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Archive for March, 2007

Lotto scam taken one step further

March 31st, 2007 at 12:50 am

Imagine my surprise tonight when I get home, open my mail (snail mail, not email) and find a check for $4,485.46!!!!! Woohoo... I won!!!!

Wait... What? I never entered the Australian Lottery. Oh, and what is this saying:

In accordance with our disbursement policy, your winnings have been forwarded to the clearing institution authorized to release your funds. You claim number is assigned to BENCOOLEN FINANCIAL INC, out North America affiliate. You funds are insured for security reason and will be released to you after the confirmation protocol. You'll not be asked to provide any personal information or use of your personal funds to pay fees associated with this award.

To expedite the process, a check of $4,485.46 deducted from your winnings is hereby enclosed to enable you pay the non-resident fees and taxes totaling $2850.25. Please contact your claim Assessment Agent, Mrs. Debbie Danda at 1-289-888-1255. She will handle all matters relating to your award and the release of your funds. PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY


The part that sort of ticked me...

Be further advised that you should not attempt to use or cash this check until you have contacted the Agent above tio validate the check and activate your claim no later than 5 business days upon receipt of this final notification


So what do you say?? Should I call Mrs. Debbie???

====== Edit 4/07/07 =====
I just went through that letter again (Yes, I still have it!). The very bottom contains the following text:
INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN MUST BE KEPT IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 305 OF THE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY COMMISSION RULES. ANY DISCLOSURE OF THIS NOTIFICATION IN PART OR WHOLE TO ANY PARTY NOT SPECIFICALLY NAMED HEREIN WILL RESULT IN CANCELLATION OF AWARD


I guess I just forfeited my award... aawww!

Update on IRA

March 23rd, 2007 at 04:25 pm

I've had my Roth IRA with Vanguard for a little over 2 months now, and I just wanted to give an update.

I put in $2000, and have an automatic $50 going in on the 16th of every month.
The only fund I was able to get with this money was Vanguard STAR (VGSTX).

I have put $ 2,099.98 and now own 99.672 shares, for a total value of $ 2,134.97. That's +1.67%.

I thought that IRA contributions were deductible, but found out that Roth IRA contributions were not. I'm already not going to pay taxes on the gain, so I guess I should consider myself happy.

My new computer

March 18th, 2007 at 07:51 pm

I've been in need of a serious upgrade for my computer. The one I have now is 5 years old. I love playing RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, and because of my old hardware I cannot play any of the newer games.

I'm comfortable with replacing the new components myself. This is a project I've been thinking about for a while now. Only I don't have the budget for it.

In order to get a functioning PC, I will the following new components:
- Motherboard
- CPU (w/ cooling)
- Memory
- Graphic Card

I have 2 hard drives, so I'm set with that.

I've done a bit of research and here's what I came up with on Newegg.com:
- DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra...
$ 109.99
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Toledo 2.2GHz
$ 159.00
- Thermaltake CL-P0296 CPU Cooler
$ 26.99
- CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 40...
$ 74.99
- BFG Tech GeForce 7600GT 256MB
$ 142.99

Total: $ 513.96

The processor is not exactly what I wanted. I am looking for a 4400 Toledo, but I can't seem to find one anywhere anymore!

I have opened an HSBC account, which is our "Fund" account. There are $45 in it, so I still have a little bit to go.

Damn gym membership

March 16th, 2007 at 02:29 pm

My hubby and I got a gym membership 2 years ago. It was a 2-year contract - mistake No. 1 - that I didn't bother to read - mistake No. 2 - and the fee was directly taken out of my account every month - mistake No. 3.

I'm not doing very well so far, am I?

As you can guess, we went to the gym a few times a week and the first 2 months. Then it was once a week, and once a month. Before the first year ended, we weren't going anymore. But we signed a contract, so we sucked it up and let them take the $50 a month.

Finally... the last month was this January. I am happy. That is, until I see a withdraw for $19 a few days ago. The withdrawer was the gym. What? What happened? It turns out that the contract (yes, the one I didn't bother to read) had an automatic renewal clause. How surprising!

I called, said I didn't want my contract to be renewed. Ok, they'll cancel it, but no, they won't refund the $19.

To top it: I wasn't expecting such a fee this month. This happened on 3/13 and I get paid on 3/15, and there was not enough funds to cover the $19. So I got charged $30 for insufficient fund. They will not refund that either.

I called my bank (Sovereign Bank, not to name it). I have been a good customer for over 5 years and my account has been overdrawn maybe 3 times. I explain the situation. They won't refund the fee.

So I'm out $50 for no good reason.

Lesson learned: never EVER EVER sign up for automatic withdrawal or let anyone have direct access to your account.

ABN AMRO sucks

March 1st, 2007 at 11:50 pm

Ok, I'm over-reacting a little, but here's the story:
I sent my mortgage payment with an extra $22.68 to go to our principal. First of all, it's the second months in a row I have to call them because they put extra payments in the escrow account vs. principal. Even though I had called prior and made sure that any and all extra would go toward principal, but anyway...

I sent the payment on 2/20 and called on 2/21 to rectify the mistake. On Friday 2/23, I see that nothing has changed so I write to customer service and get a response back saying this will be fixed.

My payment is due 3/1 and this is the part I'm over-reacting about because we're talking about a tiny amount of money: they applied my extra payment toward NEXT MONTH, which made means that I will pay a whole $1 or so extra in interest.

It's no so much the amount that bothers me (after all, we are talking about $1!!), but it's more that first of all, I've had to call many times, and write in order to get this done. I had called once, before making my very first payment, and was told that any extra payment were, by default, credited to the principal, which is apparently not true.

Second is that when I did this last month, the money was moved from escrow to principal right away. This time, it feels like they waited until my normal payment was due (3/1) and then fixed it so it would be credited to the principal after 3/1.

This means that on a one-person scale (me), it is $1, but what if they do this to a hundreds of thousands of customers every months. It does add up for them!