17 Mar 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
What should you do?
These are the times when “free stuff” is priceless. Don’t ever say “yes” to someone who calls out of the blue until 1) you check out his or her company and 2) you determine if you would qualify for free assistance. If you know your rights and understand the process, it may help you avoid foreclosure scam artists.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has loads of booklets and brochures to help consumers make good financial decisions.
Here are three booklets worth checking-out:
Foreclosure Survival Guide
This publication from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is intended for homeowners who are having difficulty paying their mortgage. The guide provides basic information on when to worry about a loan, how to get help from a housing counselor and pitfalls to avoid in choosing a counselor. The free publication also includes a national hotline number (1-888-995-HOPE) and a list of reputable local counseling agencies.
Homebuyer’s Guide: Learn Before You Leap
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Learn Before You Leap brochures list counseling agencies, customized by Eighth District Branch, that provide advice on every step of the home-buying process, from budgeting income to negotiating a contract to closing on a loan; available as printable PDFs in both English and Spanish. Multiple hard copies can also be ordered from each District Branch. Contact Cathy Martin at 901-579-4102.
Kids & Money
This short-and-sweet booklet from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis helps parents teach their school-age children how to manage money. It highlights three key topics (planning, budgeting and saving) and suggests fun family activities that will get kids thinking about saving – and spending responsibly.
Smart consumers raise their IQs
The new Consumer Action Handbook for 2011 is hot off the press and bulging with useful tips for preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, and much more. In the latest edition, you’ll find newly updated information about filing for bankruptcy, finding a lawyer, and planning a funeral, along with many other useful topics.
Here are a few pointers:
Check out CONSUMER TOPICS to get helpful tips on specific consumer issues, such as buying a car or home or preventing identity theft.
If you have a consumer problem, use their HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT tab for a step-by-step guide to the process. You can read more about your complaint options and use the sample letter to take action.
Scroll over WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINT to contact a specific company or your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau.
If you’re a teacher, a member of the military or the media, or a person with disabilities, try their SPECIFIC AUDIENCES tab.
To pre-order the guide or find additional information, visit http://www.consumeraction.gov/.
Let the FDIC help you
Consumers who organize and simplify their financial life can eliminate clutter, save time, reduce stress and save money on fees, interest or other charges. The Winter 2010/2011 issue of FDIC Consumer News, published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, offers helpful tips for streamlining money management.
Other timely topics include strategies for getting a small business loan, a warning about new financial frauds on the Internet, an explanation of the unlimited FDIC insurance coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction accounts, options for boosting college savings, and ideas for positioning personal finances for changing interest rates.
Here’s an overview of the topics, tips and other information in the latest newsletter.
• Organize and simplify your financial life: The newsletter offers basic strategies in areas such as automating many banking and bill-paying chores and putting important papers in order, including guidance on how long to keep bank statements, credit card bills, canceled checks and other financial records. Also covered are mobile banking by smartphone (a hand-held device used to access the Internet, run applications and make phone calls), managing a mortgage in good times and bad, and preventive measures for reducing the chances of becoming an identity theft victim if a wallet is lost or stolen.
• Strategies for getting a small business loan: Small businesses are critical to the American economy, and for these companies to survive and generate new jobs, they need credit on affordable terms. The newsletter offers tips for getting a loan, starting with the importance of preparing or updating a business plan. The FDIC also has two new resources that can help small business owners who have questions or concerns about borrowing money: a toll-free hotline (1-855-FDIC-BIZ or 1-855-334-2249) and a Web site (www.fdic.gov/smallbusiness).
• Fraud alert: text messages, pop-ups and downloads to avoid: The FDIC warns consumers to be on guard against “urgent” text messages, unexpected pop-up windows on Web sites and unsolicited “deals” on downloads that have tricked consumers into divulging valuable personal information to financial criminals. Consumers also should be careful when disclosing information and clicking on videos, pictures and links on social networking sites because computer hackers visit these sites to install malicious software on network members’ computers and gain access to online bank accounts.
• A closer look at the unlimited FDIC insurance coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction accounts: Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted last July, certain checking accounts that pay no interest will benefit from full deposit insurance coverage during the two years from December 31, 2010, through December 31, 2012. Because the FDIC continues to get questions about this new program, important information is highlighted.
• Saving for college: As states tighten their belts and higher-education budgets are squeezed, the FDIC provides tips on saving for college and minimizing the sticker shock of higher education. The most important recommendation is to start planning and saving for college as early as possible, preferably soon after a child is born.
• Why interest rates matter: Rates will head up as the economy gains steam, but exactly when is still uncertain. Now is a good time for consumers to assess how interest rate changes may affect their savings and borrowing plans.
(The goal of FDIC Consumer News is to deliver timely, reliable and innovative tips and information about financial matters, free of charge. The Winter 2010/11 edition can be read or printed at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnwin1011.)
(To receive an e-mail about each new issue with links to stories, go to www.fdic.gov/about/subscriptions/index.html. To receive the newsletter in the mail, free of charge, contact the Public Information Center as listed above.)