CHESTER Chester Upland School District officials are examining the possibility of refinancing the districts debt.
Receiver Joseph Watkins approved a resolution at a special meeting Tuesday permitting Solicitor Leo Hackett and school administrators to investigate the possibility of refunding its Series 2003 general obligation bonds.
This doesnt commit the district to anything, Chief Financial Officer George Crawford said. It just allows us to start the process.
Crawford said the district could save in excess of $500,000 if administrators opt to refinance the bonds, based on preliminary numbers.
Public Financial Management, the financial advising firm that penned the districts financial recovery plan, will serve as the districts financial advisor during the process. Blank Rome LLP will act as bond counsel and RBC Capital Markets LLC, will serve as underwriter.
Richard Joyce#x2019;s premiums under the Affordable Care Act spiked so much he can#x2019;t hire any more part-time employees.
Joyce, who runs the Waxhaw-based financial advising company Financial Design, says he was stunned when he got a letter from Blue Cross on Sept. 23 about next year#x2019;s medical plan.
The letter said his current plan, which cost $406 per month for him and his teenage daughter, didn#x2019;t meet benefit requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act.
Blue Cross said a comparable plan #x2013; the #x201C;Blue Advantage Silver 5000#x201D; #x2013; was $818, which would more than double his 2013 premium.
Joyce spoke with an insurance broker to compare other carriers#x2019; plans and see whether any were more affordable. All the rates were similar #x2013; all higher than they were before.
At first, Joyce, who#x2019;s not eligible for a federal subsidy on the individual exchange, thought his only feasible option was to lay off one of his two part-time employees. The two each make between $300 and $400 a month by helping Joyce with paperwork, filing and other administrative tasks.
But now, he has decided to cough up the extra cash and hold off on hiring additional part-time employees in the summer who help with newsletters, data entry and other tasks he could delegate.
#x201C;If I save 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there, then I#x2019;m saving 20 to 30 hours a week #x2026; and can work with my clients,#x201D; Joyce said. #x201C;But I just can#x2019;t budget (those part-timers) at this time.
#x201C;This is the first time in my adult life that the government has done something that has affected the financial stability of my family,#x201D; Joyce said. #x201C;No matter what political persuasion you are, it#x2019;s hitting everybody.#x201D; Caroline McMillan Portillo
TORONTO, ONTARIO — (Marketwired) — 12/03/13 — The Ontario government recently passed the STRONGER PROTECTION FOR ONTARIO CONSUMERS ACT, 2013, new legislation aimed at cracking down on unscrupulous debt settlement companies. The new legislation will affect companies that rely on unfair business practices to target vulnerable Ontarians carrying unmanageable debt. Similar legislation to curb abusive and misleading debt settlement practices is already in place in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.
Complaints about debt settlement companies have been growing over the last few years. These complaints include:
— Companies that charge most, if not, all of the fees to consumers before
actually starting negotiations with creditors or obtaining an accepted
— Companies that deny refunds to consumers who have paid for a service
that wasnt delivered.
— Companies that delay negotiating with creditors, leaving consumers in a
worse financial position and many times, being sued by their creditors.
If you have been considering contacting a debt settlement company to reduce your debt, consider making a consumer proposal instead. A consumer proposal (also known as a Proposal to Creditors) is a type of debt settlement offered by federally licensed Trustees in Bankruptcy. A consumer proposal is an effective alternative to unregulated debt settlement arrangements and will reduce the amount you owe, so you only need to pay back a portion of your debt. A consumer proposal offers many additional benefits compared to an informal debt settlement arrangement. These benefits include:
— Stopping harassing phone calls from collection agencies and creditors
— Stopping creditors from taking any legal action such as wage
— Freezing interest charges at the date you file
— Protecting your assets (car, home, RRSPs, RESPs)
If you are looking for a manageable way to take control of debt, talk to a BDO Trustee about whether a consumer proposal is the right solution for you.
A debt settlement arrangement is one of the three new debt resolution mechanisms introduced under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. It is designed for individuals who have no prospect of paying off their debts in the next five years and applies to unsecured debt only, with no maximum figure.
