The good folks at the National Consumer Law Center have just issued a new report that addresses a lot of the problems with student loan lending (pdf download), particularly the problems caused by for-profit "education" mills that really seem to be about something quite different than education.
Boy, maybe the only thing worse than falling for a scam is having passed it onto your family and friends! See this report from Consumerist:
We recently told you about scammers tricking consumers into sharing sensitive information by telling them a federal stimulus plan will pay their power bill for a month; they just need your SSN and bank routing number. If you think that no one would fall for such an obvious ruse, then you might be surprised to know that not only were thousands of people in New Jersey taken in by the scam, but they passed it along to their friends because they thought it was a good deal . . .
The basic rule is this: Whenever anyone contacts YOU, NEVER give them any information (account numbers, your birthday, or social security numbers, etc.) that they could use to steal your identity. No reputable business calls you and asks for this info, or sends you an email asking for it. Only share such sensitive information over the phone (if ever) when you call a business that you have found in a reputable public directory.
Medicare beneficiaries struggling with prescription drug coverage
Five years after the launch of Medicare prescription drug coverage, many beneficiaries are still struggling to sign up, according to a new report from the Medicare Rights Center.
The report highlights how hard it is for beneficiaries to choose among "a multitude of plans that have different benefit structures, pharmacy networks, formularies and rules for accessing benefits." It found that 43 percent of respondents to a recent survey chose to enroll in plans recommended by the Medicare agency's online Plan Finder tool, while 57 percent chose not to.
"This report reinforces what we hear time and again on our helpline," center President Joe Baker said in a statement. "The Part D plan selection process is enough to make many beneficiaries and their loved ones throw up their arms in surrender. People simply want to be able to find and enroll in the drug plan that is right for them, without getting stuck in a morass of indistinguishable plan options."
The report makes four primary recommendations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: beneficiaries and their advocates should be able to identify the most comprehensive and affordable plan upon their initial Plan Finder search; the data should be reorganized and a decision tree created to hep guide them; Medicare resources should provide consistent information; and CMS should consolidate plans that lack meaningful differences in order to give beneficiaries access to a manageable number of meaningfully distinct plan choices.
As time speeds by and John Gear Law Office approaches its second anniversary, I got another reminder to give thanks to all who have consulted with me and given me the opportunity to be of service, which is what allows me to support things like Salem Harvest.
As a true solo practitioner, I am not always able to be in as many places at once as I'd like, or to do as many different things in a day as I might if I did not try to keep a sane balance between work and rest. Groups like Salem Harvest help me remember how many blessings many of us enjoy, even when we feel stressed and pulled in too many directions at once. If you, like me, struggle with having more calories than you need, consider a gift to Salem Harvest, helping provide healthy fresh food to those who don't have enough. Just click the image above to go to the Salem Harvest support page.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that the hydra known as MERS -- the monstrous placeholding dummy with a million phony vice-presidents, which the mortgage servicing industry created to attempt to evade the requirement (and the fees) that all transfers of interests in mortgages be recorded -- cannot use the streamlined, fast-track nonjudicial foreclosure process in Oregon!
Niday v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC et al,
"[T]he import of our holding is this: A beneficiary that uses MERS to avoid publicly recording assignments of a trust deed cannot avail itself of a nonjudicial foreclosure process that requires that very thing-- publicly recorded assignments."
The nonjudicial foreclosure process was created in the old days when lenders held onto their mortgage loans, which were actually underwritten thoughtfully. Fast forward to the slice-and-dice fast-money 1990s-2000s, when the banksters and money men started financializing everything and you suddenly had a tool that was being used against homeowners in ways never intended, by an entity never imagined by the law, a weird hybrid creature that pretended to be both the beneficiary of the loan (when useful to MERS) and not the beneficiary (again, when useful to MERS).
Hurrah for the Oregon Court of Appeals. BULLSEYE! Seems likely the MERS scammers will appeal but, for now, a true shining example of Oregon flying with her own wings and reaching the right conclusion despite a number of other states having missed the mark widely on this issue.
John Gear is a Salem attorney.
LAWYERLY FINE PRINT:
John Gear Law Office LLC and Salem Consumer Law. John Gear Law Office is in Suite 208B of the Security Building in downtown Salem at 161 High St. SE, across from the Elsinore Theater, a half-block south of Marion County Courthouse, just south of State Street. There is abundant, free 3-hour on-street parking throughout downtown Salem, and three multi-story parking ramps that offer free customer parking in downtown Salem too.
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