News

Last updated: July 19, 2017

Kansas Securities Interim Commissioner Wine Announces Opening of 2017 Investor Education Grant Cycle

TOPEKA, KS – Kansas Securities Interim Commissioner John Wine has announced the opening of the 2017 investor education grant cycle. The deadline for applications to be received by the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC) is August 15, 2017.

The Securities Commissioner’s Office develops and implements financial literacy and investor education initiatives to inform the public about investing in securities and the prevention of securities fraud. As part of this mission, the KSC regularly collaborates with organizations interested in expanding investor and financial education in the state. Applicants are encouraged to apply for grant funds for purposes relating to investor education or financial literacy.

“We appreciate and support the efforts of community and state-wide partners in providing education to Kansans on personal finance,” said John Wine, Interim Commissioner of the Securities Commissioner’s Office. “Grants will be awarded based on several factors, including project applicability to informing Kansans about investing and securities fraud, proposed outcome measures, and creativity and ingenuity of the proposals, among other measures.”

To learn more about the grant process, visit ksc.ks.gov/grants or contact Shannon Santschi, Director of Investor Education at Shannon.Santschi@ks.gov or 785.296.1055.

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The mission of the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner is to protect and inform Kansas investors; to promote integrity, fairness, and full disclosure in financial services; and to foster capital formation.

First Insurance Certificate Recipient Touts Program’s Relevance to Employment

Written by Daniel Rineberg, Community Outreach Specialist

TOPEKA, KS— A 2017 Fort Hays State University graduate is the first recipient of the Kansas Insurance Certificate, a new program sponsored by the Kansas Insurance Education Foundation (KIEF), the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas Insurance Department.

Jordan Klima, a Hoisington (KS) High School graduate, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance on May 13 when he graduated from FHSU. He also received certificates in accounting and the new Insurance Certificate.

The Kansas Insurance Certificate program began in 2016 through a collaboration among KIEF, the insurance department, and several Kansas higher learning institutions. The certificate gives college students the opportunity to gain a broad understanding about insurance and show prospective employers knowledge of general insurance coursework.

The 12-hour certificate program, if completed, is designed to advance career opportunities for the student in the financial services industry, including insurance. Students can take classes through several institutions.

Klima said he was working on the certificate’s coursework prior to qualifying for the certificate.

“I was informed by my Risk Management professor through email,” Klima said. “She said that it was a new certificate that Fort Hays was offering, and after some further research, I found that I had/would take all of the classes by the time that I was finished with my degree.”

Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, said the program allows the participating schools to offer the focus-area courses online or through traditional classroom instruction. Students can take the courses they are most interested in, even if they originate at another school within the program.

Klima is now employed as a Financial Institution Specialist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). He examines state-chartered financial institutions to ensure they have adequate risk policies and procedures in place. He believes his insurance certificate classes will be useful as he rotates through the FDIC’s Division of Insurance and Research next year.

He began as an intern with the FDIC prior to graduation. The insurance certificate program suggests that students take an internship with a financial services company to give them the opportunity to acquire new connections with businesses and relevant experience.

When asked about recommending the certificate to his peers he said, “Of course, especially to my friends still within the finance degree program because it would not likely increase the number of credit hours they are already required to complete. I feel non-finance students should also consider working towards this certificate.”

Participating institutions offering courses for the certificate are Washburn University, Fort Hays State University, Johnson County Community College, the University of Kansas-Edwards Campus, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University and Kansas State University.

More about the program is available at www.ksinsurancecertficate.org

The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers, regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at www.facebook.com/KansasInsuranceDepartment

State Agencies Announce 2017 Financial Essay Scholarship Winners

TOPEKA, Kan., (May 3, 2017) --- Kansas State Bank Commissioner Miki Bowman and Kansas Securities Commissioner Josh Ney announced the winners of the 2017 Financial Scholars Essay Contest in an awards ceremony held at the Dillon House in Topeka last Friday. The contest was jointly sponsored by the Office of the State Bank Commissioner (OSBC) and the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC). Five scholarships, ranging from $500 to $2500, as well as three $250 honorable mention prizes were awarded to Kansas high school seniors to help cover the cost of tuition at a Kansas school of higher education.

A record 140 essays from across the state were submitted to and judged by an independent panel of judges. To be eligible, students must have participated in at least one of four financial literacy programs sponsored by the state agencies: EverFi, Stock Market Game, Personal Finance Challenge, or LifeSmarts.

Students were asked to submit a two-part essay. In the first section, they chose one of the following financial challenges: a real-life event that happened to them or someone they know that impacted their views of handling money, a financial issue they believe public policy makers should give more attention to, or what they would like their lives to look like ten years down the road and the decisions they would have to make about finances and money management. The students then provided a 3-6 page analysis applying the lessons they incorporated in the first section toward financial decisions they are currently making regarding their higher education, including discussion of the positive and negative aspects of student loans, comparing the various types of higher education, and researching the earning potential of their chosen field of study and the job availability and demand of potential careers.

Nathan Buss, a senior at Jefferson West High School, won the top prize of $2500 for his essay. He wrote about lessons from his family’s farm that originated when his family settled on a 160-acre tract of land back in the 1870s. Through smart money management and a mindset to spend only what they were able to, his grandfather was able to keep the farm running through some very difficult times. The following is an excerpt from his essay: “We are still the sole owners of the land and have been for over 100 years…As I work with my family to maintain our herd of cattle, I am careful about the ways in which my money is spent. Being a small operation, we continue to use the same 1963 Massey-Ferguson tractor that my grandfather drove when he plowed the fields…I will always utilize the teachings of those that came before me in order to ensure my financial success.”

Nathan plans to attend Kansas State University next year and major in Biological Systems Engineering. At the Dillon House, Nathan was also recognized by local legislator Representative Ron Ellis.

