Tag: proof

Domestic Violence Awareness for Renters: What to Do About an Abusive Neighbor

Hopefully, you’ll never be put in this situation, but it’s important to have domestic violence awareness as a renter.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “on average, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States will experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.” The coronavirus pandemic only worsened those statistics: CNN reported that incidents of domestic violence in the U.S. increased by 8.1 percent after lockdown orders were in place.

Such high numbers mean that there is a likelihood that someone you know directly or someone you live near might be a victim of domestic violence. How do you deal with this type of situation, if it’s a neighbor in your apartment building?

Here are some ways to educate yourself about the signs of domestic violence and improve your domestic violence awareness.

Domestic violence during Covid-19.

What are signs a neighbor is experiencing abuse?

The signs of domestic violence may come in the form of mental or physical abuse. You might hear one person threaten another with injury or you might hear someone humiliating their partner. But the cycle of abuse sometimes is quieter, more subtle. Domestic violence often is a private form of control by one person over another.

Here are some of the warning signs of an abuser as determined by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • Bad temper
  • Verbal abuse
  • Extremely controlling behavior
  • Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
  • Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others

Of course, not everyone with a bad temper is an abuser. Depending on how friendly you are with your neighbors, you will likely not see many of the more intimate forms of partner abuse. These include sabotaging someone’s birth control method or forcing sex on an unwilling partner.

If you hear verbal abuse and other aggressive sounds (yelling and screaming, plates breaking, doors slamming) through the walls or you see controlling or stressful interactions on the patio — take note.

Should I call the police?

According to the NDV Hotline, if you hear suspicious noises that you believe might be an abusive situation, speak with the survivor as soon as possible.

“Make sure to approach them in a safe, private space, listen to them carefully and believe what they have to say,” reads the NDVH website. If you were to call the police, the victim might experience blame and face terrible consequences.

Say something like this: “Please forgive me for intruding into your life, but I’m hearing it through the walls. I’m worried for your safety. Here’s a number you can call.”

Do call the police if you believe your neighbor’s life or your own is in danger.

NDV suggests doing the following:

  • Give the victim NDV’s number, (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or that of a local crisis hotline.
  • Take notes so that if the victim presses charges you can make a statement.
  • Support the victim as best you can. Let them know that they are not the cause of the abuse.

Am I in danger if I call the police?

First, if you believe that someone is being harmed, you should absolutely call the police. That said, you can tell the police that you are requesting a “wellness check.”

In many municipalities, there are separate domestic violence units — you can request a transfer to speak to someone in that unit. You can also make an anonymous call to 911.

If the police arrive on the scene, they will not tell the abuser who called them.

Domestic violence situation.

Should I tell the leasing office?

You can make your landlord aware of what you’re hearing or seeing, but it’s a secondhand account. Unless the landlord or property manager witnesses something firsthand it is difficult for them to get involved.

However, if you make your landlord aware of possible domestic violence, at least they can monitor the situation. Keep in mind that many property managers do not live on the premises — so it is tricky for them sometimes to know what is going on at all times.

Can an abuser be evicted?

As much as you’d like this to happen, it’s not your place to initiate an eviction. It’s up to the victim to contact the landlord or property manager. The victim must then provide proof of domestic violence. This often comes in the form of a restraining order, evidence of criminal charges or a letter from a “qualified third party” like a law enforcement officer.

Every state has its own rules regarding how a landlord must respond to instances of domestic abuse. The landlord can let a tenant who is in an abusive situation break their lease without penalty, for example.

As a concerned neighbor, if the noise from next door encroaches on your “right to quiet enjoyment,” you might be able to push for eviction.

Keep in mind that it can take anywhere from two weeks to three or more months for an eviction.

How do I cope with the situation?

Living close to a domestic violence situation is extremely stressful. Verbal and physical disputes can happen at any hour of the day and many tend to occur during evenings, often into early morning hours.

You may find yourself on a work call hoping your colleagues don’t hear the neighbors screaming at each other on your end of the line or you may find yourself awake at 3 a.m. by a fight that eventually ends in a 911 call.

