“Liar Loans” Return

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When it comes to dealing with risk, America’s housing market struggles with balance. How can lenders offer affordable home mortgages for more Americans and still maintain proper safeguards?

The Great Recession was driven in part by overly risky loans that were packaged as securities and sold to investors who were unaware of the underlying risk. The resulting housing market collapse led to the Dodd-Frank regulations that regulated mortgage lending and applied credit-tightening safeguards.

Most of those safeguards are still in place, but loan offers are starting to creep back into risky territory – and investors are happy to buy up those loans looking for returns.

Dodd-Frank instituted qualifying mortgage rules – a set of lending restrictions that must be met before loans can be purchased by the mortgage loan backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Riskier unqualified loans may still be granted, but lenders don’t receive protections associated with qualified …

1 In 5 Hiding Financial Account From Partner

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You don’t have any financial issues to hide from your partner … do you? According to a new survey from CreditCards.com, almost 1 in 5 of us does.

The survey found that 19% of Americans have at least one financial account that they hide from their spouse or live-in partner – either banking or credit card accounts. That translates to around 29 million Americans who aren’t fully open with their loved one about finances.

The true number of cheaters is likely higher. Why expect 100% of people who would lie to their partner to be completely truthful with a survey that asks about cheating habits, confidential or not?

Cheaters may rationalize their behavior by saying that their cheating is only financial, not physical in nature. That doesn’t fly with most Americans. Approximately 35% of respondents believe that financial cheating is just as bad as physical cheating…

Consumer Credit Inquiries Declining – What Does It Mean?

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Have We Finally Hit the Debt Wall?

According to the old saying, the two certainties in life are death and taxes. Maybe we should add debt to the list.

The New York Federal Reserve’s latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit shows that household debt rose by $869 billion in Q4 2018 to hit $13.54 trillion. That’s the 18th consecutive quarterly increase – but the trend may be nearing an end. Over the same time period, new credit extensions for auto loans and mortgages slowed and the number of new credit inquiries over the previous six months fell to the lowest level – fewer than 145 million – since the New York Fed’s database began in 2003.

Have Americans concluded that they have too much debt – and, if so, is that a good or bad omen?

Good News, Bad News

Credit inquiries are credit report requests from lenders, also known as “…

Young Seniors Have High Non-Mortgage Debt

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By Sandra Parsons

Debt is a major barrier to financial well-being among Americans. While we tend to think of debt as an issue affecting young and middle-aged people, the truth is that senior citizens carry debt, too. Among seniors approaching retirement, debt can be an obstacle to maximizing savings. Retirees living on a reduced income may find debt especially crippling in an economy of rising costs.

Using an anonymized sample, LendingTree analyzed 2018 second quarter credit report data for 75,000 My LendingTree users aged 65-70 across the fifty largest metropolitan centers in the US. They calculated three main metrics: median non-mortgage debt balances; distribution of debt by type (auto loans, credit cards, personal loans, student loans); and average credit score. The results might surprise you.

The Average Median Non-Mortgage Debt Among Retirement-Aged…

Are You Easily Fooled Online?

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You’re a pretty tech-savvy person. You know how to avoid common scams. You can spot phishing e-mails a mile away – even spear phishing e-mails tailored specifically to fool you.

Would you like to put your skills to the test?

Jigsaw offers an online quiz to test your phish-detecting acumen. The quiz, based on the results of multiple worldwide security training sessions, features eight modified examples of real-life phishing scams – including the infamous attack that tricked John Podesta into allowing Russian hackers access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. All quiz questions are challenging and relatively subtle – there are no stereotypical Nigerian princes here. Since Jigsaw is a division of Google, you can trust that it’s legit; Google probably already knows more about you than you suspect!

You’re presented with a fictional e-mail and asked to determine whether it’s legitimate or a phishin…

Nearly 3 Of 4 Won’t Date People In Significant Debt

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Are you having trouble getting a date? Could be your rap, your looks, or your excessive debt.

According to a recent survey by Finder.com, 72% of respondents say they would re-think a relationship with a partner in significant debt. (That’s similar to the percentage in last year’s Finder.com survey, so don’t expect debt to become a desirable trend.)

“With 72% of Americans saying they’d reconsider a romantic relationship if the other person was in debt, singles with unsettled loans might want to sort out their balance sheets before hitting the dating scene,” says finder’s Consumer Advocate Jennifer McDermott.

According to the survey, “While debt is undoubtedly a turn off, not all debts are viewed as equally unappealing. For example, credit card debt is the number one …

Why Are So Many Of Us Living Paycheck To Paycheck?

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Survey Suggests Economic Overconfidence

If the economy is so great and unemployment is so low, why do so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck? And why don’t we seem to care?

The February PYMNTS.com Financial Invisibles Report attempts to answer these questions, noting, “For three consecutive quarters, consumers have been optimistic about their financial futures – even while slipping further into debt.”

Results from the corresponding Q3 2018 survey suggest that we’re relying too much on credit – giving us false confidence in our financial outlook.

Overconfidence Rules

According to the survey, 38.8% of Americans thought they were in better financial standing compared to a year ago, with 43.3% saying they were in about the same financial shape – similar numbers to the first two quarters of 2018…

Will New Congress Oversee Credit Bureaus More?

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After the 2017 announcement of the Equifax data breach that potentially compromised the personal information of almost 150 million consumers, you’d probably expect Congress to take significant action to prevent future breaches. To date, you’d be wrong – but that may change with a Democratic House eager to address consumer protection issues.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has authority to review credit reporting agencies (CRAs) like Equifax, including assessing their ability to handle data breaches. The Trump administration has shown little interest in regulating the credit reporting agencies (although, in fairness, Obama administration oversight didn’t raise sufficient alarm bells, either).

Legislative efforts didn’t fare any better. Shortly after the breach announcement, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Rep…

It Takes More Than 7 Years To Save Up A Down Payment

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First-time homebuyers face many obstacles, but perhaps the most frustrating one is accumulating down payment money.

Traditional loans require a 20% down payment. Using Zillow’s $229,800 median home sale price for November 2018, that’s over $45,000 – and in many urban markets, a 20% down payment will easily top $100,000.

How long will it take you to save up a 20% down payment given today’s median homebuyer income of $72,500? According to Zillow Research, you’ll need 7.2 years on average with today’s median home prices. That’s 1.5 more years than it took in 1988, when the median home value was $79,400 and the median homebuyer income was $28,100.

Since 1988, the median home value has increased by a factor of 2.8 while median homebuyer income increased by a factor just below 2.6. However, overall debt obligations have exploded. America’s household…