Other scholarship winners in attendance were: 2nd place: Kylee Trout, Scott Community High School; 3rd place: Kyle Unruh, Hillsboro High School; and 5th place: Sydney Hoover, De Soto High School. Honorable mention attendees were: Makenzie Fankhauser, Shawnee Mission East High School and Kim Nguyen, Seaman High School. Students who were not able to attend were: 4th place: Brooke Bulloch, Maize South High School and honorable mention: Seth Tunnell, Wellington High School.

Students and their families attending last Friday’s events were treated to a special luncheon at the historic Dillon House in Topeka. An awards ceremony followed the meal, which included remarks from both commissioners and a scholarship recipients panel discussion covering the topic of financial literacy. Nathan Buss read his winning essay to close the ceremony. The students and their families then took photos in the governor’s ceremonial office and had the option to tour the statehouse and dome.

“The programs we sponsor are designed to help prepare students for life beyond high school,” said Bowman. “These essays illustrate the impact our programs have made on Kansas students across the state. It is clear these students are aware of the importance of making sound financial decisions from the start. Congratulations and best wishes as you begin your life journey.”

“These essays take a great deal of time and thought to complete, and I commend the students who participated and wish them all the best of luck in this next stage of life,” said Ney.

Robin Buss is a teacher at Jefferson West and mother to Nathan Buss. She had encouraged Nathan to complete the EverFi program and enter the scholarship contest. Mrs. Buss received a gift card at the ceremony for facilitating the student receiving the top award. Scott Community High School teacher Aaron Dirks received a gift card for having the most student entrants in the contest for the second year in a row. He was unable to attend the ceremony in Topeka.

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The mission of the KSC is to protect and inform Kansas investors; to promote integrity, fairness, and full disclosure in financial services; and to foster capital formation.The OSBC regulates all state-chartered banks, trust companies, mortgage businesses, supervised lenders, credit service organizations, and money transmitters that do business in the State of Kansas. The mission of the OSBC is to ensure the integrity of regulated providers of financial services through responsible and proactive oversight, while protecting and educating consumers.

Read Nathan Buss’s winning essay.

Kansas Department of Revenue Launches A Redesigned Website

May 1, 2017 

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Revenue has launched its redesigned site www.ksrevenue.org.

The new site has been consolidated and reorganized for easier navigation to help customers find what they need quickly. If people have bookmarked specific pages, they might need to update their links.

Customers will still be able to register for and log into the Kansas Department of Revenue Customer Service Center from anywhere on the site through the login link in the upper right-hand corner of the website. From the customer service center, people can pay their taxes online, register for taxes and access features like the driver's education portal.

The redesigned site also includes a new feature that customers can use to search for the closest driver licensing office by ZIP code or city. The feature can also be used to look up hours, services offered and contact information.

Consumer Corner: Scammers Latest Trick – Asking For Cold, Hard Cash

Over the past several years, we have warned consumers repeatedly about not wiring money to someone who asks for it over the phone. This had been scammers' preferred method for collecting their bounty because of its ease in quickly getting money into untraceable, often offshore, accounts.

Consumers have been catching on to the scammers' trick, though. And clerks at store counters that provide wire transfer services have also been trained to spot the signs of scams, resulting in thousands or even millions of dollars kept out of scammers’ hands.

Even the federal government has caught onto this, recently prohibiting legitimate telemarketers from asking for wire transfers. That means if anyone on the phone asks you to wire money, you know right away they are breaking the law and should hang up immediately.

Unfortunately, now the scammers are looking for new ways to get you to part with your hard-earned dollars.

One method that has caught our attention recently is an old classic – asking you to mail or FedEx cash. This should set off the same alarm bells as asking you to wire money, because once it’s gone – often to an untraceable mailbox – it can be just as impossible to get back.

One such incident recently reported involved the grandparent scam, asking the consumer to mail cash out-of-state to help a grandchild with court fees and travel expenses. To help avoid detection, sometimes scammers ask their victims to place the cash between pages of a book or magazine and then mail the publication.

Don't do it.

Remember, if you receive a phone call claiming to be someone in desperate need of your cash – whether they’re claiming to be a grandchild, an IRS agent or the local court clerk – it’s probably not real. Just hang up. If you’re worried it might be real, call back at a number you know is theirs – not the phone number the scammer gave you. If the caller claimed to be from a government agency, look up the phone number in the phone book or on the agency’s official website to call and verify. You’re better off safe than sorry.

Our Consumer Protection Division is also here to help. You can find more information on how to protect yourself from scams on our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or by calling our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310.

April is National Social Security Month

Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, invites everyone to celebrate the first National Social Security Month in April by taking five steps toward financial security at www.socialsecurity.gov/5-steps-toward-your-financial-security. During the month, Social Security will provide educational articles and video messages on its website featuring personal finance expert Suze Orman. Each message will provide the public with practical tips for developing a sound financial plan that includes Social Security as a foundation.

  1. Get to know your Social Security
  2. Verify your lifetime earnings with a My Social Security account
  3. Estimate your future Social Security benefits at my Social Security
  4. Apply online for retirement, disability, or Medicare benefits
  5. Manage your Social Security benefits

Are you registered to vote?

In Kansas, you can register to vote one of three ways: online, by mail, or in person. The deadline to register in Kansas is Oct. 18, 2016

Make sure you have your Kansas Driver's License with you when you are registering as you now need that to prove you are a Kansas citizen.

(Do you need to renew or get your Driver's License for the first time? The Kansas Department of Revenue oversees Driver's Licenses in Kansas. Here is a list of Driver's License stations by county so you can find one near you! http://www.ksrevenue.org/dmvstations.html)

Here is the KS online voter registration form information: https://www.kdor.ks.gov/Apps/VoterReg/Default.aspx

AG's Consumer Corner: College and Grad Student Scams

While scam artists definitely target senior citizens, there are other groups that scammers have their sights on. There are also a host of scams aimed at college students and graduates.

