Thursday, August 12, 2010

Credit Freezes for North Carolinians

Back in May of 2008, I was lamenting the fact that credit freezes would cost us $30/person or $120 for our family of 4. What I failed to notice last October was that our North Carolina General Assembly made the necessary changes to the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005 in order to make it free online (with exceptions below) to get a credit freeze. Here is the page from the NC Department of Justice to explain what the advantages to getting a freeze are.

With freezes, thaws (temporary unfreezes), and removal being free...this seems like a no brainer. Before I was wondering if this is worth $120 for my family plus $10 every time I had to remove the freeze. Now, all those barriers have been removed. I can't believe it took me 10 months to learn of this.

Credit Freezes are always free for those over 62 years old, have been the victim of identity theft, or are the spouse of an identity theft victim. For the rest of us, here are the fees:

  • Place, Thaw, or Remove a Credit Freeze online: FREE
  • Place a Credit Freeze by phone or mail: up to $3
  • Thaw or Remove a Credit Freeze by phone or mail: FREE

Here is Clark Howard's guide to credit freezes with all the links to freeze your credit.

Here is the actual text from the actual law passed by the NC general assembly:

A consumer reporting agency shall not charge a fee to put a security freeze in place, remove a freeze, or lift a freeze pursuant to subsection (d) or (j) of this section, provided that any such request is made electronically. If a request to put a security freeze in place is made by telephone or by mail, a consumer reporting agency may charge a fee to a consumer not to exceed three dollars ($3.00), except that a consumer reporting agency may not charge any fee to a consumer over the age of 62, to a victim of identity theft who has submitted a copy of a valid investigative or incident report or complaint with a law enforcement agency about the unlawful use of the victim's identifying information by another person, or to the victim's spouse. A consumer reporting agency shall not charge an additional fee to a consumer who requests to temporarily lift for a specific period of time or to a specific third party, reinstate, or remove a security freeze.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Do credit cards steal from the poor and give to the rich?

Here is an interesting read for the day, the idea that credit cards steal from the rich and give to the poor. The idea is that everything nowadays has a built in uplift in the price to pay for the 2% credit card service fee. That amount is likely less than 2%. The idea is that the richest folks of those consumers paying that uplift have rewards cards; cash-back, airline mileage, points, etc.

Well, if the richest are getting back some of their uplifted price what are the poorest doing? According to these folks they are paying the uplifted prices with cash, debit cards, or maybe credit cards without rewards. If that is the case, they are paying the uplift without any reward.

Let's work an example. If the uplift at a given grocery store is 1%, for every $100 spent there $1 was set aside for the credit card processing. If the richest folks bought $50 of that and the poorest folks bought the other $50. $1 (2%) of the $50 the richest people spent goes to the credit processing company, $0.50 (1% uplift) was what the richest folks were charged and $0.75 (1.5%) of that will go back into the wallets of those richest folks. Meanwhile, the poorest people paid the $0.50 more than they should have since they didn't pay with credit cards. This means that $0.25 of the poorest people's money went into the richest people's pockets according the people that are bringing up this question.

So, if you agree this is what is happening what do you do? You realistically have two options, keep rewards cards or take a moral stand and drop the rewards card which causes you to pay to those that have rewards cards. The system is deeply established already which is part of the problem here.

I am thinking that maybe a good medium is to keep the rewards card and donate half of the rewards to charities which focus on lower income individuals.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Free Exercise Program - Fixing our drainage problem

For the past couple of years its been getting worse and worse and its finally on the top of my list of things to fix now that it is washing away our backyard. We have a major water drainage problem at my house.

Rewind 5 years ago when we bought the house. There were bushes lining the driveway and 2 big trees around the bottom of the driveway / bottom of the deck. After those bushes died and the trees were deemed dangerous to our home, we removed them around 3 years ago.

In the past 3 years now, the water draining off the driveway has watches away sod and soil. Now it is extending itself further into the backyard. Now its time to take action that I should have taken several years ago. Here is a picture the morning after a rain storm:
From the sidewalk into the backyard

As we have been evaluating options, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time during the big rain storm on Thursday to watch the water flow. I know where it flows and where it is a problem now. I was able to talk to a friend, Mike, who helps fix these problems and I think I now know how to do it. I have a ton of information about french drains, infiltration drains/basins, dry wells, tortuousity, and permeable pavers in my head. Now its time for action. Next weekend I think I will begin the big dig (assuming the phone, cable, and electric company marks their lines early in the week).

Now, who wants to join me and get some exercise?