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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Make Your Mind Work For You

By Christina Helwig

Your mind has two parts: the Conscious Mind and the Subconscious Mind. Together these two parts control all of your actions and ultimately the results you have in your life. As we explore each area of your mind, understand that while these ideas may seem simple and elementary, they have a wide reaching and profound affect on your life. They control every aspect of what makes you who you are and will continue to control everything in your life until the day you die.

The Conscious Mind is where you carry out your day to day thinking. This is where you make life choices and where you primarily go about your in normal life. When you talk to someone at work or you go to a store to buy stuff, you are using your conscious mind. Both the conscious mind and the subconscious mind think in little pictures or movies. If you think about your workplace a picture of it will flash on the screen of your conscious mind.

You also can only hold one picture on the screen of your mind at any one time. For example you cannot think of a banana and a watermelon in detail at the same moment. While you might be able to project them side by side you are not able to see the grain in the skin of the watermelon or the yellow in the peel off the banana at the same moment. You would ahve to blend the two together.

This ultimately means that you cannot think of a negative idea and a positive idea at the same time. While your mind might be able to flip back and forth between negative and positive ideas or images very rapidly, it is not able to hold those two images at the same time.

Most people would think that the Conscious Mind controls the Subconscious Mind, but this is not so. The Subconscious Mind is the real power source in our lives. The Subconscious Mind stores all our concepts about who we are, what we are capable of, what we are not capable of and every other detail we believe to be true about our world. We can refer to the Subconscious Mind as the emotional mind.

The subconscious mind operates in the background of your mind while you sleep, when you drift out, when you do something you have done a million times and any other automatic motion or thought you think or do. Dreams are a product of your subconscious mind. You can think of the subconscious mind as a little robot running without your help or mental effort at all times. An example of this would be when you have suddenly realized that you have not been paying attention while driving and you are almost home from work or you missed an on ramp.

The entire drive to and from work is a program that you have put into your subconscious mind through repetition. Your driving is almost automatic and takes very little thinking on your part. In fact without consciously thinking about going to the store when driving that pathway you will drive straight home. Your programming will take over and you will "forget" to go to the store unless you hold the image of the store at the forefront of your mind when driving home.

To convert the things you want in your life to reality you must understand how to use both your conscious and sub-conscious mind. This includes increasing your income. By continually thinking about the good things you want and visualizing the image of your dreams you will impress them on your subconscious mind. Over time your actions will change and you will start to move the things you want into your reality. Including more wealth and a better lie for you and your family.

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4 Points to Remember When Seeking Venture Capital Funding

By Pasquale Jenkins

As a business start-up, entrepreneurs often need quite a bit of money to get the business started properly. More often than not, they do not have the money needed to pursue their dreams. It is at that point that the need for venture capital funding is required. A venture capitalist brings money to the entrepreneur in exchange for a share of future profits.

Going To A Bank Verses A Venture Capitalist

One of the things that may have entered your mind in all this is what is the difference in venture capital financing verses what you can do at a local bank? When banks loan money, it is a guaranteed thing that they make money in the payback period as interest is paid on top of the principal being paid back. Venture investors tend to take a more long term approach in looking for profits from the deal. More often than not, the investor looks for three to five times the investment, or part-ownership of the company.

Don't Waste Time Seeking Out Venture Investors Yourself

You may be asking yourself, how do I get venture capital funding for my business? Often it is who you know. You need a specialized company who knows how to approach and line up venture capital money successfully. You won't regret it. The amount of time you will save by continuing to concentrate on growing your business will be invaluable during this time. Leave the heavy lifting of seeking venture financing for your business to the experts.

Entrepreneurs can approach the venture investors, but it can be a long and drawn out process. You may talk to a hundred investors before you actually find the one who is willing to invest in your project. It may take a numerous business meetings, conference calls, business plan revisions, with a number of venture investment companies before you actually find the one who will fund your business.

