Archive forJune, 2015

The next fraud wave: When banks cash the same check twice, you might have to …

The next fraud wave: When banks cash the same check twice, you might have to pay

by Bob Sullivan on

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Central Florida businesses filing for bankruptcy

Central Florida individuals and businesses that have filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code include:

Active Living Store Inc., PO Box 492936, Leesburg. Filed: June 24. Assets: $27,250. Liabilities: $90,154. Major creditors: Pride Mobility Products, Exeton, Pa., $16,725; Amoena A Corp., Chicago, $6,593; Trulife, Jackson, Mich., $4,613. Creditors meeting: Not available.

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Texas seeks priority status in bankruptcy for unredeemed RadioShack gift cards

The state of Texas has entered the RadioShack bankruptcy case once again, this time over gift cards.

In a court filing Thursday, Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Delaware judge to provide holders of an estimated $43 million in gift cards priority status to collect and asked that the state be granted permission to file a claim on behalf of its citizens for any amount not redeemed.

According to the filing, the RadioShack gift cards did not list an expiration date and the company continued to tell customers after filing for bankruptcy that they do not expire. But in court proceedings, an expiration date of March 31 was established for redemption.

The state contends that RadioShack made no effort to provide cardholders with information on how to file a claim in bankruptcy court for any unredeemed amount. Now, the company should not be allowed to distribute the consumer funds to other creditors, the state contends.

The Fort Worth-based retailer is trying to wind down its bankruptcy case, which was filed in February. RadioShack has closed more than half of the 4,000-plus stores that were open before it entered bankruptcy, but more than 1,700 stores continue to operate after their sale to the New York hedge fund Standard General.

The state says it asked RadioShack to produce a state-by-state breakdown of the quantity and dollar amounts of unredeemed gift cards, but the company said it did not know who holds them.

“Texas respectfully contends that such an assertion must be viewed with some skepticism in light of the fact that [RadioShack officials] maintain extensive data regarding their customers’ purchases,” the filing states. “The Defendants likely know the names, mailing addresses, and email addresses of at least some of the purchasers if not the holders.”

Earlier in the case, Paxton led a group of state attorneys general opposing a plan to sell personal data on 117 million customers. The two sides eventually reached an agreement to destroy much of the data and not give the company’s new owner access to credit card data or Social Security numbers.

Any gift card funds remaining after bankruptcy claims are made should be returned to states as unclaimed property, the filing asserts.

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ETF Fund Targets International Companies’ Cash Flow, Says TrimTabs CEO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Generating free cash flow is the ultimate purpose for any business, said Charles Biderman, CEO of TrimTabs. And that is why the TrimTabs International Free-Cash-Flow ETF (FCFI) is a necessary addition to any portfolio, he said.

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Lil’ Wayne Says Nicki Minaj And Drake Will Leave Cash Money

Lil Wayne claims that Nicki Minaj and Drake are getting the same ill treatment that he got when he was at Cash Money and they may be jumping ship soon too.

[ALSO READ: Drake And Diddy Call A Truce]

TMZ reports that Weezy filed new documents in his lawsuit against Cash Money alleging that Nicki and Drake are being mismanaged. He claims that he is not the only one that the label owes and that they are refusing to pay other people what they are owed as well. The Young Money boss says that the shady business will lead to the two parting ways with the company soon.

The man who discovered Drake, J. Prince, also alleges that Birdman promised him a big percentage of Cash Moneys profits from Drakes career and only gave him $2 million. Drake has reportedly grossed $40 million for the label.

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Polish lender Alior says expects further fast net profit growth

WARSAW The head of Polands Alior Bank said he expects the purchase of a 25-percent stake in the bank by insurer PZU to be completed in few months and that mergers will allow the lender to maintain its fast profit growth.

Wojciech Sobieraj told Reuters in an interview that his bank is well placed to become a leading player in a wave of consolidation in a Polish banking sector which he said was crowded with too many lenders.

PZU, the regions biggest insurer, agreed in May to buy Aliors biggest single stake of 25 percent shares for 1.63 billion zlotys ($447 million).

PZU wants to forge a top-5 lender in Poland on the basis of Alior, and said it is interested in buying the Polish banking businesses of General Electric and Raiffeisen Bank International.

Alior is currently only the 13th largest bank in Poland by assets.

Alior, thanks to its structure and the way its IT system was built, is naturally predisposed to consolidate other banks, Sobieraj said.

