WARNING! THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! I want to express my humble warning to everyone about the possibility of your cell phone provider making a mistake with your account. This happened to me recently and the fallout is still not finished. AT&T made a bad mistake with my cell phone bill and refuses to admit to, or correct any wrong doing. Let me explain…
My wife and I had been customers with AT&T since switching over to them in 2007, from Verizon. We paid our bill every month, like clockwork. We did not use all the features available to us, to save money, but our plan was adequate for what we needed it for. Our cost initially was just $99 dollars a month. Not too bad, considering we had two cell phones, rollover minutes, and texting.
Fast-forward to 2010. My wife died from Cancer. I was still paying for the phone line my wife had. I decided to let my son use the phone, since he had moved in to help me cope with my loss. After a few months went by, he mis-placed the phone (lost), so to insure myself from unidentified users of the phone, I had the line temporarily dis-connected.
In the meantime, I was struggling with debt, that was consuming every dime I could get my hands on. My household income being cut in half from my wife’s passing, was taking its toll on my finances. I was becoming like many Americans, with more debt than I had income for. I was barely able to pay the phone bill which was accurring service charges for being paid late, etc. I had always paid my cell phone bill by by paying bills online through the bank website interface. But then I started using AT&T computer assisted payment options, by calling their *729 number and using my debit card to pay bill.
My son had been unemployed from the time he moved here from New York. I was also supporting him, until he finally was employed in February of 2011. After several months, he was promoted within his company, but he was required to have a cell phone, for communicating purposes.
His birthday was coming up in June of 2011, so I decided to buy him another phone, since it was mandatory for his position at his job. Of course he had to have the latest phone available, an Iphone. I was just going to re-open the dis-connected line of service I had been paying for all these months. That was when I discovered identity thieft of this dis-connected line. That is also when my problems with AT&T really began.
This Identity thief had accured in May. I remember seeing a message on my flip-top phone that the bill had been paid. Curious I was, but not curious enough to talk to a customer representative to get details of this message. I felt it was just an insidental mistake, because I knew I had not paid the bill that was coming due very soon.
In July, we bought my son a new phone. After the brief summary that AT&T representative at the AT&T store gave, his recommendation was to (a) dis-connect the stolen phone line (someone in Massachusetts was using stolen phone line); (b) put a password onto account, so it can not be tampered with from anyone, other than myself; and (c) get a new phone number for this Iphone we just bought for my son.
We did everything the ATT rep had suggested. In August when the cell phone bill came due, I accidently let the bill lapse into being late (again). ATT turned my service off on both phones. I called ATT from my home phone requesting a reason why they turned my service off, since they had never done this to me before. They had always let me pay my bill late, adding their service charges, etc.
The ATT rep told me that I had not paid my bill for two months, May and June. I immediately went online to check my bank statement for any debits made from ATT. Sure enough, ATT was right, no debits from them were made to my bank account. I asked how this was possible, because I had a confirmation code on my cell phone that said the bill had been paid.
The ATT rep told me that the bill had been paid from an account that the payment was denied. I questioned them about what account number were they refering to, because I always used my checking account to pay this bill. They gave me an account number that the bill was paid from for May. Just the last four numbers is all they would supply me with. They gave me an account number that was neither mine, nor one that I ever knew or heard about. Then I asked them what about the June bill, and they gave me another account number, different from the May payment, again it was an account number that I never heard or knew about before.
I told them this. I told them that I never gave them those two account numbers to pay the bill from. They claimed that I told them (the computer) to pay from those two fraudulent account numbers. I disagreed with them. I told them that if they would research all my previous successful payments that they would find the bill was paid from my checking account, which has been the same account for years.
I explained that the way I pay my bill was I called their payment by phone number and talk to their computer. The computer ask you “Do you want to pay your bill from the account that you used the last time you paid your bill?” I always say “yes”. But for some unknown reason, their computer assigned my bill to be paid from an account that I did not own.This same computer paid the May bill from an account I never knew existed, then paid the June bill from a different account that, again, I never knew existed. So two months worth of bill had gone unpaid, but they never told me this until they cut my service off in August!
ATT rep told me that I must have used a friends credit card to pay my bill. I asked the lady to kindly explain to me why I would do such a thing as that, to pay my bill from someone elses account? I never had done that before, why on earth would I do that now? The ATT rep said that I told the computer to pay the bill from those two accounts for May and for June. I insisted that I did not. She called me a liar by saying that “she did not know if I did, or did not” use those fraudulent accounts. I was furious!
