Financial Reform 101 with Prof. Elizabeth Warren

I was asked by my friends at AFFIL to share this information with you.

Americans for Financial Reform invites you to a special online event!

Financial Reform 101 with Prof. Elizabeth Warren

Tuesday, April 6
4:00 – 4:45 pm Eastern time

AFR is hosting this special discussion with Professor Elizabeth Warren and AFR Director Heather Booth for the general public. It will focus on where we stand in the movement for financial reform, and how everyday citizens can get involved in the fight to rein in the big banks and get the economy back on track. We hope you can join us and promote the webinar far and wide!

You and your members can sign up here:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/482147880

* Find out about reform efforts in Congress—including the Senate bill currently being debated, and the House bill which passed in December
* Learn why we need a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect us from abusive financial products
* Ask Professor Warren and Heather Booth your question about financial reform
* Hear about ways to join the fight around the country and online

Space is limited so sign up now!

Special thanks to the National Consumer Law Center for providing the webinar software. Please contact Sarah Byrnes, Sally Brzozowski or Chris Bowers with questions.

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Celebrity Apprentice and LifeLock

I love it when the topic of scams, fraud and identity theft make it into popular television shows. Having this information on a news show will educate people, but the popular shows are the ones that people are watching and recording, and then talking about the next day at the office. These are the ones where we can REALLY get the message out to a lot of people at once.

This week, on the Celebrity Apprentice the task was to create an ad for LifeLock. Here is a clip of the women’s ad, which ended up winning.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/138329/celebrity-apprentice-sharon-presents#s-p1-sr-i1

I wonder if Celebrity Apprentice would be interested in creating an ad for Scam Jam?

ShameTheBanks.org

Today we have a guest blog from Denise Richardson of www.Givemebackmycredit.com

Remember when you were a kid and you did something naughty? Maybe it wasn’t as strictly against the rules as something like stealing—maybe you picked your neighbor’s flowers without permission, or you chalked a rude word on the sidewalk. Your mother would say, “Shame on you!” And you would feel ashamed, somewhere inside, that your mother did not think well of you. Shame, coming from someone you loved and respected, caused you to change your ways. If only it worked that way with banks!

There’s a new website called $hameTheBanks.org, and that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. The organizers –and the folks who post their stories on the site –are pointing a big fat finger at banks saying “Shame on you!” to the big corporations that banks have become. Whether it will cause banks to change their ways remains to be seen, but it can certainly provide a forum for homeowners and consumers to discuss what’s really going on with their mortgages, their credit, and their financial futures.

ShameTheBanks.org is a great non-commercial location for consumers to share their stories about fighting the banking system, lowering their interest rates, or advocating for student loan rights. It is also a resource, providing homeowners with mortgage and loan information drawn from across the Internet and beyond, all in one location.

Founder (and Huff Post blogger) Richard Zombeck had this to say about his new site:

It is clear that Wall Street, the banks, and the loan servicers are not concerned about the American family. They’ve taken tax dollar bailouts to lobby and persuade elected officials for their own end, reward themselves with bonuses and salaries while Main Street families struggle to remain afloat.

It is his hope that $hameTheBanks.org will provide accurate, up to date information regarding banking and congressional issues, like how much has been allocated by the Congressional Budget Office to help homeowners ($50 billion) and how much has actually been spent on that cause (not even half that much). Did you know that only TWELVE PERCENT of the almost 1.5 million homeowners who received trial loan modifications later received permanent ones?

Twelve percent is barely a drop in the bucket.

So stop by $hameTheBanks.org and tell your story. You will surely find a community of support and empowerment, not one of shame or blame on the consumer. Help raise a cry of “Shame on you!” to the banking industry and find information and, perhaps, some refuge and relief.

Denise Richardson can be reached at www.Givemebackmycredit.com

What are they thinking!?!?!

A fellow scam fighter alerted me to an article this past week about a new feature in mobile banking.  Soon you will be able to take a photo of a check with your phone and then get that check deposited into your banking account.  My first thought was that the banks need to fix the problems and issues that they already have with check deposits before they create a whole new way for people to deposit their checks.

The article says

Banks have already offered smartphone applications that let customers check balances, transfer funds and make payments.

Yes, they do.  I have even heard some banks say that they can send you an email to alert you when a check has cleared.  If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will know that I have a big problem with the banks using the term “cleared” to customers.  Our bank told us that our cashier’s check was “cleared” and then one week later they called us to tell us that it was counterfeit.

Back to the article that I was talking about.  It goes on to explain how this new technology would work.

A bank customer takes a photo of the front of the check and the back of the check that has been signed by the customer. The photo gets sent to the bank through its mobile application. In most cases, funds are in the customers account immediately.

Wait a minute . . . immediately!?!?!  So now if someone were to take a picture of a cashier’s check, they could start using that money right away?  What about waiting for the check to be verified at a legitimate check?  What about protecting the banking customer’s funds by holding the check until it has passed through the system?  Oh wait, they don’t do that now with paper checks so why would they do it with electronic image checks.

Here is the ONLY positive side I could see about this.  There are some people that have taken a cashier’s check that they wanted verified into the bank and have been arrested for presenting a counterfeit check.  With this technology they could send a picture of the check into the bank instead of actually going into a branch location.  Of course, if the check is found to be counterfeit the bank could probably send the police to the person’s house to arrest them for trying to pass a counterfeit check.

