My neighbor showed me a letter that she got the other day -- a sales pitch for some of the most overpriced insurance I've ever seen. Oddly, no one in the neighborhood except the seniors got it, and she got it not long after signing up for the property tax deferral allowed for Oregon seniors. My spidey-senses tell me that the scammers keep track of who files for the senior property tax exemption and send them these pitches. I wonder what their response rate is? Whatever it is, it's way too high.
This is a VERY BAD DEAL -- almost pure profit to them, obtained by targeting people who are afraid of unexpected expenses. The basic design -- only the waterline -- and the fine print on this one means that you are very unlikely to ever be able to claim against this policy. Check it out (4 page pdf).
Whenever you are approached or sent a mailer selling insurance that only covers a specific risk and that gives you a pitch that plays on your fear of unexpected bills, you should immediately be suspicious. Reputable insurance companies do not sell products like this, particularly with exclusions that gut the coverage. Insurance is too important to let yourself be scammed.
If you are in Oregon or especially in the Salem area, I would be happy to review any offers you get like this to help you understand the coverage and the alternatives for managing the risks discussed.
Training without travel for mid-valley nonprofit leaders!
Friday Fundamentals for Flourishing Nonprofits
Eight carefully designed, targeted 90-minute workshops, with attendance limited to eight nonprofit leaders, so you will get the personal attention to the questions that matter to you and your nonprofit. Training that gets right to the point, right here in Salem, created and presented by an attorney focused on helping nonprofits do more good while having more fun. 9/9
“First things first? So how do we know what’s first?”
(Priority-setting for nonprofit leaders)
File, forget, and flounder.
(Using minutes to help make better use of your hours.)
By law or not by law?
(Bylaws for the bewildered.)
“Procedures? We don’ need no stinking procedures!”
(How and why nonprofits can learn to love doing things “by the book.”)
What taxes? I thought we were a nonprofit!
(“Excuse me, your unrelated business income is showing.”)
“We do the Lord’s work, so why do they act like Satan?”
(Conflict on boards.)
“We love mankind. It’s the employees who drive us mad.”
(Employment law for nonprofits.)
“But Judge, . . . !”
(How to raise funds without having a lawyer on speed-dial.)
Each workshop will be at 11 am on Fridays in downtown Salem.
Tuition is just $35 for each one (paid in advance)
or $40 (paid day of) – or guarantee your seat by enrolling for all eight for just $250 (save $30).
Workshop creator and leader is John Gear of the John Gear Law Office, LLC.
for more information.
To enroll or for questions, call John at 503-339-7787.
The Oregon Legislature slammed the door in the faces of all the Oregonians fighting for their lives against the banksters
. From the Oregonian's story by Brent Hunsberger:Although the Oregon Legislature wrestled with a number of issues this session, consumer protection was not one of them. Nowhere was lawmakers' collective apathy more evident than in the way Washington and Oregon addressed the growing foreclosure crisis. Washington enacted the Foreclosure Fairness Act, allowing homeowners to demand a mediation face to face with their lenders before a foreclosure sale. Attorney General Rob McKenna got power to punish lenders who don't follow it. . . . .Sure, Oregon lawmakers had a lot of hefty issues to tackle, some of which they punted. They passed some needed health reform measures that might, in a few years, save consumers and small businesses money. They improved protections for consumers purchasing long-term health care insurance, mobile homes and free-trial offers that actually end up costing money. But other states faced the same problems. The failure of Oregon lawmakers to tackle the state's foreclosure crisis, which grew in severity even as lawmakers huddled with lobbyists, certainly raises serious questions about the balance of power in Salem. In fact, lawmakers actually allowed one key consumer protection -- the right to meet with a lender to modify a mortgage -- to expire at year's end. A committee in the House, where most consumer protection legislation met its death, briefly entertained an end-run by the mortgage industry to retroactively exempt lenders from Oregon recording law. This gut-and-stuff of an affordable housing bill finally ended after a public outcry sent lawmakers scurrying for cover. "It's very disappointing," said Suzanne Bonamici, D-Cedar Hills, who championed several consumer measures. "I don't know what else I could've done." Let's set the scene lawmakers ignored. Homeowners have been up in arms with how loan servicers have bungled mortgage modifications promised by the government more than two years ago. Attorneys general in 50 states are investigating the practices of the nation's largest lenders. In Oregon, meanwhile, a number of judges have blocked foreclosures, at least once after the fact. They've found lenders in violation of state law for not recording each time a mortgage loan is resold, a securitization system that generated yacht-loads of profits for Wall Street. The status of foreclosures in the state now hang in serious limbo while a case finds its way to the Oregon Supreme Court. That could take months. If lenders actually sat down face to face with borrowers and worked out solutions, Oregon's housing market might actually see more life. Instead, big banks are putting off having to record those loan losses on their books. Troubled homeowners are told repeatedly to resend the same information, discover their lender is foreclosing on them at the same time their loan is being modified. . . . .
