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The bank sent me a five-dollar check in the mail. I like checks in my mail. This is a good surprise especially since I live on a budget. My rent, my utilities, my food, medicines are disbursements. Money goes out, but where are my revenues?

Listen, five dollars is five dollars. A dollar here, a dollar there is very nice to get. But let me ask myself, is this another free lunch? Companies have lawyers, who write up things that seem nice. The money offers seem charming. Nevertheless, they are like snake charmers. It appears good. But it is not good. Why does New York need 50,000 lawyers?

‘Buyer beware’ is a legal concept. It means that the little guy, you and me, and all veterans must be careful in purchases. It means when things go wrong, guess who really gets the surprise? The buyer is responsible.

So I read further with regard to the five-dollar check. “You get a dollar back for every dollar you charge on this new credit card.” And when you cash this check, we bill you $74.99 every six months. I am confused. This letter is written by a lawyer.

It seems like stealing. It seems like it is an unfair bargain. It seems like free money but it costs $150 a year, every year. So this bank, AutoVantage Enhanced service bank takes money. This trick takes money out of our pensions.

This five dollars is not really a check after all. Just read all the 500 words included with the check and you’ll understand. It is not real. It is too good to be real.

Everyday, fraudulent companies with real names send out this sort of letter. You won this, that and the other thing, so just send in $100 for handling and postage and you’ll get yours.

When a company plays like this, they send out hundreds of these same letters. If one person in a hundred complains, it is okay. The company will refund his money. Hush money.

But where do the 99 other people stand? They don’t read, they don’t understand the lawyer-like words. They see, hear, and feel free money, contest winnings, lotteries, and they agree to pay the company for the gift.

In other words, this free five dollar check costs the consumer veterans $14,850 (99 people times $150). The gift is phony. It is baloney. It is not real. It is unfair. It is a crime. And it never stops. These companies keep making lots of money this way. This game is no bargain.

So when you win, forget it. Live within your budget. Let the bank keep the free five dollars and steal from some other veteran. Who says life is a bargain anyhow?

James Faraguna


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