ZERO PERCENT FINANCING

July 30, 2010

ZERO PERCENT FINANCING

The economic picture this summer is filled with a plethora of inducements that proclaim zero percent loans and postponed payments for cars, computers, electronics, etc.  Before you lunge for that no-interest deal, or for that no payments until 2012 offer, bear in mind that these financing deals can be misleading and deceptive, and can end up costing you.

SCOPE OUT THE DEALS

Always compare and contrast offers, since you may discover that there is a cheaper price being offered from a retailer that does not offer a convoluted financing deal.  In addition to price, you also want to deal with a reputable store that sells quality products, and provides consistent customer care.  If you find a better price, take the financing ad with you.  Sometimes, the other dealer will match, or even beat the competitor’s price.  Negotiate your price.  You will not know if you can get a better price if you do not ask.  Remember, asking costs you nothing.  If you are looking to compare financing deals, incentives, and rebates for automobile purchases, access: www.autobytel.com and www.edmunds.com.

LOOK WITH SCRUTINY

A zero percent loan often is not as good as it appears, and can end up taking a bigger bite out of your wallet than would have been the case if you purchased the same item without the free financing deal.  Often, you have to forgo a “cash back” deal, or other discount to take advantage of these no-interest loans.  Some stores offer no interest financing, but inflate the selling price to make up the difference.  Also, some zero-interest offers impose restrictions that are only applicable to certain brands, or only apply to purchases over a minimum dollar amount.  Always be alert to any hidden costs or conditions surrounding the financing deal that may nullify any of the cost saving benefits that are being advertised.  Many zero-interest offers provide that you do not have to pay interest on an item as long as you pay for the purchase in full by a specified date.  However, the catch is that if you do not pay in full by that specified date, you will be charged exorbitant interest on the entire amount of the item, dating back to the original purchase date, even if you have paid off most of the balance.  If you do take advantage of a deal that touts no payments for a specified period of time, e.g. no payments for six months, confirm that when you do start making payments, that you are not obligated to pay interest that accrued from the original date of purchase.  Always get in writing the date when you start owing and start paying interest, and the amount of interest that will be applied.

MAGNIFY THE FINE PRINT

Do not get seduced by provocative advertisements that scream “No Interest,” or “No Payments Required until 2012.”  The truth is in the details of the contract, and it is essential that you get everything in writing.  Before you agree to any offer, temper your enthusiasm, take your time, and understand all of the restrictions, payment terms, interest rates, and payment deadlines.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  If the salesperson is using a lot of fancy financial jargon that you cannot understand, let them know.  You may also want to shop with a trusted and knowledgeable friend, co-worker or family member.

Consumer Savvy Shopping Tip: When you are shopping online, go to www.retailmenot.com,. This website will alert you to any promotional codes, special offers, and coupons that you can access to save money on your online purchases.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46 Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


Get A Medical Privacy Check-UP

July 17, 2009

GET A MEDICAL PRIVACY CHECK-UP

How private is your medical information, and is it insulated from nefarious prying eyes?  Whenever you go to the doctor, dentist, hospital, pharmacy, or contact your health insurer, you are divulging confidential health information that should be protected from getting in the wrong hands.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires health care providers to take measures to protect your medical privacy.  If your medical history is an open book for all to see, now is the time to start a new chapter, and take steps to ensure your privacy rights under HIPAA.

Assert Your Prescribed Rights

Next time you go to the hospital, see your doctor or pharmacist, or speak with your health plan, you will be given a privacy notice.  This notice will explain their privacy practices, and how your health care provider will use, share, and disclose your personal medical information.  You will also be asked to complete authorization forms that will give you the right to consent to, or opt out of having your health information disclosed or shared with family members, friends, employers, life insurers, marketing firms, or other third parties.  These privacy notices and authorization forms can be lengthy, convoluted, and confusing. Read and understand the fine print, and if you have questions, do not hesitate to speak with your health care provider before you agree to sign them.  If you are admitted into the hospital, you can choose to not be listed in the hospital’s directory.  This directory usually has the patient’s name, condition, and room number.  Caveat, if you opt to not be listed, this will mean that friends, family members, or well-wishers will be unable to find out anything about you.  Also, do not count on having any cards, balloons, or flowers delivered to your hospital room.  If you want your health care provider to be able to discuss your medical information with your spouse, friend, or family member, be sure to sign a consent form that authorizes your doctor, pharmacist, or health plan to share and discuss your information with them.  You also want to make sure that your medical power of attorney provides that your medical information that is protected by HIPAA may be disclosed to your designated agent in your power of attorney.   You can also request that your provider send your health information to a particular address, or that they contact you at a particular number.

Check Up On Your Privacy

Under HIPAA, you have the right to see and obtain copies of your medical records.  It is good medicine to exercise this right to insure that your records are accurate.  If you do discover inaccuracies in your records, you can ask to have them corrected.  You should be provided access to your records within thirty days, and you may be charged for the cost of copying and delivery.  If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated under HIPAA, you should contact your health care provider, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights at: 1-800-368-1019. For more detailed information about HIPAA access: www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa, or call the HIPAA Hotline at: 1-866-627-7748.

Consumer Alert: Be extra vigilant if you opt to divulge your personal information on surveys, health screenings, sweepstakes, or on health web sites.  Always, look at the privacy policy, and ask how your information will be used and accessed.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.