Lottery purchases on credit cards may come with caveat

by Shelton on February 1st, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

Page 2 of 2 – According to Tacey and Chases cardmember agreement, credit card purchases for travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like purchases such as lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions are treated as cash advances. This also happens when a payment is made via a third-party service.

Landry said next time she might go to the ATM first, but shes advising others to be aware.

Check your card or bank statements, she said.

And in the meantime, Landry suggests lottery players also check their cardmember agreements.

5 credit card fees you can avoid & how to do it

by Shelton on January 31st, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

We all love the security and convenience of credit cards, but nobody likes paying fees. Most credit cards charge a variety of them, along with some penalties, yet nearly all of them can be avoided.

So, if you are looking to take advantage of using a credit card, while minimizing their costs, here are five credit card fees you can avoid and how to do it.

1. Annual Fees

There are a number of credit cards on the market that have annual fees, but you dont always have to pay them. First, you can choose one of the numerous cards that dont feature an annual fee (keeping in mind that those may have less generous rewards and benefits). Another strategy is to choose one of the cards that have annual fees that are waived for the first year. You can potentially cancel the card before paying the second years annual fee, if you feel that its rewards and benefits are not really worth it. And, before canceling any card because of its annual fee, you may want to contact the card issuer. In some cases, particularly if you use the card regularly and make all of your payments, they will waive the fee or offer rewards worth as much in order to retain your business.

2. Late Fees

Late fees are not really fees, they are penalties that are incurred when account holders fail to make the minimum payment on time. The easiest way to avoid the fees is to create a foolproof system for making on-time payments. For example, you can set up an automatic payments with your bank or issuer to ensure you meet your due dates. But, if you do have a late payment fee assessed, you should contact your card issuer and ask to have it waived as a one-time courtesy. Most issuers will do so for consumers whose accounts are and have been otherwise in good standing.

3. Foreign Transaction Fees

These fees are imposed by many cards on any transaction processed outside of the US (So you can actually be charged these fees when doing business with a foreign company or when you are traveling to a foreign country.) Since an increasing number of credit cards no longer impose this fee, you can avoid the fee by picking one that skips the charge. Many of these are marketed towards travelers, but some card issuers such as Capital One, Discover, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed), and the Navy Federal Credit Union dont charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.

4. Balance Transfer Fees

When completing a balance transfer from one card to another, you are likely to be charged a balance transfer fee, which is typically 3% of the amount transferred. To avoid this fee, you can simply choose a card that doesnt charge one. We recently ranked the best balance transfer credit cards in America check it out.

5. Cash Advance Fee

Nearly all credit cards impose a cash advance fee when accessing money from an ATM. In addition, most cards will have a higher interest rate for cash advances. To avoid both the fee and the higher cash advance interest rate, dont use your credit card in this way and to rely on a debit card for your cash instead. If you must use a credit card to access cash, there is one card that doesnt have a cash advance fee, the PenFed Promise Visa Card. In addition, the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard charges a flat fee of just $3 for each cash advance while imposing the same interest rate for cash advances that it does for purchases.

Remember, its always a good idea to read the terms and conditions of any credit card you are considering so you understand what (and when) fees may be imposed before you apply for that particular product. You should also check your credit ahead of time to make sure you can handle another card or hard inquiry. (You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at and viewing your credit scores for free each month on

Note: Its important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Local business pays for family’s groceries

by Shelton on January 31st, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

He and his daughter, 15-year-old Serena, had a two-page list of groceries to get, and expected an otherwise normal trip to Norwalks Walmart.

CashMax Ohio Auto Loans and Cash Advances representatives had a different plan in mind. They wanted to make it an exceptional trip for the family.

We just want to give back to the community, said Norwalk CashMax manager Becke Hoyt. We work with short-term loans like when someone just doesnt have enough money to get through the week until the next paycheck, so we definitely see the need. We wanted to help and give back.

