In This Economic Meltdown, Anything Goes
"If [you are] spending in a way that looks like a pattern of other people who had credit trouble before," AmEx spokesman Michael O'Neill told the Journal's Robin Sidel, "it gets added into the mix."
I imagine suddenly having my credit cut off, stranded in Angkor Wat with the letter of explanation from the American Express Gold Card people sitting under the mail slot of my front door in Philadelphia, 11,000 miles away.
After 44 years, suddenly I'm scared to death of these bastards.
An Excess of Fear Turns Into an Excess of Lies
Here's the teaser on an outer envelope ING Direct sent to Denison Hatch.
EARN MORE THAN 7X THE NATIONAL AVERAGE
WITH YOUR ORANGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT
PLUS, WE'LL GIVE YOU $25 TO GET STARTED.
7X seemed, to me, a bit excessive.
Inside this mailing was a check for $25, made out to me, along with a personalized letter in mousetype, sans serif font.
In the letter is a chart showing that average savings accounts nationally yield 0.38% and money market accounts yield 0.63%. On the other hand, ING's Direct Orange Saving Account yields a whopping 3.00%.
I went to the ING's source—bankrate.com—and found that the average taxable money market fund ranges from 2.06% (HighMark U.S. Gov't MMF) to 3.03% (Oppenheimer MMF).
In other words, ING's sales pitch offering "7X the national average" appears to be a flat-out lie perpetrated by people with an excess of zeal going after the sucker market.
Iceland did this, offering savers across Europe 5.45% interest on savings accounts. Iceland went bankrupt two weeks ago, leaving a legion of British depositors twisting in the wind to the tune of $1.8 billion.
I wouldn't have noticed any of this, except that in my vast archive are several stories from October 20, 2008, about the Dutch government bailing out ING with €10 billion (US$15 billion). Meanwhile, ING promises depositors that their money is "FDIC insured."