Personal Finance: Beware tactical funds
News from Philadelphia Inquirer:

Are you having a difficult time committing?

I’m talking about making up your mind whether to choose stocks or bonds, or a certain variety of one of them. After the battle scars of the last few years, it’s not surprising people would be second-guessing their choices.

And after a 7 percent increase in the stock market as of mid-February, the fear of plopping new money into stocks just in time to lose in them again might be dreadful.

That’s why investors are drawn to a relatively new type of fund called “tactical allocation funds.” With these, you give the fund manager the discretion to move around quickly, maybe buying large-company stocks one day when he sees opportunity but selling them shortly thereafter if he spots a threat or a better opportunity.

Not all tactical funds have choices that broad, but some do. The key with all tactical funds is that you give your fund manager the freedom to decide at any moment that he wants to buy a lot of something and none of something else. You do not tie his or her hands the way you do in most mutual funds by telling the manager precisely what type of investment to buy.

A different approach. The flexibility to hop around markets and to buy and sell quickly is supposed to serve you well. It’s supposed to save you when the market is about to tank, or place you at the fron…………… continues on Philadelphia Inquirer

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Personal Finance: Beware of phony debt collectors
News from Modesto Bee:

The calls went out by the millions to unsuspecting consumers across the country.

Phony debt collectors – based in Southern California and using call centers in India – demanded immediate payment on delinquent loans. Often posing as attorneys or law enforcement officials, they threatened consumers with lawsuits or arrests if payments weren’t made.

And they were highly effective. In 8.5 million calls tracked over four months in late 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission, the callers raked in more than $ 5 million in payments from intimidated consumers.

Have a personal finance question? Contact The Bee’s Claudia Buck at (916) 321-1968.

Only problem: Nobody owed them a dime.

The “phantom-debt” collection calls originated from two companies – American Credit Crunchers LLC and Ebeeze LLC, based in Orange County’s Villa Park. Last week, the FTC announced that both companies have been shut down by court order and their assets frozen while an investigation continues.

“This is a brazen operation based on pure fraud, and the FTC is committed to shutting it down,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement last week.

According to the FTC, the deceptive collection calls focused on payday loans, the short-term, high-interest loans that…………… continues on Modesto Bee

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