Disabled, elderly targeted in ID theft at nursing home

Police are investigating a string of identity theft cases at a Stockbridge nursing home.
 
Police say someone working at Laurel Park Rehabilitation Center was targeting patients, many of them elderly and disabled, to get as much as $35,000 in credit in all their names.
 
Nancy Rowell-Crane says her mother, Grace Rowell, is totally dependent on her care. The 84-year-old suffers from memory loss and recently fractured a hip. She went to Laurel Park for treatment. That’s where she likely came into contact with Tawaii Collins, the woman accused of the thefts.
 
“Detectives advised about eight victims they believe they were all at that location in Stockbridge receiving some kind of rehabilitation or treatment at some point,” said Henry County Police Lt. Joey Smith.
 
Rowell-Crane says someone at the facility asked for her mothers insurance information a second time because it was missing from her file. A short time later letters from credit card companies started showing up at her mothers home referring to suspicious applications or notices of suspensions on accounts, including one from the Home Shopping Network which she says her mother never opened.
 
“It scares me for all the patients because this isa vulnerable population anyway,” Rowell-Crane.
 
A 69-year-old patient at the facility told police someone claiming to be with the insurance company called asking for personal information.
 
After getting fraud alerts on her cellphone, she called her bank which told her a woman named Tawaii Collins was claiming to have access to the patients account.
 
Rowell-Crane got her moms credit report and noticed a strange McDonough address. Police got a search warrant and arrested Collins there. They found financial documents and merchandise bought with credit in victims names. Rowell-Crane wants to know why her mothers information wasnt better protected at the facility.
 
“They have yet to reach out to me to even tell me this has occurred, so I know theres probably other patients there who have no clue this is a possibility,” Rowell-Crane said.
 
Laurel Park told Channel 2 Action News they couldn’t comment on the case. Police are trying to find out if anyone was working with Collins and urges anyone who has been treating at the facility since June to check their credit records and call police if they notice anything suspicious.

5 Myths About Paying for College Without Student Loans

Paying for college without student loans seems like a great idea. After all, who wants students to graduate saddled with $20,000 or more in student loan debt? But the fact is college is expensive and students will likely have to borrow some money. However, borrowing can be minimized if families avoid believing these myths about paying for college:

1. You have to start at community college or a cheaper school.

Students should apply to a variety of schools and see who offers them scholarships. A full ride at Harvard is cheaper than paying for expenses at a state university. Use net price calculators on university websites to see what financial aid your student might qualify for, but also check with high school counselors. High school counselors can help students get an idea of how much money in grants and scholarships different schools might award them.

2. There aren’t scholarships for community colleges.

Always find out about scholarships from the financial aid office at any college.A $1,000 scholarship received from a community college allows students to borrow less. It alsohelps families who’ve saved for college to keep money growing in investment accounts longer. This money can be usedtoward the student’s coststo attend a four year university for his or her final two years of undergraduate education. For instance, if a family has managed to save $20,000 for their child’s education and the student receives scholarships for their first two years of community college, they would still have $20,000 left when the student transfers to the new school. That amounts to $10,000 per year, more than the average tuition and fees for a four year public university last year. Then the family will just have to figure out how to pay for room and board, which could include a combination of student loans, student employment, and the parent’s current income.

3. Your child earned their dream school.

Parents have a hard time telling their offspring that they can’t attend a school because the family budget can’t handle the cost of attendance. But remember this: dreams have to be earned. What were your child’s high school grades? Can they get scholarships? Are they willing to contribute to the cost of college with income they earn? Do they understand student loan debt and what it will mean to their future budget?

For more on this topic, read How to Make Sure Your Dream college Doesn’t Turn into a Student Loan Nightmare.

4. You shouldn’t fill out the FAFSA.

The Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is often thought of as the fast track to student loan debt. This isn’t true. What it really is is an open letter to the universities students are considering that they want financial help to attend college. That help can come in the form of scholarships, grants or student loans. Don’t ever forget to fill this form out. It will cost you thousands of dollars and you can deny all or part of student loans awarded. In addition to filling out the FAFSA, follow up with special circumstances forms when needed. These are supplemental forms submitted to college financial aid offices if financial situations have changes. For instance, one parent lost their job or experienced an income reduction since filling out the FAFSA form.

