Can federal regulators set interest limits on payday loans?

As loan vehicles, so-called “payday loans” are highly singular animals. Largely unregulated by federal authorities, a national industry comprised of such lenders has sprung up across the country, which includes many participants in Texas.

There is certainly a wide divide existing in the opinions of industry commentators regarding the particulars of such loan instruments. On the one hand, and as noted in a recent media overview discussing payday loans, they have been termed “scams” by consumer groups. On the other hand, a spokesperson for the country’s biggest payday lending outfit calls them “a viable credit option.”

It might be useful to think of a payday loan as synonymous with a burning match held between the fingers of a cold person in the woods. That individual might be able use the match in a timely and effective manner by quickly lighting a fire. Conversely, of course, holding onto the match for too long yields another result entirely; it renders the person who would profit from its use a victim by burning indiscriminately.

Medical debt: often easy to incur and hard to eliminate

Here’s the bottom-line question underlying the focal point of today’s blog post: Why is medical debt such a huge problem in the United States?

And, indeed, it is a big problem. A writer in one media article focusing on this singular type of debt states that the legacy of the 21st century thus far is medical debt “from which the average American simply cannot escape.”

One quick and obvious explanation for the medical debt trap that ensnares many people in Texas and nationally is that medical outlays often confront an individual or family unexpectedly.

That makes budgeting for them unlikely in most cases. It’s simply hard to anticipate a broken arm or cancer and dutifully set up an account to pay for it months in advance of its occurrence.

The decision to file for bankruptcy: getting the facts is key

For many people in Texas and elsewhere, the decision to file for bankruptcy is anything but casual. Filers often wrestle with the decision for many months, vacillating on whether to take advantage of the legal remedies provided by this debt-relief option or to continue struggling to make material inroads on their debt.

Bankruptcy is associated with personal failure in the minds of many people. We acknowledged that in an article addressing bankruptcy filings posted some time ago on our website, noting that some debtors regard the bankruptcy option “as a last resort to … financial troubles and the coward’s way out.”

It is lamentable that some people think that way, because the truth is actually far different. Our above-cited article also notes that any stigma attached to bankruptcy “has lessened as it becomes more widespread and accepted.”

Are recent credit card debt-related findings, comments worrisome?

We noted in a recent blog post that, although credit card debt collectively owed by Americans is currently down from its all-time peak of a few years ago, a clearly discernible trend now shows that such debt is once again rising. We queried in our blog post dated November 19, 2014, whether that was bad news, good news or essentially a non-starter at all as a news item.

Steady card use at some level is of course good and necessary, with healthy spending on cards (however that might be defined) helping to fuel economic growth through new purchases and job accretion, resulting in a repetitive spiral that drives the economy upward.

Recent findings from credit card search and comparison websites, though, coupled with remarks from inside commentators on the credit card industry, show troubling signs that credit card use is once again becoming problematic for many consumers.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; what it is, what it does

It is probably safe to say that American consumers are at least as savvy and circumspect as their counterparts in other countries across the globe.

After all, the United States virtually created large-scale capitalism, with its market economy dwarfing all other national economies. Sellers and buyers transact many millions of times each day across the country regarding a wide universe of goods and services, and the spoils go to the victor.

OK, that last sentence above is likely a bit dramatic. Perhaps a better way to spotlight what is a central reality in American business exchanges is to simply note this: The unwary get fleeced.

Should I focus on credit card payments first, or medical debt?

That above headline query is guaranteed to turn off just about anybody this time of year, right on the cusp of the winter holidays and just when many consumers in Texas and nationally are actually taking on additional debt for gifts and other purchases.

And, yes, it’s virtually a thumbs-down inquiry at any time of the year, and a real headache for many people who do indeed face daunting financial challenges stemming from multi-sourced payment exactions.

Many people are fortunate enough to deal with both their outstanding credit card debt and medical bills without much of a problem, but that select group is far from being all-encompassing. Moreover, it doesn’t often contain individuals who suddenly find themselves facing medical bills from entirely unforeseen circumstances.

Medical debt continues to plague, perplex millions of consumers

A spokesperson for a trade group representing the nation’s major credit reporting agencies (think TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) states that 98 percent of all the credit reports in the United States “have no material errors.”

That sounds great, doesn’t it?

When it is taken into account, though, that the so-called “Big Three” reporting agencies deal with scores of millions of reports, that seemingly paltry two percent of American consumers who do have material errors in their files suddenly looms large.

What does the future hold for Texas payday lenders?

Readers of this blog will appreciate that we are not great fans of payday lending operations. As we noted in one recent article, there are aspects of the service that can make it attractive. The borrower of such a loan doesn't usually have to put up collateral, though some consumers do go so far as to risk losing their vehicles by tying loans to their car titles.

Borrowers also don't have to worry too much about what their credit score is. These lenders don't usually care if you're a good risk or not. In fact, high-risk borrowers are their bread and butter.

Aggressive debt collectors: special nemesis for many seniors

“Older Americans deserve to be treated with the respect they have earned.”

Although most people would readily agree with that statement recently offered by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray, the reality for many American seniors is that their contacts with one select group of people are sadly lacking in conferred respect

Rather, they are centrally marked by seniors’ frustrations and fears engendered by third-party demands and threats.

Post-foreclosure deficiency judgments: What is the Texas take?

Home foreclosure across the country -- and certainly in Texas -- has been a hot-button topic for several years now, with foreclosure-related stories beginning to surface prominently following the housing collapse and so-called Great Recession that first began picking up steam a handful-plus of years ago.

Fallout from the economic hard times of recent years has been adverse and widespread, with millions of homeowners nationally facing lofty -- and, in many instances, flatly insuperable -- financial challenges.

Those challenges have often left residential property owners in dire straits, unable to make timely payments on their homes and falling deeper into debt as their mortgage exactions increase.

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