SEARCH

Saturday
Nov132010

'Son, Can You Spare a Signature?' Kids Co-Sign for Hard-Up Parents

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- "Son, can you co-sign for my car?" That's the kind of question more adult children have heard from parents hit hard by the great recession.

Evidence of such an increasingly popular arrangement has popped up in a few places. Although the number of parents co-signing for adult children has risen to 11 percent from 9 percent in the past two years, the number of adult children helping parents with a car lease has increased more than 30 percent, according to LeaseTrader.com, an online car-leasing website.

The adult children, defined as people ages 20 to 29, have been assisting parents who are 40 to 55.

Foreclosures, unemployment and the overall health of consumer credit may be "forcing adults to make this decision and take this alternative approach," says John Sternal, vice president of marketing communications at Miami-based LeaseTrader.com.

But the financial alternative comes with pitfalls when a co-signer becomes liable for the full loan if a parent fails to pay.

"One of the problems of co-signing is you usually don't know there's a problem until the loan is in default," says Rick Kahler, a financial planner at Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D.

"If a payment is missed, you're one of the last to find out."

A collection agency will go after a co-signer as aggressively as the original debtor. And, unfortunately, unlike a bank, a co-signer cannot repossess an auto loan if parents fall behind on a financial obligation. A parent's failure to make timely payments could also result in higher interest for credit cards and other lines of a credit, and could affect mortgage approval rates.

What's more, co-signing on a loan turns a familial relationship into a business one.

"You have to be ready to pay off that loan," Kahler says.

"If you think it's a wise thing to do, then, of course, go for it but you still must say, 'I'm going to be just fine if I have to step in and make this good because that's the bottom line.' The bottom line is you've got to be ready to pay off that note."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov122010

US Postal Service on the Verge of Going Broke?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It's the biggest civilian employer after Walmart, but apparently the U.S. Postal Service is not "too big to fail." Friday, the Postal Service said that without Congressional action it could be bankrupt by the end of next year.

"We will continue our relentless efforts to innovate and improve efficiency. However, the need for changes to legislation, regulations and labor contracts has never been more obvious," Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett said in a statement.

The venerated 235-year-old institution is deep in the red. It lost $8.5 billion last year, shedding 105,000 jobs. In the next ten years, the agency could lose a whopping $238 billion.

While not obsolete, mail carriers are certainly carrying less and less mail.

In the 2010 fiscal year, mail carriers delivered 6 billion fewer pieces of mail than in 2009.

Snail mail is on the same fast track to death as the Yellow Pages and classified ads, all thanks to the Internet.

The post office does not receive tax money to operate, but taxpayers could be on the line if the agency defaults.

Some have suggested privatizing the service, but for now the post office still answers to Congress and Congress has been reluctant to approve measures like closing local branches of the post office, a move that would save the institution money and help pull it into the black.

The Postal Service has asked Congress to approve other cost-cutting measures such as ending Saturday service, raising the prices of stamps and cutting its obligation to future retirees.

Sen. Thomas Carper D-Del. vowed that the Postal Service will not go under and argued that the agency is crucial to American jobs.

"In mid-2011, the Postal Service will use up its line of credit [entering] crisis mode... What needs to be done is Congress needs to get out of the way and let them act more like a business and be more entrepreneurial," Carper said. "If we're interested in creating jobs and nurturing the environment for creating jobs, one of the worst things we can do is let the Postal Service go under."

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night could do it, but a deficit just might stop mail carriers in their tracks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Nov122010

After Pedophilia Book Pulled, More Controversy for Amazon?

Photo Courtesy - Amazon dot com(NEW YORK) -- Amazon may no longer sell one controversial book on pedophilia, but it looks like it's still playing host to other books and videos with similar content.

Days after the online retail giant came under fire for the self-published book "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-Lover's Code of Conduct," which was available for download in its Kindle store, customers and critics continue to assail the company for continuing to sell content that depicts children in sexual situations with adults.

After thousands of Twitter users and Amazon customers called for Amazon to remove the book, with some threatening to boycott the company altogether, the company apparently pulled the book from its online store.  However, some concerned parents who led the protest said the book's removal was bittersweet.

"We initially saw it as a victory, but realized that unless they come out and make a statement explaining the contradictions, it's only a half-victory," said Audrey Holden, an upstate New York mother and co-creator of the Facebook page "!!!Boycott Amazon.com for Selling How Guide for pedophile." "There are other books out there that advocate the same thing."

In the two days since the page launched, it has attracted more than 14,000 "Likes." Holden said she and the other co-creator (who asked to be identified as Kim D.) plan on Monday to launch a new website, ParentsTakeaStand.com, entirely devoted to the Amazon boycott effort.

Among the pro-pedophilia content still on Amazon, Holden said, is the book, "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers," by David L. Riegal.

The book's dedication says it was written for "those courageous boys and men of past generations who shared love with one another, sometimes with the approval of society, sometimes with only grudging acceptance, and sometimes at the peril of their freedom and even their lives."

It also said it was dedicated to men and boys of the present generation, as well as those "who when they are older boys and men will understand their pedosexual attraction to younger boys."

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request from ABCNews.com to clarify why it apparently pulled one book on pedophile but continues to sell similar books.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov122010

Consumer Watchdog Accused of Running 'Pay for Play' Scheme

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- The Better Business Bureau, one of the country's best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a "pay for play" scheme in which A-plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don't.

To prove the point, a group of Los Angeles business owners paid $425 to the Better Business Bureau and were able to obtain an A-minus grade for a non-existent company called Hamas, named after the Middle Eastern terror group.

