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Financially Fit_ Financially Ready


									                                                    ACS -Financial Readiness Program
                                                                       O Program                            March 2012

                                         Financially Fit,
                                        Financially Ready

                                           Consumer Protection and Empowerment
H EL P FUL W EBS IT ES :          There are many reasons            adverse action under the         Finally, after a move,
                                  why military service              Uniform Code of Military         service members can face
Federal Trade Commission          members and their                 Justice for failing to pay a     pressure to quickly get                       families seem like                debt – which may make            their personal affairs in
                                  attractive targets to some        them hesitant to                 order, particularly when
Consumer Sentinel Military        unscrupulous individuals          challenge the debt,              faced with a pending     and businesses. They              question poor business           exercise or deployment.
                                  have a steady source of           practices, or even seek
                                                                                                     These factors are no secret
Free Credit Report                income (including monthly         assistance from the chain
                                  pay and veterans’ benefits        of command.                      to consumer predators that        such as the Post-9/11 GI                                           will use them to their
                                                                    In addition, service             advantage. And they are no
                                                                    members move frequently
                                                                                                     secret to the Consumer
                                  Many are young and                and don’t always know
                                  relatively inexperienced in       which businesses to avoid        Protection Branch, in the
                                  consumer affairs. And             in a new community.              Department of Justice Civil
   Monitor Your Credit
    Report to Avoid               scammers know that                                                 Division, which is working
     Identity Theft:              service members can face                                           hard to fight consumer
                                                                                                     predators like these who prey
    Put an Active Duty                                                                              on service members.
      alert on your credit

    If you are or will be
                                                        What To Do If You’re A Victim
      deployed consider
                                  First, immediately report the     Finally, help other consumers     Service members and
      putting a credit freeze
                                  fraud. In order to effectively    by reporting fraudulent cases     family members must know
      on your account if
                                  fight fraud, the Department of    to the local Better Business      where they can find
      unable to monitor
                                  Justice – as well as other law    Bureau. And, if your state        assistance — on their
      your credit report
                                  enforcement agencies –            attorney general has a            installation and in their
                                  needs information. So, if you     reporting system, report the      community — and take
    There are three Credit
                                  believe you are a fraud victim,   fraud to them as well. It will    advantage of the advice
      Report Bureaus:                                               only take you a few minutes
      Equifax, Experian and       report the case to                                                  and guidance those
                                  authorities. Consult your         to complete an online report,     agencies provide.
      TransUnion                                                    but the information you
                                  military installation legal
                                  assistance office, and file an    provide will go a long way
    You can request a                                                                                Just as you identify risks
                                  online report with the FTC        towards stopping these
      FREE credit report,                                                                             during a military operation
                                  Consumer Sentinel or FTC          crimes.
      once every 12 months                                                                            and take action to mitigate
                                  Military Sentinel.                                                  that risk, you must do the
      from each bureau
                                                                    Because awareness is truly        same on the consumer
                                  These complaint databases         the best prevention               protection battlefield.
  Contact Financial Readiness     provide information to law        technique, military leaders at
  for assistance with accessing   enforcement authorities           all levels should make
     or analyzing your report!    worldwide to help identify and    consumer financial education
                                  stop wrong-doing.                 a priority.
     Page 2
                                                                               FINANCIAL READINESS

  How to Avoid                                          Predatory Lending
 Predatory Lending
                           The commercial strips around     But some lenders                 offer open-ended loans
   Get a 0% loan          many bases used to be lined      discovered ways around           with rates as high as
      through a military   with payday lenders. There       the law, offering varieties      136%, which fall through
      emergency-relief     you could find a short-term      of high-rate loans that          a loophole in the law.
      fund – Army          loan against your next           aren't subject to the 36%
      Emergency Relief     paycheck, often for              cap. For example, some
      (AER)                outrageous interest rates.       car dealers near bases
                           (Would you believe more          have been known to push
   Consider Joining a     than 400%?) But the Military     high-rate loans with big
      Credit Union         Lending Act capped payday-       upfront fees. Some
                           loan rates at 36% for            payday lenders have
   Boost your             members of the military on       taken to the Internet to
      emergency fund.      active duty and their            continue to offer
      You're best off if   dependents, which led many       expensive loans targeting
      you can avoid        lenders offering payday loans    troops, outside the reach
      borrowing for        to disappear.                    of regulators. And some
                                           Credit Repair: How to Protect
                           You see the advertisements in    You can improve your credit report      You can also check with your
                           newspapers, on TV, and on the    legitimately, but it takes time, a      state attorney general’s office
Recognizing a Credit
                           Internet. They all make the      conscious effort, and sticking to a     to see if the company has a
    Repair Scam
                           same claim: “We can remove       personal debt repayment plan. No        valid license. Remember: just
                           bankruptcies, judgments, liens,  one can remove accurate negative        because a company claims to
 - The company
                           and bad loans from your credit   information from your credit report.    be a nonprofit organization, it
 wants you to pay for
 credit repair services    report forever” or “We can erase Anything a credit repair company        doesn’t mean it is.
 before they provide       your bad credit – 100%           can do legally, you can do for
 any services.             guaranteed.                      yourself at little or no cost.          If you think you’ve been a victim
                                                                                                    of a scam you can contact the
 - The company             The Federal Trade Commission         Before you get involved with a      Federal Trade Commission to file
 doesn’t tell you your     (FTC) says do yourself a favor       credit-repair company, ask your     a complaint.
 rights and what you       and save your money. Don’t           state attorney general or Better
 can do for yourself                                            Business Bureau if any complaints
                           believe these claims: they’re very
 for free.
                           likely signs of a scam.              have been filed against the
 - The company
 recommends that           The fact is there’s no quick
 you do not contact        fix for creditworthiness.
 any of the three
 major national credit
 reporting companies
 directly.                     Fraud Alert: Emails or Text Messages to Avoid
                           FDIC Consumer News has           protecting against new           reasons. The message urged
 - The company             reported how criminals           schemes using electronic         users to call a hotline to
 suggests that you         masquerading as                  devise.                          unblock their card, but
 try to invent a “new”     legitimate business or                                            instead they reached an
 credit identity.          government agencies              Think twice before
                                                                                             automated response system
                           have tricked consumers           responding to an “urgent”
                           into divulging valuable                                           asking for their card number,
 - The company                                              email or text message. One
 advises you to            personal information over                                         PIN and other information.
                                                            recent scam involved a
 dispute all the           the computer, phone, or          email/text message sent
 information in your       fax in order to drain bank                                        For additional tips on
 credit report,                                             warning bank customers that
                           accounts.                                                         avoiding Internet Fraud, visit
 regardless of its                                          their debit or credit card had
 accuracy or               Here is our latest tip for       been blocked for security
                                                                                                                    Page 3

