Property Grunt

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let's Play Torchwood

The twenty-first century is when everything changes. And you gotta be ready.

Captain Jack Harkness

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a Con Edison representative about my utilities account. Now Con Edison has a new policy that you have to either give your social security number or put up a deposit. In the past when I have setup my Con Ed account, I just gave them my address and phone number and that was it. Now they were asking for an arm and a leg.

I wasn't keen on either option. First of all, I am very aware of how prevalent identity theft is these days and one of the best ways to prevent it is to limit the exposure of sensitive information. I chose the deposit came out to a very significant chunk of change. According to the Con Ed rep, the amount of deposit is determined through the average use of one month. So those of you who opt for the deposit, limit your utility use for one month to get a better deal. If you are a good customer and pay your bills on time within a year the deposit will be refunded to you or be credited to your account.

I was curious why Con Edison implemented this policy and the representative provided a very sobering explanation. She explained to me that Con Edison was in dire need of funds and so they were taking every measure to insure that would get paid.

What really got my attention was when she informed that there was always a segment of the customer base that would cut and run but in the last year it has gotten worse which was another reason why Con instituted this new policy. What also was freaking her out was that she noticed that more businesses in the city were disconnecting their services and that was an indication of the economy was entering very rough waters. I asked if any Wall Street firms were shutting down, she replied that industry was fine, it was the smaller business that were getting hammered.

Today I had an interesting conversation with a customer services representative of a credit card company regarding an ID protection plan. Pay 12 bucks a month and you get to check on your credit report from all three major companies anytime you want. She claimed that as long as you were personally looking over your own credit it would not impact your credit rating. I told her I would think about it.

5 months ago she used to work in mortgages and she saw the writing on the wall and opted for a transfer to the credit card department. I mentioned that during the REFI boom, a large number of people were using their homes as ATMs and some analysts stated once people tapped out their homes they would switch to credit cards. She did notice that the credit card industry was currently doing exceptionally well. She emphasized that people need to take care of their credit because no cares anymore about how much money you have. They just want proof that you are financially responsible and the creditors will get their money on time.

Now I realize these two anecdotes barely qualify as bell weathers but as far as I am concerned it is just more evidence that we are entering the FUBAR phase of our economy. In fact a recession maybe on the horizon. So what are we going to do about it?

I propose we take the offensive. I say we research and take steps to insure that we do more than just ride out the storm but to also take advantage of any opportunities that come out of the woodwork. I am not just talking about foreclosures, I am also talking about our personal finance and well being. It is not going to do any good to sit on our duffs and mope. Everything changes now. So we gotta be ready.