Consumer News & Views

September 2011
This issue is sponsored by


JSTC Employees Federal Credit Union, Johnstown, PA

In this Issue…

  • States are Slow to Tap Billions to Help Jobless Pay their Mortgages.
  • Wal-Mart CEO is Cautious about Consumer Spending.
  • JSTC Employees Credit Union Serves Johnstown, PA Region.
  • Apply for the 2011 Green CSM Certification Program.

States are Slow to Tap $7.6 Billion to Help homeowners Avoid Foreclosure. A government report reveals that a $7.6 billion federal program to help homeowners avoid foreclosures has distributed about 1% of its money to distressed owners some 16 months after its creation.

The Obama administration awarded the funds last year to 18 states most affected by unemployment and fallen home prices. The states developed their own foreclosure-prevention programs targeting assistance to lower-income jobless and under-employed homeowners.

By June 30, reports that were filed with the U.S. Treasury Department show that 17 states had used the funds to help about 7,500 homeowners. New Jersey, which began its program in May, started making loans only this month. Funds are flowing more rapidly now, state officials say. All the states have launched their programs. The last was Illinois last week.

Overall, the Hardest Hit Fund is expected to help several hundred thousand homeowners. States have until 2017 to use their allotted funds.

"We are ramping up quickly now," says Di Richardson, head of the California program. Its program began in January; by June 30, it had funded 1,022 homeowners. That's now up to more than 2,000, and an additional 5,000 are close to getting aid, Richardson says.

Since President Obama announced the program in February 2010, banks have repossessed more than 1.5 million homes, says market researcher RealtyTrac. Millions more are at risk. Officials in many states say it took longer than expected to develop systems for states to transfer funds and borrower data to mortgage servicers, who manage loans.

"That was more complicated than we thought it would be," says Cynthia Flaherty, head of Ohio's program, which includes 200 servicers. Ohio is now adding 500 borrowers to its program monthly, Flaherty says. Ten were added in December, its first month.

The program started with $1.5 billion for five states and was expanded to 18. Funds were most recently awarded in September 2010. "You wish states could move quicker. But you also don't want them to waste the money," says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Andrea Risotto, Treasury spokeswoman, says the program required "considerable infrastructure."

The programs generally include temporary mortgage assistance from for six to 24 months.


Wal-Mart CEO Sees Stressed-out Consumers in U.S. The largest employer in the U.S. says short-term economic fixes could work, but sustained job creation won't happen without tax reform and new trade agreements. One week after President Obama and Congress launched new jobs plans, Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke (pictured below with Wal-Mart employees) says there are structural issues holding back American companies. I caught up with the man running the largest retailer in the world to find out what to expect for the rest of the year and how to get businesses hiring again.

Duke told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo in an interview, “I'm not an economist, so I always qualify any forecast with a simple approach of how I hear customers talking in our stores. And customers today are concerned. If we could start to see improvements in unemployment or lower fuel prices, then I could see that lead to more positive consumer confidence and consumer spending.

“The overall global economy is still struggling. Because Wal-Mart operates in 28 countries, we get a pretty good perspective. I'm out visiting stores virtually every week, and consumer confidence is not good. Probably the single biggest topic of concern is unemployment and jobs. This lengthy period of high unemployment is causing that cycle of consumer confidence to really be down. Increases in fuel costs really take from the consumer's spending ability. The U.S. consumer is under a lot of pressure. Meanwhile, we have large businesses in China and Brazil, and that's a different story. Those markets have recovered faster. There's more optimism. A strong consumer and emerging middle class is leading to faster rates of growth in the emerging markets around the world.”

Thomas Hinton, president of the American Consumer Council echoed Duke’s concerns saying, “Until meaningful job creation returns to middle America, and the government figures out a way to keep homeowners in their homes and stop foreclosures, the American economy will continue to struggle. And, as long as America struggles, the rest of the world’s economy will also struggle.”


JSTC Employees Federal Credit Union Serves Johnstown, PA Region with Great Loan Rates

JSTC Employees Federal Credit Union (JSTC) has become a popular place for high school and college students who want to start a banking relationship with a strong financial institution. JSTC enjoys helping students open a new account, apply for a credit card or debit card, and make a student loan application. Pennsylvania consumers are flocking to JSTC because they have built a reputation as a consumer-friendly credit union and an easy place to do their financial business. And, JSTC has a new location at 969 Eisenhower Blvd. in Johnstown, PA. Visit them soon!

If you’re a student who needs to open a financial account, contact JSTC Employees Federal Credit Union at www.jstc.net If you’re a small business or Pennsylvania consumer who wants a friendly, supportive financial institution where you can conduct all your financial transactions, contact JSTC today! Let them know you heard about JSTC through the non-profit American Consumer Council.

JSCT Employees Federal Credit Union
969 Eisenhower Blvd, Suite J
Johnstown, PA 15904-3326
Credit Union local telephone: 814-266-6222
Fax: 814-266-7145
Toll Free: 1-800-994-9993
Teller Line: 1-800-309-8559

Lobby Hours:
Monday - Thursday
9:00am - 4:00pm
Friday
9:00am - 6:00pm
Learn more at http://www.jstc.net/

The American Consumer Council is proud to have
JSTC Employees Federal Credit Union
as a Sponsoring Member


2011 Green CSM Certification Accepting Applications for 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 2011 fall cycle are now being accepted through November 30, 2011.

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: www.americanconsumercouncil.org/green

For more information, please call ACC at 1-800-544-0414 or visit ACC’s website by clicking here.

To become a member of the American Consumer Council, visit us at: www.americanconsumercouncil.org