In the News

We live in an age when credit card debt has skyrocketed among young adults. It has risen 104 percent from 1992 to 2004 among 18- to 24-year-olds according to "Generation Broke: The Growth of Debt Among Young Americans," a report from Demos, a nonpartisan, nonprofit New York City-based research organization.
"It's taking much longer for gen X-ers to achieve financial security, to get out of the roughand-tumble 20s into real financial stability on the path to savings," says Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos, a nonpartisan research group. "For a lot of young people, that's just not going to happen at all.
"I don't think that anyone can assume that the appraised value of their home is based on reality. Appraisal fraud is so common that homeowners need to assume the opposite," says research director David Callahan of Demos, a public policy center. Demos released a report about appraisal fraud in March, sparking intense discussion in the real estate press.
No one knows exactly how often appraisers tinker with reality. But reports suggest that they face enormous pressure to tweak their numbers.
The numbers speak for themselves. Young adults have the second highest rate of bankruptcy and are more likely to file for bankruptcy than baby boomers were at the same age, according to a recent bankruptcy study by the nonprofit group Demos.
The new bankruptcy reform law that will take effect in October fails to address one of the root causes of bankruptcy, particularly among young adults: a lack of basic financial education.
A study by Demos found that 51 percent of households refinancing between 2001 and 2003 used home-equity loans to cover living expenses and pay down other debt such as credit-card debt.
The wealth of new services and flexible lending practices have brought more choice and price competition to the marketplace. But many of the innovations bring new hazards that can trip up unwary homeowners, costing them thousands in unnecessary expenses, draining value from their biggest investment, and, in the worst cases, turning their houses into debt traps.
Demos is a research institute based in New York City.
Recently Demos, a New York City based think tank, issued a "briefing paper" titled How Widespread Appraisal Fraud Puts Homeowners at Risk. The introduction to the paper, written by David Callahan says in part: While many U.S.
David Callahan, author of "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead," chronicles rising numbers of people - not just in business - willing to cheat on their taxes, embellish resumes or lie to their auto insurance company about a claim.
"Americans who wouldn't so much as shoplift a pack of chewing gum are committing felonies at tax time, betraying the trust of their patients, misleading investors, ripping off their insurance company or lying to their clients," Callahan writes.
"It's a shameful sign of our times," said David Callahan, research director at the public policy group Demos in New York, and Tim Doyle, director in government affairs for the Mortgage Bankers Association. "This is just another area in American life where a boom, with all its money to be made, brought out the worst in us," Callahan said.
Like the Carmans, more seniors are heading into retirement still paying down mortgages or taking out home-equity loans.