Audit of Massachusetts foreclosures finds massive bank fraud
Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds, Salem MA - Yesterday at the Annual Conference of The International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers , Register John O'Brien revealed the results of an independent audit of his registry. The audit, which is released as a legal affidavit was performed by McDonnell Property Analytics, examined assignments of mortgage recorded in the Essex Southern District Registry of Deeds issued to and from JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of America during 2010. In total, 565 assignments related to 473 unique mortgages were analyzed. McDonnell's Report includes the following key findings:
- Only 16% of assignments of mortgage are valid
- 75% of assignments of mortgage are invalid.
- 9% of assignments of mortgage are questionable
- 27% of the invalid assignments are fraudulent, 35% are "robo-signed" and 10% violate the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
- The identity of financial institutions that are current owners of the mortgages could only be determined for 287 out of 473 (60%)
- There are 683 missing assignments for the 287 traced mortgages, representing approximately $180,000 in lost recording fees per 1,000 mortgages whose current ownership can be traced.
Marie McDonnell told O'Brien, "I have been auditing residential mortgage loans for the past twenty years on a one-by-one basis. In the process, I have been cataloging the ramp up in predatory lending and mortgage fraud for all of those years, but I was not prepared for the shocking results of my audit. What this means is that the degradation in standards of commerce by which the banks originated, sold and securitized these mortgages are so fatally flawed that the institutions, including many pension funds, that purchased these mortgages don't actually own them because the assignments of mortgage were never prepared, executed and delivered to them in the normal course of business at the time of the transaction. In a blatant attempt to engineer a 'fix' to the problem, the banks set up in-house document execution teams, or outsourced the preparation of their assignments to third parties who manufactured them out of thin air without researching who really owns the mortgage."
O'Brien asked McDonnell what this means for his constituents. "It is vitally important for your constituents to know that if they are in foreclosure now or if their homes have been foreclosed upon, they can stop the foreclosure from proceeding, or institute a court action to vacate a completed foreclosure. . . . I can tell you that every single assignment of mortgage that was recorded for the purpose of foreclosing the homeowner is invalid, overtly fraudulent, or criminally fraudulent. My findings also show that your constituents who are not in foreclosure, and have never been delinquent in their payments also have clouds on title due to the recording of defective and invalid discharges and assignments of mortgage."
Not many people realize, until it's too late, that there is essentially ZERO regulation or consumer protection out there for interstate moves, where your goods will be carried across state or international borders. To protect yourself, be
fore selecting a mover,
A) Research the movers you might call on MovingScam.com
B) Research the AG Consumer protection complaints file in both the sending and receiving states -- CALL the AG's office in the destination state, AND the sending state.
C) Ignore the BBB -- the "Better Business Bureau" is a bought-and-paid for marketing gimmick. In other words, they are not neutral or objective in any sense of the word.
D) Do a search for all court claims filed against the company. In every state.
E) Reject out of hand any bid that is significantly lower than the rest NO MATTER WHAT PLAUSIBLE-SOUNDING LIE THEY TELL YOU ABOUT WHY THEY CAN BE SO MUCH CHEAPER.
F) Do not, do not
, DO NOT
schedule your move to coincide with a deadline like a trip to Paris, brain surgery, childbirth, or a sale of a house so that you have no ability to send the movers away when you get a gut feeling that, yes, they are indeed criminals out to rip you off. Really, don't.
This is where they victimize people -- you set up the move, arrange a lot of stuff around it, and then on that morning, you realize that Trusty Truthful Terrific Movers is actually Satan, and there's still nothing you can do about it because you have a schedule to keep.
G) It bears repeating again. DO NOT put your own neck into the noose by hiring the cheapest mover you can find and shoehorning the move into your schedule so tightly that you can't say "You know what, put my stuff back and get the hell out of here." Remember. Once they have your stuff on the truck, if they are the bad guys . . . . And the industry is full of bad guys.
H) Of course, there are wonderful reputable movers too. The problem is that the bad guys know how to look like good guys, and it's only after you have locked yourself into a tight schedule and they have your stuff that you learn that they are the bad guys.
I) And, on the glorious morning of the move, if you have the slightest hesitation about the people you hired when they show up (or fail to show up)
DO NOT LET THEM PICK UP YOUR STUFF --- unless you like the thought of being blackmailed for it. Far better to be sued by a mover for breach than to try to sue a mover in the state you just left. You have to go to federal court and the deadlines are absurdly short, and these people are professionals at the hold-up game. Do not play their game.
