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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Becomes Sixth Richest Person on the Planet

Mark Zuckerberg

Over recent years, the social networking site Facebook has become the most popular worldwide with people from all over the planet logging on to it on a daily basis. This is good news for the founder of the social network, Mark Zuckerberg, as he has now been named the sixth richest person on the planet, even managing to overtake the fortunes of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Trading on Thursday 28th January saw the fortunes of the young tycoon rocket by $6 billion on the back of figures that were released relating to revenues. Facebook revealed that it had enjoyed another quarter of record revenues for the final quarter of 2015. After trading, Mark’s net worth shot up to $47.5 billion while the Koch brothers’ stood at $45.9 billion.

1.59 billion users log on each month

The figures from Facebook also revealed that there are now 1.59 billion users logging onto the social network each month, cementing the company’s standing as the biggest social network on the globe. The figures along with the boost in net worth will have delighted Zuckerberg, who recently became a Dad to a baby daughter, Maxima, by his wife Priscilla Chan.

Of course, as the sixth richest person in the world Mark still have five other billionaires to contend with and those currently above him when it comes to net worth include:

  • Bill Gates, who has a net worth of $78 billion
  • Amancio Ortega, with a net worth of $69.7 billion
  • Warren Buffett, who is worth $59.4 billion
  • Jeff Bezos, who has a net worth of $55.8 billion
  • Carlos Slim, with a net worth of $47.5 billion

According to figures, the five entrepreneurs that still stand above Zuckerberg in the net work rankings have already lost a $19 billion between them so far this year, partly the result of a slump in global equities. Last year Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, was the best performing billionaire but has suffered a turnaround in luck following the revelation that Amazon’s earnings for the final quarter of last year did not reach targets.

In total, the net worth of the billionaires comes to an impressive $3.7 trillion. However, figures show that this actually reflects a drop in their net worth compared to May last year, when the figure stood at $4.3 trillion.

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Pension Advance Loans Could be the New “Bad Credit Loans”

Published on August 25, 2015, by in Funding.

Desperate Sad Pensioner

Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report in which it explained that the newest product in the consumer credit industry, pension advance loans, are the same as bad credit loans.

When it comes to payday loans, consumers will often need short-term financial reprieve to pay the rent, cover a lighting bill or dole out cash for a home repair. They will then, in theory, pay the money back to the lender from their paycheck two weeks later. Well, the same thing is happening to pensioners today.

If pensioners are short on cash, they will use a pension advance loan to cover the cost of something. They would pay the loan back with their pension check, whether it’s from work or the government. This is dangerous, says the CFPB.

“Many retirees depend on a pension to cover day-to-day as well as occasional unexpected expenses, such as health emergencies or home repairs,” wrote the CFPB in a statement.

“We’ve heard that some retirees with pensions who are facing financial challenges have responded to ads for cash advances on their pensions. Although pension advances may seem like a ‘quick fix’ to your financial problems, they can eat into your retirement income when you start paying back the advance plus interest and fees.”

Federal, State Regulators Sue Pension Advance Lenders

On Thursday, the CFPB, alongside the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), filed a lawsuit in federal court against two pension advance lenders: Pension Funding LLC and Pension Income LLC.

The lawsuit alleges that the two companies had preyed on retirees and military veterans. They lend these individuals high-cost bad credit loans similar to what online payday lenders provides BUT they disguise them as as pension advances. The CFPB and NYDFS claim the product would actually have jeopardized the victims’ retirement savings.

Complainants accuse the two companies of deceiving older Americans through online campaigns from 2011 to late 2014 into reallocating pension checks over eight years in exchange for cash upfront. Moreover, the regulators noted that these firms’ bad credit loan advances did not contain borrowing costs similar to credit cards or home equity lines of credit since they advertised themselves as “our program is not a loan.”

In addition, regulators say the loans came with an interest rate of 28.56 percent on average, which included fees for the businesses, sales agents, life insurance policies and a cash reserve to protect themselves from default.

