Is it only in this country that people don’t like to admit they are in debt, that they shy away from asking for help? It seems especially true when money is involved. People who are falling behind on credit card payments tell themselves they can handle it, but the months pass and the interest piles up. For some, asking for help is out of the question because they don’t want to be scolded for not asking for help sooner.

The results can be even worse than imagined. It’s a little like do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Revamping a family room or a bathroom looks easy on the Internet — the videos seem thorough enough. But you miss a step or get a little overconfident, and you make a mistake. Fixing that mistake means calling the plumber or the electrician. In the end, you’ve spent more than you would have if you’d hired the professionals to do the job in the first place.

Cutting corners may be costly, but they may also be illegal. For example, homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages may worry that their debt load or job loss will sink the deal or drive the interest rate up. They can’t imagine they will ever be able to make ends meet if the refi doesn’t go through, so they understate the debt and overstate the income, just a little, on the application.

They have just committed fraud. It won’t matter if the loan goes through, because the borrowers will be spending a tidy sum defending themselves in federal court. A conviction could mean decades in jail.

We’ll continue this in our next post.

Source: Bankrate.com, “6 money habits that are illegal,” Marcie Geffner, accessed Aug. 20, 2015