Getting rest could start becoming difficult, and you can also begin to feel like you’re walking on eggshells — basically, you’re living with the ups and downs and unpredictability of abuse by living too close to it.

It’s important to maintain your own self-care.

  • Understand that you are not responsible for your neighbor’s choices to stay in or leave the abusive situation. Seek professional help if you’re having trouble disengaging.
  • You might feel better by being proactive. Join (or start) a Neighborhood Watch group. You will get to know your neighbors, and more people will be aware of what’s happening in the complex.
  • Jog, take walks, do yoga, meditate — whatever you can do for yourself to help you cope. You don’t want the situation to overwhelm you. If you are friendly with the victim, you want to have a healthy headspace to support them.
  • If whatever is happening at your neighbor’s is too stressful, you may choose to break your lease and move.

Domestic violence awareness.

Be supportive

It’s difficult to end the cycle of domestic violence, but one step on the way to healing is to ask for help. Victims need to reach out to people that they trust, friends, neighbors, clergy or therapists.

If you suspect that a nearby tenant is having trouble, do what you can to make yourself available and supportive. Keep in mind how important it is for you to remain healthy and strong so that you can stay helpful.

The post Domestic Violence Awareness for Renters: What to Do About an Abusive Neighbor appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Why It’s Harder to Get Credit When You’re Self-Employed

Around 6.1% of employed Americans worked for themselves in 2019, yet the ranks of the self-employed might increase among certain professions more than others. By 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that self-employment will rise by nearly 8%. 

Some self-employed professionals experience high pay in addition to increased flexibility. Dentists, for example, are commonly self-employed, yet they earned a median annual wage of $159,200 in 2019. Conversely, appraisers and assessors of real estate, another career where self-employment is common, earned a median annual wage of $57,010 in 2019.

Despite high pay and job security in some industries, there’s one area where self-employed workers can struggle — qualifying for credit. When you work for yourself, you might have to jump through additional hoops and provide a longer work history to get approved for a mortgage, take out a car loan, or qualify for another line of credit you need.

Why Being Self-Employed Matters to Creditors

Here’s the good news: Being self-employed doesn’t directly affect your credit score. Some lenders, however, might be leery about extending credit to self-employed applicants, particularly if you’ve been self-employed for a short time. 

When applying for a mortgage or another type of loan, lenders consider the following criteria:

  • Your income
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Credit score
  • Assets
  • Employment status

Generally speaking, lenders will confirm your income by looking at pay stubs and tax returns you submit. They can check your credit score with the credit bureaus by placing a hard inquiry on your credit report, and can confirm your debt-to-income ratio by comparing your income to the debt you currently owe. Lenders can also check to see what assets you have, either by receiving copies of your bank statements or other proof of assets. 

The final factor — your employment status — can be more difficult for lenders to gauge if you’re self-employed, and managing multiple clients or jobs. After all, bringing in unpredictable streams of income from multiple sources is considerably different than earning a single paycheck from one employer who pays you a salary or a set hourly rate. If your income fluctuates or your self-employment income is seasonal, this might be considered less stable and slightly risky for lenders.

That said, being honest about your employment and other information when you apply for a loan will work out better for you overall. Most lenders will ask the status of your employment in your loan application; however, your self-employed status could already be listed with the credit bureaus. Either way, being dishonest on a credit application is a surefire way to make sure you’re denied.

Extra Steps to Get Approved for Self-Employed Workers

When you apply for a mortgage and you’re self-employed, you typically have to provide more proof of a reliable income source than the average person. Lenders are looking for proof of income stability, the location and nature of your work, the strength of your business, and the long-term viability of your business. 

To prove your self-employed status won’t hurt your ability to repay your loan, you’ll have to supply the following additional information: 

  • Two years of personal tax returns
  • Two years of business tax returns
  • Documentation of your self-employed status, including a client list if asked
  • Documentation of your business status, including business insurance or a business license

Applying for another line of credit, like a credit card or a car loan, is considerably less intensive than applying for a mortgage — this is true whether you’re self-employed or not. 