Door-to-door sales. Usually when we talk about door-to-door sales in this column, it’s about how to avoid getting ripped off by someone at your door selling something. It’s also important to be cautious when a company approaches you about becoming a door-to-door salesperson. Several companies are known to target recent high school graduates and college students to do jobs as door-to-door salespeople. Often, they don’t disclose details in the job description until well into the recruitment process. Instead, they are often pitched to the student with phrases like “flexible hours” and “direct marketing.”

While there are legitimate companies who do sell products this way, before becoming involved with one, it’s important to do your homework. In particular, make sure their training includes compliance with all state and federal consumer protection laws, for example the three-day right to cancel and how to properly handle a customer’s personal information. A failure to be properly trained in these areas could leave you as the salesperson on the hook for violating state or federal law.

Also, be sure the products you are being asked to sell are legitimate, genuine products. Our office has recently become involved in several cases involving counterfeit goods being sold, so it’s important to know that what you’re selling is what you say it is.

Student loan consolidation. After graduation, consolidating your student loans may be a good idea to save time and money. But beware. There are also scammers out there who will prey on recent graduates looking to save money on their loan payments. Some of these organizations use names that sound official and legitimate, but are not connected to the federal student loan programs. Make sure you’re dealing directly with your student loan lender or servicing company by calling the phone number or using the website printed on your student loan statement.

When considering consolidation, keep in mind that it may not save you money. Consult with your college’s financial assistance office if you’re unsure of your options. You should never have to pay an upfront fee for loan consolidation. If you get asked for one – that’s a good sign it’s a scam. Also, beware of any consolidation offer that advises you to stop making payments or to stop communicating with your current loan servicer. Stopping payments, even when a consolidation is in process, could leave you liable for late fees and damage your credit rating.

If you’ve been a victim of one of these scams, report it to our Consumer Protection Division by filing a complaint online at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or by calling (800) 432-2310.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, is asking Kansans to consider some important points about life insurance coverage.

“Most of us know that life insurance is not about us, but about our families and loved ones,” Commissioner Selzer said. “Having a life insurance policy can be one of the handful of decisions that will have great significance for others over the course of a lifetime.”

According to the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), Kansas residents own one million individual life policies, with the average coverage of $123,000 per policyholder.

“Especially during September, which is designated nationally as Life Insurance Awareness Month, I urge you to think about what a policy can do for your family, and how to protect it for them,” Commissioner Selzer said.

Answers to questions about life insurance are in the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) publication “Life Insurance and Annuity Basics,” which can be printed or ordered from the KID website, www.ksinsurance.org. Some of the more common considerations are listed below.

  • Your beneficiary will receive the insurance benefits tax free, and life insurance benefits do not have to go through probate or other legal delays involved in the settlement of an estate. If you die without naming a beneficiary, the benefits will be paid into your estate and then paid out according to your will or through state laws. This delays the payment and could create a financial hardship for your beneficiary.
  • Keep your policy in a safe place. However, do not use any place where the policy might not be readily available. Record the basic information — such as company, policy type, policy number, insured’s and beneficiaries’ names — in a separate place. Let your beneficiary know the kind of insurance policy you have, any changes you make, and where you keep the policy.
  • A change in beneficiary may be made after the policy is taken out, unless you have named an irrevocable beneficiary. An irrevocable beneficiary arrangement can only be changed with the beneficiary’s consent. Your agent can arrange for a change in beneficiaries, or you can do it by writing directly to your life insurance company and asking for the appropriate form.
  • You can specify as many beneficiaries as you want to receive the benefits. You may also specify how the benefits are to be divided. It is a good idea to name a second(contingent) beneficiary to receive the money in case your primary beneficiary dies before you do or at the same time as you.
  • Your beneficiary will need to notify the life insurance company of your death. Again,that’s why it is important for your beneficiary to be able to locate your policy. Companies require a certified death certificate or other legal proof of death, and they may ask for the policy. The life insurance company will pay the proceeds of the policy to your beneficiary after receiving proper notification of death.
  • KID can assist Kansans in locating life insurance and annuity benefits they may be owed through the Life Insurance and Annuity Search service, which is completing is first year this month. Go to the KID website under the “Featured Pages” section to learn more.

“Knowing your life insurance basics makes for peace of mind for you as well as your loved ones,” Commissioner Selzer said. The Commissioner also noted that ACLI statistics show that life insurers invest $39 billion in Kansas’ economy, with $32 billion of that amount invested in stocks and bonds that help finance business development, job creation and services in the state. Also, Kansas residents have $273 billion in total life insurance coverage. 

For those who have more questions about life insurance, the KID Consumer Assistance Hotline representatives can help. Call 1-800-432-2484 or chat online with them at www.ksinsurance.org.

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The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers,regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state.More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment.

Insurance Consumer Alert: Share with Care!

The sharing economy is rapidly gaining popularity. Within the next eight years projections show that sharing rides, homes and equipment will be a $335 billion global industry. 

But before you jump in on peer-to-peer transactions, understand how they work and how to avoid financial pitfalls, according to Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance. 

“Knowing the insurance considerations involved in sharing economy transactions is especially important as these business and personal ventures move forward,” Commissioner Selzer said. “Sorting out the main points now can save you possible frustration later.” 

The following tips may help consumers and entrepreneurs in their sharing activities. 

Don’t be taken for a ride Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft connect individual drivers with people who need rides. Passengers and drivers can screen each other, schedule rides and collect payment electronically. 

Consider these tips to stay safe on the roads while using a ridesharing service: 

• Before contracting as an Uber or Lyft driver, know if your personal auto insurance policy typically excludes coverage for business use or when drivers are “available for hire.”

