There’s a new consumer trend that credit card companies would prefer you didn’t know about. People with balances they can’t pay are telling companies: “How about I give you half and we call it a day?” More surprising: credit card companies are happily agreeing. The New York Times reports that a growing number of card companies, faced with huge numbers of underwater customers, are settling overdue accounts for a fraction of what’s owed. And not only unemployed people are taking advantage. The Times tells the story of a gas station owner in Newport Beach, Calif., who settled a $112,000 debt with four different card companies for a third of the amount.
Where’s your tax refund? If, like us, you didn’t pay your taxes on time and if, like us, you’re waiting for your refund so you can pull off a deal like that Newport Beach guy, now is about the time you’re wondering: where’s my check from the U.S. Treasury? You can find out at Where’s My Refund?, a handy application at the IRS website. You just plug in your Social Security number, filing status and refund amount and you get an answer. And two hours later the black helicopters land on your front lawn and haul you off for an audit. We’re kidding. The feds can’t afford helicopters! (Keep your eyes peeled for an ’89 Chevy Caprice.)
Maybe he meant billion (with a B). Speaking of refunds (and squad cars) a guy down in Miami was just busted for filing documents with the Treasury Department and the IRS claiming they owed him $14 trillion. That’s trillion (with a T), as in Marlon T. Moore, who is now facing a long stretch in prison for filing numerous fraudulent forms, including false tax returns claiming $10 million in refunds. Thanks a lot, Marlon. Way to screw it up for the rest of us.
SBA loan program starts with a whimper. If you’re not adventurous enough to try a trillion-dollar tax fraud, perhaps you’re considering a more traditional source of cash. Like, say, one of those new interest-free loans provided under the America’s Recovery Capital Loan Program. The program offers up to $35,000 to small businesses facing hard times. The loans come through banks but are fully backed by the SBA. One glitch, the L.A. Times has discovered: banks aren’t interested. Because loan payments aren’t due for a year, banks end up fronting the cost and get nothing in return. Oh well. Somebody get Marlon T. Moore on the phone.