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Marketplace Morning Report

Understanding the fine print

Candace Manriquez Wrenn Jul 3, 2014
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Ah, the fine print. Those tiny words that are added to the bottom of a contract or advertisement. Those words that are read at breakneck speed in the final seconds of a commercial.

Those two words: Fine print. They are often synonymous with deception and duplicity — but not always.  If you’re not careful though, the fine print can trip you up and cost you a pretty penny.

Personal finance expert Ilyce Glink gives some insight on dealing with these not so obvious details.

First, Glink says that there is a simple reason why most people don’t read the fine print in the first place. You can blame on it legalese.

“It’s really impossible to expect everybody to read the fine print. After all, these lawyers are paid a lot of money to put a lot of jargon in [a contract] so that’s it really confusing,” she says.

Glink says that one of the most common places where the fine print causes issues is in mortgage contracts. The fine print in these types of contracts outlines insurance requirements, prepayment penalties and privileges, comprehensive information about your interest rate and other details that could cost or even maybe save you money. Not to mention, this is where you would find your rights as a homeowner and borrower.

 The thing you want to remember if you are hit with a fee buried in the mouseprint is that a cordial complaint can go a long way.

 “It costs companies a lot of money to acquire you as a customer. They don’t really want you to go away. You can ask them to forgive the fee or to write it down,” Glink says.

 And if you catch a mistake in your contract, Glink says speak up right away.

 “Not just saying, I’ll sign now and fix it later, but get it fixed before you sign because that’s when you have all the leverage,” she says. 

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