consumers have questions about the rules governing U.S. Savings Bonds. That's especially
the case recently as the Treasury Department has made changes to make Savings Bonds more
attractive. For example, Series EE Bonds (those sold in denominations as low as $50)
purchased on or after May 1, 1997, now earn 90 percent of the average yield for five-year
Treasury notes, up from 85 percent previously. Also, interest on the new bonds accrues
monthly instead of every six months.
How can you get information about the rules governing a new or an old bond, or about ways
to buy, replace or redeem a bond? The Treasury Department says that, in most cases your
local bank can answer your Savings Bond questions. But you also can contact the Treasury
directly. Write to the Bureau of the Public Debt, U.S. Savings Bonds, Parkersburg, WV
26106-1328. Or, if you have access to the Internet, you can find answers to frequently
asked questions at the Bureau's World Wide Web site (www.savingsbonds.gov) or send
questions by e-mail to SavBonds@bpd.treas.gov. And for recorded information about current
interest rates, you may call 800-4US-BOND (800-487-2663).
For the first time in 10 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
has revised its official guide to shopping for a mortgage loan and understanding
settlement costs. The new version of "Buying Your Home" is intended to be easier
for consumers to understand, and it's been expanded and updated. As in the past, lenders
are required to give the brochure to mortgage loan applicants, but copies generally are
available to anyone who asks. Lenders must make the new version available to applicants by
September 9, 1997. To get a copy, contact a lender or download the brochure to your
computer from HUD's Internet site and click on "Buying Your Home". Copies also
are available for a $1.75 fee from the Government Printing Office (phone
The 1996 law intended to give consumers more assurances about the accuracy and privacy of
their credit histories -- including the right to be excluded from unsolicited offers of
credit cards -- officially goes into effect September 30, 1997. For a brief overview of
that law, see the fall 1996 edition of FDIC Consumer News, but
for more specifics contact the Federal Reserve System (listed in For More Help) or the
Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Response Center, Washington, D.C. 20580 (phone:
Do you want to learn more about fair lending laws and about FDIC efforts to encourage
lenders to identify and meet local credit needs? Contact our Public Information Center for
the new brochure, "The FDIC's Community Affairs Program," issued by our Division
of Compliance and Consumer Affairs (DCA)...
National Consumers Week, an annual educational event coordinated by the U.S. Office of
Consumer Affairs in cooperation with a wide range of government and private organizations,
runs October 25-31, 1997. For information about workshops, exhibits or other activities
around the country, write the USOCA at 808 17th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC
20006 or call 202-565-0040. For details about the FDIC's participation in National
Consumers Week, contact our consumer affairs division listed in For More Help...
A correction: In our spring 1997 edition about retirement savings, we incorrectly said
that after age 70 1/2 you must begin withdrawing money from a 401(k) account. That was
true for years before 1997, and it remains true for Individual Retirement Accounts.
However, because of a 1996 law change, many people in 1997 and later years who continue to
work after age 70 1/2 do not need to start withdrawing from their 401(k) until after they
retire. For more details, contact your company's personnel office, your accountant or the
Internal Revenue Service toll-free at 800-829-1040arents generally know when and how to
teach their children to ride a bike or drive a car. But when it comes to helping kids
understand financial responsibility, many parents can use a little teacher's ed. That's
where we...and you...come in.
In an upcoming issue of FDIC Consumer News, we'll give tips and
information about ways to help grade-schoolers and high-schoolers learn about money. About
saving and investing. Spending and borrowing within limits. Being smart shoppers. Learning
to accept financial obligations. And last but not least, the importance of being
charitable with money.
How can you help? Send us your best advice and anecdotes.