5. Payments plans are just for parents.

Students with part time jobs can also make payments for their tuition and fees. Payment plans may allow a family to pay tuition and fees in anywhere from tow payments per semester tomonthly payments. Each university may have different payment plan options. Ask the accounting or bursar’s office what options are available before stepping onto campus for the first time.

Bottomline

Paying for college often involves a set of strategies, not just one method. Do try to avoid borrowing a huge amount of student loan debt. But some borrowing doesn’t have to impact a student’s future.

Reyna’s a health and personal finance journalist who’s authored two editions of “CliffsNotes Graduation Debt: How to Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life”.

SA man sentenced for income tax fraud, ID theft

NEWS

SA man sentenced for income tax fraud, ID theft

Michael Floyd White admits to IRS defraud attempt

Feds: Judge candidate delinquent on $260K

James Rickerson, the Democratic nominee for the 288th District Court seat, was sued by the federal government in 2011 for piling up more than $184,000 in unpaid student loans.

The lawsuit, which resulted in a default judgment against Rickerson, came on the heels of more than $50,000 in tax liens that the Internal Revenue Service filed against the San Antonio attorney, documents obtained by the San Antonio Express-News indicate.

How to Pay Off Student Loans Early

Should you pay off student loan early, assuming that is possible? H. Jude Boudreaux, founder of Upperline Financial Planning based in New Orleans, sketches out a strategy to assess whether and how to remove this burden.

Temptation runs great to whittle today’s enormous student loans as fast as possible. Here’s how to decide if paying off your loans early is in fact a good idea.

First, paying loans off quickly may actually be more possible than headlines about a looming student-debt crisis claim. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution:

o Roughly a quarter of the increase in student debt since 1989 stems from Americans simply obtaining more education, especially graduate degrees;

o Increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans more than keep pace with increases in debt loads; and

o The monthly payment burden of borrowers remained about the same – or lessened – over the past two decades.

The report ignited much debate that continues. Your immediate and key considerations:

What’s your interest rate? The rate plays a critical role in determining if paying off your loans early is a good investment.

Student loans consolidated several years ago likely carry a low interest rate (I’ve seen as low as 2.25%) and loans for more-recent graduates normally run 6.8%. Repaying a loan early, in some sense, guarantees you the current rate and heads off future increases in rates.

The higher the interest rate, the more benefit you see from paying off the debt early.

Do you qualify for loan forgiveness? Many employers and a new federal program can forgive loans. As with many financial matters, though, the devil is in the details of the provided documents.

Other factors for both graduates and parents to consider:

o How long does the new graduate need to work to qualify? Some programs kick in with as little as three years on the job; some federal programs require 10 years of service and 120 payments.

o What loans qualify? Many programs offer forgiveness for federally guaranteed student loans, fewer for private loans. Read the details of what you’re offered and ask questions.

How much do you earn? In an ideal world, you make additional loan payments, build an emergency fund and begin saving for retirement early in your career. Chances are you can’t do all of these, so prioritize which gives you the best long-term return for your hard-earned dollars.

Does your retirement plan have a match? If so, it’s hard for me to recommend passing that up to repay student loans.

In some sense, a match guarantees return on your investment: You get additional dollars contributed to an account without taking that money out of your paycheck. Grab the match and then decide if you want to reduce your student loans instead of save for retirement.

How do you feel about debt? Some people are perfectly comfortable making monthly payments over an extended time; others get upset when they think about the payments and amount outstanding. If your student loans distress you, make paying them off a high priority.

Even if the resulting delay in your savings means you work another six months before retiring, that’s probably better than emotional agony for 10 years because putting money away for retirement seemed like a smart move at the time.

Sheriff’s Office looking to ID theft suspect

Friday, Oct. 3, 2014

MARTINEZ, Ga. (WRDW) — The Columbia County Sheriffs Office is looking for a theft suspect from Sept. 13.

A woman reported her wallet missing after leaving Sprint Foods, the Sheriffs Office said.

A man is seen in surveillance video picking up what looks like the wallet dropped. The location of the store is 500 Flowing Wells Road in Martinez.

If you recognize the suspect, contact the Columbia County Sheriffs Office.

Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.

Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.

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.