 • Several insurers offer products to fill coverage gaps for ride-share drivers. Premiums, type of coverage, limits and availability vary by state. Ask your insurance agent to find out what is and is not covered. 

• Before accepting a shared ride, know the extent that you are protected in the event of an accident. Most ridesharing companies have liability policies to cover any passenger injuries. If you are injured while riding, report a claim with the driver’s insurer and the ride-sharing company’s insurer. 

Home is where the “smart” is Home-sharing or peer-to-peer rentals offer people the opportunity to rent out rooms or entire homes to guests for extra income. Guests find a property online and pay for the stay like a hotel. The difference is that the property is often a privately-owned apartment, condo or house, and anyone can register as a host or guest. 

The following facts will improve your home-sharing smarts: 

• If you regularly rent out rooms for a profit, that venture could be considered a homebased business. Because some homeowners policies won’t cover property damage caused by or injuries to a paying guest, talk to the home-sharing service and your own insurance agent to determine if additional liability coverage or special landlord insurance is needed. 

• If you plan to stay in accommodations secured through a service such as Airbnb or VRBO, confirm that your own homeowners, renters or personal liability insurance policies offer protection for potential damages to the rental property. If not, make adjustments as needed. 

• Home-sharing user agreements change often. Read the fine print every time you book a stay. 

Personally speaking…. A smaller segment of the sharing economy involves the lending of personal items for a fee. Lenders and borrows advertise and rent items like power tools, golf clubs or designer dresses online. This also occurs when someone seeks help online from another individual to help with tasks like packing boxes or housecleaning. 

Check out the following tips to help protect yourself and your items: 

• When lending goods such as a designer dress or bicycle, get a security deposit to help cover any losses. Capture photos and other information in your own home inventory. 

• You could be liable for renting out items that you know don’t work properly. Your homeowners policy may not cover the transaction because you were paid in exchange for the rented goods.

• If you hire a stranger to help with home cleaning, moving or other tasks through sites such as TaskRabbit, find out the insurance coverage. The service may offer a guarantee, but often it is secondary to any insurance or policies you may already have in place. 

“Life can be more connected when working within the sharing economy, but you need to prepare yourself first so you are not surprised later,” Commissioner Selzer said. 

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The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers, regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment.

State Agencies Announce 2016 Scholarship Contest Winners

TOPEKA, Kan., (May 11, 2016) --- Kansas Securities Commissioner Josh Ney and Kansas State Bank Commissioner Deryl Schuster announced the winners of the 2016 Financial Scholars Essay Contest in an awards ceremony held at the Dillon House in Topeka last Tuesday. The contest was jointly sponsored by the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC) and the Office of the State Bank Commissioner (OSBC). Five scholarships, ranging from $500 to $2500, as well as ten $100 honorable mention awards were presented to Kansas high school seniors to help cover the cost of tuition at a Kansas school of higher education.

Students were asked to submit an essay profiling an individual whose personal financial decisions impacted the lives of others and apply the wisdom or lessons from that person’s life to their own future financial plans. To be eligible, students must have participated in at least one of three financial literacy programs sponsored by the state agencies: EverFi, the Stock Market Game, or LifeSmarts.

Berkley Wiegers, a senior at Wamego High School, won the top prize of $2500 for her essay. She wrote her essay about her great-great grandmother Dolly Daniell, who taught Berkley and her family many valuable lessons about entrepreneurship, smart money management, and how to make it through some of life’s toughest obstacles. The following is an excerpt from her essay:“A true rag to riches story, Dolly’s grit and determination passed on a legacy of fortune and values to her family, inspiring four generations and many more to come… Having been through some difficult, personal situations myself, I have her example of determination to show me that I can also overcome my own obstacles. I know I will need an education to meet my career goals and through hard work and spending my money wisely, I hope to not only secure my financial future but to create a legacy of my own to pass on to my future descendants. In addition, the lessons learned through the EverFi program will be crucial resources as I make smart financial decisions as I transition into the adult world.”

Berkley plans to attend Fort Hays State University next year and major in Social Work. Other scholarship winners in attendance were: 2nd place: Cynthia Matson, Sunrise Christian Academy; 3rd place: Tiffany Willson, Conway Springs High School; 4th place: Haley Mills, Derby High School; and 5th place: Robert Rosas, Scott Community High School. Honorable mention attendees were: Zachery Brunner, Wamego High School; Maggie Miksch, Wamego High School; Chloe Rickman, Eureka High School; Tayler Strickland, Cunningham High School; and Reid Thornburg, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. Other honorable mention students who were not able to attend were: Devin Lamkin, Hillsboro High School; Alma Martinez, Scott Community High School; Tassanee Sanchez, Hillsboro High School; Karisa Schremmer, Hoisington High School; and Sydney Wilson, Sterling High School.

Students and their families attending last Tuesday’s events were treated to breakfast with the staff of the KSC and OSBC offices, met and took pictures with the governor and elected officials, and toured the capitol building and dome. During the awards luncheon, students participated in a panel discussion led by Commissioner Ney covering the topic of financial literacy. The ceremony was closed this year by Berkley Wiegers, with a reading of her winning essay.

 

The commissioners for both of the sponsoring agencies were impressed with the quality of the winning essays and wished the recipients well. “Money management skills are essential for young people to enjoy success in their careers and in life. I was pleased to read how these students have prioritized financial responsibility in their own lives,” said Ney. “Congratulations to our winners on a job well done.”

 

“Each year our office sponsors various financial literacy programs, making them available to all Kansas high schools. I am encouraged by these students who use these programs, and sincerely appreciate the educators who reinforce the importance of financial literacy,” said Schuster. “Congratulations to our scholarship winners, and thank you to all who participated. I wish you all the best as you begin your pursuit for higher education.”