“These companies duped consumers into taking out pension advance loans by deceiving them about the terms of the deal,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “We are working to put a stop to the illegal practices these companies are using to sell their bogus product to military veterans and other pensioners.”

Anthony J. Albanese, Acting New York Superintendent of Financial Services, also said in a statement that the two partners are working to provide financial relief to the many retirees who were deeply affected by this scheme.

Benjamin Lawsky, Albanese’s predecessor, has referred to these pension advance loans as bad credit loans in sheep’s clothing.

Neither company has openly responded to the allegations made against them.

The CFPB had earlier released three tips to protect your retirement funds:

  • Do not use loans with interest and fees.
  • Do not sign control over your benefits.
  • Do not buy life insurance you don’t want or need.
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2014’s Biggest Hacking Incidents

Silhouette Of A Hacker Isloated On Black

Internet promises and guarantees to provide freedom, flexibility and liberty to everyone. Yet, the dangers of cybercrime and hacking assaults loom over the shoulders of web clients on a regular basis. There are immovable forces that work day in day out 24/7 to knockdown client’s online protection and security for varying reasons. Whatever the reasons may be, there is no substantial defense or justification for these criminal acts. According to a report published by RBS (Risk Based Security), 2014 has seen a record number of cases where sensitive information and details of clients and customers were compromised. First half of 2014 surpassing the number of hacking cases recorded in the whole of 2013.

Some of the biggest stocks market performers and businesses were hit by hackers.

Let’s see big shot companies faced the brunt.

In May of this year, the world witnessed the fourth largest security breach of all time when e-commerce company, eBay revealed that confidential data belonging to its 145 million customers had been breached and compromised. eBay was unaware of the security breach until it found out that some employee credentials had been leaked. A deeper study into the breach led to the knowledge of the extent of the breach and damage caused by the hackers although eBay stressed upon the fact that its passwords were not stolen.

Target also targeted banks one of which was JPMorgan Chase. Hackers stole contact and personal information of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. JPMorgan learnt about this breach when its website for JPMorgan cooperate challenge was hacked using the very same servers, which hacked into the network of the bank. However, JPMorgan was able to take action before hackers were able to break into the password set-up or hack the social security numbers of the clients.

In mid-August, more than 1000 grocery stores in the U.S had their information hacked. These cases raised fresh concerns about the actions that are being taken by companies and law-enforcement agencies to curb the threat of cybercrime that grows in strength and velocity with each passing day. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot became prime targets.

More recently, Apple became yet another target. Its infamous iCloud hacking raised serious concerns about the type of security the company provided to its users. Hackers were able to break into Apple iCloud and steal many of the private pictures of celebrities that were released all over the internet.

In August, a group of Russian hackers made the largest security breaches of all times when more than 5 million e-mail addresses and 1.2 billion usernames and passwords were compromised.

The most troubling is the fact that none of these companies were able to come up with any satisfactory steps to deal with these hacks. It seems that the world of internet is at the mercy of hackers who can get into any network or system whenever they want. Businesses all over the world are now vulnerable and can’t guarantee 100% security to their customers. With an increase in online transactions and exchange of confidential data between consumers and vendors, the situation needs to be addressed effectively.

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Indian Tribe Payday Lenders in Oklahoma Settle with FTC

Published on December 8, 2013, by in Big Brother.

Indian-tribe-payday-loans

Payday lending firms in two of the Oklahoma Indian tribes have agreed to make settlements with FTC on following ethical guidelines for debt recollection. The tribes that have agreed to the settlements with FTC are Miami and Modoc, both based in Oklahoma. Under the terms of agreement they have signed with the FTC, the payday lending companies owned by these two tribes would refrain from using aggressive debt collection techniques including harassment and threatening with arrest and lawsuit.

