Live Big® Digest – American Phoenix edition

Live Big® Digest – American Phoenix edition

We have a number of things to share with you today, but the inspiration for sending this particular Live Big Digest comes from an article just sent to us by a client.  The article, “World power swings back to America,” was written by Ambrose Evan-Pritchard, who covers economics and finance for the UK newspaper The Telegraph.  In his most recent offering, Evan-Pritchard identifies a number of emerging trends — from growing energy independence to a resurgence in manufacturing — to make the case that the narrative of America’s inevitable decline is as misplaced today as it was in the late-eighties.  As with all economic phenomena, emerging trends must be extrapolated with caution, but betting against the dynamism and resilience of the American economy and people has never been a winning proposition.  Or, as Evan-Pritchard puts it, “The 21st Century may be American after all, just like the last.

More Good News
Another positive note was sounded in the Wall Street Journal today, where Justin Lahart reports that economic forecasters have been rushing to raise their estimates of US economic growth for the third quarter and beyond.  This after having universally lowered estimates in the face of stock market declines and growing consumer pessimism.  It turns out that American consumers weren’t putting their money where their mouth was, so to speak, but were busy spending it instead.  The monthly survey conducted by Macroeconomic Advisors showed forecasters raising their estimates for third quarter growth to 2.7% from the 1.7% reported in September.  Some are even projecting annualized growth in excess of 3%. Now, admittedly, these are not growth rates that will quickly reduce unemployment, but they do suggest that we’re a long way from a double-dip recession.  Concludes Lahart: “So far, for all its woes, the U.S. economy has proved remarkably resilient amid the blows it has taken this year.”  Amen brother!  Read the full article here.

Dave has a LifeLock moment
As many of you know, we’ve always recommended a multi-pronged approach to safeguarding your credit, starting with good habits like choosing secure passwords and making liberal use of your shredder. We also think it makes sense to employ a service to track credit and identity risks. We’ve often recommended LifeLock for this role based on the relatively comprehensive approach the company takes.  We had not, however, had any experience of what it’s actually like to work with LifeLock when a risk is detected. Until now, that is.

A few weeks ago, Dave received an email alert from LifeLock, informing him that someone had applied for a car loan using his Social Security number and date of birth.  He immediately called the service desk and was told that the application had gone through a company called Credco Auto. The LifeLock member service rep noted, however, that Credco finances more than just cars and asked if Dave had applied for credit in any other form.  He had not.  So a case was opened and Dave was promised a follow up call as soon as the investigation was complete.  A few days later, Dave received a call from a representative named Kari, who, after confirming his identity (using the security questions he had previously chosen), indicated that she would be calling Credco with Dave on the line so that he could authorize the company to reveal the full details of the application.  After a few minutes on hold, Kari came back to say that she had obtained the information she needed (the name of the car dealership that had submitted a credit request to Credco, a dealership that Dave had dealt with but not for more than a decade) without requiring Dave on the line and that she could continue her investigation with the dealership without taking up any more of his time.  A little while later, Kari called back to report that she had talked to the sales manager at the dealership and was able to confirm that no loan had been obtained using Dave’s personal information.

Such false alarms are apparently not unusual, often the result of keying errors — though we suspect in this case the dealership may have been trying to pre-qualify an old customer while bypassing the traditional credit agencies. What was most impressive about the incident was the high quality of service that was delivered in response to the alert.  Anyone who’s ever dealt directly with the credit reporting agencies knows that you’ll never get a human being, let alone a human being as friendly and responsive as the LifeLock reps Dave interacted with.  And all for $110 per year (less if you use the discount code Yeske Buie obtained for its clients: YESKEBUIEEMP).  We should hasten to add that we have no financial relationship with LifeLock, they’re simply the service provider we currently recommend.  For more information on protecting against identity theft, meanwhile, check out the guide on our website.

Take care and have a wonderful week!

The Yeske Buie Team