More banks are expected to add the feature, especially as consumers demand 24 hour banking.

I would think that those same customers who are demanding 24 hour banking would also demand that the bank is looking out for their best interest.  How about giving us accurate information on when the money from a check is truly ours to use and spend without any worries?  How about telling the customer that the funds are available, but it could take 10 business days or more for the check to be verified as legitimate.  That is what this bank customer demands.

Another sample letter

If you want to join our letter writing campaign, but don’t feel like you can come up with your own letter about why scam education and awareness is important, let me offer this as a sample of what you could say in your letter.

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So many of the online scams involve the scammer sending a counterfeit cashier’s check or money order, asking the victim to wait for it to “clear” and then wire a portion of the money on to someone. The scammers make up all kinds of stories to make the reason for having to wire money to someone else make sense, and of course since the bank has already told you that the check is “clear” you feel like there is nothing to worry about.

Did you know this . . . when you wire money to someone, even if you write on the documentation that the wire transfer is to be picked up in Detroit, Michigan if the scammer has the test/security question and answer along with the wire transfer information then they can pick up the money at any location in the world . . . like Lagos, Nigeria.

These test or security questions are a feature put in place for emergency situations, when the person picking up the money has lost their photo id, which is normally needed to pick up a wire transfer. But if you give the scammer the test/security question information that is how they bypass the need for a picture id when picking up the money. This happens every day on sites like Craigslist. The scammer will pretend to be within the United States so as to not raise any red flags with the potential victim by mentioning that they are really in Nigeria.

With so many scams using wire transfering services like Western Union and MoneyGram we at Scam Victims United would like to see these companies increase their security by making it mandatory that the money must be picked up in the destination zone. If the documentation filled out by the customer says that the money is going to Detroit, Michigan, then the money should not be able to be picked up outside of the state of Michigan, no matter what information the person picking the money up has. This would help to reduce the number of scams going on because the scammers would then have to tell the victims to wire the money to Nigeria for them to be able to pick it up, and with so many people this would be a red flag because of the information about Nigerian scams.

In addition, wire transfering services could have a Fraud Alert posted in their store locations, and when anyone does fill out a wire transfer form and indicates Nigeria as the destination for the money to be picked up they could point out the Fraud Alert or have the customer sign a secondary document saying that they are aware that there are many internet scams coming out of the country of Nigeria which involve receiving a cashier’s check or money order and then wiring money.

Since we cannot go to other countries and arrest the people running these scams we must do as much as we can to provide the correct information to the American public to educate them about these scams. This means that everyone must do their part, including the wire transfer services that the scammers use as a part of their business. I would like to propose laws that would require wire transfer services to implement and follow such security measures.

Education is the key to fighting scams, and that is why we are also asking for scam education and awareness programs. To read more about this please go tohttp://www.change.org/actions/view/crea … s_programs

Letters

I have brought up the idea of a letter writing campaign, both here and on our message board, to try and help bring attention to scams. One of our message board regulars recently sent this letter to Dear Abby and gave me permission to share it with you.

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A friend of mine was scammed out of $3,000 just over a year ago. I have since learned it is referred to as a romance scam. Since that time I have made it my mission to spread the word about scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. Everyone who surfs the web or has an email account is a potential victim.

Even though my friend lost $3,000 and became an emotional wreck, she was one of the lucky ones. I have read where one man had gone overseas to be with the woman he thought would be his wife only to be beaten, robbed and then murdered. There have been several suicides because of being scammed. The most recent one is of a web scam that drove a student to suicide. Go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl … 380093.stm to read the story.

Go to http://romancelovescams.mysubdn.com/for … ?topic=2.0 to learn what to look for in a scammer. Check the IP address of the person who contacted you. Go to http://scamvictimsunited.blogspot.com/2 … il-ip.html to learn more about IP addresses and how to find them.

Not looking for your other half, well there are plenty of other scams for scammers to get your hard earned money. If it involves a check for payment on anything, such as selling a car, looking for a roommate or looking for employment you can do online, then you are endanger of falling victim to the fake check scam. Go to http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Ba … spx?page=2 and see what one man was put through.

Even lawyers are not immune to being scammed according to the FBI. Go to http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm to read what the FBI has to say on the New Twist on Counterfeit Check Schemes Targeting US Law Firms.

Visit http://www.scamvictimsunited.com/index.htm to learn about other types of scams. Shawn, the co-founder of this site started it after being a victim of a fake check scam. She went from being a victim to being an educator and advocate on getting the word out about scams. Take the time to read her blogs. Explore the message board. It is filled with a wealth of information. Taking the time to explore and read what is posted on this site could save you from becoming a victim.

Knowledge is power, educate yourself and tell everyone you know about scams. Google is your best online friend. Google: email address, username or any part of the email.

Make our voices heard!

Years ago we used to organize letter writing events. Everyone would write a letter telling why they think scam education and awareness are important topics that need attention brought to them, and need the attention of lawmakers. Then all you have to do is send that same letter on the first of the month to the contact that I post on this message board . . . someone in the media, law enforcement or government. If we all send the letters the same day then their contact person will get a flood of letters on the same topic around the same time, and could get more attention then just one letter all by itself.

My question is this . . . who is with me and willing to commit to sending out one letter per month? If we do not have a big enough impact, then it will not be effective.