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On Tuesday, Wells Fargo announced it has reached a settlement related to opening unauthorized bank accounts. The bank agreed in principal to settle the class action lawsuit for $110 million.

 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in May 2015, contains allegations by Wells customers who say the bank enrolled them in products and services without their consent.  The bank estimates that up to 2 million unauthorized credit and deposit accounts were opened over several years. 

 

The bank’s aggressive sales quotas put pressure on employees to either meet the demand by creating fake accounts or risk losing their jobs, employees say.  Although thousands were fired for committing fraud, high level executives went unpunished. 

 

The bank disclosed that it agreed to pay $185 million in regulatory fines in September 2016.   Bank CEO John Stumpf was grilled by members of Congress for allowing the matter to go on for so long.  Senate Banking Committee Member Elizabeth Warren told him, "You should resign...You should be criminally investigated."  Stumpf retired a month later with a package valued at $134 million.

 

Wells said the settlement, expected to resolve claims in 11 other pending class-action suits over unauthorized accounts or product enrollments, is part of the San Francisco-based bank’s efforts to turn around its tarnished image.

 

“This agreement is another step in our journey to make things right with customers and rebuild trust,” said Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo’s (NYSE: WFC) president and CEO. “We want to ensure that each customer impacted by our sales practices issue has every opportunity for remediation, and this agreement presents an additional option. We continue to encourage customers to contact us directly so that we can act quickly to refund fees and address any concerns.”

 

A Little About Reverse Mortgage

Friday, March 31, 2017

By Glenda Brass, MBA

 

Lately I’ve had quite a few questions surrounding reverse mortgages. Below, I’ve provided some general information. Though there’s a lot more analysis one should do prior to deciding whether a reverse mortgage is right for them, this will provide some basic understanding.

 

When you have a regular mortgage, you pay the lender every month to buy your home over time. In a reverse mortgage, you get a loan in which the lender pays you. There are three kinds of reverse mortgages: single purpose reverse mortgages – offered by some state and local government agencies, as well as non-profits; proprietary reverse mortgages – private loans; and federally-insured reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). The latter is the most common type of reverse mortgage.

 

If you get a reverse mortgage of any kind, you get a loan in which you borrow against the equity in your home. You keep the title to your home. Instead of paying monthly mortgage payments, though, you get an advance on part of your home equity. The money you get usually is not taxable, and it generally won’t affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits. When the last surviving borrower dies, sells the home, or no longer lives in the home as a principal residence, the loan has to be repaid. In certain situations, (a warning here), a non-borrowing spouse may be able to remain in the home. Here are some things to consider about reverse mortgages:

 

•There are fees and other costs. Reverse mortgage lenders generally charge an origination fee and other closing costs, as well as servicing fees over the life of the mortgage. Some also charge mortgage insurance premiums (for federally-insured HECMs). The fees tend to be higher than for regular mortgages.

 

•You owe more over time. As you get money through your reverse mortgage, interest is added onto the balance you owe each month. That means the amount you owe grows as the interest on your loan adds up over time.

 

•Interest rates may change over time. Most reverse mortgages have variable rates, which are tied to a financial index and change with the market. Variable rate loans tend to give you more options on how you get your money through the reverse mortgage. Some reverse mortgages – mostly HECMs – offer fixed rates, but they tend to require you to take your loan as a lump sum at closing. Often, the total amount you can borrow is less than you could get with a variable rate loan.

 

•Interest is not tax deductible each year. Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns – until the loan is paid off, either partially or in full.

 

•You have to pay other costs related to your home. In a reverse mortgage, you keep the title to your home. That means you are responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other expenses. And, if you don’t pay your property taxes, keep homeowner’s insurance, or maintain your home, the lender might require you to repay your loan. A financial assessment is required when you apply for the mortgage. As a result, your lender may require a “set-aside” amount to pay your taxes and insurance during the loan. The “set-aside” reduces the amount of funds you can get in payments. You are still responsible for maintaining your home.

 

•What happens to your spouse? With HECM loans, if you signed the loan paperwork and your spouse didn’t, in certain situations, your spouse may continue to live in the home even after you die if he or she pays taxes and insurance, and continues to maintain the property. But your spouse will stop getting money from the HECM, since he or she wasn’t part of the loan agreement. 

 

•What can you leave to your heirs? Reverse mortgages can use up the equity in your home, which means fewer assets for you and your heirs. Most reverse mortgages have something called a “non-recourse” clause. This means that you, or your estate, can’t owe more than the value of your home when the loan becomes due and the home is sold. With a HECM, generally, if you or your heirs want to pay off the loan and keep the home rather than sell it, you would not have to pay more than the appraised value of the home.