"Right now, this rating system is really unworthy of consumer trust or confidence," said Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal in an interview to be broadcast as part of an ABC News investigation airing Friday night on 20/20.

In an official demand letter sent to the national headquarters of the Better Business Bureau Thursday, Blumenthal called on the BBB to stop using its grading system, which he said was "potentially harmful and misleading" to consumers.

"The BBB accreditation and the BBB ratings systems is not about generating money," said BBB national president and CEO Steve Cox. He said the A minus grade for Hamas was given in error. "Plain and simple, we made a mistake," Cox told ABC News.

Errors seem to abound at the Better Business Bureau. As reported by an anonymous blogger the BBB also awarded an A minus rating to a non-existent sushi restaurant in Santa Ana, California and an A plus to a skinhead, neo-Nazi web site called Stormfront.  Each listing cost $425.

"They ran the credit card and within 12 hours they were an approved, accredited member," said the anonymous blogger, who runs a site called bbbroundup.com.

"They're more interested in the money than their credibility," he said.

The BBB's Cox said the three listings were all mistakes made by sales people.

"That's an inaccurate statement that business people are able to buy As," Cox said. "We have more than 500,000 non-accredited businesses who have A ratings," he added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov122010

Cotton Prices Surge; Consumers Warned to Brace Themselves

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The rising cost of cotton, the "fabric of our lives," is alarming textile manufacturers and may soon affect consumers' wallets.

Heavy summer rain and flooding in China and Pakistan, the world's largest and fourth largest producers of cotton respectively, caused shortages across the world.  Fast economic growth and corresponding demand for raw materials from emerging markets have increased the price of cotton and other commodities like gold and soybeans.

"Right now cotton is in unchartered territory," said Matthew Hall, spokesperson for Hanesbrands Inc., which includes underwear and athletic apparel brands like Hanes, Champion and Wonderbra.  Cotton prices began to rise in July as the dwindling supply became evident to commodities traders and the apparel industry, and have risen about 50 percent since then.

Last month, the price of traded cotton commodities reached $1.20 per pound on the IntercontinentalExchange, the highest price since 1870.  Also, the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program announcement last week and lower bond yields have attracted investors towards the higher returns of raw materials trading.

Because the clothes in retail stores are made from cotton bought months ago, consumers will not see price increases until today's cotton makes it down the supply chain.

The actual price increase consumers may see depends on the various players involved in producing cotton clothes, such as farmers, textile mills, manufacturers and retailers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Fire Linked to Electric Panel Failure

Image Courtesy - PRNewsFoto(EVERETT, Wash.) -- Boeing said Thursday it is still investigating an incident that occurred Monday, which caused one of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft carriers to perform an emergency landing.

According to the company's statement, an electric panel failed, which led to a fire involving an insulation blanket.

The damage to the panel is so extensive that it has been removed and will be replaced.  However, the surrounding area inspection will take several more days.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Consumer Watchdog Calls for Google CEO Schmidt to Go to Washington Under Oath in Wi-Spy Hearing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- After a ranking Google employee gave contradictory testimony at hearings regarding the Internet company's Wi-Spying, Consumer Watchdog Thursday asked the House Energy and Commerce Committee to put a hold on the proceedings.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, sent a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying that a Congressional hearing was necessary even though the Federal Communications Commission is investigating.

"CEO Eric Schmidt and Alma Whitten, director of privacy for engineering and product management, should testify under oath to provide the American public with the answers it deserves," Court wrote.

Court complained that Google had developed a pattern of "changing its story" when explaining why it gathered private information from wireless networks.

Consumer Watchdog has made it a goal to convince Google, the Internet's leading company, of the importance of "giving consumers control over their online lives."  The public interest group hopes that eventually, the Internet giant will adopt privacy policies that could set the standard for the industry.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Nov112010

Website Helps You be Part of a Stranger’s Will

Image Courtesy of Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new website service could help you become part of a complete stranger’s will or estate plans.

Bequestworthy.com connects individuals and organizations to benefactors who may not have living relatives or friends to be their beneficiaries.

Those interested need only fill out an anonymous "Bequest Request" on the site, which tells why you are interested in becoming a beneficiary. The site will then notify potential benefactors of the interest.

The service is often used to connect charities with those who wish to include such causes in their will or estate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Amazon Removes Pedophilia Book from Store

Photo Courtesy - Amazon[dot]com(SEATTLE) -- After defending sales of a self-published book on pedophilia, online retail giant Amazon on Wednesday night reversed course and pulled the book from its Kindle store.

The electronic book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, by Philip R. Greaves II, went on sale on Oct. 28 and cost $4.79 to download.

"This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow," the author wrote in the product description. "I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught," Greaves said in the product description.

The book quickly sparked a massive protest online, with thousands of Twitter users and Amazon customers calling for Amazon to remove the book, and some threatening to boycott the company altogether until it did.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

GE to Purchase 25,000 Electric Cars in Largest Order Ever by 2015

Photo Courtesy - Chevrolet [dot] com(FAIRFIELD, Conn.) -- General Electric Co. announced Thursday it will purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015, marking the largest order ever of battery-powered cars.

GE will begin buying electric vehicles in 2011.  Nearly half of their purchases -- 12,000 vehicles -- will come from General Motors Co., including the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The new environmentally-friendly vehicles will comprise at least half of the company's fleet of 30,000 cars and leased vehicles from its GE Capital unit.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt said the company's order will help "move electric vehicles from anticipation to action."  He added that "wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles will also drive clean energy innovation, strengthen energy security and deliver economic value."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio