Friday, August 28, 2009

Fed Chief falls victim to Identity Theft

The serious crime of identity theft has been affecting millions of Americans, but who could have thought that the Federal Reserve chief himself will be one of the victims. Yes you read it right, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Chairman, has fallen victim to an identity fraud ring.

According to the news and reports, the Federal Chairman became entangled in this identity theft scheme after his wife Anna's purse was stolen from a coffee shop on Capitol Hill Starbucks last August. There were four credit cards, personal checks, Social Security card and IDs in her purse. Though it was not revealed how much money was stolen, but somebody had started cashing checks on their bank account. Immediately Mr.Bernanke had reported them to the bank, filed a police report and alerted the credit card companies when the purse was stolen.

Later it was found that although the thief did not target Anna specifically, he was a part of a crime ring for which many investigations were going on for months. In a way this theft helped fuel an ongoing investigation. If we go by the statistics given by Newsweek magazine as on Wednesday, the identity theft ring had stolen over $2.1 million from financial institutions and individuals.

Cylde Austin Gray is one of the ringleaders, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in federal court in Alexandria,last month. The court record showed that he was involved in employing an army of thieves, pick pockets and office workers to swipe cards, checks and other personal records.

Mr.Ben Bernanke, in a statement to Newsweek, showed his gratefulness to the law enforcement officers who worked patiently and diligently to solve such financial crimes.

No one is safe from identity theft. So if any of your personal information is stolen, be it credit cards, checkbook, IDs or any such thing, immediately alert all your financial institutions and act wisely to protect yourself.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reader's Digest filing Bankruptcy to condense debt

The publisher, of the world famous family magazine Reader's Digest, announced that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reduce its mounting debt. According to the New York Times report, the 88-year-old company has fallen pray to US$2.2 billion debt and hence has agreed to file for bankruptcy to slash down its debt to around US$550 million.

Reader's Digest is one of the largest selling magazines in the world, which was co-founded by Lila Bell Wallace and DeWitt Wallace in 1922 and based in New York. At one point of time, it had claimed around 130 million readers across 78 countries. But since 2005, the company had been under snowballing debt due to which it suffered a 18.4 percent fall in ad revenue in 2008.

The economic slowdown and availability of free internet news are amongst the causes that have affected its falling advertising revenue. The company has also announced that it will reduce its frequency of publishing from 12 times to 10 times a year, because of a 7.2 percent drop in ad revenue in the first six months of this year.

Reader's Digest has always been a must-have in the middle class living rooms. One of the reasons behind its popularity was the variety of the topics that it covered - famous people, inspiring stories, money-saving tips, crossword, jokes and much more.

Let us hope that we can continue to cherish Reader's Digest for a longer period of time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mixed Mortgage Rates this Week

This week mortgage rates did not have a particular trend, it was rather mixed. According to the latest weekly survey by Freddie Mac, longer term mortgages had gone up and even fixed rate conforming 15-year as well as 30-year mortgages moved up further above 5%, after it had reached a record low this year.

The average 30-year rate of this week showed a 0.07% percent hike, moving from 5.22 percent f last week to 5.29 percent. Freddie Mac said that last year in 2008, at this time the rate was around 6.52 percent. On the other hand, 15-year average mortgage rates were up from 4.63% to 4.68%, which was around 6.18% a year ago.

So this was regarding the current mortgage rates. Let's check out the interest rates of adjustable mortgage of this week by Freddie Mac. The ARM rates showed a mixed performance as well. The five-year adjustable rate averaged around 4.75%, up from 4.73% where as the rates on one-year ARM slipped from 4.78% to 4.72%. However at this time last year, both one-year and five-year adjustable mortgage rates were around 5.49%.

On the whole we can say that current mortgage rates are showing mixed performance with slight improvement and housing market is beginning to stabilize.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fight debt - but how?

Today, a large number of middle class people are drowning in debt. To be under debt burden has practically become a way of life for thousands of Americans.

However, you should not be disheartened and neglect it. Don't think that you cannot get out of debt anymore. I know that getting rid of debt is really difficult, but not impossible. You can always fight debt.

Don't forget, man is a powerful motivator. If you can follow the right strategy and stick to it, you can definitely lead a debt free life. While searching, I came across this video in which one of the most famous financial experts, Dave Ramsay have shared his experience of debt and some useful tips on how to attack debt and stay out of it.