The ATT rep told me in order to turn the service back on, that I would have to pay the past due amount. I would also have to do this in cash, since my debit card was going to be denied from ATT, due to those two unsuccessful attempts in May and June. Again, I was furious! I asked how much was the minimum amount I could pay them to get the service turned back on, since my son had to have cell phone service for his job?
The ATT rep said a minimum amount of $198.00 dollars, plus reconnection charge, plus another charge, and another, then make payment arrangements with them on the rest of the charges. I told the rep that I did not have that much in the bank. She said to go to the ATT store and pay $150.00 now, in cash, and then make payment arrangements on the rest.
What else could I do? I told the lady, “ok”, and drove to the ATT store and paid them $150.00 cash, on friday afternoon in August. I made payment arrangements on the rest. The service was restored! The following Sunday, when I got up to get ready for church, the house phone rang, and it was my son. He told me the cell phone was turned off again! I had to count to a very high number before I called ATT back so that I would not say something nasty to the ATT rep.
I again as nicely as I could, explained the ordeal that I just went through on Friday, to get the service turned back on. The ATT rep told me, “That ATT did not agree to any payment arrangements made on Friday, and that was why the cell phone service was turned off.”
I ask them to explain why the service was turned back on Friday, if in fact ATT did not accept our agreed payment arrangements? All the rep would say is that ATT never agreed to payment arrangements, so I needed to pay an additional amount, in cash, to get service turned back on. I hung up the phone, extremely furious with ATT!
I contacted the attorney general’s office and filed a complaint. One month later, after never receiving any contact from ATT, my bill was sent to an outside collections agency! The letter I received from the attorney general was to inform me that ATT had received my complaint, and that ATT had tried in vain to contact me to clear up this case, but I had refused their contact.
Needless to say, after first being called a liar by the first ATT rep, then after talking to three supervisors later to solve the issue, then having service renewed then revoked again after an agreement had been reached, I say to hell with ATT!
I am warning anyone else that have service with ATT…This could happen to you also!
WORK FROM HOME
Have you ever asked yourself how can I work from home? How to work from home is not rocket science. People all over the globe are doing just that, working from home, and many of them are making a lot of serious money. All it takes is just a few procedures that I intend to explain to help you decide if working from home is viable.
The Internet was the catalyst that made it possible for anyone to work from home. Whether it was offering services for big companies, to being an affiliate, to writing how-to books to sell online, or making your own products, people young and old alike are making the transition to working from home. There is a lot of money to be made by being your own boss. The convenience, the necessity, the tax savings, they all play a big role in providing reasons to at least try to work from home.
There are hundreds of markets that are ideal for the entrepreneur that use their home for their office. Traveling salesman have been doing this for years. To learn how stay-at-home mothers can also contribute to making money for the household, get my free Work At Home Mothers Book. More and more people are expanding into this realm of income producing revenue because of convenience:
- Mothers with children to raise
- Students who are going to school full time
- Traveling distance to work
- Lack of transportation, or the sheer expense
These are just a few of conveniences of working from home. The cost of a babysitter or daycare for children is an extremely expensive undertaking. Many Moms today see the majority of their whole paycheck go towards this expense. By them staying at home to raise their children and making money online, they benefit two-fold; first the quality time spent with children, and also making an income by working from home. Students attending school full time also can benefit from having their own business online, because they can work it when it is convenient to them. They don’t have to punch a clock or have to worry about travel time and expenses.
Besides just the convenience, the necessity of working from home is at an all time high. Just look at how many people today are unemployed! The ability to secure income again with another same level job is almost non-existent. The recession that we face has put even the most secure employment at risk. So the necessity to make extra income by working at home is more reason than not to at least attempt it.
- Laid off from full time employment
- Not able to work due to temporary or permanent disability
- Substituted higher paying job with lower paying job, due to layoff or relocation
- Catastrophes like medical, divorce or death of a family member.
- Sheer expenses far exceed income
The tax savings by having a real business in your home, known as a Home-Based business, is an extremely attractive alternative to working away from home. A home-based business is treated just like any other brick and mortar business. The tax deductions given to a home-based business versus an employee can save thousands of dollars every year. That in itself can more than make up for any lost wages due to a job loss. The advantages are overwhelming, which is another great reason to investigate the home-based business opportunity.
The number one thing a person needs to work from home is desire. It can be a desire to make extra money. It can be a desire to stay at home to raise a family. It can be a desire to help others achieve their goals. What ever the reason may be, it is possible, doable, and rewarding. Just look at the number of websites on the Internet versus just five years ago. The number is daunting.
