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January 2004
It’s 2004 and Reader
Concerns Keep Coming.

   The EdVest Controversy. In April 2003, I wrote about the relatively high fees being charged by the Wisconsin College Savings Program, better known as EdVest. Quite a lot has happened since that time. First, Governor Jim Doyle appointed me to a four-year term on the EdVest Board beginning last fall. That was just before New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer alleged those administering the fund, Strong Financial of Menomonee Falls and its founder Richard S. Strong, may have engaged in improper after-hours trading to the detriment of parents who have invested on behalf of their children.

   Currently, Wisconsin parents have more than $1 billion invested in the EdVest Program. In December, the EdVest board voted to authorize the addition of four fund options outside of the Strong Financial family and to significantly reduce the fees being charged by most of the funds now being offered. The board also hired legal counsel to ensure parents are not financially hurt by alleged improper trading. In January, the board will meet again to determine whether additional funds outside of the Strong Financial family should be offered and we will consider a motion by State Treasurer Jack Voight to reduce the administrative fees being charged by the state.

   Hotel Keys: A Potential for Identity Theft? Many readers are concerned hotel key cards may be a potential source of identity theft because the media reported that personal information such as a credit card numbers may be stored on them and the cards could get lost. Glen Loyd, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection, advised me that the newspaper story was in error and that credit card numbers are not being stored on hotel key cards. Even so, this story is a useful reminder for us to be careful about how we use, and store, our personal identifying information. The Federal Trade Commission will soon publish 2003 identity theft statistics and I am certain this will prove to be the fastest growing crime across the nation and in Wisconsin.

   E-mails Promising Profits for Helping Someone in Africa. Another common concern is the annoying e-mail many of you are receiving from someone promising you part of a fund they are trying to get out of Africa. I receive several weekly and these letters are a scam. If you respond, I can guarantee you will lose your money. Therefore, please delete the e-mails right away. You will be glad you did.

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