                                   Financial Tips for Traveling
Applying Everything in                   Using Your Credit Card            Using Your Debit Card on
Moderation while                         on the Road                       the Road
                                         Using your credit card            Be aware of ATM withdrawal
“Oh, I’m on vacation! I deserve a
                                         provides you records of your      fees (levied by both your bank
treat,” are the famous last words
                                         purchases, gets a good            and the ATM), hidden currency
of so many people when they
                                         conversion rate, and there is     conversion charges, and
travel, ultimately leading to a
                                         a degree of theft protection.     security issues, from having
mountain of debt or a shortened
                                         But credit cards are not          your card stolen and PIN
time on the road if uttered too
                                         always accepted, or ideal,        swiped, to electronic and
often. At the same time, maybe
                                         and there are a few pitfalls to   identity theft.
we do deserve it. What’s the
point in traveling if you’re too         beware of.
                                                                           Try to get a no fee or low-
miserly to actually experience
                                         Cash advances should              foreign-fee debit card.
your surroundings? But where is
the balance?                             generally be avoided
                                                                           You can use your debit card as
                                         whenever possible, since
                                                                           a credit card. It will give you
As long as it’s only occasional,         interest is charged from the      some protection in case your
splurging might be just fine.            day you withdraw the              account is used by someone            Vendors often
                                         money.                            else.
                                                                                                                 pay extra fees if

Managing Finances Securely While Traveling                                                                       you use a credit
                                                                                                                 or debit card. So
You need cash, but not too         You need a credit card, but       discrepancy, you can catch it               when you’re out
much of it (and not all in the     also to protect yourself from     right away and alert your                   shopping (for
same place). it’s best to carry    theft.                            bank.                                       souvenirs, for
cash in different places on                                                                                      example), ask if
your person.                       And you’ll want to manage it      Have your bank account
                                   all online, while still keeping   number and contact
                                                                                                                 they will give you
You need a debit card, but         your passwords safe and           information in a safe place                 a discount for
not all your funds in the          accounts free from internet       just in case you need to                    paying with cash.
account linked to the card.        fraud.                            make that phone call.
Should things go horribly
wrong and your account gets        Regularly check the
cleared out, you want to           transactions on your bank
have some money,                   account to ensure there
somewhere.                         hasn’t been any suspicious                         Financial Readiness Courses
                                   activity. If there is a

Financial Readiness offers assistance with a wide                                     Budgeting Your Way to Financial
variety of topics:      Personal financial readiness                                    Security: 1st Tuesday of every month,
   Banking and credit                  Building wealth for retirement                  0900-1100.
    union services                      Major purchase planning (Cars,               Credit and Debt Management 101: 2nd
   Budget development                   Homes, etc.)                                    Tuesday of every month, 0900-1100
    and record keeping                  Investment planning.                         Investing in Your Future: 3rd Tuesday of
   Debt liquidation                    How to read the Leave &                         every month, 0900-1100
   Credit reports and free              Earnings Statement (LES),                    Consumer Empowerment: 4th Tuesday
    scores                              VA Home Loan program While your main goal of every month, 0900-1100
   Consumer rights and                                           distributing a newsletter
                                         Children’s college education
    obligations                                                      might be to sell your
   Insurance                                                        product or service,Financial Readiness Program Manager:
                                                                     key to a successful            Becky Watson
   ID Theft
                                                                     newsletter is making it
                                                                                         Phone: 0444-71-8634 DSN: 634-8634
                                                                     useful to your readers.
                                                                     A great way to add useful
                                                                     content to this newsletter

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