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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Shopping for a Loan? Exercise Caution with Peer-to-Peer Lenders

March 9, 2016 2:12 am

Marketplace lending—often referred to as “peer-to-peer” or “platform” lending—is a relatively new kind of online lending. Marketplace lenders may provide mortgages, auto loans, installment loans, student loans or other financial products to consumers, generally marketing both new loans and loans that can be used to refinance or consolidate existing debt. Marketplace lenders use an online interface to connect consumers or businesses seeking to borrow money with investors willing to buy or invest in the loan. Generally, the marketplace lending platform handles all underwriting and customer service interactions with the borrower. Once a loan is originated, the company generally makes arrangements to transfer ownership to the investors while it continues to service the loan.

Unfortunately, many have had problems with loans offered by online marketplace lenders. If you’re considering this type of lender, keep in mind the following guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

• Remember important consumer protections apply. Marketplace lenders are required to follow federal and state consumer financial protection laws.

• Be careful about refinancing certain types of debt. While some marketplace lenders may advertise lower interest rates, in some cases, you could lose important loan-specific protections by refinancing an existing debt. Specifically, know that you may sign away certain federal benefits, such as income-driven repayment for federal student loans or service member benefits related to debt incurred prior to entering active duty.

• Assess income and spending. Before taking out a loan, evaluate how much you can afford and really need to borrow. Understand the total cost of the loan, as well as what the total cost will be each month.

• Check credit reports. Check your credit report to make sure there are no errors that could keep you from getting credit or getting the best available terms on a loan. Be sure the information in the report is accurate and up to date.

• Shop around. If you’re considering interest rates offered by multiple lenders or brokers, you may see substantial differences in the rates. Compare the costs and terms of loans to find the deal that is best for you.

The CFPB is accepting complaints from consumers regarding online marketplace lenders. Because marketplace lenders offer several types of consumer loans, those submitting a complaint should select among the different complaint categories for products and services that best apply to their situation. The CFPB will then forward complaints to the marketplace lender and works to get a response—generally within 15 days.

To submit a complaint, you may:

1. Visit
2. Call the toll-free phone number at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or TTY/TDD phone number at 1-855-729-CFPB (2372).
3. Fax the CFPB at 1-855-237-2392.
4. Mail a letter to: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244

You will be given a tracking number after submitting a complaint, and can check its status by logging on to the CFPB website (

“When consumers shop for a loan online we want them to be informed and to understand what they are signing up for,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “All lenders, from online startups to large banks, must follow consumer financial protection laws. By accepting these consumer complaints, we are giving people a greater voice in these markets and a place to turn to when they encounter problems.”

Source: CFPB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tax Tips: Credits and Deductions for Every Life Stage

March 8, 2016 2:12 am

Each year, millions of taxpayers over-pay by overlooking credits and missing deductions. Don’t let a knowledge gap prohibit you from receiving the maximum refund!

"Major life changes affect the eligibility for specific credits and deductions,” says Mark Steber, chief tax officer of Jackson Hewitt®. “Without help, it's easy to miss them.”

The most overlooked credits and deductions, based on life stage, are:


The American Opportunity Deduction and Lifetime Learning Credits are worth up to $2,500 and are available for students attending a qualified college or trade school, based on enrollment status, tuition and fees paid, adjusted gross income and filing status. 

Single Parents

Filing as 'Head of Household' offers a higher standard deduction and a lower tax rate than filing 'Single.' This is available for single or unmarried taxpayers who pay for more than half of the cost of maintaining a home and have a qualifying dependent.


Couples who were married last year can file a joint return, which is generally more advantageous. Those who were married at a place of worship or historical site may be able to donate an offering and claim it as a charitable contribution. Brides may even write off the fair market value of their wedding gown if they donate it.


Don't wait until mortgage interest and real estate taxes are bigger than the standard deduction to itemize deductions. These items, and more, can be itemized:  energy-saving upgrades (like energy-efficient windows or insulation) could be eligible for a tax credit up to $500, and tax preparation fees may be deductable on Schedule A.


Families may miss a host of credits, including the Child Tax Credit (a credit of up to $1,000 per child under the age of 17); the Earned Income Tax Credit (one of the largest federal tax credits, worth up to $6,242 based on income and number of dependents); and the Child and Dependent Care Credit (a credit of up to $2,100 to assist with the cost of daycare for dependents [children under 13 and elderly family members requiring care] while an individual works).


Don't miss the Saver's Credit of up to $1,000 per person for contributing to a pension plan or 401(k). Many people contribute to these accounts, but then forget to claim this credit.  People who turned 65 by the end of the tax year are also entitled to a higher standard deduction; however, they should still review expenses during the tax year to determine if itemizing deductions would be more beneficial than taking the standard deduction. 

Source: Jackson Hewitt®

Published with permission from RISMedia.