 

Wamego High School counselor, Jina Kugler, also attended the ceremony and was recognized for her efforts encouraging her students to participate in the sponsored financial literacy programs and for her student receiving the top award. She was given a $150 gift card as a thank you. Scott Community High School teacher Aaron Dirks also received a gift card for having the most student entrants in the contest; however, he was unable to attend the ceremony in Topeka.

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Read Berkley Wiegers’ winning essay: “Dolly Daniell: A story of grit, determination and survival”

 

The mission of the KSC is to protect and inform Kansas investors; to promote integrity, fairness, and full disclosure in financial services; and to foster capital formation.

The OSBC regulates all state-chartered banks, trust companies, mortgage businesses, supervised lenders, credit service organizations, and money transmitters that do business in the State of Kansas. The mission of the OSBC is to ensure the integrity of regulated providers of financial services through responsible and proactive oversight, while protecting and educating consumers.

Insurance and Securities Commissioners Partner to Advocate for National Retirement Planning Week

Consumer Alert: Be sure to have a financial say in retirement!

TOPEKA, Kan. — Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, and Josh Ney, Kansas Securities Commissioner, are urging Kansans to review their financial preparedness and insurance priorities concerning retirement as a way to educate themselves about their future needs.    

“Changes in employee benefits, longer life spans, and uncertainty with Social Security and Medicare, as well as health care, are challenges for today’s older Kansans,” Commissioner Selzer said.  

“Assessing your financial preparedness for retirement is a first step to achieving financial freedom,” said Commissioner Ney. 

The two commissioners offered their comments in light of National Retirement Planning Week, which is celebrated annually in April through the National Retirement Planning Coalition. 

“Having income-producing insurance products as part of that retirement preparedness can be especially important,” Commissioner Selzer said. Below is a list of insurance products that could be considered in retirement strategies when a stream of retirement income is important. 

·         Variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits—Long-term, tax-deferred insurance products that contain both investment and insurance components with optional guaranteed withdrawal benefits. 

·         Fixed and fixed index annuities—Long-term, tax-deferred insurance vehicles which offer a guaranteed minimum interest rate.

·         Single premium immediate annuities—Products which provide a guaranteed income for life or a specified period in exchange for a one-time lump sum payment.  

·         Deferred income annuities—Annuities which provide for guaranteed income but don’t begin until a specified age, such as 80 or 85.  

The Securities Commissioner and Insurance Commissioner have partnered with other state agencies to create www.KansasMoney.gov, a new one-stop website for all of the financial resources Kansans may need. Retirement is a key topic covered on the website. Kansans can take the free Kansas Financial Learning Center online course, containing modules that only take between 2-10 minutes each. Throughout the month of April, Kansans are encouraged to take at least 5 modules to be entered to win an iPad mini.  

“Retirement 101 is one of the modules users can take through the Kansas Financial Learning Center,” said Commissioner Ney. “We would like to encourage all Kansans to visit KansasMoney.gov this month to learn more about retirement planning best practices and ways to increase your financial IQ.” 

Every day nearly 10,000 Baby Boomers enter their retirement years, according to the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).  

Whatever a person’s insurance needs are for retirement years, periodic consultation with an insurance agent and financial adviser is important, the commissioners said.   

More about insurance needs in retirement is available by reading the KID booklet “Life Insurance and Annuity Basics,” which can be obtained by printing a copy from the KID website, www.ksinsurance.org; by talking to a KID Consumer Assistance Representative at 1-800-432-2484; or by going to the IRI website, www.IRIonline.org.

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The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers, regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment. 

The Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner exists to protect and inform Kansas investors; promote integrity, fairness, and full disclosure in financial services; and to foster capital formation. You can find more about the agency at www.ksc.ks.gov or www.facebook.com/Kansas.Securities. 

Governor Declares April Financial Literacy Month in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan., (Apr. 4, 2016) – Governor Sam Brownback has signed a proclamation declaring the month of April as Financial Literacy Month in Kansas. The proclamation highlights the need to ensure that Kansans are well prepared to manage money, credit, investments, and debt. Attending the signing were members of the Money Smart Month Kansas committee, an annual community outreach initiative that promotes financial awareness for people of all ages.

 

As a steering committee member of Money Smart Month Kansas, the Kansas Securities Commissioner’s office urges participation at the Money Smart Month Financial Freedom Expo in Wichita, Kan., Saturday, April 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Urban Prep Academy, 2821 East 24th Street North, Wichita KS. More than 24 financial education workshops, free credit reports, door prizes and more will be available.

 

In connection with Financial Literacy Month, several state agencies, including the Kansas Securities Commissioner’s office, have collaborated to launch a new consumer financial education website, KansasMoney.gov. The multi-agency website provides Kansans easy access to essential financial resources from the State of Kansas.

 

An interactive learning course is a key feature of the site. The Kansas Financial Learning Center provides a flexible financial learning platform for busy adults, and it is free for all Kansans. The course consists of “bite-sized” educational content on topics from auto loans to identity protection to social security. Most modules within the course can be completed in 3-7 minutes. Throughout the month of April, the State Treasurer’s Office, a partner of KansasMoney.gov, is providing an incentive for those who sign up to participate in the program. At the end of the month, Kansans who have completed at least 5 modules will be eligible to win an iPad. To learn more about this opportunity, visit the Treasurer’s website at www.kansasstatetreasurer.com.

 

Other KansasMoney.gov agency partners are: the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the State Bank Commissioner of Kansas, Kansas Department of Credit Unions, Kansas Department of Revenue, and the Kansas Insurance Department.

 

Kansas’ celebration of Financial Literacy Month joins a national effort of businesses, agencies and non-profit organizations to promote personal finance education through a wide variety of programming. To learn more about these and other opportunities, visit kansasmoney.gov. 