Salem Harvest is a gleaning project where local folks go and help farmers and orchard growers make great use of their excess or crops that would be lost because of timing or harvesting problems -- you split what you harvest with Marion-Polk Food Share, so you not only have fun in and around Salem throughout our beautiful Willamette Valley summer and fall, you also get to bring home delicious, freshly harvested food at the peak of its flavor and quality, all while sharing the bounty with less fortunate folks who depend on Food Share food boxes. Salem Harvest is a great program, and I am delighted to be able to support such a worthy cause.
Thanks to all the clients who, since last October, have been coming for help with their legal issues at John Gear Law Office, LLC, I was just able to go to the link mentioned below and donate the funds needed to buy one of the tall orchard ladders. I hope you will consider joining me in supporting such a worthwhile project. Here is the text of their latest e-newsletter for members and friends. Note that the donation link works, and it's easy, and makes you feel good.
=================================================================== Thanks to the generosity of a commercial cherry grower just outside of Salem and our ongoing partnership with Farmers Ending Hunger, Salem Harvest will be kicking off the 2011 season with Farm Harvest Parties for picking cherries in July. You will receive an email soon with more information about the harvest party dates and times. In the meantime, here is some important information that you need to know for the 2011 Season. Harvest Parties: The Fastest Way to Find OutThe fastest way to find out about new harvest parties is to subscribe to the Salem Harvest blog, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll use the “New Harvest” apple icon in our blog and on Facebook to announce that a harvest party has been posted on our harvest parties sign-up page. Why are subscribing to our blog or following us on Facebook or Twitter faster than our email notification system? It’s simple: we can announce a harvest party posting on our blog, Facebook and Twitter all at once, and the information is sent instantaneously to our followers. In contrast, our automatic email software, which we use to send all our registered pickers notices about harvest party postings, is limited to 200 emails an hour as an anti-spam precaution. Since we have over 1450 registered pickers (with more registering each day), some pickers don't receive the message until hours later (and sometimes after the party has already filled up). We rotate how we send out the notifications to ensure that the same people don’t always get notices first or last, but it is always going to be faster to learn about harvest party postings on our blog, Facebook or Twitter. Of course you can always check the harvest parties page whenever you like to see if new harvest parties have been added. You can find the harvest parties page at http://salemharvest.org/harvestlist.php You can find our blog at http://www.salemharvest.org/blog and our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/salemharvest. You can also follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/salemharvest. Ladder Campaign As you may already know, many of the crops that we harvest require the use of ladders. When ladders are needed, we encourage pickers to bring their own ladders from home. The standard four-legged step ladder that most of us use at home often does the trick. However, a tripod orchard ladder is much more stable on uneven ground. Salem Harvest has five wooden orchard ladders that we bring out to harvest parties. You may have seen them or had a chance to use one if you picked at cherry, plum, pear, or apple harvests last year. They are very handy, but as they are made of wood, they are showing their age. Moving them can be cumbersome because of their weight and the potential for splinters. We would like to replace them with lightweight aluminum orchard ladders and add more to our inventory, and we are asking for your help. The more ladders we have in the orchard, the more fruit we can all pick, and the more we can donate to those in need (and take home to our own families for free). This season we will be raising funds for new orchard ladders. We have negotiated a wholesale price, and we would like to raise enough to purchase 10 to 15 aluminum orchard ladders of varying heights (6'-14') at a cost of $80 to $170 each. The goal for our ladder campaign is $1800. A donation in any amount, be it $5 or $50, would be greatly appreciated. You can donate now on our web site. Thank you for your support! Streamlined Check-in & Donation Process We have two key changes to our Harvest Party process that we think you'll like: First, this season when you sign up for a harvest party, you'll be asked to check a box agreeing to the terms of our release from liability forms before your name can be added to a harvest party roster. This means no waiting in line at a harvest party to sign those orange and blue forms! Secondly, at Farm Harvest Parties, we will not be weighing containers or total pounds picked by harvesters. We will simply weigh the donated amount once we take the entire haul to Marion-Polk Food Share. This will speed things along. Pickers will still be asked to eyeball their donation half (or more if you're feeling extra generous). But we'll dispense with the time consuming weighing of empty and full containers. We still hope to have a small scale available at many Farm Harvests for folks to check out how much they picked for the fun of it (or in the spirit of friendly competition.) This change does NOT apply to Backyard Harvests-- these are the tiny harvests with just 1-10 people harvesting at a private residence. We'll still weigh produce there because we take those donations directly to a food pantry which does not weigh our contribution. (MPFS's warehouse does weigh our donations-- using a forklift on a giant scale usually!) Happy Harvesting! -- Amy Barr, Interim Project Manager/Volunteer CoordinatorSalem Harvest, www.salemharvest.org www.facebook.com/salemharvest www.twitter.com/salemharvest