During a time when many people are trying to save money and reduce their debt, the Army Community Service financial readiness program is hosting free monthly seminars on financial readiness for the Aberdeen Proving Ground community.

Angie Barnett, the president of Greater Maryland's Better Business Bureau, was the guest speaker for the workshop held on April 29. She talked to attendees about knowing the difference between credit counseling, debt settlement, credit repair and bankruptcy.

Barnett told attendees how to avoid the so-called "miracle cures" for financial woes, how a consumer's financial uncertainty makes them prey to financial scams and a consumer's rights if a debt collector calls.

Barnett said that they can visit the BBB Web site, www.bbb.org, to check to see if a business has BBB accreditation. BBB accredited businesses must meet certain standards to qualify for accredited business status and remain an accredited business.

The Web site also has up-to-date news on avoiding financial scams, money saving tips, credit card information, and information about job hunting.

Second Lt. John Theobald, from the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion, said that he felt that the program provided important information to Soldiers and their Families, and he found the Web site very helpful.

"I thought it was an excellent briefing," he said. "Making bad financial decisions is a common problem among Soldiers. They are often not informed about making wise financial decisions and sign up for credit cards with high interest rates, and then have trouble paying their debt. The Web site also gives information to help users avoid getting taken for credit card scams."

Theobald added that material was handed out at the meeting that will be helpful for reference material in the future.

"This information is something every leader can give to Soldiers so they can avoid making poor financial decisions," he said.

The Kiplinger-BBB Personal Finance Guide for military Families can be found on the Web site, which contains practical, easy-to-understand information about being financially prepared for deployment, buying a home, minimizing taxes, holding down insurance costs and avoiding financial schemes that too often target military Families. Links are also found on the Web site that are specifically for Soldiers and their Families.

According to the BBB's Web site, the BBB is a participant in the Department of Defense's Financial Readiness Campaign.

The BBB Army Line, in partnership with the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, encourages Soldiers (including Reservists and National Guard), retirees, and their Family members to use the free consumer services and materials offered by BBB, including links to helpful resources.

Visit the site at www.bbb.org/us/Military/Army.

Arcelio Alleyne, financial program manager for ACS, said that he felt that the program was helpful to attendees and that the program was well attended adding that ACS will hold a financial readiness workshop every month.

"We realize that with the economy people are experiencing financial stress, this is why we [ACS] wanted to increase our partnership with local financial institutions to ease some the economic concerns," he said.

On May 19 there will be a presentation on credit reports and credit scores by James Harris, director of Education for Consumer Credit Counseling, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the ACS building 2754.
For more information, call Alleyne, 410-278-2450.