CLEVELAND, Ohio – Catching up on the virtual mail bag this week, passing along words of wisdom from a reader, and answering some questions.
Reader: I have a column idea that I think is timely. … Early in the pandemic my husband and I talked about what might happen if one or both of us were to become seriously ill. I’m 59 and he’s 60, so we’re in the age demographic for more serious disease. We did some things we should have done a while ago anyway, but the pandemic was the spur to act.
We automated our bill payments to the maximum extent possible. I made a list of all our regular bills, when they were due, how they are paid, and where to find any payment coupons, etc. so my husband has that info. We also sat down and talked through our finances, insurance, etc.
We did this regularly before the pandemic anyway, but we were overdue for an update. We use a password management program we both access so either of us can find any password for any account. We also updated our will, trust, health care POA (power of attorney), and durable POA documents and our living wills. – Ann, Berea
Rich: That’s great advice, Ann.
I’m a big fan of organizing a list of key documents into a page or two, and sharing that list with someone, or multiple people, who might have to sort things out in my absence. My checklist includes:
* Any regular bills, when they are due and how the payments are made. For example, an electric bill will come in the mail near the end of the month and the charge will automatically be withdrawn from the checking account around the 10th of the following month. Or such and such credit card is due on the 5th of each month, and the payment must be arranged.
* A listing of bank accounts.
* A listing of investment accounts, with key contact information for each, especially if they are out of state.
* Insurance and pension information (remember pensions from former employers).
* Loan payment details, and how to check on the outstanding balances for major loans such as those on your home or vehicles.
(As an aside, fear for what the next person may have to figure out is one reason why I usually still opt in to receive paper bills in the mail; at least something will arrive in the regular mail, as opposed to someone having to sort through my cluttered personal email in box, even if they do have access to it.)
A few years ago I took another step that I wish I had not put off for so long. I created a binder for important information, inserting each document or piece of information in one of those clear plastic pages you can put in a binder.
That really got me organized. It took a little bit of time to put together, but now there will be no hunting around the house for a car title when I go to sell. In fact, all my titles and license information are now all together – for cars, trailers and kayaks. Plus there’s a lot of other information there.
In the front of that binder is the is the listing of monthly and semi-regular bills and other documents I mentioned earlier.
This is such a good topic that I might revisit it again in more detail.
A ‘scam’ for unclaimed funds?
Reader: I did what you wrote about (to search for unclaimed funds). I went to the website. The whole thing led me around in a big circle. I had to pay $1 to do the search. I got to the point to make a claim and it took me back to the Ohio site. I had to cancel this service. Are you getting a kick back for everyone that pays to a run around? What a rip-off. – Brian, hometown not provided.
Rich: No kicks backs here. But your question was quite puzzling.
I never encountered such a fee request. Neither did several other people I know who have done multiple searches on the website.
I immediately wondered whether you ended up on another site, not the one from the Ohio Department of Commerce’s unclaimed funds website at this link (https://www.com.ohio.gov/unfd/) that also leads to missingmoney.com. In a follow-up email, you told me you did end up at a different website I don’t want to publicize here.
Before seeing your response, I shared your email with the Ohio Department of Commerce. Here’s the reply from Akil Hardy, superintendent of the division of unclaimed funds. There’s some good info here for anyone who has come across such a pay site.
“Missingmoney.com is a free public site, and advertises as such on the main homepage. Any site that requires payment to search for funds is likely a scam. I just went to the missingmoney.com site, and did multiple searches with no issue,” Hardy wrote in an email response to me.
“… There are individuals who are allowed by law (ORC 169.13) to register with our division to assist citizens with the recovery of unclaimed funds for a fee of no more than 10% of the amount recovered and paid to the owner/claimant. Although these finders are registered by the division, they have no other affiliation with the division or missingmoney.com.
“Thus, we remind claimants that they may submit a claim to the division by themselves for no cost/fee. Should anyone call into question whether an individual is registered by the division, they can simply call us for verification at 614-466-4433.”
David Milby, who manages missingmoney.com for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, likewise said the website never charges fees.
“There are so many bad characters out there that try to defraud people about unclaimed property. I’ve been trying to do things for years to try to counter it,” Milby said.
“A lot of times what people do is that they go to Google. They don’t actually type in missingmoney.com. … They end up on these other websites were people try to make money off them. No one at missingmoney.com nor any of these states charge any kind of a fee.”
Credit card bills due on holidays
Reader: I believe that an outcome of the Great Recession and bank reform was that bank credit cards could no longer have due dates that were non-business days? Is that still in effect?
I constantly see due dates that are non-business days and it is especially galling when that due date is a national Monday bank holiday. You then end up sending in your payment to arrive the preceding Friday! The bank then receives an early payment four days early and generates additional interest for themselves on that money. If you spread this over millions of card holders it is a substantial windfall for the banks. – Tom, Seven Hills
Rich: Holiday or not, it shouldn’t matter. Here’s why.
The due date for credit cards must be the same each month, according the U.S. Treasury Department. But accommodations are made for holidays and weekends when payment processing is not normal.
“If the payment due date falls on a weekend or a holiday when the bank does not accept or receive mailed payments, then any mailed payment received by the bank before the cut-off time on the next business day would be considered an on-time payment,” the department explains in a summary of credit card rules.
But here’s where you have to be careful.
If the credit card company accepts electronic payments on such a day, and you pay electronically, the due date stands. This is because the holiday or weekend day did not interrupt the normal process for that method of payment. Same goes if you make payments by telephone. If they are accepted by telephone on a holiday, and you pay by telephone, the due date stands.
Having said all this, here are three things you might consider:
(1) Play it safe and pay a couple of days early if that will eliminate your concerns, as aggravating as that may be. (2) Set up your payment directly with the credit card company for the due date instead of through your bank if the weekend day is not offered by your bank. (3) If you do end up with a late payment fee, call to ask that it be reversed. My experience is that the credit card companies normally will do so if you have a record of responsibly paying on time.
Email questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your hometown. Let me know if I can publish your name. And to help me sort through the clutter of my email box, try to remember including “That’s Rich!” in the subject of the email.
Earlier from That’s Rich!
— to www.cleveland.com