Most other types of credit require you to fill out a loan application that includes your personal information, your Social Security number, information on other debt you have like a housing payment, and details on your employment status. If your credit score and income is high enough, you might get approved for other types of credit without jumping through any additional hoops.

10 Ways the Self-Employed Can Get Credit

If you work for yourself and want to make sure you qualify for the credit you need, there are plenty of steps you can take to set yourself up for success. Consider making the following moves right away.

1. Know Where Your Credit Stands

You can’t work on your credit if you don’t even know where you stand. To start the process, you should absolutely check your credit score to see whether it needs work. Fortunately, there are a few ways to check your FICO credit score online and for free

2. Apply With a Cosigner

If your credit score or income are insufficient to qualify for credit on your own, you can also apply for a loan with a cosigner. With a cosigner, you get the benefit of relying on their strong credit score and positive credit history to boost your chances of approval. If you choose this option, however, keep in mind that your cosigner is jointly responsible for repaying the loan, if you default. 

3. Go Straight to Your Local Bank or Credit Union

If you have a long-standing relationship with a credit union or a local bank, it already has a general understanding of how you manage money. With this trust established, it might be willing to extend you a line of credit when other lenders won’t. 

This is especially true if you’ve had a deposit account relationship with the institution for several years at minimum. Either way, it’s always a good idea to check with your existing bank or credit union when applying for a mortgage, a car loan, or another line of credit. 

4. Lower Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is an important factor lenders consider when you apply for a mortgage or another type of loan. This factor represents the amount of debt you have compared to your income, and it’s represented as a percentage.

If you have a gross income of $6,000 per month and you have fixed expenses of $3,000 per month, for example, then your DTI ratio is 50%.

A DTI ratio that’s too high might make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or another line of credit when you’re self-employed. For mortgage qualifications, most lenders prefer to loan money to consumers with a DTI ratio of 43% or lower. 

5. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

To keep your credit in the best shape possible, check your credit reports, regularly. You can request your credit reports from all three credit bureaus once every 12 months, for free, at AnnualCreditReport.com

If you find errors on your credit report, take steps to dispute them right away. Correcting errors on your report can give your score the noticeable boost it needs. 

6. Wait Until You’ve Built Self-Employed Income

You typically need two years of tax returns as a self-employed person to qualify for a mortgage, and you might not be able to qualify at all until you reach this threshold. For other types of credit, it can definitely help to wait until you’ve earned self-employment income for at least six months before you apply. 

7. Separate Business and Personal Funds

Keeping personal and business funds separate is helpful when filing your taxes, but it can also help you lessen your liability for certain debt. 

For example, let’s say that you have a large amount of personal debt. If your business is structured as a corporation or LLC and you need a business loan, separating your business funds from your personal funds might make your loan application look more favorable to lenders.

As a separate issue, start building your business credit score, which is separate from your personal credit score, early on. Setting up business bank accounts and signing up for a business credit card can help you manage both buckets of your money, separately. 

8. Grow Your Savings Fund

Having more liquid assets is a good sign from a lender’s perspective, so strive to build up your savings account and your investments. For example, open a high-yield savings account and save three to six months of expenses as an emergency fund. 

You can also open a brokerage account and start investing on a regular basis. Either strategy will help you build up your assets, which shows lenders you have a better chance of repaying your loan despite an irregular income. 

9. Provide a Larger Down Payment

Some lenders have tightened up mortgage qualification requirements, and some are even requiring a 20% down payment for home loans. You’ll also have a better chance to secure an auto loan with the best rates and terms with more money down, especially for new cars that depreciate rapidly.

Aim for 20% down on a home or a car that you’re buying. As a bonus, having a 20% down payment for your home purchase helps you avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

10. Get a Secured Loan or Credit Card

Don’t forget the steps you can take to build credit now, if your credit profile is thin or you’ve made mistakes in the past. One way to do this is applying for a secured credit card or a secured loan, both of which require collateral for you to get started.