Kansas Financial Scholars: 2015-2016 Essay Scholarship Contest

The 2nd Annual Kansas Financial Scholars Essay Scholarship Contest is underway! The Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC) and Bank Commissioner (OSBC) are partnering again to award five scholarships in the amount of $2500, $2000, $1500, $1000, and $500 to five eligible Kansas seniors. Up to ten $100 honorable mention awards will also be issued.

Who:

The competition is open to any public, private or homeschooled Kansas high school Senior who meets the following two qualifications: 1) The Senior must be planning to attend a Kansas technical school, college or university. 2) The Senior must have enrolled in and completed at least one KSC or OSBC sponsored program (EverFi Financial Literacy,* The Stock Market Game, or Life$marts) during their high school career. Successful completion of a sponsored course by May 3rd is required.

Teacher Prizes:

Two teacher prizes will be awarded. The teacher of the first place student winner will receive a $150 gift card to the teacher supply store of his or her choice. The teacher who is credited with the most valid entries submitted will receive a $100 gift card.

What: About the Essay

Essay Part 1: The Profile
In a 1-2 page essay (maximum 500 words), profile someone whose personal financial decisions and example have positively impacted your life or the lives of others. The profiled person (or persons, if a couple) can be living or deceased, personally known to you, or world-renowned.
Essay Part 2: Real-world Application
Accompanying the profile, provide a 3-6 page analysis (800-1500 words) of how you will apply the lesson(s) learned from the individual you profiled to your own life as you prepare for higher education. Please incorporate at least two of the following into your analysis:
  • Comparison of the cost of various types of higher education (i.e. technical college, community college, 4-year college, private vs. public school, or the choice of a school in Kansas vs. out-of-state school, etc.)
  • The positive and negative aspects of getting a loan for higher education versus paying your way through college (through scholarships, grants, working, etc.), or finding other ways to save or cut education-related costs.
  • The earning potential of your chosen degree/field and the average debt load and loan pay-off time the average graduate in that field will face upon completing higher education. Consider the job market demand and forecast for positions in your chosen field, and the versatility of your degree/certification.
  • The importance of generational re-investment (i.e. knowledge, wealth, presence, etc.) as a part of a long-term sustainability solution for Kansas communities.

Other Requirements:

  • Essays must be the original work of the student.
  • Format: Word document
  • Entries must be in English and typed in 12-point font and double-spaced.
  • The profile portion should not exceed 500 words. Consider op-ed style for this portion.
  • The personal application and analysis portion should be between 800 and 1500 words.
  • Sources: Can use MLA or APA style on Bibliography. In-text source citation is preferred in parentheses (avoid footnotes please).
  • Completed entry form should be merged with essay in a single Word document attachment

Essays will be judged based on the following criteria:

Understanding of and Adherence to Essay RequirementsStudent demonstrates financial knowledge and conveys the importance of financial literacy; student accurately and consistently connects lessons learned from profiled individual(s) to analysis bullet points30 Points
   
Word choice, Punctuation and SpellingStudent displays wide vocabulary range and good word choice; proper grammar is displayed with little to no grammatical errors (please have a parent or teacher proofread your essay before submitting)30 Points
   
Personal Expression, Fluency and Supporting EvidenceStudent uses personality in their writing; essays are organized with clear introduction, sentences/paragraphs flow smoothly; credible sources are used to support information given40 Points

When:

The scholarship contest opens December 1, 2015.
Essays are due Friday, April 1, 2016 at 11:59PM CST.
Announcement of Winners & Award Date:The winning essays will be announced on or before Friday, April 22, 2016. Scholarships will be awarded at the 2016 Financial Scholars Awards Ceremony in Topeka, KS on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Students will be expected to attend the Ceremony unless they have a sufficient reason they cannot attend. Not attending the Ceremony to receive the certificate of scholarship could result in forfeiture of the scholarship.

How:

Entry forms and essays should be merged into a single Word document attachment and emailed by the deadline to shannon.stone@ksc.ks.gov. Please save the document as <School_StudentName>. 
Attachments:

Who to contact for questions?

Shannon Stone, Director of Investor Education

shannon.stone@ksc.ks.gov

913.652.9164 

*Students may complete EverFi individually if the program is not offered in a classroom setting or in a class that the student is taking. EverFi contains 9 learning modules and takes approximately 6-8 hours total to complete.

2014-2015 Essay Contest

Click here to see who last year's winners were and to read the winning essay!

Kansas Insurance Department Announces Service to Find Lost Life, Annuity Policies

September 2015

The Kansas Insurance Department (KID) can now assist Kansans in locating life insurance and annuity benefits they may be owed. 

The new Life Insurance Policy and Annuity Search is now available by submitting a request form to our department. Kansans who believe they are beneficiaries, an executor or legal representative of a deceased person can request help through KID. 

KID will then send the request to all Kansas-licensed life insurance companies to search their records. If a policy or contract is found, the company will respond directly to the requestor to begin the claims process. 

We are pleased that we can provide this service. It will enable Kansans who are possible beneficiaries to find benefits from another person’s life insurance or annuity contract. It will eliminate multiple searches by individuals because the insurance department will act as a clearinghouse for those requests. 

Those submitting a request will need to do the following: 

It is especially appropriate that this service is first offered through our department during Life Insurance Awareness Month. Although this service may benefit those who didn’t know about a person’s policy, Kansans should always consider letting beneficiaries know of a policy’s existence. That can have a great significance for them over the course of a lifetime. 

Your beneficiaries will receive the insurance benefits tax free, and life insurance benefits do not have to go through probate or other legal delays involved in settlement of an estate. 

You can specify as many beneficiaries as you want to receive the benefits. You may also specify how the benefits are to be divided. It is a good idea to name a second (contingent) beneficiary to receive the money in case your primary beneficiary dies before you do or at the same time as you. 