 

Depending on your current situation, a reverse mortgage may be just the thing you need to ensure your retirement is free from the stress of a mortgage payment. However, before proceeding in that direction, ask lots of questions and be sure you understand how it will impact you and your heirs over the long term. If structured properly, it can be a life saver, if not, it can be a life destroyer! 

 

Glenda Brass is a successful real estate consultant who has been in the real estate industry for almost 20 years. She is CEO/Managing Partner of Brass & Brass Enterprises, LLC, located at 2639 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. For a free consultation on anything real estate… selling, buying, renovating, leasing, or to learn about our consumer education offerings, call Glenda at 310-345-9707 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

By Veronica Mackey

 

According to the California Center for Disease Control, 18.5 percent of California high school students report bullying on school property.

 

While educators work hard to combat the problem, author, martial arts and bullying expert James Gavsie says our schools are falling way short.

 

“It’s not their fault.  Schools are doing some amazing things with our kids, but they are not set up, nor do they have the personnel or expertise to effectively combat bullying,” Gavsie said.  “Schools typically bring in a speaker who will give a great anti-bullying presentation.  But then the speaker leaves.  It’s like going to the gym and working out for one day, and saying ‘Well, I’m glad that’s taken care of.’ To get results, you need to keep going.”

 

Gavsie is the founder of MAX Impact Martial Arts in Los Angeles and author of Renegade’s Guide to Stopping Bullies, now available on Amazon.com. He also developed a year-long, school-based mentorship program aimed at helping students avoid and overcome bullying.  Business partner, California National Guard Sgt. Donald DeNoyer, has done a remarkable job, Gavsie said, giving presentations and implementing the program at schools.  

 

Santa Maria High School has seen an 80% drop in bullying cases since the school year began last August.  

 

People of all age groups and cultural backgrounds come to Gavsie for martial arts and self defense training, and solutions to their bullying problems, including children of celebrities. When asked what kinds of problems celebrity kids have, he said the only difference is that these clients are high profile.  Other than that, the problems are the same.  

 

In addition to working with civilians, Gavsie has trained police officers, Secret Service agents, Navy Seals, and personnel in almost every branch of the military.

 

“I was the gentle giant in school, a big overweight kid who didn’t like fighting. I was an easy target and soft spoken.” said Gavsie, who is 6’3” and weighs 250 lbs.  While his size gets immediate respect, bullying is more about mindset, he said. 

 

“When I moved to L.A. and started my martial arts business, parents wanted physical techniques to help their kids stand up to bullies.  I explained they needed to talk their way out of this and understand what is happening with bullying.  What they really needed was something that didn’t rely on physical strength.” 

 

He added:  “Bullying has more to do with criminal psychology and less to do with child psychology,” and likened school recess to what typically happens on the prison yard.

 

A former software developer, Gavsie has various techniques to combat cyber bullying. 

 

For every social media platform, he says, a different type of solution to cyber bullying is required.  “With a text, no one else sees it so you can block a person from your phone.  But if someone photoshops a picture of you and posts it on Instagram, how many people can see that photo?”

 

Gavsie works with a lot of adults who’ve been bullied as kids and are afraid of confrontation.  “Parents need to model behavior for their kids,” he said. “We want our kids to be good versus just nice.  The difference is nice kids will allow themselves to be disrespected in order to maintain so-called friendships.  They will allow people to push them around. Good kids won’t put up with that. They understand a real friend will value them.”  

 

For more information on James Gavsie and anti-bullying, visit www.renegadesguide.com. His book, Renegade’s Guide to Stopping Bullies is available on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Veronica Mackey

 

On Tuesday, a public hearing was held to consider appealing the Inglewood Planning Commission’s denial of a special use permit to allow a beauty salon with 300 feet of a similar use at 10800 S. Prairie Avenue. 

 

Miguel Tellez applied for a permit for a barber shop which specializes in children’s haircuts.  The proposed shop would be located within a two-story shopping center which includes a car wash, gas station and AM/PM store.  It would occupy the space about AM/PM. There are two other salons in close proximity to the proposed barber shop—Diva’s Salon and Capital Nails.

 

A City staff person reiterated the conditions required to obtain a permit, and also said access to the second story of the building is unsafe.

 

The building’s owner said the proposed tenant “is very suitable to my space that is available” and “Access is all legal, it has proper exits. If they said the balcony was unsafe, we will make it safe.”  

 

A mother wants the shop to operate.  “It’s going to be a hair salon for just kids,” she said.  “There’s nothing for kids around here.  It will make it more pleasant and kids will be entertained while they wait. I’m for it.”