Figures shown in the courtroom revealed the brother had income of just above EUR4,800 a month and expenses of almost EUR5,000. He also had qualifying liabilities of more than EUR284,000 and assets of EUR232,000, representing half the value of his home.
His sister had income of almost EUR5,500 a month and expenses of almost EUR5,700 with qualifying liabilities totalling more than EUR260,000 and assets of more than EUR148,000. This represented half of a 40 per cent title of the family home she held with her husband, the court heard. She also had one dependent child.
The brother and sister had sworn their statutory declarations outlining their debts and income on October 25th, had applied to the ISI on October 29th. They were approved to go forward for protection certificates on November 8th.
In both cases, Judge Ryan said she had examined the applications and supporting documentation and based on the material supplied was satisfied the applicants were qualified to apply for arrangements under the Act. She also said “on any reading of the figures” the man appeared to be insolvent.
The Judge raised a number of technical queries with Mr Murray and with Patricia O’Moore, assistant principal officer from the ISI, including a “commentary” in the documentation which she said did not assist her. She said she had the Pip’s statement and the ISI’s certificate and didn’t need to “look behind those”.
Judge Ryan said she was making her remarks to help the applications process into the future. Debt settlement had been introduced to assist people in very difficult situations.
“We are really not here to create obstacles; we are here to assist people,” she said. “I’m happy to make the orders.”
The brother and sister will now have the protection of the courts for 70 days, giving them time to come to a settlement arrangement with their creditors. Their names will be placed on the public protection certificate register held by the ISI.
The siblings’ arrangements must be approved by 65 per cent of their creditors. If they are agreed to, monies will be paid out to the creditors over a period of five years after which the siblings will be discharged from their debts.
The country’s first ever debt settlement arrangement was granted to a Donegal man at Monaghan Circuit Court last month.
There have yet to be any court applications for debt relief notices or for personal insolvency arrangements. The former is for people with unsecured debt up to EUR20,000 and the latter is for those with both secured and unsecured debt.
SAN DIEGO, Nov. 29, 2013 — /PRNewswire-iReach/ — LoanLove.com is a borrower advice website that provides detailed insights into the mortgage industry in a fun and entertaining way. The team at LoanLove.com is devoted to help empower both first time and experienced homeowners with valuable resources, first-class knowledge and connections to top-rated industry professionals and has the mission of helping consumers and borrowers to obtain the latest information on mortgage lending trends, the real estate market and the US financial landscape in order to help them obtain a home loan that they will love. The experts at Loan Love are consistently finding new ways to aid their readers with their mortgage loan issues by providing them with helpful home loan planning tips and strategies. One of the websites most recent guides focuses on mortgage rate comparison, and with the accompanying Live Rate Quote tool, borrowers will easily be able to find the best home loan rates for their situations. The guide starts by saying: With so many lenders offering mortgage products today, it can be difficult to know which loan is truly the best deal for you. Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple ways to compare mortgage interest rates, and taking the time to explore at least one of them could mean big savings for you over the life of the loan. Loan Love goes on to explain how borrowers can use mortgage calculators and compare the APR (annual percentage rate) and GFE (good faith estimate) of any loan to see which one offers the highest amount of savings for the borrower. The article states: Comparing the costs of multiple mortgages only sounds like a complicated and time-consuming task; the truth is, any of these simple comparison methods takes only a minimal investment of your time, but the results can yield huge savings for you over the lifetime of your mortgage. Luckily, the Live Rate Quote tool that accompanies the article can help borrowers to make this comparison even easier. The format allows borrowers to enter basic information about the loan that they wish to apply for and then view dozens of loan options from the best lenders in their area. Users can sort through these loans by lender name, posted rate, APR, fees in APR, points and estimated monthly payment. With the information provided in Loan Loves guide, they can quickly determine which options are the most attractive to them, then click on the link to connect them to the lenders website so that they can learn more about each option. If the borrower wishes to find out more about the different loan types, they can browse the Loan Love website to learn all they need to make an informed decision on their loan. The website provides guides for new home buyers, borrower advice, articles on many different loan types, and even tax and credit tips. To read the full mortgage rate comparison guide, use the Live Rate Quote tool, and benefit from many other helpful resources, please visit LoanLove.com.