According to law, monthly life insurance or annuity payments will not disqualify the beneficiary from receiving full Social Security payments. Monthly life insurance benefits do not count as earned income, regardless of how much is paid each month through a policy. 

As a general rule, your beneficiary does not have to pay any federal income taxes on the proceeds of your policy. However, if proceeds of a policy are paid to the deceased person’s estate, and the total estate exceeds a statutory maximum, including life insurance, there will be federal estate taxes payable. Seek assistance from your insurance agent, lawyer or accountant if you need more information. 

We hope that the new locator service will provide an efficient way for previously-unknown beneficiaries to receive undistributed funds. But, we really hope that you as a policyholder notify any beneficiaries so that they don’t need this new service in the future.

Learning Quest® 14th Annual Make Your Mark Contest to Award $10,000 in Prizes

August 24, 2015

$10,000 in Kansas Learning Quest accounts are being awarded to future oriented students. 

TOPEKA, Kan. - Seventh and eighth grade students across Kansas can showcase their creativity and win an education savings account in the 14th annual Learning Quest Make Your Mark Contest. The Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program is Kansas’ state-sponsored 529 plan, designed to help families invest for their child's continued education after high school.

This year’s theme is “your future is a clean slate where anything is possible.” Students are being asked to think ahead 20 years from now and explain how they’d be introduced and what they’d discuss if asked to give a commencement speech to the class of 2035 at their former high school. They can choose to respond in one of two categories: the written where they can submit a traditional essay format (up to 350 words) or the creative where they can articulate themselves with a drawing, poetry, collage, video or any other sort of visual response.

“This contest is a perfect fit for our Learning Quest program,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes, who administers the Learning Quest 529 Program. “It encourages Kansas youth to reflect on future career goals they’ve set for themselves, and consider the training or education they’ll need to achieve those dreams.”

The contest, open to all seventh and eighth grade students in Kansas, begins mid-August, and all entries must be postmarked or submitted electronically at http://essay.LearningQuest.com/ by Oct. 9, 2015.

Prizes include $2,000 Learning Quest accounts for the first-place winner in each of the two categories. Learning Quest judges will also select up to five entries per category to be posted online for public voting for the chance to win the People’s Choice prize of $1,000 per category. Additionally, each of the schools attended by the four winners (the two winners selected by the judges and the two winners by public voting) will receive a $1,000 prize from Learning Quest. Prizes are provided by American Century Investments.

“Since beginning this contest 14 years ago, we’ve had schools continue to support the contest year after year, encouraging students to plan ahead and prepare for their future,” said Estes. “Giving a prize to each of the winning students’ schools is our way of thanking the teachers, principals and school administrators of our Kansas schools for their commitment towards the education of our state’s next generation.”

To learn more and download participation materials, visit the contest website at http://essay.LearningQuest.com/. Updates can also be found on the Learning Quest Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/KSLearningQuest529.

The Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program was created to help families invest for their child’s continued education after high school, whether at a traditional four-year college, community college, or technical school. Learning Quest investors benefit from tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified education expenses (tax benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements). Kansas taxpayers can receive a Kansas tax deduction up to $3,000 per child ($6,000 if married, filing jointly) on contributions to Learning Quest or any other 529 plan sponsored by another state.

Securities Commissioner Announces $50,000 in Investor Education Grants

August 13, 2015

Seven grants are being awarded to organizations promoting regional and state-wide financial education.

TOPEKA, Kan.– Kansas Securities Commissioner Josh Ney announced today that his office has awarded financial education grants to 7 Kansas organizations. The grants, which total $50,000, were awarded through the agency’s Investor Education and Protection Fund.

The Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC) develops and implements financial literacy and investor education initiatives to inform the public about securities fraud prevention. As part of this mission, the commissioner regularly collaborates with other governmental agencies and non-profit organizations to provide financial education throughout the state. Grantees from each of the four congressional districts in Kansas are selected annually by the KSC after a competitive application and review process.

“Increasing financial literacy in our state requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, so I’m grateful for the hard work these deserving organizations do year round to provide important resources and programming to Kansans,” said Ney. “I congratulate each of these deserving recipients and look forward to partnering with them this academic year.”

The KSC Investor Education Grant Recipients for 2015-2016 are:

Communities in Schools, Lawrence, $5,000

Communities in Schools of Mid-America, Inc. (CIS) is an organization whose mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. One key program provided by CIS is Reality U, which focuses on student preparation for an employable future. It is a multi-day financial literacy exercise that provides a hands-on learning experience in a simulation setting for students to prepare them for life after high school, teaching concepts like the time-value of money and the importance of investing for retirement. CIS brings in community volunteers representing several different community organizations to make the simulation even more life-like. CIS will receive funds to expand the Reality U financial literacy program to serve more high school students throughout Kansas, specifically in Pittsburg and Leavenworth.

Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., Topeka, $15,000

Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI) is a non-profit agency that specializes in counseling and education for budgeting, credit, debt, bankruptcy, tenant and landlord education, student loan repayment, mortgage default, reverse mortgage and home ownership. HCCI’s Women & Money series is a 7-week course that was developed by women for women who want to manage their personal finances well, build assets, and plan ahead for life changes. Topics covered during the series are spending and saving, credit reports, borrowing money, insurance options, investing, social security benefits, and life planning. HCCI of Topeka is receiving funds to support their existing Women & Money Series in Topeka and Johnson County, and also expand the series to women in western Kansas, including the Garden City area.

Junior Achievement of Kansas, Sedgwick County, $5,000

Junior Achievement’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. JA teaches children about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workplace readiness. JA of Kansas will use the grant funds to continue to send community business leaders and volunteers into classrooms to give children real-life role models teaching these critical life skills each week during the school year in Sedgwick County.

