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3 posts categorized "June 2011"

June 24, 2011

"Duh of the Week" Award: Bad communication can be bad for your health


by Ron Daly 

That's right, we know you've been itching for its's the DUH OF THE WEEK AWARD!

Cigarette makers learned recently that, starting September 2012, they would have to put pictures of the "effects of smoking" on cigarettes and tobacco products. These pictures are, to say the least, nasty looking. The point being that if the little black-and-white lettered warnings on cigarettes aren't enough to get you to quit, a picture of a stoma should do it. Maybe the legal forms attached to a loan should come with these as well...

This week's award goes to Ally. Read this story from the CU Collector website

Earlier this year, Linwood [Costin, the borrower] called Ally, formerly known as GMAC, to request skipping, or extending his truck payment for March. According to Teresa [Costin's Daughter] “He said when he called they told them they don’t usually skip a payment; they skip two,”, “He said, ‘That’s fine,’ and he sent the amount they told him to for interest.”...

...Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Linwood, Ally had already assigned his truck for repossession.

Teresa claims “He got very upset and asked what he needed to do to fix things,”

“The guy told him he needed to go to the closest Western Union and wire them $567.”

Reportedly, Linwood got off the phone and went to a Western Union office and wired the money due. Costins has receipts showing the made payments.

Teresa reports “He finished his shopping for that day, went home, and they came and took his vehicle anyways and has refused to return it,”

So upset was the gentleman from the story that he had a heart attack and was rushed to a nearby hospital. According to the article, doctors say the heart attack was probably due to stress, as Mr. Costin had no arterial blockage.

We've already heard of Bank of America seizing the wrong houses, but to date hadn't heard of anyone having a heart attack because of it. With so much business to tend to in collections and lending, it's not all that hard to imagine that mistakes like this happen...but please, please, PLEASE make sure you get the right person the first time, and if there's an issue, make sure you make up for it. 

To Ally's credit, they did return the truck with a full tank of gas and waived the next month's payment for Mr. Costin. We hope that Mr. Costin has a speedy and full recovery and that the folks at Ally fix up  their legal language to include a warning label of their own: 

Screen shot 2011-06-24 at 10.30.25 AM


June 14, 2011

GUEST POST: How the New Government Watchdog Agency Follows in the Footsteps of Credit Unions


This post is a guest post from Justine Rivero of Credit Karma. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB, sounds like another too-long, government acronym in the news lately, but there are exciting reasons credit unions should pay attention.
When the CFPB goes into effect on July 21, its regulatory powers will address abusive financial practices and provide a safety net against financial meltdown. Simply put, it aims to be the biggest government powerhouse for consumer rights Washington has ever seen.
While debate erupts over whether the CFPB is a good thing, head of CFPB Elizabeth Warren outlined why the CFPB is an ally of credit unions as well as consumers. In fact, the CFPB seems to have very similar goals as credit unions. Here are four ways it looks like the CFPB has taken a page from credit unions.

1)     Treating Customers Like People.  In a speech to the Credit Union National Association, Warren remarked, “Your work—creating a valued partnership with your members—can be a real competitive advantage, not a way for others to take your business. So I see the [CFPB] as an ally of credit unions.” The CFPB aims to instill in the banking industry something that is already at the core of the credit union spirit—consumer-friendly practices and healthy customer-business relationships. Credit unions are in a position to leverage being an ally of the CFPB. Warren encourages an open line of communication with credit unions, telling credit unions to contact with concerns.

2)     Products as Simple as A-B-C. The CFPB will focus on creating consistent, straightforward products so consumers can know exactly what they’re getting into. The hope is to minimize the tricky or vague policies that often leave consumers confused and tapped-out. For example, the CFPB created a prototype of a simpler mortgage form that has everything a homeowner needs to know, boiled down to two pages. With clearer financial policies, credit unions benefit from more informed, educated members.

3)     Concerns Will Be Heard. The CFPB has already set up the Consumer Question and Complaint Assistant to help direct consumer questions or complaints. The Consumer Response Center will launch in July, which will have the power to address complaints and help consumers. This will encourage the banking industry to be more receptive to their customers , and understand something right that credit unions have gotten right all along—focus on the customer, and not the financial product. It’s a recipe for success.

4)     More Collaboration. Opponents of the CFPB claim it will regulate the banking industry to death. But what’s been working so far—hiking fees, deceptive practices, profit-oriented practices—hasn’t really been working at all. The CFPB plans to use its “watchdog” powers to ensure companies are following consumer protection policies. That gives the financial industry a chance to better meet consumer needs. Customers who actually understand financial products are better in the long-term for financial companies’ bottom line. This sort of transparency could save the financial industry.
“We need to make credit unions part of the DNA of this bureau [CFPB],” Warren said. “For this bureau to succeed, credit unions must remain a major presence in the American economy.”

The CFPB embodies many of the same principles as credit unions. The CFPB is trying to create a more consumer-friendly financial landscape, because happy consumers make for better customers. Credit unions already know; it’s already a big part of their formula of success.

Justine Rivero is the Credit Advisor and resident Credit Rockstar for Credit Karma, the pro-consumer credit advocate that helps more than 2.6 million consumers realize the everyday cost savings of having great credit health.
Credit Karma™ is a completely free credit management service that provides free credit scores, personalized savings recommendations, and financial education. We believe free access to one's credit score is a fundamental consumer right. Credit Karma helps more than 2.4 million consumers realize the everyday cost savings of having a good credit score. Visit us at

June 08, 2011

Soapbox Special Edition: The MAC Conference Recap


Jimmy Marks, DigitalMailer's Creative Media Director, attended the Marketing Association of Credit Unions' Annual Conference in San Francisco. We asked him to write up a recap of the events. Here's what he come up with (that is, what he could remember). 

Tuesday, Pre-Conference: 

I took a little walking tour around Market Street and over to O'Farrell. Took lots of pictures, they're included here: 

The city was buzzing with people, some from the MAC conference and some going to WWDC a few days later. There are really cool pictures of the Apple logo being applied to the building from my view at the hotel Westin. 

I had dinner with the always-awesome Jill Nowacki from MAPS and Chris Giles, the General Manager at CU Wireless. If you're ever in San Fran and you like Indian food, you HAVE to go to Amber. It's amazing. 

A fun first day/night after a long flight, but the real fun started the next morning...

Continue reading "Soapbox Special Edition: The MAC Conference Recap" »