The consolidation process is unavoidable. I think that seven major banks will remain on the Polish market in 5-10 years time perspective. It is my duty and a challenge to make sure that Alior and its owners are in this group, he also said.

Sobieraj said that he sees enormous cost synergies from potential mergers of mid-sized lenders, and that the possible further consolidation would help Alior, created in 2008, to maintain its fast pace of net profit growth at least over the next 3-4 years.

The Polish banks net profit rose 33 percent year-on-year to 91 million zlotys in the first quarter on the back of a 25-percent rise in net interest income and 11-percent increase in income through fees and commissions.

Poland is facing a series of banking mergers as record-low interest rates, falling credit card fees and increased banking guarantee fund costs, as well as clients migration to the internet, make it harder to deliver satisfactory returns for shareholders.

Sobieraj said that he expects Aliors credit rating to be upgraded to investment level once it is taken over by PZU, a firm with a long record of sounds finances. At the moment, Fitch has Alior on a BB rating.

The chief executive said Alior expects its cost of risk to fall below 250 basis points in 2016.

But he said the fall would be only marginal, as the bank wants to maintain high growth in its net interest income, so relatively risky cash loans will remain a significant chunk of its credit portfolio.

European financial giants such as ING, UniCredit and Santander control almost 60 percent of the Polish banking sector.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Keith Weir)

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afb expands footprint in Ghana

… lists GHS 30 million bond with ‘BBB’ rating and receives approval to list bonds up to GHS 100 million on the Ghana Stock Exchange
afb Ghana has received regulatory approval to list bonds upto GHS 100 million on the Ghana Stock Exchange. afb is all set to issue its first tranche of listed bonds to raise GHS 30 million over the next few weeks. The issue has already received long term rating of ‘BBB’ from GCR (Global Credit Rating) company. The BBB credit rating makes it an ‘investment grade’ bond.
afb started its operations in Ghana in 2010 and since then has invested over 20 million USD of capital into the Ghana market. afb has over 198 full time staff and over 500 sales agents with over 60,000 customers. The company aims to help drive a better and brighter future for all Ghanaians and has a robust loans product portfolio that covers Payroll loans, afb Direct loans and Smart Cash loans.
Arnold Parker, Managing Director, afb Ghana said on the impending listing, “By doing this, we broaden the universe of investors who can support the growth of afb in Ghana. A listed funding platform allows afb to continue to fund the development of the company from the local stock exchange.” Bruce Sneddon, Chief Financial Officer, afb Group stated that, “afb will predominantly use the first tranche of the bond proceeds to pay off USD debt owed to offshore counterparties. This debt is very expensive, especially given the weakening of the GHS vs the USD over the past two years and the balance will be used to continue expanding the loan portfolio.”
Arnold further added, “afb Ghana has been growing steadily in the market and today we have 23 branches catering to over 60,000 customers. This raising of funds will set the company up for the next phase of advancement. It will help streamline activities to enhance service delivery, fund working capital and also expand into new loan products which will provide wider choices to all Ghanaians to make their lives better.”
Commenting on the ‘BBB’ rating accorded by GCR (Global Credit Rating) Company to afb’s GHS 30 million bond issue, Bruce said, “We are the first company in Ghana to have a rated listing and this also shows confidence in afb’s vision and strategy for the Ghanaian market.”
Notes to Editors:
afb is a financial services company providing innovative consumer and SME credit prod-ucts in sub-Saharan Africa. Committed to responsible lending, afb is the first to offer mass-market, voluntary repayment products in the markets in which it operates. These products are delivered through technology-based solutions in partnership with mobile network operators, retail stores and other enterprises. afb has over 600,000 customers in Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania, and over 450 retail partners.

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In America’s Payday Loan Capital, Innovative Microcredit Helps Break The Debt …

JACKSON, Miss. — To drive down Ellis Avenue, just off the interstate, is to visit a paradise of easy money. Along a four-block drag of fast food joints and half-empty strip malls, the payday lenders are packed in tight. The names on their fluorescent signs melt into one another: Paycheck Loans, Advance America Cash Advance, Speedee Cash, Payroll Advance, Cash Flash, Cash Depot, Cash Connection, E-Z Check.

Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, has more payday lenders per capita than anywhere else in America, and people there have less access to traditional banks than in any other state. But an innovative partnership between the Mississippi Center for Justice, banks and employers is helping to give the states residents access to responsible small-dollar loans, as well as free financial education and a new way to start building savings and credit.