All 41 CashMax stores in Ohio have participated in the Pay-it-Forward week by going to a local store and paying for a random persons groceries, up to $200. Wednesdays recipients of the businesss generosity were the Campbells.

Larry Campbell said it made him feel good to know people still cared and were looking out for each other.

It was a real surprise, he said with a laugh.

(My wife) isnt going to believe it. When we get home and she sees everything we got, shes going to ask what we thought we were doing. Were going to try to explain and shes not going to believe us. hellip; Shes going to need to see the sales slip.

Campbell said his wife has been battling MS for 14 years and it sometimes makes her weak and faint, so he and their daughter do the shopping for her. Although she has her days, its up and down.

This will make her day, he said.

The total bill for the cart full of groceries came to $270.71, which CashMax paid $201.60 of, leaving the Campbells with a total of just $69.11

I saw them with their list and I knew they were the ones we needed to help, Hoyt said. I can remember when I was younger, we had a list and we had to stick to the list and we couldnt get anything that wasnt on the list because of money. Im glad we (were) able to help them get a few things that arent on their list.

Appeals to Watch in 2016: The Appeals Monitor’s Top Ten

by Shelton on January 30th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

With each new year comes a new slate of interesting appeals for Canadian businesses and professions. Without further ado, the Appeals Monitor is pleased to present our annual forecast of the top ten appeals to watch in 2016.

Royal Bank of Canada v. Trang

Last July, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave from the Ontario Court of Appeals decision in Royal Bank of Canada v. Trang, 2014 ONCA 883, and has now tentatively set it down for a hearing date of April 27, 2016. The appeal concerns the extent to which a judgment creditor who seeks personal financial information about a debtor from a mortgagee must first obtain a court order permitting it to examine representatives of the mortgagee, along with the circumstances in which the debtors consent to such disclosure can be implied.

The case will require the Supreme Court to examine the intersection between the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and provincial rules of civil procedure. It raises important issues about the conflict between access to justice and privacy rights in the debtor-creditor context, which provoked a 3-2 split in the Court of Appeal below. The Supreme Courts judgment is likely to clarify how these interests should be weighed, and will be of significance to a broad array of participants in the financial services industry.

Rogers Communications Inc. v. City of Chacirc;teauguay

Can a municipality prevent a company, who has authorization from the federal government, from constructing a cell-phone tower on municipal land? That is the question the Supreme Court of Canada considered on October 9, 2015, when it heard this appeal from the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in White c. Chacirc;teauguay (Ville de), 2014 QCCA 1121, in which judgment remains on reserve.

The facts giving rise to this appeal are the following: Rogers surveyed land in the Chacirc;teauguay area and located a site on which to build a cell-phone tower and fill gaps in the companys network coverage. The City initially opposed the project but eventually granted a construction permit. However, construction was stalled when City residents mobilized and the public consultation process required by Industry Canada resumed. The City then proposed an alternate site for the tower within Rogers original search area. However, the City did not own the land. It issued a notice of expropriation to the owner, who opposed the expropriation. After months of discussion, Rogers asked Industry Canada to break the stalemate and Rogers was given permission to proceed with installation at the original site. The City then served Rogers with a notice of land reserve that prevented construction of the tower. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the validity of both the expropriation notice and the notice of land reserve, finding that the City was acting for a legitimate municipal purpose.

The appeal raises important constitutional division of powers issues regarding the scope of the federal governments jurisdiction over radiocommunications. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court defines the scope of federal jurisdiction in the context of the wireless era, in which wireless services (and the national networks and infrastructure required to support them) have become increasingly central to the lives of Canadian individuals and businesses. The appeal also provides an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to provide guidance on the application of the doctrine of cooperative federalism.

Canadian Pacific Railway Co. v. Canada (AG)

On December 9, 2015, CPs attempt to appeal from the Regulations Amending the Railway Interswitching Regulations was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, whose decision remains under reserve and is scheduled to be delivered this Friday, January 15. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will tackle an important (and politically-charged) constitutional question: To what degree must administrative bodies be free from interference by the executive branch of government when exercising legislative functions that have been delegated to them?