Doing A Business Man

One of the first things that a venture capital investor will need is a business plan. The business plan gives a timeline. In the timeline, it generally provides a ballpark idea on the financial outlay required and how long it will take to get a return on investment.

More Thoughts on Venture Capital Funding

Venture capitalists vary in the way that they approach your business. Some have a hands-on approach and will make sure that every penny of the finances is spent properly. Some are more laid back, and even more leeway. But in the end, investors want to see a profitable enterprise taking off. Stay focused on the business plan, be open to advice from your investors, and go about making your business successful.

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APR - black art or consumer protector?

By Jo Smart

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate of charge. The APR of a credit card determines how much you have to pay each month. Put simply, the APR of a credit card is the monthly interest charge multiplied by twelve months. A simple example of this would be a credit card with an APR of 10.2%. Divided by 12, this would mean that the interest would be 0.85% of your outstanding balance that month. Therefore, monthly interest on a balance of 1000 with 10.2% APR would equal 8.50. The total amount of interest you pay over the year will depend on your outstanding balance and how much you pay off each month. It means that when choosing a credit card, you can use its APR to compare with different cards, but the annual amount of interest you will pay depends on your monthly repayments and balance.

APR takes into account a number of different factors, all of which combine to give you the final figure. This includes the interest rate you have to pay as set by the lender, the length of time it takes you to pay off the credit card loan and the frequency and timing of your instalment payments. It can also take into account additional fees that the lender may impose on the loan agreement, such as payment protection insurance. All lenders are required to give full disclosure of their APR charges and, as the rate has a direct bearing on the cost of your credit card loan, it pays to shop around before you sign any agreement.

Once an attractive APR has caught your attention, the questions don't stop there. First and foremost - is the APR fixed or variable? If the rate is variable, what may seem like an attractive offer could have a price once the 0% honeymoon period is over. Market forces (such as the Bank of England's base rate) heavily influence a variable rate and these forces can change dramatically. The consequences could be that you go from zero to hero-sized interest payments very quickly, pushing the cost of the credit card loan up considerably. If you're lucky the payments could go down. This random variable is what card companies are trying to avoid, so even flexible APR rates don't change that much. You'll only really feel the impact at the end of a 0% offer. With a fixed rate your interest charges stay the same regardless of market fluctuations.

The next question to ask is if there are any additional charges that are not included in the APR. This could include charges for services such as optional payment protection insurance. If additional charges are included, make sure you understand what they are, ask yourself whether you really need the services offered and how much and when you would have to pay. At this point, it is wise to ask yourself if you can afford the monthly payments. A more expensive loan with a higher APR could have lower monthly repayments if they are spread out over a longer period of time. This might suit those on a tighter budget, but it is sensible to calculate how much extra you would be paying in the long run.

Finance and credit lending are considered by many to be a 'dark art', and APR calculation is no exception. Financial regulatory bodies and the Government are aware of the concerns of consumers, and put safeguards in place to ensure lenders comply with strict guidelines including full disclosure. The lenders are happy to comply with this, as it promotes an open and accountable market. APR attempts to create a clearly recognisable interest figure on a loan, showing the consumer exactly how much they can expect to pay. The loan amount doesn't change (in the initial calculation); it's the APR that's the variable (unless you go for a fixed rate option). By doing some research before deciding on a lender, the savvy consumer can find a good credit card deal with an APR rate that suits their finances. Look past the initial 0% sweeteners and at the subsequent APR rate that the credit card loan will incur once the introductory period is over.

Without looking closely at differing APR rates, it is impossible to make quick comparisons between alternative financial products. All companies use different calculations to determine their interest and other charges. To get the best credit card deal, a little research into how each company calculates that interest will save the consumer being lured into an expensive honeytrap by the promise of an initial interest-free period, only to get stung by a high APR once the honey has run out. There are plenty of good deals to be had on credit cards, and a smart consumer will be able to find one that suits both their budget and their requirements.

