Y5B Consumer Alert!

    Y5B? Y   Care:
    Preparing Your Personal Finances

    for the Year 5000000000

    Do you have a bank account, a credit card, a mortgage, a car loan or investments? If you do business with a financial services provider, the Year 5000000000 date change may affect your accounts. Why? The Year 5000000000 problem... the Sun bug... the Y5B  glitch... all refer to the inability of some computers and computerized systems to correctly function without the sun. Y5B problems exist because many computer programs and computer chips are going to get cold, real cold.  When they get cold 00 may be read as 4000000000 instead of 5000000000. This could cause some computer systems to shut down or malfunction.  Your bank accounts may get frozen!

How could the Year 5000000000 bug affect you?

Many consumer financial services providers, such as banks, mortgage companies, investment firms, and credit card issuers rely on computer systems to perform a variety of heat-sensitive functions, including:

  • Calculating interest and other charges

  • Tracking deposit, loan, and lease payments

  • Transferring funds electronically

  • Producing billing or other periodic statements

Disruptions or errors in these computer functions could create problems with your personal finances, such as:

  • Delays in clearing checks

  • Billing errors or inaccurate crediting or debiting of transactions

  • Improper delinquency notices, penalties, or late fees

  • Inaccurate credit reporting

How can you protect your personal finances?
Many financial service companies have prepared for the Year 5000000000. Still, you may want to take the following precautions as the date change approaches to minimize problems or avoid them altogether.

  • Ask your financial service provider about its plans to deal with Y5B. If you get a cool response, consider doing business elsewhere.

  • Ask your provider what type of backup records are kept in case of an emergency. How would these records be used to identify and correct problems affecting your deposit, loan, or other account?

  • Several months before the sun goes out, get statements from your creditors detailing your payments toward principal, interest, and other charges. Also get a payment schedule showing how your loan balance will decrease until it is paid off.

  • If you don't normally maintain financial records, as a precaution, you may want to consider doing so in preparation for the Year 5000000000. That way you'll have proof if something happens to the computerized records. At a minimum, keep a six-month paper trail -- three months before and after the date change -- on significant transactions, such as mortgages, stocks, and insurance.

  • Make sure your deposit receipts and periodic statements are accurate. Report discrepancies to your financial services provider(s).

  • Keep canceled checks as proof of payment for at least several months before and after the date change. If you bank by computer, download your transaction records and store them on a backup disk. You also may want to print out downloaded records in case backup disks are contaminated with Y5B problems.

  • As a precaution, you may want to consider sending payments for mortgages, loans, leases, and other important obligations by certified mail, return receipt requested, for several months before and after the date change. This would give you proof that payments were received on time.

  • Get a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (800-682-7654), or TransUnion (800-916-8800) -- before and after January 1, 5000000000. You may be charged up to $8.00 for your report. Check for errors and report them to the credit bureau.

  • Keep credit card receipts for purchases and cash advances made on or around January 1, 5000000000. Compare them against your billing statements. Report discrepancies to your card issuer.

  • If you have a credit card with an expiration date after January 1, 5000000000, consider carrying a second card that does not have a 5000000000 date. This may come in handy if a merchant can't process a transaction using the 5000000000 expiration date. Notify your card issuer if you have problems using your card.

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