CP sought leave to appeal regulations enacted by the Canadian Transportation Agency (the CTA) in August 2014. Interswitching is a service in which one railway company collects a shippers rail traffic and transports it to an interchange point with a second railway company. The existing Railway Interswitching Regulations require federally regulated companies such as CP to perform interswitching services for all shippers facilities (eg, grain elevators) that are located within 30 km of an interchange, at the rate prescribed in the regulation. Interswitching outside the prescribed 30 km distance is performed on commercially negotiated terms. In 2014, various Federal Ministers expressed an intention to extend the prescribed interswitching distance from 30 km to 160 km in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In May 2014, Bill C-31 was passed, permitting the CTA to make regulations extending interswitching distances in different regions of the country. However, Bill C-31 did not prescribe any new distances specifically. The new regulation enacted by the CTA in August 2014 amended the existing legislation to extend the interswitching distance to 160 km as identified by the Federal Ministers.

CP sought leave to appeal the new regulation, asserting that it was enacted based on improper interference and direction from the federal government, and without any independent assessment of the need for or value of extending the interswitching distance. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed CPs motion for leave to appeal, without reasons.

It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court articulates the requirements of independence and impartiality of administrative bodies in the context of legislative decision-making; these concepts have typically been addressed in the context of delegated judicial (not legislative) powers. From a political perspective, the appeal will also be of interest to observers of the interplay between the judiciary, parliament and the executive branch after a contentious 2015 between the Supreme Court and the federal government.

Ferme Vi-Ber Inc. v. Financiegrave;re Agricole du Quebec; Lafortune v. Financiegrave;re agricole du Quebec

On December 10, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada heard two appeals from the decisions of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Financiegrave;re agricole du Quebec c. Ferme Vi-ber inc., 2014 QCCA 1886 and Lafortune c. Financiegrave;re agricole du Quebec, 2014 QCCA 1891, in which judgment remains on reserve. The issue in both appeals is one that has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years: to what degree should financial programs administered by statutory authorities be governed by public administrative law principles, as opposed to the private rules of contract law?

The appellants in Ferme Vi-ber and Lafortune are farm businesses and livestock producers that participated in the Farm Income Stabilization Insurance Program administered by the respondent, the Financiegrave;re agricole du Quebec, under its enabling statute. The program provides participants with a positive annual income regardless of market fluctuations, and requires the Financiegrave;re to pay participants compensation when their market cost is lower than production costs. The appellants sought millions of dollars in compensation from the Financiegrave;re, and argued that the program was in essence an insurance contract under the Civil Code of Quebec that is governed by the rules applicable thereto. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding the program is not an insurance contract but is governed by public law principles.

The most significant aspect of the case is likely to be the Supreme Courts treatment of whether the program should be characterized as a matter of contract law or public law. This issue has preoccupied the Court in several decisions, eg, Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9 and Canada (AG) v. Mavi, 2011 SCC 30. A clear articulation of the proper approach could have important consequences beyond Quebec, and affect how parties challenge government actions on the borderlines between private law and judicial review. As an added bonus, the Ferme Vi-ber appeal also asks whether the Financiegrave;re abused its contractual rights, which could allow the Supreme Court to elaborate upon the duty of good faith in Quebec contract law.

Teal Cedar Products Ltd. v. British Columbia; Heritage Capital Corp. v. Equitable Trust Co.

In two cases proceeding in 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada will reconsider its blockbuster decision in Sattva Capital Corp. v. Creston Moly Corp., 2014 SCC 53 on the issue of the standard of review applicable in contractual interpretation cases. In what circumstances does contractual interpretation involve a question of law alone, rather than a mixed question of fact and law that attracts deference on appellate review?

