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IRS Warning

IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Relief of Typhoon Victims

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. On Nov. 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.

Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

  • To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
  • If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.   Additionally, scammers often send e-mail that steers the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

Wells Fargo Departure From Wholesale Lending

July 12 (Bloomberg) — Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. mortgage lender, has stopped funding loans originated and sold by independent mortgage brokers [such as The Precision Companies] after settling a federal fair-lending investigation.

After Friday, July 13th Wells stopped accepting new applications for loans originated by independent mortgage brokers through its wholesale channel. The lender did, however, say it will still process and close existing applications.

Wells Fargo agreed to pay $125 million to settle U.S. claims that it discriminated against minority borrowers in making residential loans. The decision to exit wholesale was made by Wells Fargo “on its own volition,” the bank said in a statement about that accord.

The company made $7.4 billion of mortgages through brokers in the first quarter, the most of any lender and 21 percent of the industry-wide total, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. The loans made up about 5 percent of the company’s total, according to the statement.

Of note here is that safeguards have already been put in place at the regulatory levels to prevent the sort of extortion that is complained of. Further, all underwriting decisions for the wholesale channel were/are made by internal staff at Wells Fargo. An argument, could be made then, that Wells has decided to stop its Wholesale line of business with the hopes of directing a large portion of the $7.4 billion mortgages generated quarterly to its more profitable retail arm.

Indeed, with the loss of the last major Institutional funding source in the wholesale world, Wells Fargo has less of a reason to remain competitive, as it has effectively removed its biggest competitor: itself.

To the individual broker, however, it is not the end of the world. Since 2010, the emergence of small lenders has created a competitive marketplace; and with the volatility in the securities market, it is likely the sources for funding purchase money and mortgage refinance loans will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

            -Justin Betance

The Precision Companies