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What does a Collection Company do?

By JR Rooney

What is a collection company?

The two most likely scenarios are.

Some creditors will try to deceive a debtor by using a DBA'ed company name, address, and telephone number for their internal collection department. They want to give the impression of an "outside" agency hoping the debtor will take it more seriously. This strategy is generally only used when the debt is not older than six months old.

However, most collections activity is performed by a third-party collection company, which are separate from the original creditors, and "work" debts on behalf of various lenders. They may also buy bad debts which have been designated as charge-offs by the original creditor.

This information focuses on 3rd party collection companies.

How do they earn money?

3rd party collection companies often work on a contingency bases, where they receive a percentage of the amount that they collect. Individual collectors are often paid a low base salary plus bonus based on their personal goals.

Many collection companies purchase substantial debt portfolios of charged-off accounts for a fraction of the total face amount (total amount outstanding) After a portfolio is sold off, the debtors now owe the entire amount to the purchasing company. The probability of collecting money decreases substantially over time, an agency might only pay 1% - 5% of face value. The agencies' profits come from the difference between the purchase price and the amounts that are hopefully collected.

How does the collection company work?

The primary tools of a collection company are letters and telephone calls.

What are the letters like?

The dunning letters are computer-generated, and are often in a standardized series which starts with a non-threating, "reminder" tone, and may progress to ultimatums. The letters are pre-written and sent to many debtors; they are not personal.

The 1st demand letter must state that the recipient has the right to dispute the validity of the debt or request verification of the debt (in writing). By law the agency must send some confirmation after verifying it with the original creditor. Demand letters must also contain the statement that they come from a debt collector, and that any information obtained will be used for the purpose of collecting the debt. Collectors are forbidden to print anything on the outside of the envelope which may indicate or suggest that this is a collection attempt. The return address label must also be discreet, so many companies will just use their company's initials, or some other nondescript name.

The debtor's reaction to the letters will affect which letters the agency will select from its repertoire. Cooperation (e.g. making payment arrangements and/or partial payments) may result in letters with a gentler tone. Evasive or hostile reactions from the debtor may result in a more threatening tone.

Collectors attempt to create a sense of urgency, to try and collect the debt within the shortest amount of time. This hopefully will encourage the debtor to prioritize that particular obligation. Deadlines may be set, such as, Pay this amount within 10 days. There may also be threats, such as, ...Or we will proceed with further collection attempts. But most of the time, if a debtor fails to meet the deadline, all that will happen is that yet another dunning letter will arrive, making the same basic demand. The & further collection action usually just means more dunning letters.

Collection letters will always coax the debtor to call the collection company directly via the telephone. If the debtor doesn't call within thirty days, then a collector will usually attempt to contact the debtor again.

What are the phone calls purpose?

Individual phone collectors may be assigned a portfolio of accounts, and spend the majority of the workday, every day, collecting them. The collectors motivation is fueled by constant performance evaluations and personal commission payments. The size of a collector's own paycheck is dependent upon how much money s/he collects from debtors. Between that factor, and the relentless confrontations, this is a very high-stress job, with high employee turnover.

If a debt collector calls and reaches someone other than the debtor (e.g. a boy/girl friend), s/he is legally prohibited from disclosing that "this is an attempt to collect a debt." Each state has there own laws but this may or may not include the debtor's spouse. If the collector reaches an answering machine or voice mail, s/he will often leave an approved message, but is prohibited from giving details for the call, since someone besides the debtor may hear it. The basic message goes something like, "I am calling for ABC Company. It is very important that you call me back. My name is JR Rooney, and my number is 1-631-776-8109." S/he will typically sound rather apathetic and sonorous. Collection companies may be required to provide a phone number which is free for the debtor to return the call. They also may attach their toll free numbers to caller ID equipment which will instantly identifies and logs the phone number the debtor is calling from, in order to call the debtor at that number in the future.