Teal is an appeal from a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in British Columbia (Ministry of Forests) v. Teal Cedar Products Ltd., 2015 BCCA 263, and arises from an arbitral award in a dispute between Teal and the Province of British Columbia. In that case, the arbitrator awarded interest on the award notwithstanding a clause in the arbitration agreement that the Province submitted precluded interest. On appeal by the Province, the Chambers judge held that the arbitrators interpretation of the contract was based upon a consideration of the surrounding circumstances, and was therefore a question of mixed fact and law that could not be appealed under the BC Arbitration Act. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that the arbitrators decision raised a question of pure law, and set aside the arbitrators decision as inconsistent with the plain meaning of the contract. The Supreme Court sent Teal back to the British Columbia Court of Appeal for reconsideration in light of its decision in Sattva. On reconsideration, the Court of Appeal held that nothing in Sattva required it to change its decision, and that the interpretation of the interest clause raised a discrete question of law that it was entitled to review on a standard of correctness.

Heritage is an appeal from a split decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Equitable Trust Company v 604 1st Street SW Inc., 2014 ABCA 427. In Heritage, the City of Calgary contracted with the owner of a historic building to carry out rehabilitation work and provided that the owner would be compensated by the City by way of yearly payments over 15 years. The owner later sold the building to a third party, prompting the owner to apply for a declaration that the sale did not affect its right to receive the payments from the City. The Master in Chambers granted the declaration, and the Chambers Judge upheld it on appeal, citing the parties intention that the compensation be payable to the specific owner, and not to whomever happened to be the owner of the building at the time. A majority of the Court of Appeal for Alberta allowed the appeal, finding that the legal status of the contract, and whether it created an interest which ran with the land, was a question of law that was reviewable on a standard of correctness. The majority held that the positive covenants in the contract did run with the land, and the purchaser was therefore entitled to the payments due under the contract after the date of the sale. Slatter JA, dissenting, disagreed that the covenants ran with the land and held that, in any event, even if they could do so in theory, they did not in this case because it was contrary to the contracting parties intention.

The Supreme Courts decision will provide welcome guidance on how its watershed decision in Sattva is to be applied by appellate courts, and how consideration of the factual matrix by lower courts impacts upon the characterisation of matters of contractual interpretation as questions of law or mixed fact and law.

Canada (AG) v. Chambre des notaires du Quebec

Do provisions in the Income Tax Act that require lawyers and notaries to disclose information and documents that assist in the enforcement or administration of the ITA, subject to a defined exception for solicitor-client privilege that excludes lawyers and notaries accounting records, abrogate solicitor-client privilege and, if so, is that attempt constitutional?

That is the question the Supreme Court of Canada will tackle when it releases its decision in the appeal, heard on November 3, 2015, from the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Canada (Procureur general) c. Chambre des notaires du Quebec, 2014 QCCA 552. In the decisions below, both Quebec courts held that the impugned sections of the Income Tax Act offended s. 8 of the Charter and were of no force and effect. The case has provoked great interest amongst law societies and lawyers associations across the country. The Advocates Society, the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Criminal Lawyers Association were all granted intervener status in the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Together with the Supreme Courts forthcoming decision in Minister of National Revenue v. Duncan Thompson (also under reserve), Chambre will decide whether the ITA attempts to limits solicitor-client privilege and, if so, the constitutionality of any such limits, and presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to discuss the interplay between solicitor-client privilege and sections 7 and 8 of the Charter.

Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. v. Canada (AG); Canada (AG) v. Fairmont Hotels Inc.

When may courts rectify a transaction that is intended to achieve a particular tax result, but fails to do so based on an honest mistake by the parties? That is the question the Supreme Court of Canada will consider on May 18, 2016 when it hears the appeals from Canada (AG) c. Groupe Jean Coutu (PJC) inc., 2015 QCCA 838 and Fairmont Hotels Inc. v. Canada (AG), 2015 ONCA 441.

