World
Quicken Loans Facing Fines for Alleged Misleading Mailings
Yet another cautionary tale about official-looking mail- these aimed at service members
 
 
An eagle encircled by two dozen red stars and a watermark with the words “United States Veterans Department” — this missive must come from the government, right? Wrong.
 
In truth, the letter is a solicitation for a “prequalified” mortgage loan from Quicken Loans. But it’s that confusion that officials in the state of Washington say potentially misled millions of active military members, veterans and their families who received this letter and others like it from the mortgage lender last year.
 
“Their mailings suggest that they are an official government mailing through the use of prominent seals,” said Charles E. Clark, director of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), which brought charges against Quicken Loans last week. “It crosses the line to where the ads imply that it’s an official government mailing.”
 
 
The DFI alleges that the solicitations violated several state and federal laws prohibiting false, deceptive and misleading advertising. In addition to the watermark that it claims closely resembles the actual seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (see above), the DFI alleges that the mailings contained various inadequate disclosures relating to the financial terms of the loan offer, including deceptive representations of rates and points.
 
 
Clark said in an interview with TINA.org that the investigation into the lender, which remains ongoing, started after a consumer forwarded the department a copy of one Quicken Loan mailing.
 
The alleged violations carry a $500,000 fine. The DFI is also seeking to stop the company from distributing any direct mail solicitations to service members and veterans in Washington until Quicken Loans shows evidence it is cleaning up its advertising. The department said it had warned the company in 2014 about the problems it had found but the company didn’t sufficiently respond.
 
Quicken Loans, which claims that it’s the largest VA mortgage lender in the country, said in a statement emailed to TINA.org:
 
While we strongly disagree with several aspects of the State of Washington’s assertions and will address each of them in response to their statement, Quicken Loans has proactively taken steps to ensure all mailings reflect our brand and quality standards.
 
This is not the first time that Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions has gone after a VA lender for alleged misleading loan offers. In 2012, the department reached a settlement with Flagship Financial Group. The settlement awarded more than $100,000 in restitution for borrowers who were in part deceived by a false affiliation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
Find more of our coverage on not-so-official official-looking mail here
 

User

Maharashtra needs to get its act together against floods, stampedes

Urban flooding which was seen last week in Mumbai has now almost become a regular annual feature

 

Will it be flood or a stampede next? Maharashtra can expect more disasters if remedial action is not taken immediately.
 
Urban flooding which was seen last week in Mumbai has now almost become a regular annual feature. Such heavy waterclogging normally occurs twice in one monsoon season. Immediately after the flooding (or some time during flooding) there are discussions on various television channels. During such discussions, there are charges and countercharges by ruling and opposition parties. But there are hardly any engineering oriented discussions aimed at a scientific solution of the problem. This has been going on for the last several years.
 
I was caught in the heavy downpour of about 1,000 mm on July 26, 2005, at Mumbai. It took five hours to go from the international airport to domestic airport - hardly a distance of about four kilometres. Observing the scenario, we decided to stay put at the Santa Cruz airport parking area and spent the entire night in the car. Since I happen to work in the field of seismic disaster management, I was also asked about mitigation measures for heavy urban flooding. At that time, I had suggested a solution.
 
This is from the Tokyo experiment. A few decades back, Tokyo was also facing an urban flooding problem. To overcome this, the city's flooded areas were divided in 2 x 2 or 2 x 3 sq km. In these areas, pipes were fitted in holes up to a depth of 300 to 500 metres. Excess water was drained through these pipes which opened into the sea with one-way valves. This prevented sea water coming up the pipe. The initial results were encouraging and the experiment was subsequently extended to other areas.
 
A similar experiment could be tried in a couple of locations in Mumbai. Afterwards, depending upon results it could be extended to other areas. I had made this suggestion to the chief minister at that time.
 
During August-September 2015, Nashik would be hosting the Kumbh Mela - the biggest religious congregation which occurs every 12 years at each of its four venues (the others being Allahabad, Haridwar and Ujjain). The Maharashtra administration had been making suitable preparations for this event. It seems that the preparations may not be adequate to manage the movement of large numbers in a limited area during a short time. To provide proper space for the large number of devotees, the administration wanted to cut about 500 trees. But this was not permitted by the National Green Tribunal and this was confirmed by the Bombay High Court.
 
Shortage of space could probably lead to a stampede, which the Kumbh Melas have been associated with. The first such in independent India occurred at Allahabad on February 3, 1954, which killed about 1,000 people. During the 2003 Kumbh Mela at Nashik, there was a stampede.
 
The administration is mostly working on conventional methods for controlling mass movement. The first and foremost reason for a stampede is the flow of people in two directions on one road. If there are two roads, separated by at least five metres or more with barricades on both sides to stop crossings, the chances of stampede could be reduced and mitigated.
 
Stampedes at religious congregations are quite common. During 2003 and 2006, there were three stampedes and two fires during the Haj. The then Saudi Arabian king requested the US to examine the Haj pilgrimage site and suggest suitable measures to mitigate a disaster. A team of US academicians visited the site and watched the video films of all previous incidents. The team suggested that a maximum of five people could stand in an area of one square metre. When the figure goes to seven, the stampede process begins and the deadly effect rises not in a linear manner but in geometric progression. This has been a very significant mathematical finding in rapid movement of masses in a limited area.
 
How can this mathematical solution be implemented at the Nashik Kumbh Mela? To overcome this, there should be two separate gates and ways for entry and exit. These two gates should be separated by at least five to six metres or more. There should be an electronic counter on each gate and the total number of people who enter and exit should be displayed on the screens of both counters. In addition, the total number of people present in the area should also be displayed. Both the roads should have bamboo fencing to avoid any cross-floor jumping. If an area is full, then nobody should be permitted to enter. This would definitely reduce the chances of stampede. If the ground is too big in size, suitable barricades should be made to separate masses of about 10,000 to 20,000 people. This reduces the chances of a stampede. 
 
Parking and movement of vehicles is always a big problem. To overcome this, it would be better to have the parking place near the main area. Inside the main area, free battery- operated cars may be provided for movement. This would give more space for pedestrians, reduce pollution and would be easy for the police to control the flow of people.
 
As a member of the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA) this scheme was submitted by me to the state after it had witnessed a stampede on the occasion of 'Raavan Dahan' on Dussehra last year.
 
Effective control of large mass movement in a limited area within a short time is the only key to prevent a stampede.

User

COMMENTS

shivkumar

1 year ago

Mumbai can be assured of history repeating itself year after year during the Monsoons, including the continues loot of the citizens by the unholy nexus of contractors and politicians all in the name of providing non-existent civic services.

French presidents 'surveilled' by NSA: WikiLeaks
French President Francois Hollande, ex-presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, and French cabinet ministers were surveilled by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US, WikiLeaks said on Wednesday in a press release.
 
WikiLeaks on Tuesday began publishing "Espionnage Elysee", a collection of top secret intelligence reports and technical documents from NSA concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years, Xinhua news agency reported. 
 
"The documents also contain the 'selectors' from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President," the press release said.
 
According to WikiLeaks, the to-be-published documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including a dispute between the French and the US governments over the US spying on France.
 
"The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally," said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, adding that "French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future".
 
This revelation of American's spying against French leaders came not long after Germany opened an investigation to Americans tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials.
 
France is formally a close ally of the US, and plays a key role in a number of US-associated international institutions, including the Group of 7 (G7) and NATO. 

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)