Work from Home Ideas
To work from home can be started easily in just a part-time status. One very good place to start is eBay. Many people work eBay as a hobby, but even more people find serious income from operating a home-based business selling on eBay. First of all, eBay already has an established base of Internet traffic. All you have to do is open an account, create your own store front, and start selling. To learn more about how easily done this is, get a copy of my Master Guide of selling online.
Amazon.com is another extremely great place to make extra income from. You don’t even have to open a store front there. Just be an affiliate to Amazon and get paid by directing web traffic to Amazon. Again, to learn more about all the different techniques that can be used to make extra income by working at home get a copy of my Master Guide to selling online.
Open up your own day-care facility, at home. Then all your expenses are business related. Not only are all your expenses tax-deductible, but if you already have children, then you don’t have the expense of paying some one else to care for your children.
Create or build your own products to sell to other local businesses, or sell them yourself online. There are hundreds of different niches that you can enter that will make extra income. Some of these niches have very low competition so the profit margin is very high. If you have a talent for making wooden toys, for example, why not make them and sell locally? What about art? Can you draw or paint a picture and sell at your local flea market? Repairing computers? Can you open a business at home repairing your friend’s computers. Soon that can lead into a viral explosion of their friends contacting you about their computers.
The ideas above are no where near the endless possibilities of starting your own business working from home. Everyone has a talent in something. Whether it is doing it yourself, or knowing someone who has the expertise, you have a talent that can be used to make money. You can use that talent, or just keep procrastinating.
If you have the desire to work from home, but a little short of good ideas on where to start, or afraid of the expense involved, go get a copy of my Master Guide. It will show you where and how to get started today selling online for less than $20.00 a month expense. That, my friend, will get you the gravy to go with your bread and butter.
Keys To Wealth Building – Knowing Your Credit Score (Part Three)
To continue in this series, I first want to thank you for reading these articles and I hope you are finding them beneficial. I will now jump to the information I am writing about.
Most Americans have three or more credit cards with balances on them. If you are an individual who is able to pay off your balance every month, then you are one of the 1% of people that has that ability. For the other 99%, this next step is crucial in your quest of wealth building.
Know your Credit Score
Credit card providers are in business to make money, plain and simple. They do not provide someone with credit to be good Samaritans; they are in this business to make money. They provide these services with disregard to if someone can afford this service, or not. To better understand where I am going with this statement, read on…
Credit card providers use your credit report to allow, or disallow credit to you. These credit bureaus, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian, all use the same algorithm to get a credit score for you. This credit score ranges from a score of 0 to over 800.
A very basic breakdown of these scores are as follows:
Less than 619 = high risk
- 620 – 660 = Uncertain
- 661 – 720 = Average (acceptable)
- 721 – and higher = Very good
- Over 750 = Excellent
How we rank
The recent credit scores among the USA population approximately rank are as follows:
- 100 to 499: 1%
- 500 – 599: 12%
- 600 – 699: 27%
- 700 – 749: 20%
- 750 – 799: 29%
- Over 800: 11%
So 40% of us fall into the “excellent” category. 13% of us fall under 600, which is very high risk. With this score of 600 to 749, those 47% are the bread and butter of the industry.
The credit card industry makes its living and high profit margins on the 47% of the people who are allowed to have credit. That is why it is so important to get your credit score above 750. This number, the powerful credit score, determines what kind of interest rate the banks, the credit card companies, and the mortgage companies will give you.
How to get your credit score above 750 be accomplished? Let me give you some insight into how this can be solved. Each credit reporting agency has a report on you, and each tallies their own score. Not all creditors report into all three credit report agencies. They only have to talk to one on you, according to law.
Maybe your MasterCard account reports to Experian; your Sears card may report to Equifax; and your American Express reports to Transunion. They each calculate your credit score based on what information they have on your credit report, so each credit score may be slightly different. That is the norm and no big deal. Right?
The Secret Formula
If Coca-Cola wanted us to know their secret formula on how to make coke, it would not be locked up in a vault somewhere. Same goes for the baked beans and their secret family recipe. The complex mathematical algorithm formula that is used to computing credit scores is not out there, floating around on the Internet. If Grandma Hazel wanted you to know the secret ingredient in her mashed potatoes, she would have told you.
The software that is used to determine your FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation. Fair Isaac, a Minneapolis-based financial services company, does not house a database with all kinds of information on you. Their software is used by all three of the credit reporting agencies. The credit score is computed using a proprietary mathematical formula. This means that we, as individuals, are not allowed to know the formula.