The facts in both cases are complex, but revolved around a series of corporate transactions which the taxpayers intended to carry out on a tax neutral basis. Owing to certain mistakes, the transactions produced unexpected tax results, and the taxpayers sought rectification (or its Quebec equivalent) from the courts, which was opposed by the Crown. The Ontario Court of Appeal granted rectification, consistent with its previous decision in Canada (AG) v. Juliar, 2000 CanLII 16883, but the Quebec Court of Appeal refused such relief on the basis that the parties intention to produce a tax neutral transaction is not sufficiently determinate to serve as the basis for the retroactive modification of an agreement.

The Supreme Courts decision will be an important one for corporations and other taxpayers that engage in complex transactions designed to achieve particular tax results. In the years since Juliar and Quebec (Agence du revenu) v. Services Environnementaux AES inc., 2013 SCC 65, rectification has emerged as a significant remedy for taxpayers in cases where a common and continuing intention was frustrated by mistake.

Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melanccedil;on LLP v. Cassels Brock amp; Blackwell LLP

Those following jurisprudence on the topic of national class actions in Canada will be keenly interested in the Supreme Court of Canadas ruling on the appeal from the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Trillium Motor World Ltd. v. General Motors of Canada Limited, 2014 ONCA 497. In this appeal, which was heard on December 3, 2015 and is currently under reserve, the Supreme Court will consider the circumstances in which a contract is connected with a dispute for the purpose of the fourth presumptive connecting factor identified in Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17, thereby permitting a provincial court to assume jurisdiction over a multi-jurisdictional class.

The facts of this case are likely well known, and involve a class action commenced in Ontario by a group of General Motors dealers from across Canada against Cassels Brock and General Motors. The class members are dealers who signed a termination agreement with General Motors. As against Cassels Brock, the trial judge found that, while it was acting as counsel for the class member dealers, Cassels Brock was negligent and breached its contractual duties to them by acting in the face of an undisclosed conflict of interest. Cassels Brock has commenced third party claims against the lawyers and law firms across the country that provided legal advice to the class member dealers before they accepted and signed the termination agreement with General Motors. Lawyers from Quebec appealed from the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal agreeing that the Ontario courts had presumptive jurisdiction over the third parties because there existed a contract (the termination agreement) made in Ontario and connected with the dispute.

As Van Breda did not explain in detail when the fourth presumptive factor will apply, the Supreme Courts decision in this appeal will provide important guidance on the issue. It is anticipated that the decision will address questions including: What is the appropriate contract for the purpose of analysing whether it is connected with the dispute, and can there be more than one? What rule ought to be applied to determine the jurisdiction in which the contract was entered into? What are the parameters for rebutting presumptive jurisdiction if one of the factors in Van Breda is established? In deciding these questions, the Supreme Court will also have an opportunity to shed light on how the principles of fairness, efficiency and the avoidance of inconsistent results ought to be applied in national class actions.

Mennillo v. Intramodal Inc.

Oppression remedy cases are rare at the Supreme Court of Canada. The Courts last foray into this area, BCE Inc. v. 1976 Debentureholders, 2008 SCC 69, produced a blockbuster judgment that is a cornerstone of modern Canadian corporate law. It is therefore of no small interest that the Supreme Court heard another oppression case on December 8, 2015, when it considered an appeal from the Quebec Court of Appeals ruling in Mennillo c. Intramodal inc., 2014 QCCA 1515, judgment in which remains on reserve.

The Mennillo appeal concerns a claim by the appellant, a former shareholder in Intramodal, that the company and its other shareholder unduly and illegitimately deprived him of his shareholder status. The appellant had initially joined Intramodal as its director, officer and shareholder on the premise that he would offer it financial support. Approximately one year later, he resigned from his position and director and officer, though he continued to make cash advances to keep the company running. When the last of the advances was repaid, the appellant discovered that he was no longer a shareholder and commenced the oppression claim. His action was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, which concluded that the parties had agreed to retroactively cancel his share issuance after engaging in detailed review of the evidence.

