2 charged with ID theft

2 charged with ID theft

Police arrested a man and woman accused of identity theft in the Charlotte area.

Money Monday: ID theft and cyber security issues

(WJBK) –
It seems every week were hearing about another retailer who has discovered some sort of security breach. Bill Kowalski joins us for this Money Monday to talk about cyber security issues.

Kowalski is a Principal and Director of Operations for Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services (CIS). He is based in the Troy office. As Director of Operations for Rehmann CIS, Bill manages complex fraud investigations for public and private sector entities. He also performs fraud risk assessments throughout Michigan, helping agencies and corporations identify, eliminate, and prosecute fraud. In addition, he conducts seminars on fraud prevention and educates about the threat and cost of cybercrime. – See more at: http://www.rehmann.com/about/the-rehmann-team/item/161-william-kowalski#sthash.Do5P3djr.dpuf

Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services (CIS) compiles Risk Report to help raise your awareness of the risks facing you and your company.

Kowalski is also one of the guests at the Michigan Money Summit Oct. 18, 2014. Click here to learn more.

When will you be hacked? The recent JP Morgan bank hack used never-before-seen malware to delve deep enough into computer systems to delete or manipulate bank records and steal gigabytes of data, including information on customer accounts. Consumer accounts are often insured (check with your bank) but business accounts are not usually protected from theft.

The bank was not alone in hacking headlines. Home Depot also suffered a significant hack involving credit card information of 53 million customers and Russian hackers stole 1.2 billion passwords from 422,000 websites, possibly the largest collection of stolen digital credentials in history. The password theft occurred over several years and a security advisor said the criminals use the information to advertise bogus products, not steal financial information.

Florida credit unions boost business loans


It’s Time To Rein In Shady Small Business Loan Brokers

Ask any small business owner about finding a loan, and it won’t take long for them to tell you: it’s hard work. Applying for a loan is needlessly time-consuming, from navigating the labyrinth of lenders to the three-inch thick paperwork. The process is often so complex thatdata from the Federal Reserve suggests small business borrowers spend over four full days of man hours searching for a loan. To make matters worse, most lenders market themselves in exactly the same way. JustGoogle “small business loan,” and you’ll see advertisements from lenders that all pretty much say the same thing: “fastest underwriting time!”, “most competitive interest rates!”, and “best customer service!”.

There’s no doubt that small business borrowers could use help navigating this complex and confusing thicket. Loan brokers purport to do just that, promising to check with lots of lenders so that the small business owner get the best loan. Brokers’ promise of comparison-shopping would sound good to any careful shopper, and especially busy entrepreneurs who want to focus more time on building their business than on searching for a loan.

The truth is that some brokers actually do help, offering sage counsel to small business owners to help them find the loan that best suits their needs. These respectable brokers typically earn modest fees of 1% to 3%, and that fee is paid by lenders without having any impact on the cost of the loans to borrowers.

But, small business owners are increasingly likely to encounter brokers who are out for themselves. In fact, unscrupulous players have emerged like wolves in sheep’s clothing, and are deliberately building tricks and traps into the loan process to pad their pockets and ensnare borrowers in a cycle of high-cost debt. For example, just last week a small business owner applied for a loan on the Fundera platform and was quoted an interest rate of under 30%. A few days prior that borrower had applied for the same loan product, but had gone through a broker who quoted a rate of 45%. The 15 percentage point difference is what the broker was pocketing for himself as his “finder’s fee”, and would have been passed onto to the unsuspecting borrower entirely unbeknownst to them.

Predatory and misleading? Absolutely. But, perfectly legal.

Unlike in the subprime mortgage crisis, the most predatory brokers aren’t peddling bank loans. That’s partly because banks are increasingly less focused on small businessesas a Harvard Business School working paper that I recently co-authored underscores. In the past two decades, small business loans have fallen from half of all banks loans to just about 30%. But, a new crop of online lenders have stepped in to fill part of this void, originating $3 billion in loan capital in 2013 and growing at high double-digit rates.

About half of loans originated at some of the most prominent online small business lenders come from brokers, many of whom cut their teeth in the run-up to the subprime mortgage crisis. The prevalence of brokers in online lending is a big reason why interest rates at some of the most prominent online lenders can reach as high as 130%. Luckily many of the best online lenders are trying to distance themselves from brokers, and have made progress in pushing their share of the market down from as high as 70% just a few years ago.