Media Contact: Kevin Blue, LoanLove.com, 949-292-8401, firstname.lastname@example.org
News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com
Read more articles by LoanLove.com
Ontario Passes Legislation Protects Consumers from Debt Settlement Companies
The Ontario Government has passed legislation this week that will help consumers settle their debts fairly and honestly.
Currently, there are 18 companies and 34 credit counselling providers offering debt settlement services in Ontario.
Some companies charge consumers large upfront fees and describe the services they will provide in hard to understand contracts, and fail to deliver the promised reduction in debt.
To protect vulnerable consumers, the new legislation creates new standards for conduct for companies by:
- Banning companies from charging upfront fees for debt settlement services.
- Limiting the amount of fees consumers are charged and prohibiting the payment of fees before services are provided.
- Requiring clear, transparent and detailed contracts that include information about the effects of the contract on the consumers credit rating.
- Requiring credit counsellors to disclose information to the consumer about how their organization is funded.
- Establishing a 10-day cooling-off period, providing consumers more time to consider their agreements with companies.
- Allowing the licences of non-compliant companies to be revoked.
- The new law gives consumers the right to cancel a contract within the first year if the contract does not meet all the requirements of the law.
A number of people in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma have had bad experiences with debt settlement companies.
They have paid thousands of dollars upfront and have not received debt settlements.
Problems with creditors and collection agencies become worse.
Sault Ste. Marie residents facing debt problems often have turned to the internet for relief and that is where they have made the connection with debt settlement companies.
An alternative to using a debt settlement company is filing a formal consumer proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
A consumer proposal does not require a large upfront payment.
Monthly payments are offered to creditors to resolve debt problems.
Most proposals result in no interest being paid and a monthly payment that is affordable, tailored to the consumers specific financial situation and family obligations.
If you are interested in discussing your finances in relation to filing a consumer proposal that is set up to address you specific situation, give the Debt Doctor a call the appointment is free and confidential.
Give me a call or email me.
The Debt Doctor
John Thompson, BDO Canada Limited
In a breach first announced on this blog Oct. 3, 2013, Adobe said hackers had stolen nearly 3 million encrypted customer credit card records, as well as login data for an undetermined number of Adobe user accounts.
At the time, a massive trove of stolen Adobe account data viewed by KrebsOnSecurity indicated that in addition to the credit card records tens of millions of user accounts across various Adobe online properties may have been compromised in the break-in. It was difficult to fully examine many of the files on the hackers server that housed the stolen source because many of the directories were password protected, and Adobe was reluctant to speculate on the number of users potentially impacted.
But just this past weekend, AnonNews.org posted a huge file called users.tar.gz that appears to include more than 150 million username and hashed password pairs taken from Adobe. The 3.8 GB file looks to be the same one Hold Security CISO Alex Holden and I found on the server with the other data stolen from Adobe.
Adobe spokesperson Heather Edell said the company has just completed a campaign to contact active users whose user IDs with valid, encrypted password information was stolen, urging those users to reset their passwords. She said Adobe has no indication that there has been any unauthorized activity on any Adobe ID involved in the incident.
So far, our investigation has confirmed that the attackers obtained access to Adobe IDs and (what were at the time valid), encrypted passwords for approximately 38 million active users, Edell said [emphasis added]. We have completed email notification of these users. We also have reset the passwords for all Adobe IDs with valid, encrypted passwords that we believe were involved in the incident–regardless of whether those users are active or not.
Edell said Adobe believes that the attackers also obtained access to many invalid Adobe IDs, inactive Adobe IDs, Adobe IDs with invalid encrypted passwords, and test account data. We are still in the process of investigating the number of inactive, invalid and test accounts involved in the incident, she wrote in an email. Our notification to inactive users is ongoing.
Part of the Adobe breach involved the theft of source code for Adobe Acrobat and Reader, as well as its ColdFusion Web application platform. Among the cache was a 2.56 GB-sized file called ph1.tar.gz, but KrebsOnSecurity and Hold Security were unable to crack the password on the archive. Over this past weekend, AnonNews.org posted a file by the same name and size that was not password protected, and appeared to be source code for Adobe Photoshop.
