Free Government Grants, Diet Pills and Credit, Oh My!

money scams

Looking for free government grants endorsed by President Obama and Vice President Biden? Dietary supplements supported by scientific research and endorsed by Oprah? How about exclusive credit offers? …Keep looking.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has halted an operation called, the “Grant Connect” program, that allegedly deceived and mislead consumers about bogus products and services with unsubstantiated claims.

The complaint lists Juliette Kimoto and Johnnie Smith, amongst others, behind the “Grant Connect” program. As part of an agreement with the FTC several defendants have agreed not to market products and serviced similar to those they sold and pitched to consumers previously. Settlements also impose an almost $30 million judgement against them.

Allegedly “Grant Connect” programs used pictures of political figures and celebrities to make it appear that they endorsed their products they were selling. They used pictures of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the American flag to bolster claims that their bogus government grants service was affiliated with the U.S. government. They promoted their dietary supplement by falsely claiming that it was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and supported by scientific research, and failed to adequately disclose that their credit offers were merely memberships to a costly shopping club.money scams

The FTC claims that the defendants failed to disclose to consumers that purchased their products that they would be enrolled in continuity plans and charged high monthly fees for mostly unrelated products along with using fake testimonials to promote products.

The first settlement order announced October 17, bans defendant Johnnie Smith from marketing or selling grant-related products or services, credit-related products, work-at-home business opportunities, weight-loss related dietary supplements, and other products or services using a “negative-option” or continuity program in which consumers are billed automatically until they decide to cancel.

Smith also is banned from assisting anyone else selling these programs or products and from taking customer payments using pre-approved electronic fund transfers. Finally, Smith is banned from using testimonials to sell products or services, and is subject to the monetary judgment, under which he will pay $45,000.

The second settlement order bans Juliette Kimoto and four companies she owned from: selling grant-related products or services, credit-related products, or work-at-home business opportunities; selling products or services with a continuity or negative-option program; taking consumer payments by preauthorized electronic funds transfer; assisting others engaged in these activities; and using testimonials.

The second settlement order also bans the four companies from marketing dietary supplements claimed to assist in weight loss or other specified outcomes, and prohibits Juliette Kimoto from making misleading health claims related to dietary supplements. The order also requires Juliette Kimoto to pay more than $90,000 and to turn over various personal assets, including jewelry, a piano, and a 1967 Chevy Camaro, along with all the cash and other assets held by the entities she owned. The total value of the cash and assets turned over by Juliette Kimoto and the companies she owned exceeds $220,000

Author: This article was contributed by GetOutOfDebt.org, a site that helps people find good debt relief solutions to deal with tough money troubles.

Source: Free Government Grants, Diet Pills and Credit, Oh My!

Photo Credit: jepoirrier

Using Mint to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

money and pounds

In February I wrote about how we use Mint to track our budget. It’s a wonder and free tool that allows you to quickly review your income and spending. It’s really useful for us when we do our monthly net worth reviews.

What Mint does is grab your linked accounts’ data and create and organize useful data based on those transaction.

Easy System to Pay Down Debt

Basically when paying down debt, it comes down to:

  • Learn the Exact Amounts of Your Debt and Your Budget: Having the exact numbers can be powerful and eye-opening in some cases. Seeing how much debt in you’re in can motivate you to get rid of your high interest debt on the credit cards.
  • Set Up a Payment Plan You Can Keep: You can compare your money habits in the past and see where your money leaks are so you can redirect that money to a debt snowball. Mint’s goal feature helps you to see how quickly you can pay off your debts and how much money you’ll save.
  • Stay Motivated and Reward Your Achievements: Staying motivated while paying down debt usually means celebrating milestones. Finding small rewards for your victories can keep you going.

Mint can help you with the first 2, the last one is up with you :). Let me share how helpful Mint can be with tackling debt.

