Is your house a scam magnet?

By Marcie Geffner -

Magazines. Meat. Home repairs. Vacuum cleaners. Asphalt paving. Those are but a few of the many products that are sold door-to-door in some parts of the U.S.

Door-to-door sales aren't new, but consumer complaints about scams in such solicitations are on the rise , according to Katherine Hutt, a spokesperson at the national Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBBs) in Washington, D.C.

"Unscrupulous marketers sometimes trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for items they don't want or can't afford. Oftentimes, their presentations are so slick consumers aren't even aware they've actually made a purchase," Hutt says.

High-pressure sales tactics
Your front door is attractive to scammers for much the same reasons it appeals to legitimate salespeople, explains Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America, an association of nonprofit consumer-advocacy groups in Washington D.C. In both cases, Grant says, the aims are to catch you off-guard, quickly establish rapport, play on your politeness and create a sense of urgency to get you to say yes.

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How mortgage needs change over lifetime

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate

People of different generations tend to be best served by specific types of mortgages.

While any home loan might be the right choice for any age, a homeowner's mortgage needs tend to change over a lifetime. Here's a look at which loans appeal most to people who are just starting out, approaching or hitting middle age, getting ready to retire or moving beyond their career days.

First Home Loan

Many of today's young people are well-positioned to buy their first home, says Jim Pomposelli, a mortgage banker at The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago.

"We're dealing with a generation that's much more responsible," he says. "These are people who have great credit and solid, stable income. They just don't have the down payment, and they have student loan debt, which is a huge burden."

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A Guide To the Good Faith Estimate or GFE

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate
How much is this new loan going to cost me?
That's a question most people naturally ask when they borrow money to buy a house or refinance their existing mortgage.
An approximation of the final figure can be found on the Good Faith Estimate, or GFE, a three-page government-mandated form mortgage brokers and lenders are required to give prospective borrowers within three days of a loan application.
Here's a section-by-section dissection of the form:
The top two sections on Page 1 explain why the form is important. First, it's a summary of the loan terms and estimated settlement charges, and second, it can be used to shop and compare the terms and charges offered by multiple lenders or mortgage brokers. It's that simple.
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What happens to dead person's credit

By Marcie Geffner -

Smart consumers know the value of good credit. But what happens to that credit record and score when someone dies?

Answer: The individual's credit accounts and files should be flagged with a so-called death indicator to protect against misuse of the information, including fraud and identity theft.

That flagging can occur in several ways, says Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for, a consumer information website operated by FICO, which invented the FICO credit score.

The most direct way is for the executor of the deceased's estate to notify the three credit bureaus -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- of the person's death.

"That essentially prevents a FICO score from being created or a credit report from being pulled for that person," Sprauve says. "It shuts the process down."

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