The Supreme Courts decision has the potential to be an important one for the business community. Intramodal is incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act, so the Courts ruling will have implications that extend throughout the country. Further, the decision will allow the Court to examine how the oppression remedy should operate in the case of closely-held corporations, which it suggested in BCE may involve different considerations than cases against large public corporations. A final indication of the importance of the appeal: the Court chose to sit as a nine-member panel when it heard the case in December.

Endean v. British Columbia; Parsons v. Ontario

Our final choice for 2016 concerns the murky but perennially important topic of multi-jurisdictional class actions. Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal from Endean v. British Columbia, 2014 BCCA 61 and Parsons v. Ontario, 2015 ONCA 158, in which the British Columbia and Ontario Courts of Appeal divided over the jurisdiction of superior court judges to sit outside their provinces for the purpose of hearing applications under multi-jurisdictional class action settlements. The appeals are currently scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on May 17, 2016.

The settlement agreement in Endean and Parsons arose out of class actions seeking damages for individuals infected with Hepatitis C through the Canadian blood supply, which were certified separately in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The agreement effected a national settlement of the class actions, and assigned a supervisory role to the courts of the three provinces, providing that any order by one of the courts would only take effect once there were materially identical orders by the other two courts. In order to reduce costs and the risk of inconsistent findings in a pending complex motion, class counsel brought separate applications in each of the three provinces for a declaration that judges of their superior courts could sit together outside their provinces to hear joint motions under the settlement agreement.

The Ontario Court of Appeal held that there was no constitutional, common law or statutory impediment to this, provided that a video link was provided from the out-of-province proceeding to Ontario in order to respect the open court principle. On the other hand, the BC Court of Appeal held that superior court judges have no jurisdiction to hold a hearing outside their province, but accepted that a judge may conduct a hearing in their provinces courtroom via a telephone or other communications link from another province.

The appeals will give the Supreme Court an important opportunity to clarify the scope of superior court jurisdiction in the multi-jurisdictional class actions context. Whatever the Court decides, its ruling is likely to spur much-needed law reform in this area.

Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Names Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) Community First® Fund …

by Shelton on January 29th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

CHICAGO and MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ –The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago today announced that Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF), a national, nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) based in Minneapolis, MN, has been named a partner of the Community First Fund and is the recipient of a $5 million, 10-year loan. The Community First Fund is a $50 million revolving loan fund that provides direct support to community development financial institutions, community development loan funds, and state housing finance agencies serving Illinois and Wisconsin.

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA has a proven track record of supporting small business growth and revitalizing surrounding communities one of many reasons this organization is an ideal partner for the Community First Fund, said Suzi Thackston, Community Investment Officer, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. With mission-based financing by the Community First Fund, we expect CRF will continue to be a catalyst for economic growth in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Certified as a CDFI in 2009, CRF has a 28-year history of supporting community economic development and helping other mission-driven organizations improve efficiency and build capacity. The organization has worked with community partners, investors, foundations, and philanthropists to deliver more than $2 billion in loans, investments, and bonds, resulting in the creation or preservation of 73,000 jobs, the financing of nearly 19,000 affordable housing units, and funding for clinics, schools, childcare centers, and other community facilities. Since its inception, CRF has funded over 1,700 small business loans, 550 of which were made to minority- and women-owned businesses. To date, the organization estimates that it has served 1.5 million people.

Our partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and the Community First Fund provides CRF with affordable, fixed-rate capital, which is key to our ability to finance small business owners who have difficulty accessing conventional financing, said Frank Altman, President and CEO of CRF. We are grateful for the opportunity to work together to support the development of healthy communities where people want to live, work, and educate their children.

With the help of the Community First Fund, CRF plans to finance up to 30 small businesses and create or retain 600 jobs in the metropolitan Chicago area and Wisconsin, originating at least 60% of these loans to minority-, women-, or veteran-owned businesses or small businesses located in low- and middle-income communities.

