Monday, May 23, 2011

Too Big To Fail Debuts Monday Night on HBO

Too Big to Fail chronicles the financial meltdown of 2008 centering on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. 

MERS Ruling Causes Closing Cancellations In Michigan

If you're a mobile notary signing agent in Michigan and you've had a rash of purchase closings cancel in the last week or two, here's why: The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that The Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, also known as MERS, does not meet the requirements under state statute to foreclose by advertisement.  That ruling has caused many title companies to cancel closings due to concerns about insuring the title on a bank-owned home involving MERS.

MERS was developed as a way to keep track of the servicing rights on home loans. A property is registered with MERS which allows easier transfer and tracking of a mortgage to a mortgage servicer.  Lenders were foreclosing on homes in MERS name, but the Michigan court ruled that MERS does not own any interest in the debt and therefore does not meet the requirements under state statute to foreclose by advertisement (a foreclosure that goes through the courts is still valid).  The decision could void thousands of foreclosures in Michigan, including properties that have already been sold.  Yikes.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Congress Aims To Limit Powers Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency in charge of financial, credit card, and mortgage oversight created as part of the Dodd Frank Financial Reform Act, may be toothless before it even gets started.  The CFPB was slated to start operations in July, but Congress is considering measures that may weaken it before it even starts.  Already last week, the House Financial Services Committee passed three bills that sought to take control of the CFPB.  Among other things, the bills created a bipartisan commission to oversee it and made it easier for other regulators to veto any new CFPB rules.

The CFPB is headed by Elizabeth Warren, a relentless critic of these powerful financial institutions (thus the big fat bulls-eye on her back).  The CFPB has already started working on regulating mortgage loan disclosures, with the "Know Before You Owe" project, designed to clearly spell out loan terms when a borrower applies for a mortgage.

More on the brewing battle from MSNBC.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bank Of America Credit Card Holders - Beware

I just received a good news/bad news notice from Bank of America regarding my credit card (a card with a zero balance that I keep for emergencies only).  The good news in big bold print: We are not increasing your APR!  The bad news in not so bold print: We are adding a penalty APR to your account.  If you pay late we MAY (translation: we WILL) charge a penalty APR on new transactions.  Flip to the next page find out that the penalty APR if I'm late on a payment is UP TO (translation: WILL BE) 29.99%!!  Oh, and that can go up even higher if the Prime Rate rises.  Sweet deal B of A!  I'd love to see how you treat clients who AREN'T in good standing. 

Needless to say, my B of A card will be gathering moss from now on.  If you're a B of A credit card holder, I'd strongly suggest you review your credit card terms. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Security Features For Michigan Driver's License

If you've renewed your Michigan driver's license or Michigan state I.D. in the last month, you've noticed some changes.  In addition to a new look, Michigan I.D.s now feature several added security measures to help prevent fraud and tampering.  New features include:

  • The state's Great Seal on the front viewable under black light.
  • Tricolor image of a bridge on the front that appears and disappears when viewed from different angles.
  • New two-dimensional bar code on the back with encoded information available for law enforcement use, in addition to the existing magnetic stripe and one-dimensional bar code.
  • Card-holder's photo and date of birth also on the back viewable under black light.
  • Laser-perforated word "MICH" on it.
Old I.D.s will be replaced as they come up for renewal.  This is the first update to the Michigan I.D. since 2003.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Notary Newsletters Coming Out Of My Ear

You want to increase your visibility as a notary.  You want to create traffic, establish your reputation, show that you're knowledgeable, and show that you're a leader in the industry.  And you decide one of the ways you can do this is to develop and distribute a newsletter.  Great idea.  Those are some of reasons I've been doing this blog for almost 4 years. 

But what I've seen too often lately, what is just totally unacceptable, is signing people up for a newsletter that they didn't ask for.  Suddenly, many of us have been inundated with notary newsletters.  And a few of them may actually be decent, but that doesn't matter.  You don't sign people up if they don't request it.  Otherwise, it's called SPAM.  At the very least, it's highly annoying and tacky.  And at most, it's illegal and can land you a nice hefty fine for every instance.

So, you want to do a newsletter?  Peachy. But don't swipe your colleagues emails from Notary Rotary, Active Rain, Notary 123, Merchant Circle, LinkedIn, or anywhere else.  Ask permission, post it on your website and other listings, and create a Facebook page and ask for "likes," (which is what the American Association of Notaries did, and I happily accepted).  Otherwise, it's just more unwanted noise.