Steve posts: I electronically paid ACS (a third-party loan servicer) over $1,000 towards my student loans, but my lender says the payment never went through. The money was taken out of my bank account but apparently never made it to my loan account. Who is responsible and how can I prove my case? I've contacted ACS and my bank and neither have been helpful.
The fact that your bank won’t help you is inexcusable. Your missing money transfer has the protection of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. If there's a transaction error that causes money to go missing, you are permitted to notify your bank -- within 60 days -- and request an investigation either over the phone or, if the bank requires it, in writing.
“The bank has an obligation to conduct the investigation and credit the missing funds back to the consumer's account within 10 business days if the matter hasn't been solved already by then,” says Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney at Consumers Union.
If your bank continues to ignore your problem, submit a bank account complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website or by calling (855) 411-2372. You’ll be assigned a tracking number so you can track their progress. Keep any and all paper records of this transaction, as well.
Richard emails: I recall reading in your book Psych Yourself Rich about bartering websites gaining popularity. I live in Portland, Oregon. I'd like to trade a personal service (such as housecleaning) for piano lessons. Where do you suggest I look?
Excited you’re interested in bartering! There are a few approaches you can take to finding the right swap. First, I suggest reaching out to local piano instructors in your neighborhood either through referrals or the public directories and asking them if they’d be willing to barter. Private instructors – as opposed to music schoolteachers – may be more flexible because they act as their own bosses. They don’t need approval to strike alternative payment agreements.
Another route is Craigslist where you can search under the site’s Barter section. You can post a request there, as well. Finally, check out specific websites like TimeRepublik.com and BarterQuest.com that support the bartering community. There you may be able to find someone to take up your offer. “What is most important when choosing an exchange is that they have many members that are local to you,” says Brian Petro, who runs BarterFanatic.com.
A final tip, Petro adds: “Bartering is not a tax dodge.” The IRS says individuals must file the fair market value of property or services received in a barter transaction. “Fair market value” is the value of the product or services you and the other party agreed upon before the transaction. This is recorded as income on Form 1040. If you profited from the barter, meaning what you gave was worth less than what you received and that profit totaled at least $600, you need to report the exchange on form 1099, the “miscellaneous” form. The IRS has actually established a Bartering Tax Center on its site, which explains everything, including your tax responsibilities. You have to account for the transaction, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you owe any taxes because of it.
Send Farnoosh your money questions. Email her at FarnooshFinFit@yahoo.com or send her a Tweet @Farnoosh.