True to our mission, CRF will use the funding to create measurable, transformative community impact in Illinois and Wisconsin, commented Keith Rachey, Chief Operating Officer of CRF. We will finance job-creating small businesses that can help build wealth and move the needle on the staggering unemployment statistics for African Americans, Hispanics, veterans, and low-income communities.

The Community First Fund is unique in the Federal Home Loan Bank System and provides organizations with lower-interest-rate, longer-term financing that focuses on expanding their capacity for affordable housing and economic development lending in the communities they serve. Because the Community First Fund is a revolving loan fund, the Bank expects to be able to continue lending as loans are repaid, extending the life of the fund. The Community First Fund is separate from the Banks Community Investment Cash Advances lending program. In addition, it is funded separately from the Banks traditional grant programs the competitive Affordable Housing Program and Downpayment Plus Programs which will continue to be funded by the Banks previous years net earnings.

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago is a $71.8 billion wholesale bank serving the needs of member housing finance institutions located in Illinois and Wisconsin. Our mission is to partner with our member shareholders to provide them competitively priced funding, a reasonable return on their investment, and support for community investment activities.

The US Congress created the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which includes 11 Federal Home Loan Banks, in 1932 to promote housing finance, but each Bank is wholly owned by its member institutions. For more information about the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, please visit or @FHLBC on Twitter. Community First and Downpayment Plus are registered trademarks of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.

About Community Reinvestment Fund, USA
Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, (CRF), a nonprofit organization and certified community development financial institution, is a national leader in bringing capital to underserved areas. Founded in 1988, CRF has injected more than $2 billion into low-income and economically disadvantaged communities around the country to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing, and support community facilities. CRFs mission is to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and strengthen distressed communities through innovative finance. For more information, visit

SOURCE Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago


OC Watchdog: You can now get online loans within minutes, but at what cost?

by Shelton on January 28th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

Jason Berry and Stuart Hecker are well-versed in the promise and the pitfalls of online lending.

In the summer of 2011, the business partners were staving off creditors and struggling to keep the doors open at their Anaheim-based auto repair chain. They asked Wells Fargo for a capital infusion but were swiftly shot down.

Desperate, they took to the Internet and easily landed a $105,000 business advance with what some would call a last-resort lender. The deal: Give us 6 percent from your credit card receipts to repay the debt.

What seemed like a fair deal ended up bleeding them dry. The interest they paid, it turned out, was 39 percent.

We regretted it within 30 days, says Berry, managing partner of Becker Tire LLC. I cant believe we spent so much money on this thing.

The once niche market of alternative, online lending popular among small businesses with brief or spotty credit histories has exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry that offers quick and easy financing to everyone from students to homeowners. It has captured the attention of deep-pocketed investors and even large banks.

The alt-loan boom has also become synonymous with vaguely worded pricing terms, ultra-high interest rates and questions about how the firms should be classified and regulated.


For those reasons, Californias Department of Business Oversight is scrutinizing more than a dozen online loan providers to get a better handle on what they do, how much business they generate and how they make their money. Many of them are headquartered in California.

The companies under the states microscope include Lending Club, Prosper Marketplace and OnDeck, industry heavyweights that have championed peer-to-peer lending the practice of people lending money to people they dont know without the participation of a financial company.

Also in the mix are players like PayPal and Kabbage, both of which issue cash advances to small businesses. PayPal is primarily an electronic payments provider. Kabbage is a financial tech company that uses algorithms to extend credit to small businesses. It recently raised $135 million in venture capital.

Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates financial products, say they have serious concerns about these firms and want more rules in place to rein them in.

State and federal regulators are mainly concerned about how easy it is for businesses and individuals to get some types of online-based funding and their ability to repay the debts. In many cases, borrowers fill out simple forms and can get preapproved for funds in the tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases within minutes.

Such companies measure the creditworthiness of potential borrowers by checking everything from daily credit card receipts to social media presence, essentially creating their own customer-scoring models.

