Even Banks and Credit Card Companies are Dishonest
There is a truism ~ everybody lies. These days, even the people you should be able to trust to help you look after your money will lie to you. Just three recent examples in the news;
- Thousands of staff at Wells Fargo Bank routinely created false customer accounts based on real customers’ email addresses. All told about 2 million fake accounts were created. These fake accounts were allegedly used by staff to meet their sales targets ~ and some 5,300 Well Fargo staff have been fired. Would that it were all ~ trust me, there is more nasty news to come on this one concerning customer charges and wrong-doings higher up in the bank.
- The great credit card scandal continues. Credit cards are a rip-off for everyone except the banks. Despite official interest rates being at an historic low, the interest charged on credit card balances continues to rise to usury levels. And, in Britain Mastercard is accused of setting punitive charges on retailers, resulting in an estimated overcharging of £14 billion between 1992 and 2008. Guess who ends up paying for all this ~ you do. Mastercard are being taken to court in a class action.
- Four ex-employees of Barclays Bank are facing long jail terms for manipulating LIBOR. You may think LIBOR, (London Inter Bank Offered Rate), has got nothing to do with you. As a matter of fact the interest costs of everything you have ever borrowed is based on Libor. If you can’t trust the financial markets, then who can you trust?
Not one of the companies and people you trust to manage your money are completely honest with you. When it comes to your money, trust nobody.
Complete honesty is much more than not cheating, stealing, and lying ~ although banks, insurance companies, pension providers, credit card companies, financial advisers, et al, do more than enough outright cheating, stealing, and lying. Complete honesty means not lying by omission, being straightforward, being open, telling you what you need to know, avoiding obfuscation… None of the financial companies and people you deal with abide by that definition of honesty.
If they wanted to be really honest, then they wouldn’t have you sign a legal agreement which included pages and pages of small print.
What should you do;
- Check your bank and credit card statements for unexpected items, especially unexpected charges.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- If it looks to good to be true it is.
- If you don’t understand something, have it clearly explained until you do understand.
- Never pay for financial advice, never pay an up-front or annual fee for a credit card or bank account.
In high finance there is a concept called ‘counter-party risk’ ~ one of the assumptions in that concept is ‘buyer beware’, never assume that the person or company you are dealing with is telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
George Bailey would be horrified.