Asked about the AnonNews postings similarities to the leaked source code troves discovered by this publication in late September, Adobes Edell said indeed that it appears the intruders got at least some of the Photoshop source code. In both cases, Adobe said it contacted the sites hosting the data linked to from the AnonNews postings and had the information taken down.
Our investigation to date indicates that a portion of Photoshop source code was accessed by the attackers as part of the incident Adobe publicly disclosed on Oct. 3, Edell wrote.
FREE CREDIT MONITORING?
As many readers have pointed out in comments on previous KrebsOnSecurity posts, Adobe has offered a years worth of credit monitoring to customers whose encrypted credit card data was stolen in the breach. As it happens, Adobes offering comes through Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus and a company that is still reeling from a security breach in which the company was tricked into selling consumer records directly to an online identity theft service.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive involves whether readers should take advantage of credit monitoring services, particularly those offered for free by the major credit bureaus in response to some breach. My response is usually that free credit monitoring generally cant hurt, as long as youre not automatically signed up for a non-free monitoring service after the free period expires. Monitoring especially makes sense if youve been the victim of ID theft before.
But bear in mind that having your credit card information stolen is not the same thing as identity theft which generally involves the fraudulent opening of new accounts in your name. Some types of ID theft involve the creation of synthetic identities using parts of your personal information combined with some aspects that are not yours and credit monitoring services may have a hard time detecting these types of accounts.
For consumers reacting to news about their credit or debit card being compromised, it probably makes more sense to opt for placing fraud alerts and obtaining free copies of your credit report several times annually, as specified by law. And remember that the card associations all have zero-liability policies.
A big part of monitoring your credit involves checking your credit file for oddities and errors. The credit bureaus would prefer that you purchased a copy of your credit report from them (the annoyingly catchy commercials for freecreditreport.com, for example, are advertisements for Experians service). But this is completely unnecessary. US consumers are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus once per year, via annualcreditreport.com. That means that roughly every four months, you should be able to get an updated copy of your credit report from one of the three bureaus (calendar reminders come in handy here).
But back to the question about credit monitoring: Having been the recipient of a large number of attempts to open new lines of credit in my name, I have chosen to take advantage of a credit monitoring service, but it is not one of the services offered by the three bureaus (and Ill leave it at that). The main reason for this is that if you run into a situation (as I am in now) where particular credit grantors consistently fail to remove fraudulent credit inquiries that negatively affect your credit score and file, you may eventually need to take that up directly with the credit bureaus.
While it may be tempting to believe that paying Experian or one of the other credit bureaus (Equifax or Trans Union) to monitor your file might make them more likely to help you in this situation, there is absolutely nothing in the fine print that says they will. Also, remember that these are the same companies that are tricking consumers into paying for free credit reports and making money hand over fist selling your credit information to would-be creditors and marketers (or in the case of Experian, even to ID theft services).
As mentioned earlier, consumers also are entitled to place a fraud alert on their credit files, and to require that potential creditors first get the consumers approval such as via a phone call before granting any new lines of credit. The protections are more strict if consumers can show theyve been victims of identity theft in that case the fraud alert stays in the files of identity theft victims for seven years. While a regular fraud alert expires after 90 days, consumers can simply renew the alert online when the old one expires. The credit bureau with which you file the alert is required by law to share it with the other two agencies.
Finally, consumers always have the option of placing a security freeze on their credit file which blocks creditors from accessing your credit reports until the freeze is lifted. It generally costs $10 to place a freeze and another $10 to thaw it if you ever want to buy a new car or open a new line of credit. This may sound like a hassle, but it may ultimately make more sense than paying $15 a month for a credit monitoring service, or trying to remember to file new fraud alerts every 90 days.
Update: Oct. 29, 9:26 pm ET: Modified paraphrasing of Edells comment on completing the notification campaign, from ..to contact existing users whose login and encrypted password information was stolen, to the current text.