 

“I think you have too many beauty shops and nail shops.  I’m against it,” Willie  Agee said.   

 

Councilman Ralph Franklin toured the site of the proposed barber shop.

 

“I went there. There is a balcony facing Yukon and … you have to go up the stairway and zigzag.  The children using the salon would be between 2-12.  If you are not watching them, all it takes is a second for them to fall off the balcony and for them to get hurt.”  

 

Franklin’s second point is that Diva’s Salon, located within 300 feet of the proposed barber shop, is already providing haircuts for children as well as men.   “I don’t support the vision of the applicant, but I clearly support the vision of the planning commission,” he said.

 

Councilman Eloy Morales said, “I think it’s a great idea, but the fact that it exists for children doesn’t mean it’s not for adults.”  The appeal was denied.

 

Last week, several residents showed up demanding answers in the investigation involving the shooting deaths of Marquintan Sandlin and Kisha Michael by Inglewood police over a year ago.  At one point, tempers flared and conversations became heated.  Mayor James Butts and council members walked out and the meeting was adjourned.  

 

Sandlin and Michael supporters were back on Tuesday, hoping to hear results of the investigation, which was previously expected to be released this week.  However, Mayor Butts announced, there has been a delay.   Police say the investigation will be extended at least to the first or second week of May.

 

Before he opened the meeting for public comments, the mayor set a few ground rules: “If the meeting gets out of order, if there is clapping, whistling, or talking over people, I will recess the meeting.”

 

“Your city is not happy with what happened to these people.  Shame on you,” a woman told the mayor.  “You say we’re out of order, but this is entirely and completely out of order.”  

 

Everyone who came to the podium about the shooting spoke for a few seconds and used the remainder of the one-minute time allowed silently holding photos of each victim.  

 

“We come to support the family that continues to ask for answers.  We’re concerned about how the meeting was adjourned last week. We’re asking attorneys whether you followed the Brown Act.  You can’t just walk out on the public because you don’t want to hear what they say,” a woman said.

 

 “We’re not asking you for money, we’re just asking you to stop killing us,” a woman said.  She continued speaking after being told by Mayor Butts that her time had expired, shouted expletives and resisted attempts by the sergeant-at-arms to remove her from the podium.  “I’ll keep coming every Tuesday,” she said.  

 

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA– As Trump supporters wait to see what will happen with the proposed wall south of the border, America’s northern neighbors are dealing with their own border concerns.

 

Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapproves of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

 

An article by GlobalNews.ca, examined how Canadians view increasing numbers of immigrants coming from the U.S. to escape deportation.  Since the election of President Trump, Canada has seen “hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin” enter from the U.S.  

 

Trudeau, whose views differ from Trump’s on the handling of undocumented immigrants, is being attacked on both sides—by liberals who want to see more lenient immigration policies and conservatives who say immigrants pose a security risk.

 

According to the poll, 4 out of 10 respondents said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe” and 48 percent support increasing deportation of those living in Canada illegally.  That number is almost identical to the number of Americans—50 percent of U.S. adults support deportation. 

 

“Refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refugees who have chosen us,” said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.

 

Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how Trudeau was handling the situation, 37 percent agreed, while 17 percent did not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.

 

Trump’s travel ban has impacted the number of people willing to brave icy weather and cross the border on foot.  There were four times more asylum claimants arriving at land border crossings than at airports in the first two months of 2017, new Canadian data show, according to the Toronto Star.

 

“(The) airport was the easiest way, but because of the visa requirements, it is becoming more difficult to travel here by air than by land, and it is easier to get a visa to the U.S. than to Canada,” Dench said.

 

More than 7,000 refugee applicants entered Canada in 2016 through land ports of entry from the U.S., up 63 percent from the previous year, according to Canada Border Services Agency.

 

While some have risked hypothermia to cross Canada in the dead of winter, others have chosen to wait it out.  Canadian officials are bracing for an even greater influx of migrants when the weather gets warmer.

 

“They will make a dash for Canada, whether they are going to go through cold weather to die or not,” said Abdikheir Ahmed, a Somali immigrant in Manitoba's capital Winnipeg who helps refugees make claims.

 

Since late summer, 27 men from Ghana walked to Manitoba from the U.S., Yeboah said. Two lost all their fingers to frostbite in December and nearly froze to death.

 

Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they had fled to Canada for fear of being caught up in Trump’s immigration crackdown.

 

According to a separate Ipsos poll in Canada, 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as among the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.

 

Photo Caption:  Experts say the sudden rise in land border claims can be attributed in part to the anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies of President Donald Trump.  

 

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