Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 ways the tax plan could change homeownership. Also in the news: Bad loans lurking under Christmas wrap, checking your state’s unclaimed property list, and robocalls soar to a new record.

6 Ways the Tax Plan Could Change Homeownership
Important things to know.

Bad Loans Lurk Under ‘Christmas’ Wrap
A payday loan wrapped in a bow.

Hey, Harold, Pick Up Your 300 Bucks
You could have unclaimed property waiting for you.

Phone spam soars to a new record
Fraud calls are at an all-time high.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet Survey: Nearly half of Americans emotionally overspend. Also in the news: RushCard holders are in for a $10 million payout, the best way to make extra money, and why some are worried student loan robocalls could increase under Trump.

NerdWallet Survey: Nearly Half of Americans Emotionally Overspend
Are you one of them?

RushCard Holder? You Might Get Slice of $10 Million Payout
Settlement for 2015 system breakdown.

Ask Brianna: What’s the Best Way to Make Extra Money?
Searching for side gigs.

Why some are worried student loan borrowers may get a flood of robocalls under Trump
Loan companies could lose their limits.

Q&A: How to deal with robocalls

Dear Liz: As to the woman who receives robocalls, this is what I do. Almost all such calls come on my land line, which is now exclusively reserved for telephone solicitors and robocalls. I have it on two rings and never answer it. I will pick it up if I hear someone I know leaving a message. About weekly I go through the messages, and most turn out to be junk calls or automatic calls from doctors’ offices reminding me of an appointment. All my friends and people I want to talk with have my cellphone number. If I receive a call on my cellphone that does not have caller ID or is from a number I do not recognize, I push the button to stop the ring and let it go to voicemail. The majority of such callers do not leave a message, so I assume they are junk callers and I go into history and block all calls from those numbers. Problem solved. With modern technology there is no reason to ever speak to any person you don’t want to speak with.

Answer: The technology exists to prevent many junk calls from even reaching that land line you’re paying for but essentially can’t use.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is calling for phone companies to provide free tools to block these calls. You can sign its petition at consumersunion.org/end-robocalls/.

In the meantime, you can use the free NoMoRobo service on a digital phone line or use anti-robocall tools such as Digitone Call Blocker Plus ($110), HQTelecom.com ($59) or Sentry Dual Mode Call Blocker ($52).

A new way to stop robocalls

angry kid screams into the telephoneI signed up for the federal do not call list when it opened in 2004, and for years our landline was blissfully free of telemarketing calls. That’s changed in the past few years as illegal operations, many based overseas, started flagrantly violating the law.

A new free service may give us some peace.

Nomorobo, which launched in September, is like a spam filter for your digital phone line, according to consumer advocate Herb Weisbaum. The service uses the “simultaneous ring” function available on VoIP service to identify robocallers and hang up on them.

The guy who invented it, Aaron Foss, is the software programmer who recently won the top $25,000 prize from the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge with this idea. His site promises the service won’t block legitimate robocalls, such as notices from your doctor’s office about upcoming appointments or phone blasts from schools announcing closures. Instead, the service draws from a database of known robocallers culled from state and federal regulators.

The signup was easy and the service began right away. When a call came in from a known robocaller, our phone would ring once or twice and then stop, as the service answered and hung up on them.

Robocallers are constantly switching phone numbers so an occasional call will slip through–which I can then report to the service to add to its database.

Nomorobo isn’t available for all phone lines, sadly. But if you have Internet-based phone service from Comcast, Time Warner, Uverse, FiOs or Vonage or other digital carriers, you can check it out.