Mint’s Goals – How You Can Tackle Debt

Mint does offer several templates for goals, including: mint pay off debt goal

  • Pay off credit card debt
  • Save for retirement
  • Buy a house
  • Save for college
  • Improve house
  • Take a trip
For this post I want to highlight the first one – paying off credit card debt.  To use Mint’s  goal tool, you simply select the goals tab and with the various options, you’ll find paying off debts.
From there you’ll be guided to customizing your goals. For myself, I had to select which credit card I was tracking and give the interest rate information for my credit card. Mint is even able to track introductory interest rates, which is extremely helpful for those who may have large balance whose repayment will exceed the special intro offer.
The next step is coming with a monthly payment plan and comparing the pros and cons of each. With Mint you can see how much you save on interest payments, which is a handy tool and a bit motivating to having a bigger debt snowball.
Along with monthly emails to track your progress, you can also log-in at any time and see how you’re doing. mint can also share tips and offers from other credit cards that may give you better interest rates.

Thoughts on Mints for Paying Off Debts

How many of you already use Mint? Have you used their goal feature?

Photo Credit

The Amazing How to Get Out of Debt Calculator

Every single day I help people for free to find good solutions for problem debt. Not long ago I was talking with some friends and it occurred to me there was no one single tool people could use to better understand all of their options to tackle their debt. Why not?

So in collaboration with the smart technology people at USDR we created just such an online calculator to give people a somewhat personalized side-by-side comparison of the options, costs and payments of the different approaches to eliminate their debt.

We’ve just launched the How to Get Out of Debt Calculator and I think it gives people an impartial and detached view of what they can do to tackle their debt.

The use of the calculator is free and does not require people to share any personal identifying information.

Each option for getting out of debt certainly has plusses and minuses. But through education and awareness each person can make a better choice about the approach that’s right for them.

The calculator is not designed to be the creator of a final plan to implement, in fact we don’t sell any debt relief services at GetOutOfDebt.org.

At GetOutOfDebt.org what we do is provide information, education, free help and resources for people dealing with debt. This new free online educational tool helps us to further that mission.

The unique online calculator is designed to give people a wider eyed view of the logical solutions available so they can have an educated discussion with any for-profit or non-profit debt relief provider they ultimately choose to work with.

And now, without further fanfare, I invite you to try and enjoy The Amazing How to Get Out of Debt Calculator. I think you’ll find it to be pretty amazing in the distilled education it presents users.

Feel free to link to the How to Get Out of Debt Calculator in an effort to help people better understand their options. Your link to the calculator simply helps us to help people.

And in the interest of educating consumers further I’ve also just recently released another online tool that provides comprehensive information to show consumers the regulation, licensing, and registration required of debt relief companies on a state-by-state basis. It’s yet another free resource available through GetOutOfDebt.org to protect consumers looking for debt help. You can find links to this in the resource section at GetOutOfDebt.org.

This guest post is by Steve Rhode. Steve is a consumer debt expert that helps people for free to learn about getting out of debt and how to avoid scams. Feel free to report a scam if you know of one.

Source: Introducing The Amazing How to Get Out of Debt Calculator

PHOTO CREDIT: DENNIS WONG

Credit Sesame: Free Way to Get Your Credit Score?

If you’re looking at getting information on your credit score for possibly refinancing a loan, then you may be interested in Credit Sesame. The site started in 2010 and has been a free option for consumers.

Credit Reports and Credit Scores

While related credit scores and credit reports are different. If you’re looking for a free option on checking your credit reports, you can use Annual Credit Report. You’re entitled to reviewing all 3 of your reports from each credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free.  As part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can look at you reports annually, however, you do not get a credit score.

How Does Credit Sesame Work?

Credit Sesame pulls data from your Experian credit report and give you charts and stats on where your finances stand along with with suggestions on ways you can possibly save money. As you can see with the chart included in the post, it’s very easy to read the data and you can get an idea on areas where you may improve your credit worthiness.

How Is Credit Sesame Free? 

As you probably figured, nothing is ever truly free, so how can you get your credit score from Credit Sesame without paying for it? Basically when you log in to check out your score, your finances on your credit report are analyzed and you may be offered deals based on the data. The site looks at your current loans to see if there is a better deal out there that you may be interested in.

There’s absolutely no obligation to buy or sign up for the offers. Credit Sesame is free to consumers. For those members that do sign up for lower interest mortgages and so forth, they subsidize the free services for all.

Signing Up for Credit Sesame

Signing up takes around 5 minutes of your time. You simply need to give your contact information and answer questions to verify your identity. You don’t need to provide a credit card to get started.

Thoughts on Credit Sesame

I think if you’re looking at trying to get a better deal on your loans and you want to check your credit score beforehand, this is a great option.

Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links.