Moreover, these tribes have also agreed that their payday lending companies won’t ask borrowers for automatic drafts from their bank accounts to qualify for the loans. These terms of agreement between the FTC and these tribes were approved by a Nevada-based District Court judge. Both these tribes in Miami have several payday lending companies under their ownership. In 2012, both these tribes and their payday lending companies were sued by the federal government under allegations of deceptive trade practices.

It is assumed to be a common practice undertaken by payday lending companies to form allegiances with American Indian tribes. Since these tribes think they are exempted from state laws, these companies also claim exemption from the debt collection laws applicable in the states. In fact, many of these companies are owned by individuals who don’t belong to these tribes but merely pay a part of profit to the tribes for their “partnership”. In case of the payday lending companies owned by these two tribes, FTC claims that they are actually owned by a race car driver named Scott Tucker.

The Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit is responsible for regulating the payday lenders operating in the state but they have no control over the tribe-owned firms. Both the tribes have sovereign status and are exempted from state laws. The companies in these tribes operate online, providing consumers with payday loans using online transactions. The consumers have repeatedly filed complaints about these companies with the regulatory department of the state but legal action not been taken due to the sovereign status of both these tribes.

Most of the complaints were regarding the debt recollection practices these companies indulge in and the hidden debt fees they charge from their consumers. An online payday lending company, AmeriLoan.com owned by the Miami tribe was allegedly drafting the bank accounts of borrowers repeatedly for monthly payments without the consumers’ knowledge even when the payment wasn’t due and also when the loan was already paid off.

With the settlement agreement now signed between the tribes and the FTC, consumers can now expect to receive more ethical treatment when it comes to debt recollection. The consumers are also repeatedly advised to be more careful when dealing with online payday lending firms, ensuring that payday lending is legal in their state and the firm they are borrowing from is regulated by state authorities. Companies like Landmark Cash offer payday loans acting as matching agents between regulated companies and borrowers so that safe lending practices can be followed. Consumers should only borrow payday loans from regulated firms to stay safe from falling victim to any debt traps.

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How to Budget for a Meaningful ‘Stay-Cation’

Published on March 29, 2013, by in Frugal.

budget-vacation

A Stay-Cation is a nick-name for the time that a person takes off from work to stay at home as a holiday. It’s a holiday that doesn’t involve any travel, but that doesn’t mean that they are no less exciting. Stay-Cations are an important part of maintaining a balance lifestyle because they allow us to pursue those elusive home-based activities that we’ve been wanting (or needing) to get done for a while now. That being said, just like a travel-holiday, we need to take a minute to plan out the finances surrounding our Stay-Cation, to make sure that whatever project we decide to take doesn’t become a burden for later on.

The trick to taking a meaningful Stay-Cation is to have a plan in mind about what it is that you are looking to accomplish, and to make sure that it’s a reasonable one. Biting off more than we can chew at a time like this just means that we’ll be twice as stressed coming back to work as when we left, while not giving ourselves enough to do will just leave us bored and dejected at the waste of time. The trick is to break down the time off into a couple of activity categories, each of which with different levels of personal and financial involvement. Firstly, decide upon what the primary objective of the break is.

This will usually be the most personally and financially involved aspect of the break, because it’s what you’ll be spending the most productive parts of the day doing. Finally going to tackle that kitchen renovation? Maybe clean out the attic? Each of these goals is highly time intensive, and but are not necessarily expensive, depending on how it is that they are undertaken. These primary objectives are what we are going to spend the greatest amount of our time and money on over the break, but they aren’t going to be the only thing we take one. Really now, who wants to clean the attic for 12 hours a day?

A secondary goal for a Stay-Cation is usually something that is a much less active endeavor, but might be a bit more expensive. Perhaps it’s finally time for a crash course in a new language or skill? Maybe you’d like to spend some more time reading, or working on your culinary abilities? Each of these secondary activities is something that would be a good activity when you’ve got some down time. Tired of renovating the kitchen? Take a break and start flipping through that best-seller that you paid $20 for so that it’d be ready for this particular occasion. Done cleaning the attic?

