Consumer News & Views
In this Issue…
Consumer Confidence Index Falls Sharply in September.
Consumer confidence fell sharply in September after hitting a seven-year high
the previous month. The Conference Board, which monitors the index, reported
that the index fell from a year high of 93.4 to 86. The consumers' views of the
economy, especially as it relates to jobs and stagnant wage growth, has caused
consumers to be less optimistic now than they were during the summer.
Banks Raise Fees Once Again. Major Banks are planning once again to raise their fees for ATM transactions and overdrawn accounts. Claiming it's part of an income recovery strategy, banks have been jockeying for ways to raise their fees for the past two years when Bank of America retreated from a planned $5 increase on ATM transactions after consumers pressured the bank with a flood of social media protests.
"This is bad timing," said Thomas Hinton, president of the American Consumer Council, a large non-profit consumer membership organization. "If banks want to win back consumers and re-establish trust bonds, they should be lowering fees, not raising them!"
But, according to the Wall Street Journal, banks have introduced new fees for wire transfers, certified checks and banking through tellers. Others have raised monthly maintenance charges on checking accounts. Next month, TD Ameritrade Holding's TD Bank unit will start charging non-customers a $5 fee to cash checks at any of its branches.
Hinton says consumers can flex their economic muscle and stop these increases by protesting through social media channels and letters to their banks. Hinton also said, "There is another option that consumers should discover - credit unions. They are member-driven and very consumer-focused. And, they don't hit consumers with these exorbitant fees!"
According the American Consumer Council, these bank fee increases represent the tip of the iceberg. In an effort to create more revenue, ACC believes banks will start charging customers for paying bills over the phone as opposed to online, and adopt many of the same practices fee surcharges now being used by domestic airlines.
Retailer Express Concern as Holiday Shopping Season
Approaches. As the holiday shopping
season approaches, retailers are feeling a bit nervous. According to the
American Consumer Council, those retail jitters are justified. Last quarter,
retailer sales were disappointing. Although it's been five years since the Great
Recession of 2008 ended, consumers continue to be conservative on their
"The problem is stagnant income growth," said
Thomas Hinton, president of the American Consumer Council, a large consumer
membership organization. “We continue to hear from our members across the
country that good jobs are scarce and wages remain flat. Consumers are reluctant
to spend money they don't have and incur more debt."
Five Not-So-Smart Ways to Expose Personal Information. Most people know about the threat of Identity Theft and the steps to take to prevent it from happening. Yet more than 16 million people fall victim to identity theft every year. Although no one would intentionally leave themselves vulnerable, there are several not-so-smart ways people expose their personal information.
ACC’s Financial Wellness Series Ready for October 20th Launch. The American Consumer Council will launch its Financial Wellness series with several programs starting on October 20th. As part of ACC’s commitment to help its members better manage their finances and make better financial decisions, ACC has developed a series of eight programs that will be offered free to members.
The programs series include the following topics:
A complete schedule of programs and podcasts will be published next month. ACC is partnering with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to provide these programs. NEFE is a leading private nonprofit 501(C)(3) foundation dedicated to inspiring empowered financial decision-making for individuals and families through every stage of life.
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Green CSM Certification Accepting Applications for 2014 Fall Cycle:
If your company or organization would like to increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the Green CSM Certification. Applications for the 2014 Fall cycle are now being accepted through December 15, 2014.
It's a proven fact that consumers want to do business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.
All applicants complete the criteria and submit their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and feedback. Program details and the Green CSM Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: http://americanconsumercouncil.org/greenc.asp