Dubbed the New Roots Credit Partnership, the centers program pairs community banks willing to provide financial literacy education and small loans with employers who are willing to offer this education to their employees. Now, two years after the program launched in 2013, it is growing slowly.

Across the globe, the small-dollar loans known as microcredit have transformed poor communities by providing entrepreneurs with start-up capital, often as little as $50, to fund small businesses that generate income. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, a microlender, was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and small loans have been touted as a breakthrough tactic in the fight against global poverty.

So far, the New Roots Credit Partnership has signed up the cities of Jackson and Canton, as well as a school district in the Delta and a regional housing authority. Its a win-win-win, said Charles Lee, director of consumer protection at the Mississippi Center for Justice, during an interview at the groups Jackson headquarters. Participants get the loans they need, as well as financial literacy training; the bank gets new customers; and the employers cut down on the number of garnishments they have to process each month, while providing their workers with an important benefit.

For employees, the benefits of a program like this are both short-term, in the form of a loan, and longer-term, through the free savings account and the financial literacy education. I think the first time I went into a payday loan was, I had a light bill that was due, said Shawana Pierce, a bus driver for Head Start, in a New Roots Credit Partnership video. Growing up, we did not have discussions about credit, or managing your money, or anything like that. Prior to the program, I did not have a checking account, and taking care of the bills pretty much meant paying cash or getting a money order, Pierce said. I really dont know where Id be at this point if I had not come across the program. Id probably still be spinning my wheels somewhere, going through the same cycles.

For banks, the New Roots Credit Partnership helps them connect with a big pool of potential new customers. And while its difficult to turn a profit on small-dollar loans with low interest rates, the benefits for BankPlus are broader than that. The straight income from the accounts doesnt generate a lot of income, but if you look at the long-term benefits, and the relationships were building with people, the program is certainly a net positive for the bank, said Jack Webb, who heads retail banking at BankPlus, one of the banks participating in New Roots.

For employers, the credit partnership helps them address a number of issues that affect their bottom lines. Employers realized they shared a common problem, that they had employees who couldnt live without having to come for them for advances on the next weeks paycheck, said David Johnson, head of community development at BankPlus. Additionally, many of the employers were receiving garnishments they had to process from lots of different parties, which creates a payroll nightmare. And thirdly, those employees who were under major financial stress are more likely to be distracted at work and need more time off to deal with emergencies.

Lee at the Center for Justice said its important to correct the public perception that the only people who need quick cash loans are the very poor or those without steady paychecks. Lots of people who get paid once a month, like teachers and firefighters, find that theres a gap, a few days at the end of the month when last months pay is gone, and they need a bridge loan until their next paycheck. Thats an easy way to get trapped in the short-term debt cycle.

Credit alternatives like New Roots cant come soon enough for places like Jackson. Over the past five years, the Republican-controlled Mississippi state legislature has defeated a number of reform efforts designed to rein in the payday lending industry, most notably a far-reaching package of reform bills in 2011 that would have effectively banned payday lending in the state by capping allowable interest rates and fees. Payday loans are currently banned in 14 states and the District of Columbia. But in Mississippi, as in the rest of the nation, the payday lending industry has spent millions of dollars lobbying to protect its interests.

Chief among these are the startlingly high interest rates and myriad fees that can make payday lending significantly more profitable than traditional consumer banking. On a recent visit to an EZ Check Corp. storefront in Northeast Jackson, the highest posted annual percentage rate was 572.30 percent. Fees were 20 percent of the loan amount.

Interest rates posted at an EZ Check Corp. in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 1.

Yet for the tens of thousands of adults in Mississippi who dont have a bank account, a situation known as being unbanked, check cashing and payday loans are often the only financial services theyve ever used. Hundreds of thousands more people in the state are underbanked, meaning they may have bank accounts, but they still rely on payday loans, check cashing services, pawn shops and money orders to meet their everyday financial needs. According to the FDIC, in 2014 nearly half of all Mississippi residents, 47 percent, were either unbanked or underbanked.

The harms that payday lending causes in a place like Mississippi are very specific harms, to a population thats already vulnerable on a number of fronts, said Whitney Barkley, policy counsel at the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending. These folks are low-income, and in Mississippi more than half of the people who take out these loans are single women head of households. When the loans get out of control, then the garnishments set in, and all of a sudden theres no money for utilities, say, or for rent or mortgage payments. As the debts spiral, Barkley said, there are fewer and fewer alternatives to bankruptcy.