Take a minute to study up on the recipe that needs to be ready for the evening’s masterpiece. Even though these secondary activities are all lower key, they are the ones that will usually require a little bit of expenditure to achieve. You can’t learn Spanish without buying a course, and you can’t cook an amazing meal without buying some groceries. Even though these activities are all relaxing, they should be budgeted for accordingly.

Lastly, a Stay-Cation taker should always have a ‘wild-card’ activity in their back pocket that is ready to go in the event that they find themselves with some dead time. Maybe the primary activity was completed early, or the secondary plan turned into a dud. Regardless, the wild-card is something that can be accomplished somewhat spontaneously, and within a budgeted range. These will usually include anything from a shopping trip to a movie or production. They are usually subject to personal preferences, and are something that can be done to either unwind or let loose. This also means that they can be particularly expensive, making them a part of the ‘in-case-of-boredom’ aspect of the holiday budget.

By taking these three aspects of a Stay-Cation together into a budgetary plan for a holiday away from work, we will be able to see exactly how much it costs for us to take the time off from work, and have a range of possible outcomes of what we get out of the event itself. The end result is that we will know exactly what it is that we’re getting into with the break, and more importantly, know where it is that we stand after all is done and paid for.

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Changing Travel Plans a Little, to Save a Lot

Published on March 21, 2013, by in Frugal.

young-family-vacation

Traveling can be an expensive undertaking, especially when it involves an extended trip to multiple locations. Between the costs of transportation, accommodation, and then entertainment along the way, what should have been an exciting adventure can quickly become a massive financial headache for the unprepared. That being said, there are a number of ways to evaluate the trade-offs between cost, time, and luxury, to be sure that your travel budget is optimized to best meet your trip’s goals.

The first way to save on travel costs is to evaluate your ability to sacrifice time for cost. In many situations, the cheaper alternative for travel will be the slower one. That being said, we can quickly crunch the numbers on the savings to see if they are worth the time. For example, suppose a flight to our destination costs $400, and will take us 4 hours, including airport time. This is as compared to a drive to the same destination that would take us 8 hours to complete, and a full tank of gas.

The costs of the drive are a $60 tank of gas, and 8 hours of our time. If we value our time at $20/hour, we can see that the total cost of the drive is only $220, which works out to an after-cost savings of $180. If we can afford the extra 4 hours of driving time, we’ve improved our ability to afford the trip, and perhaps buy something else along the way.

Another way to compromise for savings on a trip is to look at the trade-off between luxury and cost. Think about a quick 4 hour trip that would cost $400 regularly, or $600 for business class. Is the extra amount really worth it if you’re only going to be travelling for a few hours? With an hourly rate of $50/hr, the luxury suite seems pretty expensive. Think of the economy seating as being a part time job that pays you $50/hr. At this part time job you are paid handsomely to be mildly uncomfortable for a very short period of time. That sounds like a pretty good part time job to me. That being said, on those 8 hour flights to Europe, the business class is worth it to avoid mind-numbing leg cramps.

Lastly, a traveler can save quite a bit of money by planning out their accommodations. Specifically, a traveler can save quite a bit of money by sharing their accommodations with other people. Think about a hostel with 16 people in a room as being the cheapest of venues. From there, what’s the difference in cost between the 16 person room and the 8 person room? What about the 4 person room? From there, what is the difference in total cost between a 4 person hostel room and a 2 person hotel room?

I’ve found on many occasions that it is possible to pay for all 4 beds in a hostel room, and still have cheaper accommodations than the hotel room. Granted, there is no laundry service, but for $50/night in savings, it’s not too hard to find the time to figure that out on my own.

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The Difference Between Open-end and Closed-ended Loans

Published on January 13, 2013, by in Funding.

open end loan

Open ended loans are instruments that allow an individual to put money in and take money out, such as a cash withdrawal or making a charge. Open loans have credit limits that cannot be exceeded without a penalty.  They loans tend to be more flexible and provide other options for the consumer. On a line of credit that is open ended one will pay interest only if there is a balance outstanding when the statement period ends. The advantage of an open ended line of credit is that the limit can be increased if the borrower is fiscally responsible.