The point of a secured credit card or loan is getting the chance to build your credit score and prove your creditworthiness as a self-employed worker, when you can’t get approved for unsecured credit. After making sufficient on-time payments toward the secured card or loan, your credit score will increase, you can upgrade to an unsecured alternative and get your deposit or collateral back.

The Bottom Line

If you’re self-employed and worried that your work status will hurt your chances at qualifying for credit, you shouldn’t be. Instead, focus your time and energy on creating a reliable self-employment income stream and building your credit score.

Once your business is established and you’ve been self-employed for several years, your work status won’t matter as heavily. Keep your income high, your DTI low, and a positive credit record, you’ll have a better chance of getting approved for credit. 

The post Why It’s Harder to Get Credit When You’re Self-Employed appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

February Class-Action Settlements Involve Godiva, Walmart and More

Consumers alleged FGF Brands bakes its naan in a conveyor-style, gas-heated oven even though the company claims the breads are baked in a tandoor oven, which is a clay oven that uses charcoal heat that produces smoky flavors.
If you purchased disposable contacts made by Alcon, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, CVI or Bausch & Lomb between June 1, 2013 and Dec. 4 ,2018, you may be eligible for compensation. However, Bausch & Lomb contact lenses bought through 1-800-Contacts after July 1, 2015 are not included in this settlement.
In October 2015, hackers accessed names, Social Security numbers, doctors’ names, medical diagnoses, treatment plans and insurance information. Patients whose data was breached should have received a notice from the cancer treatment center in March 2016.

AmeriGas Propane Tanks

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
The exact cash payment per customer is not available and will depend upon the number of claims filed and the net settlement fund after attorney’s fees, costs and other expenses are deducted.
The settlement money provided by ABB will be added to the claims made under previous settlements with contact lens manufacturers. The estimated amount that will be provided to each consumer is not available at this time.
Payment amounts will vary, but are estimated between and .

  • The Indirect Purchaser Settlement Class is made up of those who purchased AmeriGas or Blue Rhino propane tanks, other than a wholesale purchase directly from AmeriGas or Blue Rhino for resale, in Arizona, California, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah or West Virginia between Dec. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2020.
  • The Direct Purchaser Settlement Class is made up of consumers nationwide who purchased one of the propane tanks directly from AmeriGas or Blue Rhino through a vending machine at retailers or other locations, or paid one of the companies directly through a vending machine to exchange a previously purchased propane tank, other than a wholesale purchase intended for resale.

Submit your valid claim by March 8, 2021.
If you did not submit a valid claim response to the 2016 notice, but you do qualify for this settlement, submit your claim by March 22, 2021.

ABB Optical Group LLC Contact Lenses

Consumers may receive .50 for each product purchased, but only five may be claimed without a receipt. With proof of purchase, consumers can claim an unlimited number of products.
Sometimes, you notice right away if you have been overcharged for an item. If you pick up a box of cereal marked .99 and see it listed at .22 on your receipt, that error is pretty easy to spot.
Eligible class members might have received a notice regarding a Godiva settlement in 2016 as the case was pending in U.S. District Court in Florida. The case was later refiled in Cook County, Illinois, so if you submitted a valid claim response to the 2016 notice, you do not need to file a new claim in order to receive a payment.
The lawsuit alleges FGF Brands used fraudulent and deceptive advertising to market its use of a tandoor oven. FGF Brands denies that it has violated any laws.
There are two settlement classes:

Synchrony Bank

Submit your valid claim by March 1, 2021.
Submit your valid claim by the May 10, 2021 deadline.
See if you qualify and submit your valid claim by March 10, 2021.
Check out this month’s highlighted class-action settlement offers, some of which have taken years of litigation, to see if you can benefit.

Stonefire Naan Bread

Complete and submit your valid online claim form by April 1, 2021.
You may be eligible for a portion of a .9 million settlement from the maker of Stonefire Naan products, FGF Brands, if you bought their naan bread that was marketed as baked in a tandoor oven between Nov. 16, 2013 and Oct. 23, 2020.

