Saturday, June 9

TJ Maxx - the saga continues

TJ Maxx has once again made it into the news reels. This time its because a number of government agencies are now investigating them to find out if, as a result of the computer intrusions, any consumer protection laws were violated.

According to this article in the Dallas Business Journal , TJ Maxx has said that it might be impossible to determine how many accounts were compromised by this intrusion.

The good news is that most card issuers have re-issued new plastic to anyone that might have been compromised. The bad news, any data that TJ Maxx had on their computers about their customers, stuff like their name and address, might have been compromised. It appears that social security numbers and birthdate data was not available to the hackers, and therefore not breached.

I went ahead and put an alert on my credit reports anyway. You never know! All I had to do was to notify one repository that I my information might have been compromised, and they notified the others of this alert. This alert directs whoever might be reading my credit report that my identity might have been stolen, and to verify my identitiy with a phone call to a telephone number that I pre-determined, and not to issue any credit until my identitiy has been verified.

I haven't received any phone calls, and the time period for the alert has expired.

The FTC explains the fraud alert this way;

An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days. When you place
this alert on your credit report with one nationwide consumer reporting company,
you'll get information about ordering one free credit report from each of the
companies. It's prudent to wait about a month after your information was stolen
before you order your report. That's because suspicious activity may not show up
right away. Once you get your reports, review them for suspicious activity, like
inquiries from companies you didn't contact, accounts you didn't open, and debts
on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information — like your SSN,
address(es), name or initials, and employers — is correct.

For more information about protecting yourself against identity theft, visit the FTC's website "Fighting Back Against Identity Theft".

Friday, June 8

This Weeks Top Five

This weeks Top Five on Money and Credit are;

  1. AllFinancialMatters- Today's post includes a directory of some very useful catagorized information from Annuities to Tax Stuff.

  2. Free Money Finance offers a list of interesting posts in this entry.

  3. Read about our lack of financial curriculum in our high schools, and what we should do about it at My Credit Group.

  4. Here's five facts that your banker probably hasn't told you about from The Digerati Life

  5. Seven steps to financial freedom at

Thursday, June 7

Internet threat to your Money and Credit

As if we don't have enough to worry about already, internet security providers say they have discovered a new and improved version of an internet virus called Gozi . From what has been written about this so far, it is nasty.

This virus has stolen personal financial data from more than 2000 personal computers. Compromised information includes credit union, bank, credit card and social security numbers.

This new strain of Gozi, discovered by SecureWorks, is programmed to steal information from encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) streams and send it to a server in Russia.

Read more about Gozi at ComputerWorld .

Wednesday, June 6

Creditworthiness and the Executive Office

I received my daily news briefing from ACA International yesterday morning, which included this article. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing! It's encouraging to see that the Financial Literacy program is making some headway!

More Americans Know Creditworthiness Impacts APR Than Can Name Vice President of United States

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007

Public opinion survey data shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans know their credit history impacts the annual percentage rate (APR) for financing a new car or truck, while 69 percent of Americans report they can identify Dick Cheney as the vice president of the United States.

"Americans may need to bone up on civics, but they understand that their credit track record impacts the APR at which they can finance a new car or truck," said Eric Hoffman, spokesman for AWARE.

Besides a borrower's credit history, a number of variables determine a borrower's APR, including prevailing rates, the amount financed, the terms of the financing contract, the down payment amount, the vehicle make and model, competition, market conditions and special offers.

According to AWARE, several factors may be contributing to consumers' knowledge of the impact their credit history has on an APR quote. "One possible explanation is the increase in higher–quality financial literacy efforts across the country," Hoffman said. "Community based organizations, financial services companies, and government agencies alike are encouraging people to focus on improving their credit, and to check it on a regular basis. This has been made even easier with the availability of free credit reports in recent years."

Tuesday, June 5

Financial Illiterates

During a recent interview, Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad , was asked, "What's the most challenging issue in your industry?" He said "Financial illiteracy. Schools don't teach us about money."

What's the one thing that people mis­understand about you? "That I sincerely care -- and worry -- about the financial future of millions of Americans (especially the baby boomers) who are not prepared for retirement. And the need, worldwide, for financial education."

Not a huge revelation, but noteworthy when a self-made millionaire and two time high school failure talks about his own generation this way. Who is teaching our kids? The baby boomer crowd? Is that a good or not so good thought? How are our kids supposed to prosper if they aren't taught? Where are they learning financial managements skills?

Here's a selfish thought; these kids are OUR future! Without financial literacy, what's in store for us?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Implore your schools, churches and community groups to embark upon a financial literacy program for your kids (and perhaps you too!). Contact your teachers, school superintendents, school board directors and ask them what they are doing to add to your kids financial education.

It's a whole lot more than balancing a checkbook. Who does that now anyway? Today its all about controlled borrowing, cash management, retirement investment vehicles, and making money work for you (read Rich Dad, Poor Dad for more on this) instead of the other way around.

By teaching our kids how to be wealthy, we are protecting them, and us!

Have you heard of the National Strategy for Financial Literacy? This is a federal program that endeavors to improve financial education for all Americans.

Taking Ownership of the Future: The National Strategy for Financial Literacy

(Strategy) is the game plan for improving financial education in

America. The Strategy was called for by the Fair and Accurate Credit

Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003, which also directed the Treasury

Department to lead a group of 19 other federal agencies, officially

called the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (Commission),

in an effort to help Americans learn more about their money. In

addition, the Treasury Department is issuing this

Quick Reference


, which offers readers a brief summary of the Strategy's tactics

and calls to action, as well as a list of financial education resources.

Let's do our part today and invite our bankers and financial planners to our schools to talk about money and credit with our kids.
Be sure to visit Getting Green who is hosting the next Carnival of Personal Finance on June 11th for more great posts!

Monday, June 4

Your Friendly Credit Union

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently had this to say about the banks ongoing war with credit unions over their tax exempt status. As pointed out in this article from the National Associations of Federal Credit Unions, there are many advantages to credit union membership, two of which are lower fees and loan rates.

June 4, 2007

—Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Friday that last week's Government Accountability Office report on the banking industry provides "conclusive evidence" that the bankers' complaints about credit union competition are unfounded.

"The big banks' profits are going up and up, as is the compensation of their CEOs, while credit unions have remained focused on providing financial assistance to middle-class and working families," said Sanders, who requested the study last July. "The benefit that Americans get from credit unions outweighs by far the cost of the credit unions' tax-exempt status."

In a release Friday headlined "GAO: Uncle Sam Favors Banks Over Credit Unions," Sanders said that instead of questioning credit unions' tax-exempt status, Congress would better serve the public by taking "a serious look at the escalating fees, economic concentration and CEO compensation packages that big banks are receiving."

Sanders, recapping the GAO's findings, highlighted a couple items not reported here previously. For example, he said the report showed banks such as BB&T have "evaded millions of dollars in U.S. taxes" by setting up illegal tax shelters.

He also noted that one report referenced in the study showed average direct compensation for bank CEOs more than doubled from 1992 to 2000.

"As documented by the GAO, big banks are right about one thing: There is not a level playing field, but the big banks seem to have the advantage," Sanders stated. "I hope that Congress will listen to the evidence in this report and finally ignore the pleas of big banks to undermine credit unions."