Open-ended loans are loans that you can borrow over and over. Lines of credit and credit cards are the most common types of open-ended loans. Every time a purchase is made, an individual’s credit available goes lower. Each time you make a purchase, your available credit decreases. But when a individuals makes their payments, they are able to reuse the same credit. An example of a loan that is open-ended includes credit cards such as Discover, MasterCard and American Express. A certain limit is agreed upon and generally allows an individual to purchase items to a specified amount. Another example of an open ended loan is credit lines such as Overdraft provisions and home equity line of credit.

Closed-ended loans are different in that they do not extend any further credit until the borrowed amount has been repaid. An individual has to continue to make payments on these until both the interest and principal are repaid. As a result there is no available credit one can use on closed-ended loans. Closed ended loans generally set the terms of the loan right from the beginning. When a loan is closed-end loan the entire value of the loan is distributed to the borrower, and is then repaid over a specified time period in equal installments.

Closed-ended loans are nicely devised and presented by the borrower with a specified term, balance and interest rate. Most of the time these loans are created to accommodate larger purchases. An individual is usually able to make payments throughout the loan, but is not able to extract money. The loan amount is determined by the lender, and the borrower then consents to make payments to pay off the interest and principal.

Installment loans generally allow an individual to make extra principal payments before maturity, with the drawback that an individual cannot access the equity in the purchased property. Typically, during the early years of the loan it is primarily interest and principal is paid towards the end of the loan period. Examples of closed-ended loans include student loans, auto loans and mortgage loans.

Even though a closed-ended loan definitive in nature, they can be altered to accommodate the borrowers financial needs. Closed end lending requires the borrower to apply each time, whereas with an open-ended loan, as long as the borrower is on file that is sufficient for more funds. Both types of loans can be the perfect fit for different situations. Some borrowers may desire a more structured loan while others are comfortable with a flexible agreement. Depending on the borrower’s financial situation, either loan can be a good fit depending on the individuals needs.

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Why Would I Care if My Shares Have Voting Privileges?

Published on November 27, 2012, by in Investing.

Stock CertificatesLet’s talk about how it is that the intangible value of an individual shareholder’s right to participate are able to create an amount of value. While we ourselves might be somewhat apathetic towards the coming shareholders meeting and vote over whether or not to pursue a certain accounting measure, the way in which these rights create value for larger shareholders secures the value of our investment through the magic of the capital markets.

Recently, several companies have undergone amounts of scrutiny for their decision to dilute out the voting power of their common shares, in order to maintain a certain amount of management-level control over the company. Be it through stock splits, new issuance, buy-backs, or conversions, companies have several tools at their disposal to accomplish the goal of consolidating control over their holdings.

In doing so, they are able to take more decisive actions, and do not need to fear as much the threat of a take-over. That being said, it also takes away the ability of individual investors to have an impact in the company’s operations. Because of the way in which each individual common share comes with the right to vote on material issues faced by the company, the right to influence a company holds a great deal of value for a major investor.

Particularly the case for fund managers, the ability to influence a company’s decisions can be extremely valuable. For example, should a major fund manager be present during a meeting that will be discussing whether or not to institute a shareholder dividend, that manager has the ability to directly impact what kind of return their clients will receive from their holding. Alternatively, if there is an election to determine who will take over as the president of operations during a period of major transition, the fund manager might see it prudent to influence the decision about who will take over control to suit their clients’ needs.

For all of these reasons and more, major investors are able to create tangible returns on their investments simply by holding a voting capacity. Because of this ability to create returns, institutional purchasers will place a price on the value of the mere voting rights of a common share. This means that companies in the midst of turmoil will likely see the value of their common shares dramatically increase in comparison to that of the preferred shares, simply because of the inclusion of a right to vote.

