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My Credit Union Would Never Do That!

     All of a sudden, with all these bank failings and credit issues and possible new regulations, banks and credit unions are looking for new ways to increase their bottom line. Some of them are being downright sneaky about it. But not my credit union. I love my credit union. It would never do anything sneaky.

     Last night when I signed on to the credit union site there was a message saying I had an urgent message. I hadn’t overdrawn my account, I was sure, but I clicked on the New Messages key. I was swept into an “Urgent Advisory – Online Bill Pay Fees from Customer Care.”

     I just recently started using the “Online Bill Pay” feature. It’s great and it’s free. You set up your Waste Management account and your DMV accounts and when the bill comes in, you go to Online Bill Pay, select the account and type in how much you want to pay and when you want it paid, or type in the due date and let them figure it out. That’s it.

     So of course I thought, Oh, no! I’m going to have to start paying to pay my bills online. Okay, how much is it gonna be? I read on: “Save money and time with Free Online Bill Pay. The higher the postal rates go the more you save with FREE* (note the asterisk here) Online Bill Pay…” and so on and so forth. So what’s with the fees? Where are the fees?

     My credit union would never be sneaky and say something’s free when it’s not. If they’re going to charge a fee, they’d tell me. Well, I found the fee. It was at the bottom of the message.  It said Online Bill Payment services would now cost $1.95 a month, but if you made three or more bill payments in a month, they wouldn’t charge you for that month. Meaning every month you make less than three payments, they would charge you a dollar ninety-five.

     Totally disillusioned, I considered calling the credit union I used to love, but before I got around to it, the mail brought an envelope stamped “IMPORTANT: Records Review” from that same used-to-be-loved credit union.

     I learned about credit rating services scams last fall. My daughter was filling out an application to rent a house and needed her credit rating. “Free credit rating!” the ads yell at you from the Google search engine. And so you click on the website, get your credit rating and say no thank you to a million questions about future services, but lo and behold… a twenty-nine ninety-five charge shows up on your next VISA statement. Three phone calls later you’re informed you signed up for monthly monitoring of your credit rating at the exceptionally low cost of twenty-nine ninety-five a month. Every month. Conveniently debited to your VISA card. My credit union would never do anything like that. I love my credit union. Well, I did…

     Wondering what this official looking letter was about, I opened it – maybe it was about our recent mortgage loan. Stern green ink stated: “Our records show that, during the last 12 months, you did not request to check your Confidential Credit Report… Please return this form by 07/21/09.” Suspicious, because the whole thing looked too official, I scoured the page and in the fine print I found it. If I replied, I would be signing up for a twelve ninety-nine monthly automatic charge for them to monitor my credit ratings. My credit union would never do something like that. Wait a minute! This is my credit union.

     I’ll never say never again.

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