ALTERNATIVE FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION
July 19, 2022
Paving the Payments Future
Nearly 90% of Americans Report Inflation-Related Anxiety

  • A new poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that anxiety about inflation and loss of income is surging among Americans, particularly Hispanic adults, mothers, millennials, and Gen Zers.
  • The poll indicates that COVID-related anxiety is decreasing as stress about social determinants like income insecurity increases.
  • Experts suggest that people can turn to community-based organizations for support and that it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and to know when to ask for help.

A new poll suggests that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the biggest worry Americans face.

According to results from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, nearly 90% of residents in the United States report feeling anxious or very anxious about inflation, an increase of 8 percentage points from the previous month.

Have a tax law question?
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On July 20, 2022 IRS will be hosting the Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft Webinar.

This free 60-minute webinar is open to all and will cover the following topics:
  • Learn about common consumer and tax-related identity theft scams
  • Identify methods for reporting and recovering identity theft scams
  • Understand how identity thieves trick their victims into providing personally identifiable and financial information
  • Learn about the IRS identity Protection Personal Identification Number Program
  • Discover how to avoid bad return preparers
  • Hear about resources to protect yourself from identity thieves
  • Live Q & A
  • Closed captioning will be offered.

Registration: To register for the event, visit the Internal Revenue Service Webinar Registration website.
Best Expert Money Advice for Women

When it comes to financial wellness, women tend to be at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. Women have lower rates of financial literacy, are more likely to say they can't afford to save for retirement, are more likely to leave the workforce to become caregivers and overall earn less than men; meanwhile, they have longer life expectancies and therefore will have higher long-term costs, according to Annuity.org.

Although it may take some time to even out the financial playing field, in the meantime, women need to do all they can to ensure they are managing their finances well for both the short- and long-term. Here's what top money experts say women should be doing to improve their financial outlook.

Have a Plan for the 'Big Three'
Jill Schlesinger, CFP and author of the personal finance website Jill on Money, told JWI that women need to start getting serious about their financial planning by their 30s at the latest, and should focus on three main areas.

CFPB Advisory Opinion Bans Debt Collectors from Charging Unauthorized Convenience Fees: Cozen O'Connor

  • The CFPB issued an Advisory Opinion affirming the agency’s position that federal law generally prohibits debt collectors from charging “convenience fees” on consumers making payments, and providing guidance to the fees that debt collectors can lawfully collect.
  • Specifically, the Advisory Opinion explains that Section 808(1) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from collecting any such fees unless they are “expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.” In order for a fee to be “permitted by law,” it must be expressly authorized by law—a lack of express prohibition cannot be interpreted as permission.
  • The CFPB also noted that debt collectors may be in violation of the FDCPA if they use payment processors who charge convenience fees. If and when a processor collects a fee form a consumer, and remits any amount to the debt collector in connection with that fee, the collector is also in violation of Section 808(1).

Why Single Women Are (Way) More Likely to Own a Home Than Single Men

In the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, single women are almost twice as likely to be homeowners as single men.

Anew report by the online loan marketplace LendingTree has found that single women own far more homes than their male counterparts. The study revealed that in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, single women are almost twice as likely to be homeowners as single men. Single women in New Orleans, for example, own 27 percent of all homes compared to only 15 percent for single men. Multiple cities boasted disparities of over 10 percent. Interestingly, there were no cities in which single men outpaced single women. This is a surprising trend, the author noted, “given the average woman in the U.S. only makes 80% of what the average man does.” For those familiar with the economics of gender, however, the results of LendingTree’s report are not surprising in the least.

Looking Deeper
Despite popular assertions that sexism is to blame for the pay gap between men and women, recent empirical research indicates the disparity is largely due to the fact that men and women make different choices, not widespread discrimination. When comparisons are made between individuals with similar jobs and holding age, education, and experience constant, the pay gap dwindles.

How does rent-to-own work?

In a highly competitive and quickly changing housing market, those with their hearts set on homeownership may be starting to explore less-traditional options to climb onto the property ladder. One such option is a rent-to-own agreement, a method of buying a house by renting it first. Here’s everything you need to know.

What are rent-to-own homes?
A rent-to-own home is one that allows for a tenant to rent the property, but also gives the tenant the option to buy it before the lease expires. Through rent-to-own, tenants can effectively test-drive a home, living in it for a period of time before they choose whether to buy it. This can be a great way to find out if you like the neighborhood. The owner of the home, meanwhile, can use the purchase option to lock in a sale price, and also find a high-quality tenant.

Medical Debt and Credit Scores: How New Rules Ease the Pain

As of July 1, billions of dollars of medical debt are now removed from Americans' credit scores.

Medical debt is now as American as apple pie -- more than half of US adults say they've gone into debt from medical or dental bills in the last five years, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey. A quarter of those adults owe more than $5,000 and almost 20% say that they don't expect to ever pay off their medical debt.

While the medical debt situation seems bleak, there's a small bright spot for those with late medical bill payments that have damaged their credit scores. As of July 1, the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- will now remove all medical collection debt that has been paid from their credit reports. In a March 2022 announcement, the bureaus noted that this rule change removes 70% of medical collection debt from consumer credit scores. Previously, collections would stay on file for seven years, regardless of whether or not the debt was paid.

Most small business owners don’t do the math on their most valuable asset

  • A recent survey of small business owners found few who knew their business valuation.
  • Understanding a company’s dollar value is important to access capital, conduct a sale, as well as for estate and tax planning.
  • Entrepreneurs should have independent auditors value their businesses at least every few years.

Many small company owners don’t know what their enterprise is worth, a practice that can amount to risky business.

A whopping 98% of small businesses polled by M&T Bank over the past two years didn’t know the value of their companies. This is especially troubling, given that for most business owners, their company is their most valuable asset. 

“People whose home is their primary asset want to know what it is worth. If you open up a brokerage account, you want to know how much it’s worth. You’d never give your money to a financial advisor who told you to trust them while they invest it and never report back to you on what it’s worth,” said Travis W. Harms, who leads Mercer Capital’s family business advisory services group. “Just because your business is not liquid wealth, doesn’t mean it’s not real wealth.”

Down 70% in 2022, Is This High-Yield Stock a Buy?

Don't overlook this lease-to-own company with a dividend yield approaching 7%.
While lease to own (LTO) might not be the most glamorous business model, that doesn't mean a leading LTO company like Rent-A-Center (RCII 3.47%) can't be a good investment.

Rent-A-Center primarily leases household durable goods such as furniture and appliances to consumers on a lease-to-own basis, as well as electronics like computers, tablets, smartphones, and more. These leases typically last from 12 to 24 months, and the company makes money because the total amount paid over the course of the lease is higher than what consumers would have paid if they bought the items outright. The company has over 2,400 locations in North America, which includes 466 franchised stores and 123 locations in Mexico.

ALTERNATIVE FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION
Alternative Financial Service Providers Association
757.737.4088
315 Tuscarora St., Lewiston, NY 14092