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Understanding Insider Investment Trends

Published on November 21, 2012, by in Trading.

insider-tradingThe Wolff is going to discuss how insider purchasing can be demonstrative of both an opportunity both in its ability to diffuse liquidity constraints, and indicating a managerial commitment to the performance of the firm as a whole. With this information, we can then begin using insider purchasing reports to gleam greater insights into the true opportunity of an investment, and better fortify the position itself.

The trick to understanding insider reports is to be able to differentiate between isolated purchases, and major trends in the volume itself. For example, if an insider is merely buying a few more units to keep up with his/her own personal portfolio, we might be mislead into thinking that the insider is gearing up for a major growth period. Similarly, if an insider is purchasing into the company all at once, and in high volume, we might be mislead to purchasing into the fund in the midst of an event that might prove to be highly volatile.

Because of this new volatility, we might have already missed the buying opportunity, and therefore not be in a position to increase the equity’s weighting. Lastly, we want to be sure that sell-offs from insiders are not being misconstrued. If a director of the company is selling shares to procure funds for a down payment on a new home, we want to be sure that we understand the one time nature of the transaction, and how it is not indicative of a greater trend.

One of the easiest ways to identify a real opportunity indication from insider buying is to see if all of the management team is buying in, or if it only a few key individuals. If the management team is already bought in, or is collectively increasing their position in the company, it indicates their confidence in the ability of the company to grow, and also reduces the liquidity risks of the security. This second point is further accommodated by the way in which insiders will usually purchase in slowly over time, providing an even volume distribution.

From there, we can take the evaluation a step further to see if there are managers from multiple companies across the industry following suit. If we notice that most of the companies in the industry are experiencing increased management buy-in, we can be fairly confident that the trend is based on the underlying fundamentals of the industry. This is indicative of an opportunity for growth, based on the ability and commitment of management to execute a strong business plan.

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7 Tips on How to Score the Best Rates on Your Next Auto Loan

Published on November 17, 2012, by in Frugal.

best-auto-loan-rates

  1. Check out your options- One of the things that you have to do in order to get a good rate is to check out different options. The three common places to receive bad credit personal loans from include credit unions, banks, and the car dealer ships. Credit Unions will probably offer you the best rate if you are able to get a loan from them.
  2. Ask your personal bank for a loan- If you are someone who has a decent amount of money in the bank and do well at paying off your bills, ask your personal bank for the loan. They are more likely to offer you a better deal because they know your financial situation and how much you are bringing in each month.
  3. Put a decent down payment down- Another strategy when it comes to getting a great rate is to put down a decent amount of money. This shows that you have the financial capability to put down a significant amount of money at one time.
  4. Make sure that your credit score is correct- Your credit score will have a huge impact on the type of loan a bank or credit union will give you. It is a number that represents your ability to repay loans and other bills. When someone has a good credit score, they will get a lower interest rate. The bank or lender feels as though there good credit score is an indication that they will get their money back.

    In order to check your credit score, you should get a report from one of the three major credit bureaus. And if there are any credit cards that you didn’t take out or mistakes on your credit report, you can make a dispute. Despite the fact that correcting a mistake on your credit score can take some time, it is well worth it if you are going to take out loans.
  5. Consider a shorter loan term- In general, credit unions and banks will offer lower interest rates to people who have shorter loan terms. However, they also often require larger down payments and higher monthly premiums. You should consider all of these factors when you are trying to find an auto loan that will fit your life.
  6. Improve your credit rating- If you have some time to wait, you can improve your credit score. As previously mentioned, this number is key because it implies whether or not you will be able to pay back a loan. Some of the simple things that you can do in order to improve your credit score include paying your bills on time, stop overspending on your credit cards, and pay down the principle on your credit cards.
  7. Negotiate- Finally, you can try to negotiate with the lender to give you a better interest rate. People who are trying to obtain the loan from their personal bank might have the best luck. Because you are already a customer, they might be more likely to make a deal.