JA of Middle America, Wyandotte County, $2500

Junior Achievement of Middle America’s mission is to teach and prepare middle and high school students with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve future financial success. With the funds JA receives from the Securities Commissioner’s Office, they will implement a personal finance program in KCK Schools to help focus students on the fundamental elements and building blocks of smart personal finances including budgeting, saving, credit, consumer protection and investment analysis.

Kansas Council on Economic Education, Wichita, $10,000

The Kansas Council on Economic Education (KCEE) is a non-profit organization that equips teachers to educate students in economics and personal finance. KCEE’s vision is that students will become more knowledgeable consumers, wiser savers and investors, better employees and more responsible citizens who are capable of managing their finances, evaluating policy decisions, and helping to avoid future economic and financial crises. KCEE provides financial education through numerous programs and competitions, such as the Stock Market Game, InvestWrite essay contest, and the Life Smarts program. Funds awarded will help defray the cost of participation in the Stock Market Game for Kansas students in grades 3-12.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Wichita, Sedgwick County, $2500

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The Wichita Branch NAACP is seeking funds to host its third annual Financial Freedom Expo in April of 2016. The Expo seeks to improve financial literacy among its attendees, a target audience of minorities and the socioeconomically underserved of all ages. This one day event has yielded an attendance of 200-500 participants. Workshop content is focused around the following areas; credit scores, homeownership, payday loans, financial planning and investment, educational finance and small business. The funds awarded will help assist with program expenses like venue rental, food, prizes, and promotional materials.

North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, Manhattan, $10,000

The North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, Inc. (NC-FH AAA) is a multi-dimensional, private, non-profit organization that plans, coordinates and sponsors services in 18 north central Kansas counties to enhance the quality and dignity of life of older Kansans and their families. Some services provided by NC-FH AAA are Friendship Meals/Meals on Wheels, Medicare benefits counseling, and information, referral and assistance to seniors and caregivers. NC-FH AAA will utilize funding to enhance existing financial literacy efforts and to educate senior and family caregivers about the prevention of investment fraud, with a focus on diminished capacity identification.

For more information about funding opportunities from the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner, please visit: http://www.ksc.ks.gov/Grants

Media Contact: Caley Love, Director of Communications Phone: 785-296-3580 Email: caley.love@ksc.ks.gov

Kansas creates a 10-day grace period for online vehicle tag renewals

July 15, 2015

Kansas Department of Revenue

Topeka, KS – Kansas vehicle customers will be able to renew their tags online on the last day of the month without worry of a ticket for expired car registration.

Starting July 1, 2015 drivers who have renewed online at KSWebTags.org will have a 10 day grace period from the day their tags expire to receive the new decal in the mail.

Customers will be able to print and carry the online renewal paid receipt in their vehicle until the decal arrives or save the confirmation receipt on their mobile device. Either will serve as proof to law enforcement that the customer has renewed their registration and are waiting for the decal to arrive.

The grace period will not apply to those who renewed by mail.  It also does not apply to those who do not complete their registration before their tags expire, which occurs on the last day of each month.

The Division of Vehicles proposed the change to address concerns from county treasurers about long lines that consistently form in offices statewide at the end of each month.

“People who wait until the last days of the month currently must go into an office and stand in line to receive their decal before the end of the month or risk getting a ticket before their new decal arrives after renewing online,” said Director of Vehicles Lisa Kaspar. “This will allow customers to renew online instead of in person right up until the last day of the month.”

State Agencies Support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Agencies encourage Kansans to join the fight and help prevent elder abuse in their communities.

TOPEKA, Kan., (June 16, 2015) --- The Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner (KSC) joined with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) yesterday to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).First launched in 2006, WEAAD is the product of the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. The goal of WEAAD is to provide people around the world with the knowledge and awareness necessary to prevent elder abuse in their communities.

“Although elder abuse comes in many forms – physical, financial, emotional, neglect or abandonment – often several types of abuse will be inflicted at the same time,” said Securities Commissioner Josh Ney. Financial abuse is considered to be the most common form of abuse to elders, costing its victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year.

Investment fraud is an area of particular concern, as victims can see their life savings depleted with little opportunity to recover financial stability. Investment fraud can come in many forms. The investment might be deceptive outright, or it could be a legitimate product that is unsuitable for the investor’s circumstances. Other investment problems include unregistered products, theft of funds or products sold by an unlicensed adviser or broker. Investors and caregivers are urged to “investigate before investing” by calling the KSC at 785-296-3307 to verify if the product and person selling it are registered/licensed and if there have been any complaints.

“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century as the growing senior population is increasingly targeted,” said Ney. “Studies show that family members and caregivers are the culprits in more than half of these cases. Anyone can – and should – report abuse of an elderly person in any of its forms, whether it is physical, emotional or financial.”

In response to WEAAD, the KSC has developed presentations titled Outsmarting Investment Fraud to provide across the state to older Kansans. Seniors attending the presentations will leave equipped with the skills to recognize the persuasion tactics of scam artists and the red flags of fraud, as well as the knowledge of what to do to prevent scams. If you are interested in the KSC presenting to your community, contact Shannon Stone, Director of Investor Education at the KSC, at 913-652-9164.

Other Kansas state agencies are also joining the fight against elder abuse. One of KDADS main goals is to work to keep older Kansans safe. “The elderly are vulnerable in many ways, but financial fraud is one of the most pernicious. Isolation, loneliness and ill health can put elders at higher risk for being taken advantage of, and it is the responsibility of all of us to stay in close contact with our older friends and loved ones, to be on the alert for signs that they are being victimized, and to report it,” said KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett.

DCF has greatly increased its focus on fiduciary abuse in recent years. The agency has on its staff an auditor dedicated to pursuing financial exploitation of vulnerable Kansans in partnership with law enforcement agencies. “It is the responsibility of every Kansan to report suspected abuse,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “We strive to work closely with law enforcement and other agencies to protect vulnerable adults.”