  • Stonefire Original Naan
  • Stonefire Roasted Garlic Naan
  • Stonefire Whole Grain Naan
  • Stonefire Organic Original Naan
  • Stonefire Original Mini Naan
  • Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan
  • Stonefire Naan Dippers

Potential awards are expected to be between and .
Submit your valid claim by Feb. 18, 2021.
Synchrony Bank allegedly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling individuals who did not have an account with the bank. These unsolicited calls were made by an automatic dialing system or artificial/pre-recorded voice, which is in violation of the TCPA unless the caller has prior written consent from the recipient.
If you bought any of these products within that time period, you may claim .50 for each item purchased:

21st Century Oncology

Customers who returned an item bought at Walmart or Sam’s Club between July 17, 2015 and Nov. 25, 2020 may be eligible for part of a million settlement.
The complaint alleged Godiva receipts contained 10 digits, including the first six and the last four of the card numbers on its point-of-sale receipts.
AmeriGas and Blue Rhino allegedly agreed with each other to reduce the amount of propane in the pre-filled tanks they sold from 17 pounds to 15 pounds without reducing the price, according to court documents. The lawsuit accused the companies of colluding to reduce the amount of product in the propane tanks while keeping the cost the same in order to increase their profit margin by more than 13% per pound.
If you received a call from Synchrony Bank between June 1, 2016 and Oct. 19, 2020, you could receive a portion of a .9 million class-action settlement.

  • Two years of credit monitoring through Identity Guard.
  • Cash payments up to $40 for lost time without any documentation (two hours valued at $20 per hour.)
  • Cash payments of up to $260 for lost time with documentation (13 hours valued at $20 per hour.)
  • Cash payments of up to $10,000 for any fraud and out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the data breach.

Walmart and Sam’s Club were accused providing some customers with incomplete refunds by not including the sales tax paid on the original purchase.

FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM

Walmart, Sam’s Club Sales Tax Refund

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
If you bought an AmeriGas or Blue Rhino pre-filled propane tank between Dec. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2020, you could be eligible for a portion of a .5 million settlement.
Several forms of relief are available, including:
Consumers can claim a cash payment of for each tank when they provide proof of purchase along with a completed claim form. If no proof of purchase is submitted, the payment is .50 each for a maximum of 50 propane tanks.

Godiva Chocolatier

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) prohibits any more than the last five digits from appearing on such a receipt in order to protect consumers.
Several affected consumers filed lawsuits alleging 21st Century Oncology failed to take reasonable cybersecurity steps to protect personal data. 21st Century Oncology admitted to no wrongdoing, but agreed to the settlement to resolve the litigation.
You may be eligible to share in a .2 million settlement reached with contact lens distributor ABB Optical Group LLC over allegations of a conspiracy to increase the cost of contact lenses.
If you made a purchase at a Godiva Chocolatier retail store between April 6, 2013 and Nov. 20, 2015, you may be eligible to share in a .3 million class-action settlement.
AmeriGas admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to the settlement to end litigation. Even though consumers who bought either AmeriGas or Blue Rhino propane tanks may be affected by this settlement, it only resolves claims made regarding AmeriGas because the Blue Rhino case is ongoing.
If you are one of the 2.2 million patients whose personal information was accessed through a 2015 data breach of 21stCentury Oncology, you could be eligible for compensation from a .5 million class-action settlement.
The settlement benefits customers who made a debit or credit card purchase and received a point-of-sale receipt that displayed more than the last five digits of the card number.
The suit alleged contact lens manufacturers, independent optometrists and ABB agreed to “unilateral pricing policies” that prevented competition from online and discount contact lens retailers. This agreement purportedly began in June 2013.
In other cases, price discrepancies aren’t so obvious, as seen in a new pre-filled propane tank class-action settlement offer.

6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home

Not only are we living through a global pandemic, but we’re also living through what is one of the hottest summers in many states. Here’s how you can protect your home from the summer heat and other woes you may face this season.

The post 6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com