When speaking with a debtor, many collectors (especially those without much experience) will use a script, which contains a pre-written introduction, request for payment, and has various branches to follow, depending on how the debtor responds. If a particular debtor is taking up too much time, without making arrangements to pay, the collector will be inclined to move on to other accounts.

Any information that the debtor gives about his/her financial situation (e.g. income or current employment, etc.) will be noted on the file's record and used to estimate the probability of a recovery, the advantage of legal action, and so forth.

But what can they actually DO?

If they are working the debt on a contingent bases, they can send some more dunning letters and make some more scripted phone calls.

They can also report the item to the credit bureaus. And if they are working on commission, they can recommend a lawsuit, or if they own the debt, they can sue. However, the actual chances or intentions of this are often significantly less than they try to suggest to the debtor.

Collection companies can not legally seize a debtor's assets, bank accounts, or paycheck unless there has already been a successful lawsuit with a judgment awarded to them.

Collection companies can not legally make any kind of public announcements or disclosures concerning the debt, except to the credit bureaus.

Collection companies can not legally get a debtor fired from his/her job.

Collection companies can not legally engage in any type of physical violence or threats to collect.

Why would a debtor pay?

Often, the reasons include anxiety, guilty conscience, persuasion, and a lack of education of the legal situation. Plus it is the right thing to do.

The debtor may feel guilty and ashamed of being a "deadbeat," and may perceive a judgment of his/her value as a person.

The debtor may have greatly exaggerated ideas about what collectors are (legally) capable of doing, and may have outdated stereotypes in mind.

The debtor may be in fear by the ferocious, tenacious, demands, from collection companies that may seem so in control. S/he may take it personally, and assume that great individual attention is being given to there case.

In most cases, customers being contacted by collection companies are in some type of serious financial situation, in emotional disarray about the general situation, so they may be confused and susceptible.

Many debtors aren't aware of their legal rights, and feel powerless.

There are two main things that a collection company can actually do that a debtor should be concerned about. These involve damage to credit reports, and the smaller possibility of a lawsuit.

What about credit reports?

3rd party collection companies have the resources to report a debt to 1 or more of the credit bureaus, as a "Collection Account". Paying this debt off will not result in the item being removed from the consumer's credit reports - it will simply be marked "Paid in full." Collection companies can report bad accounts that they have purchased as well as debts that are placed on a contingent bases.

Also, a collection company could request a debtor's credit information, in order to get an idea of his/her general financial situation, and to get an updated address and phone number.

How long do collection accounts last?

Collection accounts are subject to the normal 7 year time limit for appearing on a credit report. As specified in Section 605 of the FCRA this time limit is based on the date of the original delinquency.

What is the probability that the collection company will file suit?

If the debt was placed on contingency, the 3rd party collection company cannot file a lawsuit. If the balance is large enough and the debtor is being resistant and if there are indications that the debtor has vulnerable assets, the agency may send the account back to the creditor with a recommendation to file suit. Every creditor has its own criteria for the final decision; for example, the amount must be substantial (often $1500 or more, at the very least.)

Collection companies try to avoid sending too many accounts back, it gives the appearance that they aren't very good at collecting. Also, letters and phone calls are much less expensive than filing suit.

If an agency has bought a debt, then they have the ability to sue, but by that time, the debt is likely to be rather old, and the agency doesn't have much invested in it.

Collectors tend to focus on fear and intimidation, since those things can work much more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently than legal action.

Suit is certainly brought against plenty of debtors, but not nearly as often as debtors fear. There is a big difference between, "Pay up or we will continue with collection action," compared to an actual Summons And Complaint.

If the debt is substantial and recent, and the debtor appears to be a good target (e.g. reasonable assets or income), a lawsuit is a real possibility. If you are served with legal documents specifying a particular court, hearing date, etc., you should see a qualified attorney immediately. That area is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

How are collection companies regulated?

The most important law is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which places many restrictions on collection activities. The FDCPA only covers third-party collection companies, not original creditors.