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – Taxpayers can start signing up for a second year of state-paid credit monitoring resulting from last years massive hacking of South Carolinas tax collection agency.
Enrollment for consumer protection services through CSIdentity Corp. begins Thursday. Its free to the millions of residents and business owners whose unencrypted personal data was stolen last September from the Department of Revenues computer servers.
South Carolina is paying CSID up to $8.5 million for its services, depending on how many people sign up.
About 1.4 million people signed up for free credit monitoring through Experian. That $12 million state contract is expiring, and enrollments will not transfer.
CSID offers more extensive monitoring, beyond credit reports, to catch other ways stolen identities are used.
Those interested can call CSID at (855) 880-2743 or visit www.scidprotection.com .
Payday lenders have been around for years, offering quick-but-pricey loans to distressed borrowers. From hundreds of walk-in storefront offices, they loan out small amounts #x2013; up to $300 in California #x2013; to be paid back from the borrower#x2019;s next paycheck.
Today, they#x2019;re getting elbowed aside by a growing cadre of online competitors who aren#x2019;t licensed and who increasingly are accused of ripping off consumers. Last month, the state Department of Business Oversight warned Californians to beware of rogue online lenders #x2013; often located offshore or overseas #x2013; who offer enticing come-ons from splashy websites but who may leave borrowers little recourse if something goes wrong.
#x201C;It#x2019;s like whack-a-mole,#x201D; said Mark Leyes, spokesman for the state Department of Business Oversight (formerly Department of Corporations). #x201C;We#x2019;re trying to compile a list of unlicensed companies, but they change their company name from one week to the next.#x201D;
Payday lending is no small-change industry. In 2011, the most recent year for state data, payday lenders in California doled out a total of $3.28 billion in loans to 1.7 million customers. The average amount of those individual loans: $263.
And while the number of walk-in payday loan locations has dwindled statewide in recent years, the number of online sites has #x201C;mushroomed,#x201D; along with a #x201C;slow but steady#x201D; increase in complaints about web-based lenders, Leyes said.
#x201C;It#x2019;s a problem. The risks are high,#x201D; he said. #x201C;If it#x2019;s a storefront payday lender, you walk in and look someone in the eye. But when you go online, you don#x2019;t know who you#x2019;re dealing with, where they#x2019;re located or what their intentions are.#x201D;
Since January 2013, the DBO says it has taken action against 11 illegal online lenders operating here and overseas, including in Belize, Costa Rica, Malta and the United Kingdom. The DBO#x2019;s website also posts consumer alerts against US-based online payday lenders with names like EZ Cash, Cash Express Loan and Mobiloans, which are operating without state-required licensing.
In dealing with online lenders, #x201C;We can issue sanctions, but they#x2019;re very difficult to enforce,#x201D; Leyes said.
The California Financial Service Providers Association, which represents about 1,470 walk-in payday loan locations statewide, says the unscrupulous online guys are a problem.
#x201C;We are very concerned about unlicensed, unregulated Internet lending,#x201D; said CFSPA spokesperson Greg Larsen. #x201C;If you type in #x2018;payday lending#x2019; (on a search engine), you instantly get hundreds of thousands of hits. But who knows how many of those are offshore #x2026; out of the reach of state licensing?#x201D;
Taking a loan from an unlicensed payday lender puts consumers at bigger risk of financial trouble, the DBO says. Among them: higher interest rates than allowed under California law; funds siphoned from your bank account without permission; personal financial data sold or pirated by the lender, even if a loan hasn#x2019;t been formalized; losing the ability to track down, prosecute and recover lost funds.
The FTC notes that filling out a payday loan form online #x2013; even if you don#x2019;t hit #x201C;submit#x201D; #x2013; can put you at risk for bank account fraud. In some cases, consumers who never officially took out a payday loan still had their funds stolen from their accounts.
Enforcement actions against illegal payday lenders have stepped up recently. A week ago, the Federal Trade Commission announced it shut down a Tampa, Fla.-based payday loan broker accused of pilfering $5 million from US consumers. The company, operating under multiple names such as Loan Tree Advances and Your Loan Funding, said it represented a network of 120 payday lenders and promised to help consumers obtain loans in #x201C;as little as one hour.#x201D; Instead, according to the FTC#x2019;s complaint, it sucked funds from the bank accounts of tens of thousands of customers. The company#x2019;s two owners allegedly used the money to support a lavish lifestyle that included a 2012 Maserati, a 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost and a 2006 Ferrari 430.
