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Have you ever wondered why a collector was calling five or six times a day? Sometimes one right after the other so you get 3-4 calls in 20 minutes?

As you know, the purpose is to harass you into paying. What you may not know is that the collection industry has a term for this – it is known as “psycho dialing”. Cute, huh?

The idea is to call you enough to either drive you crazy or make you think (perhaps with good reason) that the collection agency is crazy. Either way, the idea is that you will pay money to the collector to “stop the insanity” (to borrow from the diet lady in the 80s).

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Slate.com has posted an article that discusses how traffic stops can be more beneficial than you might expect.

For example, according to the article:

What do Timothy McVeigh, Ted Bundy, David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, and 9/11 ring-leader Mohammed Atta have in common? They’re all murderers, yes, but another curious detail uniting them is that they were all also brought to police attention by “routine” traffic violations.

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The Indiana Consumer Law Blog has posted an article reminding consumers that Carfax Vehicle History Reports cannot be trusted for total reliability.

The blog post agrees that certainly it is worthwhile to purchase a report from Carfax, or a similar company, when considering purchasing a used vehicle. If something shows up on the report then it is usually factual.

However, the article warns that if nothing at all shows up on the report then it doesn’t really mean anything. Some dealers have found they can purchase a vehicle for much less at auction because of a known defect, and then turn around and sell it for more because of a clean Carfax report.

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The Wall Street Journal has posted an article that discusses moves you can make to reduce the risk of your bank using exempt funds from being confiscated to pay for debt.

In an earlier article we learned that benefits such as Social Security, veteran checks, disability and pensions are not allowed to be garnished by the bank if they receive an order to freeze your account. This article suggests that if those funds are taken to pay a debt, you should notify the bank at once those are supposed to be exempt.

…contact the creditor and provide it with evidence your funds are exempt; some creditors will then tell the bank to release your account. Depending on the state, you generally have ten days to go to the courthouse and fill out a claim stating your funds are exempt.

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InsideArm.com has posted an article about a collection agency accused of stealing $2.7 million from the city of Boston.

Prosecution is claiming the president of the collection agency has “transferred more than $2.7 million from a City of Boston bank account to his own company’s account.” Walker Associates, Inc. has been under contract with the city of Boston from 1995 to 2007 to collect late motor vehicle excise taxes.

Under the terms of the contract, Walker was required to pay over to the city 100 percent of the taxes and statutory fees collected; the city would then pay Walker Associates a percentage of the fees the company had collected. Each week, Walker Associates was required to pay over to the city the amount of the previous week’s cash payments and cleared checks, and to provide a paper and electronic report detailing the amounts collected from each taxpayer and the date of collection.

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Cam Simpson of the Wall Street Journal has written an article about the large amount of auto theft in states that border Mexico.

7 out of the 20 cities with the largest numbers of auto theft are close to the Mexican border. These cities include Laredo, TX; San Diego; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; El Centro, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; and Phoenix.

Laredo and El Paso have drastically jumped in ranking. There has been a 47% increase of auto theft in Laredo since 2005. In 2005, El Paso was ranked #81 out of 100 and has since climbed to #17.

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Yahoo Tech has posted an article warning about a new kind of spamming called “smishing.” It’s getting more and more difficult for spammers to succeed through emails, and many are beginning to text message instead of email. This technique is called “smishing.”

People are much more accustomed to ignoring spam emails, but not text messages. Texts are also not filtered through spam guards like emails.

Consumers should ignore any text messages sent to them that tell them to call a toll-free number to “complete or cancel some financial transaction.” The article says that the only company that is likely to contact you through text message is your cell phone provider. If you receive a message that concerns you, contact your bank or service provider instead of calling the number in the message. Doing so can prevent identity theft.

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The San Fransisco Gate has posted an article, written by John Diaz, about the banking industry’s attempt to alter a law dealing with customer privacy.

In California in 2004 a law was passed saying that the customer’s permission had to be granted before their personal financial information, such as credit card activity, could have been sold or shared. However, the industry, now barely afloat courtesy of taxpayers, is lobbying for the law to be totally overturned. In 2005 the US Court of Appeals in San Fransisco altered the law to say that portions of the customer’s information could be given out, but only information that would lead to deciphering insurance, employment, or credit.

The banking industry, according to this article, is seeking to overturn the California law and instead pushing for a federal standard on this issue, rather than have 50 differing state laws. However, this does leave one to wonder if the regulations protecting our privacy will be changed.

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