insurance company. You can also avoid fraud by dealing with a reputable insurance company and not buying insurance from someone you donít know and trust simply because itís cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no sure way to avoid a scammer, but by simply being observant and alert you can increase your chances of not falling victim to fraud.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about online car insurance quotes.

A Guide to High Deductible Health Plans

March 21st, 2011 at 10:31 am

People who want to make sure theyíre completely covered in case of a medical emergency may want to check into a high deductible health plan (HDHP.) Commonly referred to as catastrophic health insurance, high deductible health plans are intended to take care of the financial problems associated with medical expenses beyond what a normal health care plan would normally cover. Following is a guide to high deductible health plans.

Starting Out

A high deductible health plan goes hand in hand with a health savings account. They work in tandem. Basically a HDHP will cover you and your family in the case of a medical emergency. By definition you will be required to pay a rather substantial portion out-of-pocket. Having a health savings account (HSA) can help meet the cost of the high deductible. Because the money in a HSA is tax deductible the system is attractive to those who can put enough money in their health savings account to ensure theyíre protected against the high deductible in the HDHP. This type of plan is only good for major medical expenses and doesnít apply to certain types of medical care. One of the major benefits of a high deductible health plan is that the premiums are significantly lower than with a more traditional health care plan.

Tax Advantages

One of the major attractions of a HDHP is the tax advantage of a HSA. You can place more than $6,000.00 for a family or over $3,000.00 for an individual into a health savings account per year and 100% of that money is tax deductible. The money can then be used to pay the deductible for any emergency medical expenses that may be incurred. There is no limit on how much you can place in a health savings account, only on what is tax deductible. One caveat is that the money needed to be deposited before December 1, 2010 to qualify for a tax deduction in 2011. Consult your insurance agent, a tax attorney or an accountant to find out the deadline for 2012. Be aware the deadlines and amounts that are tax deductible may vary from state to state.

Coverage

A high deductible health plan will cover all major medical expenses and some routine medical costs. Preventative care, which includes such things as regular checkups for children or adults, weight loss programs, or plans designed to help a person quit smoking, are not included. There is usually a cap on the annual deductible. Once the cap is reached, the policy may cover all or part of routine medical expenses. The idea behind this type of plan is to protect you in case of a high-cost medical emergency. The HSA helps defer the out-of-pocket expenses caused by the high deductible. Itís a wonderful two-tiered system that can provide ample protection at reasonable rates.

Shop Around

As with any other type of insurance itís advisable to shop around before signing any papers. The amount of the deductible in a HDHP has an upper and lower range stipulated by law, but individual plans may vary. The minimum and maximum amounts may change from year to year, based on the cost of living. Talk to your insurance agent about the potential benefits of a high deductible health plan. Have them explain how a high deductible health plan works, and what your advantages or disadvantages may be. It might even be worth your time to consult a tax attorney or accountant before making a decision.

Guest post from Jessie Mars. Jessie writes for http://www.healthinsurancequotes.org.

5 Things to Think About Before Buying a New Car

March 8th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The old clunker has finally had it, and youíve decided to shell out the money and get a new car. The prospect of tooling down the highway in a brand new vehicle is invigorating, but there are a lot of things to consider before you sign the papers. Doing your homework before rushing off to visit a car dealer is a wise course of action. Following are five things to think about before buying a new car.

Trade or Private Sale

One of the first things you need to think about is what to do with your old car. Hopefully you have a little set aside in savings so you donít actually need to use whatever the old car will bring toward a down payment, but it will help lower the monthly payments if you do. Your old car may not be worth a lot, but it does have value. You need to decide whether to sell it yourself or trade it in. Most sources agree that a private sale will bring a better price than a trade in. That is a consideration, but you have to realize that selling the car yourself may take time. If youíre in a hurry, a trade-in is probably best. It may all come down to how much you think the old car is actually worth--to you.

Type of Vehicle

Before you set foot inside a car dealership, you need to be certain what type of vehicle you need. If you carry a lot of large, heavy loads then a pickup truck, cargo van, or large SUV may be called for. Or, maybe a smaller truck would do the job. Stay-at-home moms generally car pool their kids, and their kidís friends, to school, soccer practice, karate meets, or band rehearsals. They need comfortable seating for multiple people. Business men and women may have to play host to out-of-town clients so a two-seater convertible is out of the question--theyíll need a full-size four-door vehicle. Living in a rural environment, or someplace that gets lots of snow may have you leaning towards 4-wheel drive. If you drive a lot but donít like spending half your income on gas then a fuel efficient car may be your choice. The point is that you should base your decision of what type of vehicle to buy on what you need and not necessarily on what you want. Knowing this ahead of time can save a lot of frustration when you begin actually looking at vehicles.

Lease or Buy

Another consideration is whether to lease or buy your new car. There is no definitive consensus about this issue. It seems like half the people you talk to swear that leasing is the most economical choice, while the other half contends that buying is the only way to go. The only thing you can do is research the deals offered by various car dealerships and determine which would fit your personality and pocketbook. A leased vehicle will generally cost less per month for the duration of the lease, but then you have to turn that car in and make the same choice again. Buying a car outright means you own it, as long as you make the payments. After itís paid off you still have the vehicle, but without payments.

Financing

Financing goes hand in hand with the decision to buy or lease because there is usually a disparity between the amounts you will pay per month--frequently less with a leased vehicle. If you lean heavily toward one side of the fence or the other then the next consideration is where to get your car financed. Whatever you choose, it is best to have financing arranged before you actually begin shopping. Borrowing the money for the car from a bank or credit union is usually cheaper than getting the loan through a car dealership--generally lower interest rates. There are exceptions, however, because lenders affiliated with brands, such as Ford Motor Credit or GMAC, frequently offer low interest loans.

Insurance

Another consideration before hitting the road is insurance. If you are making payments on your new vehicle, your lender will more than likely require you to carry full coverage for the duration of the loan. But that doesnít mean you donít have decisions to make. Before choosing an insurer you need to compare rates. Shop around and get quotes from a variety of insurance companies before signing any papers. If you have your home and health insurance with a certain company, they may offer discounts if you get your car insurance through them, too.

Guest post from Bailey Harris who writes about car insurance rates and related topics for the Car Insurance Blog.