Financially Insecure

We all know that new technologies bring new concerns and new opportunities for both confusion and fraud . As a result, financial insecurity has taken on more than one meaning.

It doesn’t take a post-graduate Masters in Business Administration to realize that financial institutions are here to put on the fake smile while finding ways to make money off of their customers.

Take, for example, a bank I did business with until last week. They have a policy of charging a $20 service fee if a transaction does not occur at least once a month in their customer’s checking account. Another bank charges a fee after forty-five days. In the olden days, most banks wouldn’t poke you to see if you were still alive unless half a year went by without activity. As I had an on-line presence with this bank, I noticed the fee one month three months previously. A phone call to customer service explained why I got the inactivity fee. I made a mental note to make sure I remembered every month to make a small transfer between accounts in order to waive the fee.

I noticed, however, last week that despite the presence of these mandatory transactions the past two months in my checking account, I still got hit with the inactivity usage fee. So, I decided it was time to close out the accounts in this bank and move to a new one.

Killing two birds with one stone, I moved the money to a bank where I also have my mortgage. This would now make it more convenient to pay the mortgage. It should have been an easy transition, except that I had to call the tech support people to reset my on-line connection because it was linked to an old mobile phone. (I had an online presence at the other bank because of the mortgage)

Not only was the security link not functional, but the tech support people had to fix it so that my new checking account also displayed. The final insult from the new checking account bank was the two temporary checks I was given to use until the real checks would show up in about ten days. What’s the problem with that? This- if I use either of the temporary checks, there is a two dollar fee per usage.

Finally, this brings us to the last of my escapades with online financial transacting. In this case, a credit card company. For the second time in five months, my credit card was compromised despite the issuance of a replacement number for the first crime. I have to presume that purchases made online with this card from the same two or three vendors that one of them has either a criminal working for them or slipshod processing that leaks information to outside processors.

To minimize the chance of a third occurrence I went to a new credit card issuer that encourages their customers to use virtual numbers when buying from online sources. I recently took advantage and made a purchase. About a week later, I received an email indicating I could go online and review my first statement and not wait for the paper copy that will come at least seven days later. I logged into their site and clicked on the statement section. A message displayed indicating that this feature is not yet available for me but will be soon.

I recently asked a friend what he invested in. He replied, “all my money is tied up in cash.”

Wow, A Bank Keeps its Promise!

When was the last time your bank did good by you- admitted it made a mistake and fixed it? Mine did and my hat’s off to them.

Electronic Banking is a wonderful tool. It is an easy way to pay a bill without the hassle of sitting down writing a check, putting it in an envelop, writing the return address, licking a stamp and then going to a mailbox. Using a computer, one can simply designate when a bill is to be paid and the bank takes care of the rest. Of course, if the bank screws up paying the bill at the requested date, that can cause problems. And herein lies the story….
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Show Me The Money

It used to be illegal to show real money on television. Maybe it still is and they just overlook it. The people in Washington were afraid that counterfeiters would freeze frame pictures of the money and somehow figure out how to duplicate it using a rudimentary form of digital reproduction. Game shows handed out fake currency to winners and then the lucky contestants picked up the real cash afterward while signing a Federal Tax form. Contestants were warned by the production assistants before the show to act natural and excited about holding fake twenty dollar bills in their hands while on camera or go home with booby prizes or even nothing.

I don’t know if I would have been a willing enough contestant to act ecstatic over play money. You see, just like in the movie from a few years ago, the expression “Show Me The Money” has been my battle cry. It became ingrained after dealing early on in my self-employment career with stinkers who loved to kite checks. A few times I had to re-present a check to my bank in order to cash it while paying the NSF fee. Yeah, try to collect that back from the con artist, too. I’ve turned down projects where a prospect wanted me to do the work first and if they liked it, they would then pay me even more than I asked for. Yeah, sure.
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Debit Cards – Pay As You Go

The expression “pay as you go” can mean a lot of things. It can refer to getting laid to rest in a cemetery only after a surviving family member coughs up enough dough for the burial plot and funeral services. It can also allude to the former practice, at least where I live, of the local airport having pay toilets. They had to cut it out because people made a stink (sorry).

For me it means using a debit card more often than using a credit card. When I tell friends that I do so they usually roll their eyes and indicate that only poor people or those with bad credit use debit cards. I reply that it is just the opposite. I have the best of credit. Why? Because I only use a credit card for items that have big ticket prices or where I need an element of protection. By that I mean when I buy something that I am concerned it may not work properly or it may not get shipped so quickly, I use a credit card as leverage. How so? I can always tell the credit card company that I am challenging the sale. No merchant wants to get into such a hassle.
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