Each state may also have applicable laws regarding such things as telephone harassment.

Who enforces the FDCPA?

The Federal Trade Commission oversees the collections industry, and has the authority to impose fines or other penalties for violations. However, the FTC does not get involved with individual consumers' cases. They accept a large number of complaints, and look for patterns of violations which could then lead to action against a particular collection company.

What if a collection company has purchased the debt?

The agency then becomes the creditor for most purposes. The debtor will not be able to make any negotiations with the original creditor. The agency might be technically able to file a lawsuit against the debtor, (although this is not likely.)

However, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a Staff Opinion Letter which indicates that, even if a collection company has purchased a debt, it is still covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as a "third-party debt collector."

What about the relevant time limits?

The debt does not become some kind of "new" debt just because it was sold. For example, the 7 year credit reporting time limit is still based on the original delinquency date with the original creditor. The statute of limitations for filing lawsuits is also based on that same date. These limits can not be legitimately "reset" by a collection company that has bought the debt.

However, the statute of limitations may possibly be reset if the debtor makes a specific promise to pay, or a partial payment.

Can they do anything after the time limits are up?

Yes. The statute of limitations only covers the filing of lawsuits, and the credit reporting time limit only covers bureau listings. There is no time limit on letters and phone calls.

A collection company that has purchased a bundle of "out-of-statute" debts (where the SOL has already expired, or "run") is hoping that, either the debtors will feel guilty, or that they won't be aware of that "out-of-statute" status. But if a particular debtor makes it clear that s/he understands the legal situation, then the collectors are likely to give up and move on to easier targets.

Can collectors call the debtor's place of employment?

Yes, but there are limitations. For example, they can not legally tell your employer about the debt, or try to have you fired.

Is there any way to make them stop calling?

Yes. According to section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

"(c) CEASING COMMUNICATION. If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except --

(1) to advise the consumer that the debt collector's further efforts are being terminated;

(2) to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or

(3) where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.

If such notice from the consumer is made by mail, notification shall be complete upon receipt."

So the consumer can just send a third-party collection company a written notice (preferably citing the FDCPA), ordering them to stop the collection letters and calls, and the agency is legally obligated to comply. The only permissible contact thereafter is to notify the debtor of specific "remedies," like legal action, but usually the collectors won't even bother.

If the creditor hasn't yet made a decision on whether or not to file suit, then that decision may be made at this point, rather than being delayed.

After a "cease and desist" notice from the consumer, the debt may then be returned to the original creditor, passed on to another third-party agency, or simply filed away, depending on the circumstances. The agency may still report the account to the credit bureaus.

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Avoid Bankruptcy

By Renee Dunn

Aiming to avoid bankruptcy? There is a way for you to get out of debt and be financially independent.

Sometimes debts spiral out of control for various reasons; loss of a job, sickness, bad money management, and overspending are just a few of the possible causes. Whatever the reason you can resolve your situation but you must act now.

The way to ward off bankruptcy will be unique for everyone depending on the size of their debts and other individual conditions such as job security, asset value and assorted other aspects. But before you even contact them you should be in frequent contact with the people to whom you owe money. The people you owe money to will be really keen to speak to you about your debts if you are getting behind in repayments, keeping in touch with them is very critical.

Nevertheless, if your state of affairs is becoming really acute and you have creditors mailing court appearance dates and or threatening to send you bankrupt then you must act quickly and contact one of the experts named above, an known bankruptcy lawyer could be your optimum choice if things have gotten to this degree.

With some professional assistance it will be easy to engineer payment plans that suit you with all your lenders and from there they are held by those arrangements. This should save you of those distressing telephone calls or knocks at the door from someone threatening you with legal action if you don't pay up.

So to avoid bankruptcy there are a few things you need to be positive you're taking care of; keep the channels of communication open with your creditors, speak to professional advisors and get agreements that you can afford and that protect your current assets.

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