But, as finding creditworthy borrowers isn’t easy, brokers are likely to remain a feature of the burgeoning alternative lending industry for the foreseeable future. That’s going to be a dangerous dynamic because there isn’t much that small business borrowers can do to protect themselves. We need common sense regulations to keep the most predatory brokers in check, and here are a few steps that Washington can take right now:

  • First, let’s strengthen federal oversight. Right now, brokers operate in a veritable Wild Wild West, governed merely by a tattered patchwork of state-based rules. In most states nearly anyone can be a broker to businesses: there’s no test to pass, no code of ethics to follow. Most states don’t even have a cap on interest rates that can be charged to businesses. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should consider taking action at the federal level. The agency, while originally conceived as a consumer-oriented body, was given authority to oversee data collection on small business loans under the Dodd-Frank Act. And, fresh off hard-won disputes that have increased transparency for consumers in the student loan, credit card and mortgage industries, the agency may be best equipped to be the cop on the beat in online small business lending, too.In a letter sent to CFPB in May, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio rung the alarm that protections are needed from predatory tactics in online lending.
  • Second, let’s cap the percentage points that brokers can surreptitiously add to small business loans. The Dodd-Frank Act made it more difficult for mortgage brokers to charge usurious rates in the aftermath of the subprime crisis, and it deserves consideration in the small business lending industry as well. A lighter approach could be a measured first step down this path, namely requiring that every loan broker has to be open and honest with a business borrower if they added points to their loan as part of the cost of doing business with them and how much those points cost the borrower. Both approaches could work, and either would be better than the current system.
  • Third, let’s introduce greater transparency in the loan process. Today, when a broker calls a small business owner, they never have to disclose the full range of loan options that a borrower qualifies for. That means that a borrower has no idea that they are being pushed into a loan where the broker can reap the highest fees. Let’s open up the kimono by requiring brokers to present business owners with a full range of options they qualify for. Let’s also make sure that loan terms are written in plain English and shown in plain sight, and push brokers to disclose tools for making apples-to-apples comparisons with other loan products. For example, we could stipulate that every loan must come with an APR. This makes it a heck of a lot easier for small business owners to understand the true cost of a loan and makes it simpler for them to compare that loan to SBA loans or business credit cards.
  • Fourth, we should require that any broker has to disclose what they will do with a business owner’s information. Oftentimes, in addition to connecting a business owner to a lender, brokers sell that information to other third parties, meaning that an entrepreneur who was just looking for a loan could also start getting phone calls from folks selling anything and everything under the sun.

Nearly every other consumer product sold in America has passed basic safety regulations well in advance of reaching store shelves, so why don’t business owners deserve the same protection when looking for a loan? Until action is taken to bring transparency to the small business loan process, business owners–and, indeed, many good lenders–will remain at the mercy of unscrupulous brokers. Better oversight could keep small business owners safe from some of the most egregious traps, and make sure that as the alternative lending industry matures, predatory brokers don’t lead us down the wrong path.

Spotlight: Education and Student Loans Voter’s Guide

My daughter is a first year school teacher in a hellip; low income school. [She] ends up paying for supplies out of her own pocket a lot. And mine too. Debra, Winston-Salem, NC

I receive both a Pell Grant and Stafford Loan each year. I also benefit from Federal Work-Study. Both of these have made it possible for me to go to [college] without having to take out large private loans. Mia, Pasadena, CA

Nearly seven in ten Americans say that improving education should be a top priority for the President and Congress. And while thats not a ten out of ten, consider that in the same poll only three issues outranked education: strengthening the economy, improving the job situation, and protecting the nation from terrorism (in that order).

So, on to the million dollar question: does our federal spending reflect the fact that education is a top priority for Americans? This week, were spotlighting our education-themed voters guides (one on Education, and one on Student Loans and Student Debt) to give you the scoop.

Our Voters Guides provide explanations, key facts and figures, and questions you can ask candidates. Here are some of the key facts youll find:

  • Education makes up only six percent of our nations discretionary spending thats only $34.8 billion out of a total $1.16 trillion in discretionary spending proposed for 2015.
  • Almost half of public schools receive federal funding for underserved schools through the federal governments Title I program.
  • Pell grants make it possible for the lowest income students to go to college. In 2012, nearly three quarters of Pell grant recipients had family incomes under $30,000.

Check out our Education Voters Guides, and if you have a story to share about public education, please post it on our Faces of the Federal Budget page.

RFID Blocker: Save yourself from ID Theft

(WBIR) Its an unfortunate reality of our digital age. Thieves are now extremely advanced when it comes to stealing your credit card number, and ultimately your digital ID. These days, all it takes is a scanner in someones shopping bag to grab your credit card number safely tucked into your purse or back pocket. I want to help beat those thieves today with a bargain, in my continued quest to save you time and money.

If youre unfamiliar with how Radio Frequency Identity theft occurs, Watch This Quick Youtube Video of me explaining RFID Theft and why were all at risk.

The same type of scanners that allow you to tap your credit card for payment at check-out at a store can easily be purchased by anyone, carried in a nondescript way through stores or malls to scan your credit card numbers from you, from several feet of way. This type of wireless crime which has significantly increased happens quickly and without our knowledge until its too late.

