Archive for December, 2010

ScamWatch: Beware fraud calls from FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the insurance body for banks (like the NCUA for credit unions) warns that some people are getting suspicious calls from the organization:

To date, the callers have alleged that the call recipient is delinquent in payment of a loan that was applied for over the Internet or made through a payday lender. The loan may or may not actually exist. The caller attempts to authenticate the claim by providing sensitive personal information, such as name, Social Security number, and date of birth, supposedly taken from the loan application. The recipient is then strongly urged to make a payment over the phone to “avoid a lawsuit and possible arrest.” In some instances, the caller is said to sound aggressive and threatening.

These calls are fakes from scam artists trying to get your personal information.

The FDIC deals with insuring savings accounts, not on collections matters. No matter how threatening the phone calls, don’t give information from people who call and ask for it. Be sure to keep an eye on your accounts for suspicious activity, and contact the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your account if you feel threatened.

Advertisements

Why credit life/disability is good for everyone

With the Great Recession, there has been a wave of financial industry regulations affecting everyone from small banks to giant investment firms – and credit unions like American 1. The Credit CARD Act, the opt-in regulations on overdraft protection, and now a scary-looking form that wants to scare you from opting out of credit life insurance on your loans.

Credit life works like this: if you die, your loan gets paid off. That’s it. Your family doesn’t have to come up with the payments. Nothing gets taken to court. It saves a giant hassle on your family’s end – and on our, the lender’s, end since we’re still getting paid. Win-win, right?

Credit disability works in a similar way, except if you get sick or injured, your loan payments are made while you’re off work. Accidents happen all the time, and so does sickness. None of it is expected. Disability coverage helps protect you from the unexpected.

We’ve gathered up our members’ best stories on insurance products and sharing them with the review board before this thing becomes law. We’re also urging them to reconsider this law because of its unintended consequences. You can read it for yourself.

The fact is, credit disability has helped a ton of American 1 members. They have peace of mind knowing that, if the worst happens, they don’t have to worry about their loan.

Here’s the thing: no member or member’s family who benefitted from credit life or disability protection ever regretted their decision. It’s not like a family member dies, the loan gets paid off, and the survivors think, “Gosh, why did Uncle Joe get that silly insurance?”

Or a member gets sick and says, “Man, why did I opt to have my loan paid for during this difficult time?” That doesn’t happen. Not ever.

No, these products equal peace of mind. It’s best to have fewer things to worry about when a loved one dies, gets injured, or becomes ill. And no one likes to think about it, but we’re all responsible adults here. Family members die. Family members get sick and have to take time off work. What counts is that we’re ready when the unfortunate time comes.

There’s no sense in scaring your away from valuable protection like credit life and disability. And for us, it helps all our members because we’re not trying to collect on past-due debts. Products like credit life and disability help to keep costs and rates down.

Gift card tips for the holidays

If you still have gifts to buy this week, you may be thinking about gift cards.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers tips on purchasing gift cards – especially considering new rules passed this past summer.

The FTC notes that gift cards must now show their expiration date (if there is one), cards can only charge inactivity fees after one year, and the money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years.

There’s also a difference between retail gift cards, offered by stores and restuarants, and bank gift cards, which are offered by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express for you to spend like a debit card.

The new gift card rules are supposed to help protect consumers – which is good news for anyone who gets a gift card in their stocking this holiday.

Winter Wonderland 2010 photos

Winter Wonderland - Exit

This past weekend American 1 employees celebrated our own night at the Winter Wonderland. We took some photos of the event on Saturday night, and boy what a turnout!

Winter Wonderland starts up again this Friday, Dec. 17 and runs through December 23. It’s free with paid entry to Nite Lites. Hope to see you there.

Recycling 75 CRT monitors

monitor recycling

Last week we recycled 75 CRT monitors that were hanging out in our pole barn and IT basement, thanks to Recycling Jackson.

We recently upgraded most of our workstation monitors to flat-screen LCDs, which use less power and take up less space (both on desks and in the recycling bin), and use less materials to make than the heavy, glass-screen CRTs. But upgrading all those monitors meant we had a bunch of old ones hanging around.

Thankfully Recycling Jackson helps local organizations and individuals recycling electronic waste (e-waste) like ours. President Steve Noble (above) met us at their drop-off site on Brown St. in Jackson, behind Home Depot, to help us with our e-waste. There’s no telling how much all those monitors weigh, but it took a lot of gloved hands to get them in the recycling boxes.

American 1’s IT department also recycled some old fax machines and computer workstations, with more on the way.

Kardashian Kard kancelled

kardashian kard

Aw, shucks – the horrifyingly-bad Kardashian pre-paid debit card has been cancelled because of sky-high fees:

Those fees included a $1.50 fee for ATM withdrawals, a dollar fee if the ATM withdrawal or point-of-sale transaction was declined, and a $9.95 fee to replace a lost or stolen card. And canceling the card would have cost you $6.

With the Kardashian Kard, which was actually a very pricey prepaid debit card rather than a credit card, consumers had the choice of either a six-month plan that would have cost $59.95 or a 12-month plan the would have cost $99.95. The cost of each plan included a purchase fee, minimum deposit and monthly fee for the plan period.

A pre-paid debit card comes loaded with funds to spend, and seems like a great idea for travelers or as an alternative to gift cards. But add in all those fees, and they become a budget buster.

This is a good lesson to keep in mind for credit and store charge cards as well. No matter whose name or logo is on the card, watch out for fees and rates. Is it worth your budget to have someone’s name on the card?

Jackson and Grass Lake Christmas parade pictures

Jackson Christmas Parade - All set to go

American 1 particpated in the Jackson, Brooklyn, and Grass Lake Christmas parade this year, and we have a bunch of pictures to share. Check out pictures of the Jackson and Grass Lake parades at our Flickr gallery.

Our friends over at Home.fm took some great shots of the downtown Jackson parade, too.