On other fronts, state officials in New York have cracked down on payday lenders that elude state scrutiny by affiliating with US Indian tribes, which operate outside the jurisdiction of state and local governments. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently warned against illegal payday lenders.
Given the number of cash-stressed borrowers, demand for payday loans is not going to go away, said industry spokesman Larsen.
A payday loan is #x201C;not always the right answer, but at times it may be the least expensive option for people to turn to,#x201D; he said. #x201C;For example, if you have two bills for $50 and $75 that are going to be late, those late fees are $35 each. That#x2019;s $70.#x201D; Instead, a consumer takes out a $125 payday loan to pay off those bills and the fee is only $21.25, or 15 percent of the loan amount. #x201C;They make an absolute, short-term, dollar-and-cents choice,#x201D; Larsen said. #x201C;That#x2019;s how people look at it.#x201D;
The problem, critics say, is that a payday loan#x2019;s short turnaround #x2013; typically two weeks #x2013; leaves many low-income borrowers unable to repay the full amount and still cover their other household expenses, such as rent, utilities, food, etc. That traps many on a so-called #x201C;debt treadmill#x201D; #x2013;where they continue to take out new payday loans to cover their bills.
According to new numbers released last week by the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer group that opposes payday loans, American borrowers pay $3.4 billion in fees every year on payday loans. Of that, Californians#x2019; share of payday loan fees is $578 million.
According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 82 percent of total annual California payday loan fees #x2013; $474 million #x2013; come from borrowers taking out a new loan within two weeks of paying off their last loan.
In April, a payday loan reform bill, SB 515, was defeated in the state Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Among its provisions, it would have capped the number of payday loans allowed per person to six in one year.
Consumer groups urge financially stressed individuals to consider alternatives to payday loans. And state officials are simply trying to get the word out: Before you take out a payday loan, check to be sure the company is licensed.
#x201C;If they#x2019;re licensed, it doesn#x2019;t mean it#x2019;s a good economic decision (to take out a payday loan). But at least there#x2019;s some recourse,#x201D; said DBO spokesman Leyes. When dealing with an unlicensed online lender, #x201C;you#x2019;re at their mercy. … Be very cautious.#x201D;
Call The Bee#x2019;s Claudia Buck at (916) 321-1968.
Read more articles by CLAUDIA BUCK
Tom Garner knows better than to think that a kids’ basketball clinic will cure Western Heights of its problems.
It might, however, give residents some renewed sense of community, at least for an afternoon.
The free clinic, set for Saturday in the heart of the Knoxville public housing complex, is the latest effort in a broad-strokes service approach by Garner, director of the Blount County-based Harbours Gate ministry.
A sense of inclusiveness can be hard to come by in the Heights, he said, where many residents are more inclined to mind their own business amid the drugs, prostitution and occasional gunfire.
“My expectations are initially just to get them to come together and start talking about things,” Garner said. “Then they start seeing their neighbors in a different context — they’re not seeing them hauled away in squad cars or as bodies loaded in an ambulance. Like somebody told me, ‘We never have fun up here.’ “
The clinic follows several similar community events in Western Heights organized by Harbours Gate in recent years, including basketball tournaments and an “Idol in the Heights” talent competition.
Still in the works is a possible series of community classes focused on skills such as literacy, conflict resolution and personal budgeting in partnership with the Metropolitan Drug Commission.
“For us, this would be something brand new,” said Aly Taylor, MDC project director. “Right now, we’re trying to figure how best to bring these things to the Heights.”
Long-term aspirations aside, Garner hopes the basketball clinic will offer value lessons itself.
The event is being conducted by Randy Lambert, Maryville College men’s head basketball coach, along with his coaching staff and the entire team.
“I’m gonna bring them all,” Lambert said. “If we motivate a handful of young people, it is well worth doing.”