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Chicago news roundup: App doles out refunds after Sun-Times questions, where to go apple picking in Illinois and more

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 66 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low near 50. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 68. Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high near 65.

Top story

Chime refunds $977 amid Sun-Times questions, as neo-bank apps face thousands of consumer complaints

Roderick Woodson was wrapping up some errands using his Chime Financial card when two texts alerted him he had a problem with the app.

“Did you try to use your Chime card … for $80 at 6358 W. 111th St., Chicago Ridge?” the first text asked, referring to his app-based account. Then another: “Did you try to use your Chime card … for $60?”

Woodson, 56, an Amtrak conductor, was near 98th Street and Western Avenue, not in Chicago Ridge, that day in late August. He raced home to Morgan Park and contacted Chime Financial, alarmed to see four mystery withdrawals in just six minutes. And they weren’t for $80 or $60 but for $200, $303.49, $203.49 and $283.49. With fees that added up to $997 that had been stolen from him.

A Chime representative shut down the compromised account, gave Woodson a new account number and promised to investigate, Woodson says. After a few days, though, the dispute was deemed “closed” — with no explanation and without Woodson getting back his money.

“It was so wild that they could get my PIN number and go to the ATM and get my money so fast,” he says. “How did these people get my PIN number?”

Thousands of people have filed complaints over the past year about fintech or “neo-bank” companies including Chime, which look and act like banks but aren’t regulated by the government the way that traditional banks are. After being asked by a Chicago Sun-Times reporter about how and why Chime was scammed and wouldn’t make good on Woodson’s vanished $997, the company restored Woodson’s money.

But others who use such apps — many of them younger or low-income — have faced similar problems, and consumer groups say federal and state authorities should do more to protect them.

Chime Financial has drawn scrutiny from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which regulates banks. In March 2021, Chime agreed to a $200,000 civil settlement and consent order after the state agency took issue with the company’s use of the word “bank” in its marketing and its use in a URL for its website. The consent order noted that Illinois law “prohibits any person or entity that is not a bank from transacting business in Illinois in a manner which has the substantial likelihood of misleading the public by implying that the business is a bank.”

Our Stephanie Zimmermann has more in her latest Watchdogs report here.

More news you need

  1. A 17-year-old boy has been charged with murder after he allegedly fled from police in a stolen car, reaching speeds of 90 mph before slamming into another car and killing a woman on her way to work. He ran from the car after the crash early yesterday morning, but was arrested after a brief foot chase, the police said.
  2. As they’ve done across the nation, conspiracy theorists have been inundating election officials across Illinois with form letters demanding voter records and threatening lawsuits. WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos and Dave McKinney have more on the unfounded election-fraud accusations pouring into to state officials here.
  3. When comes to his handling of the pandemic, Gov. JB Pritzker is a hero to some, and a villain to others. Our Tina Sfondeles surveys Pritzker’s COVID response along with other defining moments of his first term and his push for reelection in November here.
  4. Pritzker’s opponent, GOP state Sen. Darren Bailey, has staked his reputation on being a conservative firebrand despite being among the least productive Republicans at the Capitol when it comes to getting his initiatives into state law books. WBEZ’s Dave McKinney looks into Bailey’s legislative track record and his chances of unseating the incumbent here.
  5. Free vaccines will be available starting 10 am tomorrow at La Villita Park, where attendees also can get information on public health and immigration. Vaccines for COVID-19, flu and monkeypox will be accessible, as will several child vaccines, including polio and whooping cough.

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A bright one

The best places in Illinois for apple picking, cider, donuts and more

Fall is for harvesting. And what better way to get into the autumnal spirit than to go apple picking?

The Midwest has no shortage of apple picking destinations, and thanks to our colleagues at WBEZ, we’ve got a rundown of some of the best spots in Illinois.

Curtis Orchard: Founded in 1977, this orchard grows nearly 30 varieties of apples; their website keeps you up to date with which types are ready for picking and also offers pointers on each apple’s best uses. The farm also organizes family-friendly activities like horse-drawn carriage rides, pony rides and pumpkin picking on select days in the fall. (3902 S. Duncan Road, Champaign, Ill.; 9 am to 6 pm Mon-Sat; 11 am to 6 pm Sun. through Oct. 31)

It’s prime apple-picking season throughout the Midwest.

Edwards Orchard: Edwards Orchard sits about two hours northwest of Chicago and grows two dozen apple varieties for picking, ensuring there’s always something in season. The Edwards family prides itself on sustainable farming methods, such as restoring prairie and wetland on the orchard to preserve bee habitat. (7061 Centerville Road, Poplar Grove, Ill.; 9 am to 5:30 pm daily, weather permitting)

Honey Hill Orchard: Dozens of apple varieties, as well as pumpkins, are available for picking at this orchard located less than two hours west of the city; U-Pick produce is cash only. Visitors can also purchase farm-harvested raw honey and caramel apples on-site. (11783 Waterman Road, Waterman, Ill.; 9 am to 5:30 pm daily)

All Seasons Orchard: This orchard and pumpkin farm has one of the largest Honeycrisp apple orchards in northern Illinois, but note the variety starts to ripen in early September. Asian pears are also available for picking. (14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock, Ill.; 10 am to 5 pm daily; 10 am to 6 pm Sat.-Sun., through Oct. 30.)

You can find a full list of apple picking spots beyond the Prairie State via our WBEZ colleagues here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

Send us an email at [email protected] and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s something about Chicago that you will always defend?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Englewood. Poor words spoken by people who don’t live here and have never been there.” —Fred O’Neal

“The Picasso statue at Daley Plaza. So many dislike it, but the living artist personally chose Chicago, linking us directly to the European arts tradition — a great honor and source of pride. Chagall followed!” —Greg Dezulskis

“That not everyone in Chicago is mean.” — Angela Goffrier Valentin

“Calling the Sears Tower ‘the Sears Tower.’ That’s the only name I know.” —Tara Twin

“That unless you have a ‘606’ zip code, you do not live LIVE IN CHICAGO!” —Erika Domalewski Vazzana

“The architecture! Chicago is home to the Prairie School of Architecture — Louis Sullivan, Dankmar Adler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe, Stanley Tigerman. The museums, the loyal sports fans, the multicultural neighborhoods. There are way too many things to celebrate about Chicago!” — Lynne Victorine

“I’ll defend that ‘road construction’ is a Chicago staple!” — Jay Urban

“The South Side — part of my heart is still there.” —Ashley pounds

“The music scene, the distinct neighborhoods and the food.” — Thea Marie

“Our fresh water lake. Our water filtration system. Our lakefront playground.” —Lucy Lampinen

“The food! Everyone here is super competitive about food.” —Natalia Perez

“House Music was innovated in Chi! And while you’re at it, don’t say nuthin’ bad about my Bears or my White Sox!” —Velma Robinson Gooding

“The most beautiful skyline in the United States.” —Jay Fowler

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed?Email us here.

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