At the heart of the New Roots Credit Partnership are two Mississippi-based banks, BankPlus and the Hope Community Credit Union, which provide their own small-loan programs for borrowers who lack access to traditional credit. Both programs place half the total loan amount into a free savings account, with the other half kept on hold, and accessible only after the entire loan has been paid back. Borrowers have up to two years to pay back the BankPlus loan, as opposed to two weeks, the traditional terms for a payday loan. BankPlus charges 5 percent interest for loans of either $500 or $1,000, and no fees.

Helping people to overcome reservations they have about banking is key to combating the cycle of easy credit and runaway debt. These are people who arent familiar with banking, it hasnt been a family tradition with them, so the idea of coming into a business institution and turning over their money to us and writing checks, thats a foreign idea for them, said Webb, the chief retail banking officer at BankPlus. They like the cash in their hand and they spend it that way.

Another barrier is economic, said Webb. A lot of the people we encounter think they dont have enough money to come into a bank. They see the minimum balance requirements, and they dont have any excess money after they pay their bills, so they cant maintain a minimum balance. There is no minimum balance for a CreditPlus account.

When it started, the New Roots program built on these existing small loans by connecting the banks with employers, including the city of Jackson, interested in offering the financial literacy classes as a free benefit to their employees. Since 2013, BankPlus has run more than 50 of the three-hour classes for different groups, teaching participants the basics of credit, how to create a household budget and how to save money.

One of the surprises to me is how many people dont keep track of their balances, and dont know whats in their accounts, said Marcia Reed, a manager at BankPlus who has taught more than 200 classes. And lots of people dont know how to apply for a loan, or what the bank is looking for, so they go in and they get turned down, and they have no idea why.

Employer-based small-dollar loans arent unique to Mississippi. Similar programs are at work in communities across the country, and the FDIC has been pilot testing small dollar loan programs at local banks since at least 2010. But in Mississippi, with its huge numbers of underbanked adults and its political resistance to regulating fees and interest rates, these small loans could provide thousands of people with a crucial alternative to a crushing cycle of debt.

Anything we can do to move people into mainstream banking system is going to create greater financial stability throughout families and communities, said Barkley at the Center for Responsible Lending. The New Roots program is great because it establishes better borrowing habits, but it also creates a savings account that people can fall back on in their next financial emergency. This is going to benefit the account holder, of course, but its also modeling really good behavior for their children and for future generations.

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New Zealand Median House Prices – What You Need to Know

All these promising figures have occurred in
spite of poor performances in both the Southland and
Northland areas of New Zealand. So, what should this tell
you? Probably the most promising place to make real estate
investments in New Zealand over the last 6 years has
definitely been in and around the Auckland area–of which
Takapuna is a part, if you’re thinking of investing in a
home there.

Auckland Median House Prices:
As
mentioned earlier, the stats involving the median house
prices have skyrocketed when it comes to the Auckland area,
even if it hasn’t been the same in other parts of New
Zealand.
To give you a picture of how well Auckland has
performed in terms of median house pricing, an increase of
54% (or $238,000) has been observed over the last 6 years.
If that’s not enough, the figures for the 2014 calendar
year are far more revealing, with the Auckland median price
increasing by 13% (to $678,000), while the average median
price in other parts of New Zealand rose by a mere
1%.
Finally, if one would like to know which areas in
particular registered the most growth, these included
Manukau, Waitakere, Papakura, Onewa district, and the
southern suburbs of Central Auckland. It was only the Gulf
islands (such as Waiheke) that registered only a
single-digit increase in value.

Read more: www.sherelle.co.nz
By Sherelle
Benson

ENDS

#169; Scoop Media

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Peru money store robbed by gunman

Peru police are investigating an armed robbery at Check into Cash, 1002 Shooting Park Road, which happened shortly after 11 am Monday.

Authorities said they are searching for a suspect described as a 5-feet, 6-inch, slender, black male wearing a black hoodie, jeans, mirrored sunglasses and a black and white bandanna on his head. Police said he was last seen running east bound from the nearby McDonalds parking lot.

Police said the suspect displayed a silver handgun during the robbery.

Check into Cash provides payday advances, in-store cash loans, online payday loans, title loans, title pawns, check cashing, Western Union service, bill pay, and reloadable US money prepaid MasterCards.

Peru Chief Douglas Bernabei said its unknown if Mondays robbery was related to the robbery at the Illinois Valley Credit Union on June 5.

Anyone with information is asked by police to call 815-223-2151 or Illinois Valley Crimes Stoppers at 1-800-340-4045.

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