Consumer Resources

National Consumer Protection Week - March 2-8, 2014

"The FDIC is proud to be one of the organizing partners of National Consumer Protection Week because helping consumers make informed decisions about their money is an important part of what the FDIC does," said Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. "We also want the public to be aware that FDIC.gov provides resources to learn about bank and credit accounts, maintaining a budget, building savings and avoiding scams."

The five tips, all from the FDIC's free quarterly newsletter FDIC Consumer News, cover:

  • How to protect your plastic from high-tech criminals;
  • What you should know about using debit, credit and prepaid cards;
  • How to resolve errors on your bank or credit card account;
  • What every borrower should know about the new mortgage rules; and
  • Steps you can take to improve your credit score and pay less for loans.

The FDIC's Web page also will feature quick links to several of the agency's most popular online resources for consumers as well as small businesses.

Visit FDIC.gov now.

Resources to help you manage your money

www.MyMoney.gov - the Federal Government's website dedicated to helping Americans understand more about their money - how to save it, invest it, and manage it to meet their personal goals. You can use the resources on this site to learn how to manage your money better - and we hope you'll share what you learn with others.

Steps to Create a Budget

In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever for families to develop a budget and stick to it. Rainy-day funds, savings for college, or just making your rent payment can all be made easier with a budget. American Gateway Bank supports its customer's efforts to budget and save by offering expert guidance.
A financial goal can be very motivating. Whether you are saving for a family vacation, a down payment for a house or a new pair of shoes, if you stick to a plan, you're likely to achieve your goal.
Putting together a household budget requires time and effort. We offer the following steps to create a budget:

  • Be a Spending Sleuth. Track every penny you spend for a month. Keep receipts and write everything down. This will be an eye-opening experience and will help you see where you can cut back.
  • Count Your Money. Determine the total amount of money coming in. Include only your take home pay (your salary minus taxes and deductions). Your income may also include tips, child support, investment income, etc.
  • Itemize, Categorize, Organize. Review the records and receipts you've been collecting over the last month. Categorize your spending using a budget sheet like the one offered by the American Bankers Association Education Foundation.
  • He Shoots, He Scores. Set a realistic financial goal and develop your budget to achieve that goal. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Find ways to cut spending and set limits on things like entertainment expenses.
  • Save, Save, Save. Make one of your financial goals to save a certain dollar amount each month. Start an emergency fund if you don't already have one. You never know when you may need it.
  • Stick to it. Keep track of your spending every month. Update your budget as expenses or incomes change. Once you achieve your financial goal, set another.

Tips to Avoid Overdrafts

Overdrafts have been in the news a lot lately but American Gateway Bank reminds customers that they are preventable. You can steer clear of most overdraft fees with a few account management tips:

  1. Use direct deposit for your paycheck. You will have access to your paycheck immediately.
  2. Keep track of your balance and transactions and don't forget about automatic payments. Today, it is easier than ever to check balances and transactions online, by phone, or at the ATM, 24 hours a day.
  3. Keep a "pad" or cushion of money in your checking account just to be safe.
  4. Link your checking account to an overdraft line of credit, savings account, or credit card. These are usually less expensive alternatives, but remember that for overdraft lines of credit and credit cards, you have to pay it back. The amounts are usually not automatically repaid from new deposits into your checking account.
  5. See if you qualify for a small line of credit that will cover you if you overdraw your account. Just be sure to pay it back as soon as you get the bill.
  6. Sign up for automatic notification when your balance drops below a certain level. You may be able to get notified by text message or email.
  7. For more information from the Federal Reserve on protecting yourself from overdraft and bounced check fee, click here.

The FDIC Offers Tips on Preparing Financially for a Natural Disaster or a Fire

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2011

Hurricane Irene, the earthquake that shook the East Coast and the deadly tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri are recent reminders that disasters rarely give advance warning and can happen anytime. That's why it's important for households to have a plan for protecting important assets and conducting day-to-day financial transactions in the event of an emergency. The Summer 2011 issue of FDIC Consumer News features tips on how to prepare financially for a natural disaster, a fire or another tragedy, especially one that requires people to evacuate their home and not return for days or weeks. Other timely topics in the latest issue include what to know before signing up for person-to-person, or "P2P," electronic payment services using a smartphone or mobile computer; how to solve mysteries of old bank accounts; and an update on new standards for and disclosures by mortgage loan professionals.

Here are examples of some of the consumer tips in the latest newsletter. Preparing financially for the unexpected: The FDIC newsletter suggests that consumers:

  • Anticipate what could go wrong by thinking about the most likely hazards for their community and periodically reviewing their insurance coverage;
  • Consider services that can help access funds and manage finances away from home, such as direct deposit and banking by computer or smartphone;
  • Have essential items in one or more emergency evacuation bags or boxes that are waterproof, easy to carry and kept secure; and
  • Be on guard against fraudulent "charities" or "businesses" scheming to profit from the situation. Making personal payments by mobile devices: As with any form of payment, understand the costs and potential risks of this increasingly common service from some banks and non-banks. Legal protections for P2P services may differ depending on whether the services are provided by a bank, and the security of the device should always be a concern.

Consumers should also beware of people who demand money up-front for help recovering unclaimed property, something that most people can easily do on their own for free.

Finding a mortgage loan originator: As a result of a 2008 law to enhance consumer protections and reduce fraud in the residential mortgage industry, a free, searchable database now provides useful information about all state-licensed and federally registered mortgage loan originators. In the future, the database will be expanded to include information about certain relevant disciplinary or enforcement actions.

The goal of FDIC Consumer News is to deliver timely, reliable and innovative tips and information about financial matters, free of charge. The Summer 2011 edition can be read or printed at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsum11.