The credit bureaus and the financial lending institutions think that keeping the formula a secret will keep you in the palm of their hands. They figure that we do not need to know how electricity works just to turn on the lights. So in turn we don’t need to understand any algorithms to fix our credit scores.
This credit score is more important than we sometimes realize. Your insurance company looks at your credit score to determine what kind of policy to give you. Your employer can even look at your credit report and credit score to decide on promoting you or even hiring you. This credit score permeates into many corners of our lives.
The Credit Score is comprised of five basic elements, according to About.com:
- Payment History – 35%
- Amounts you owe – 30%
- Length of your credit history – 15%
- Types of credit used – 10%
- New Credit – 10%
Get your credit report! Check for any inaccuracies. 90% of all credit reports have something wrong with them! The first step in creating wealth is getting your credit report!
Once you get your report, it is critical, crucial, mega-important that you review it. Your credit report number is the magic number that dictates your interest rates, your fees, your financial everything, and this score is the direct result of whatever is on that credit report. To contact the big-three credit agencies, below is their contact information:
- Equifax – PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
- TransUnion – PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
- Experian – PO Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
You are entitled to one free credit report per year. Get yours today, whether you order it online, by mail, or request it over the phone. You can also go to either http://ftc.gov/credit“, or to www.annualcreditreport.com, or by mail at Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
The latter website is a one-stop shopping website where you can get all three credit reports from one place. Just a simple form to complete online to get your free copy from all three credit reporting agencies. Once you get your copies, read, read and read it some more. Remember, 90% of all credit reports have mistakes. This is your golden opportunity to fix what is wrong with your report.
Take the time to read it through. Most items are obvious; others need explanation.
- The creditors name
- The creditors address
- The creditors phone number
- Your account number with this creditor
- The date this account was opened
- The type of account (auto, mortgage, credit cards = “revolving”)
- The credit Limit/original amount
- Reported since (date account started being reported)
- Terms (Length of the mortgage; if credit card, NA for Not Applicable)
- Monthly payment (credit cards may show $0)
- High balance (highest balance to date or original loan amount)
- Recent balance
- Status/remark (open/current; paid/closed; never late etc. open/current = good standing)
- Date of status (date that the Status section was last updated)
- Last reported (date creditor last reported any information)
- Responsibility (joint or individual account; spouse’s name may be listed)
- Recent payment (last payment received)
- Account history (sometimes the balance history just lists a lot of zeros)
If you have a lot of financial activity this report may be very lengthy. Check the easy stuff first, your personal information. Check that your name, middle initial, etc all correspond to you. This is where you may discover Identity fraud. If there are mistakes, contact the reporting agency directly. You would be amazed how often someone else’s information turns up on your credit report, simply by having the same name as you.
According to a 2003 survey by the Consumer Federation of America, only 2% of Americans said they knew their credit score. Only 3% could name all three of the main credit bureaus. Just remember that lending institutions just see you as a number, so you want this number to be the best number possible. Think of it as your golden ticket that gets you into the candy factory, or should I say, the money factory.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Certainly facing a mountain of debt is a time of challenge. To get your house into order, you first must get your credit score into higher ground, to reap the harvest of building wealth.
In my next article I will explain some of the options available that can be applied to raise your credit report number, as well how you can manipulate your payments to decrease your debt quicker, and begin building wealth. I hope you found this information helpful. I am striving for your success and any breakthrough with your debt elimination process. May the force be with you….
Tax Reductions for Home-based Businesses!
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Keys To Building Wealth – Finding Your Net Worth
This is part two in the series of keys to building wealth. I first would like to thank you for reading these articles and I hope you are finding them beneficial. There is nothing worse than stressing over money. The endless worrying about how to make ends meet do take a toll on our health. It is vital to your financial status to have a plan set in place that will pinpoint your financial position at any given time. If you apply just some of these suggestions I am providing, you will find your financial condition improving and consequently, your health and livelihood as well.
To become wealthy, many people are paralyzed to what steps should be taken. Which solution would be in the best interest, saving income, or paying off debt? How does someone build wealth without a substantial surplus of money?
As hard as it may seem to pay down debt, it is sometimes even harder to save. It is important to always save some income for emergencies, but at what costs is it not worth sacrificing? This decision is not easily answered, because everyone has different, unique circumstances. One option is to just compare the interest rates of what the debt is costing you versus what the savings would be earning.
Let’s create a starting point to become debt free and build wealth. The first crucial step is to find your Net Worth. Read More…