Thankfully, something called an RFID Wallet Blocking card which you slip into your wallet can protect up to six different credit cards from RFID theft. The cards I sampled and now use daily from Scanner Guard are extremely effective and the most simple way to protect yourself on the go. Since these cards are on sale today, I figured I would include it below as my favorite daily deal.

Want more deals? Follow @MattGranite on Twitter.
You can also subscribe to my Daily Deal Channel on Youtube.

We do not receive any financial compensation from any deal or for recommending any product/company. The only purpose of this series is to save you money.

50% Off RFID Wallet Blocking Card
Was: $39.99
Now: $19.99
**Free shipping with Amazon Prime. Price will fluctuate when item sells out and Amazon shifts to a different distributor.

Sheriff: Topekan Faces ID Theft Charges After Credit Card Stash Found

HOLTON, Kan. (WIBW) — A report of a forged check at a Holton Walmart leads deputies to a stash of credit cards and checks with various names on them, according to the Jackson Co. Sheriffs Office.

Brandon K. Jordan, of Topeka, allegedly tried passing the check on Wednesday. Witnesses told authorities he got into the back of a green Ford Explorer and headed south. The SUV was intercepted near 182nd and US Hey. 75 by an officer with the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Tourism.

Deputies arrested the 43 year-old and say they recovered the stash of credit cards and checks as well as a computer, printer, and check paper, which they think was used to make the checks. They also reportedly found what they think were methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Two other individuals were also in the Explorer with Jordan. They were both questioned and released, the sheriffs office said.

Jordan faces 7 counts of forgery, 18 counts of making a false writing, 18 counts of identity theft, 7 counts of counterfeiting, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, according to the Sheriffs Office. He also has outstanding warrants for similar charges.

ID Theft


ID Theft

Burdened with Record Amount of Debt, Graduates Delay Marriage

Your student loan is killing the housing market

Millennials already have to deal with hefty debt from college, an iffy job market, and growing up in an era where MTV no longer plays music videos, but now theyre being blamed for holding back the real estate boom. Home builder adviser John Burns Consulting published details from a study earlier this month concluding that student loan payments will cost the housing industry 414,000 transactions this year that would have totaled $83 billion in sales.

Ouch. The ivory tower is crumbling at the foundation.

Its been widely assumed that mounting student debt is eating away at this otherwise buoyant housing market recovery. John Burns Consultings study — boiled down to a free one-pager for those that arent paying customers that got the more thorough report — attempts to quantify the impact.

How did the adviser arrive at $83 billion? Well, we start with the 5.9 million households under the age of 40 that are paying at least $250 in student loan debt, nearly triple the 2.2 million leveraged college grads in the same predicament back in 2005. We then get to the assumption that $250 earmarked for student loan debt every month reduces the buying power of a potential home buyer by $44,000. Thats bad, and its naturally worse depending on how much more than $250 a month some of these indebted students have taken on to pay back. Thats less money they can commit to a mortgage. John Burns Consulting offers up that most households paying at least $750 a month in student loan have priced themselves out of the housing market entirely.

It gets worse

The study only looked at folks between the ages of 20-40. Thats a pretty sizable lot, especially since 35% of all households in that age bracket have at least $250 a month in student debt. However, even John Burns Consulting concedes that theres a big chunk of households over age 40 who have student debt as well. Its not likely to be as bad, naturally, but its all incremental at this point.

This report also happens to come at a time when the housing industry is starting to flinch after a couple of years of boom and bounce. Right now everything seems great. New home sales data released this past week showed the industrys highest monthly growth rate in more than six years. However, the near-term outlook is starting to get hazy.

Shares of KB Home (KBH) shed more than 5% of its value on Wednesday after reporting uninspiring quarterly results. Revenue and earnings fell short of expectations, and the same can be said about its number of closings and order growth. Earlier this month it was luxury bellwether Toll Brothers (TOL) setting an uneasy tone after posting a year-over-year decline in the number of contracts it signed during the period and an uptick in the cancellation rate for existing home orders.

It gets better

The student debt crisis is real, and the skyrocketing costs of obtaining a post-secondary education naturally open up the debate of its necessity. However, its also important to remember that university grads are earning far more than those that dont attend college.

The median of annual earnings for young adults in 2012 was $46,900 for those with a bachelors degree, $30,000 for those with just a high school degree or credential and $22,900 for those who did not complete high school. Those going on to grad school for advanced degrees — and thats where student loans can really start to pile up — are at $59,600 a year.

In other words, most college grads, and especially grad school graduates, are typically better off than those that didnt pursue higher education, even with the student loan albatross around their white-collared necks. The housing industry would be better off if colleges were cheaper or if student debt levels were lower, but the same can be said about purchasing power in general. At the end of the day, debt-saddled or not, the housing industry needs its college graduates.