Were not interested in cutting off that access to financing, said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for the California regulatory agency. California businesses and consumers have much at stake, and we have some questions about (whether) these lenders are appropriately licensed and regulated by the state.


For the owners of Becker Tire and Service Center, getting their advance was a snap. They suddenly had an influx of funds within roughly 10 days of applying, without having to dig up the reams of documentation that traditional banks expect.

But within a month of getting the money, Berry and Hecker immediately felt the weight of their repayment terms. The daily deductions of 6 percent by Merchant Cash amp; Capital were based on each days credit card sales, which fluctuated wildly. So while the repayment percentage was fixed, the actual payment amounts were not.

It became very difficult to pay my other bills while paying a fluctuating number to Merchant, Berry said.

It wasnt until later that they realized they paid almost 40 percent in interest, he said.

Borrowers in these types of scenarios are often in the dark about the online loans APR, which represents the true cost of the loan. Not all lenders will do the math for you.

Merchant, which now goes by Bizfi, says it assisted Becker Tire when no traditional banks would. The cash-advance firm was upfront about costs and does not disclose an APR because it does not issue loans, said company spokesman Lewis Goldberg.

This is a purchase of future receivables, he said.

Becker Tire says it received $15,000 as part of a class-action lawsuit against Merchant over its financial practices. Goldberg declined to discuss the details of that case, citing a confidentiality agreement.

An August study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland showed the average small-business owner says alt-lender websites make borrowing terms and conditions easy to understand. But when asked about specific products, the small businesses often answered questions, specifically about cost, incorrectly.

State regulations exist to govern disclosure of consumer and business loan terms. They strive to ensure borrowers get loan rates that are stated fully and clearly and are adequately vetted before being issued a loan, among other things.


But many alternative finance companies dont consider themselves lenders and maintain theyre not technically subject to state lending laws.

Take Prosper and Lending Club, which contend theyre merely facilitating the online loans. They say the party responsible for issuing the loan is their contracting partner, WebBank, a financial institution in Salt Lake City.

Along the same lines, companies including PayPal and Square call themselves money transmitters. Firms like Kabbage dont issue loans, either; they give out cash advances, similar to what Berry obtained through Merchant. The companies advance the money to the business and deduct payments on a daily, weekly, monthly or bi-monthly basis to recoup the costs.

Theyre essentially skirting state regulation, said Eric Weaver, head of the nonprofit microlender Opportunity Fund.

Some of the lenders that are under state inquiry say they do disclose loan conditions. Bond Street said it provides customers both the interest rate and APR in all of its loan offers. SoFi, which refinances school loans, told the Register in a statement: Fairness and transparency are critical factors in our partnership with our members, and we strive to have an equally transparent approach with regulators.

The remaining lenders declined to comment, did not respond to requests for a comment or merely confirmed the inquiry.

Ironically, one growing line of business for traditional, brick-and-mortar small-business lenders is helping borrowers get out of problem online loans, says Kurt Chilcott, chief executive and president of CDC Small Business Finance.

In late 2012, CDC agreed to refinance Berrys loan with Merchant and roll it into a $125,000 Small Business Administration-backed loan at the prime lending rate plus 3.75 percent, which comes out to be roughly 7 percent.


Refinancing may not be possible in all cases, especially when borrowers have dug themselves too deeply into debt by taking on a string of online loans to repay previous ones similar to the vicious cycle that victims of payday lenders experience.

Despite any glitches, theres no sign that online lending will slow soon.

Some of the top names are expanding with the backing of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Lending Club went public in late 2014 with a valuation of $9billion.

And big, traditional banks seeing their retail branch and lending operations shrink are looking to tap into the alternative lending market.

JPMorgan Chase recently signed a partnership with OnDeck, and JPMorgan will use the online lender to offer rapid access to small-business loans. The service operates with JPMorgans name and capital.

Some of the money thats flowing into online lenders is being recycled into heavy marketing.

Berry, the auto shop owner, experienced this firsthand. Since paying off the Merchant loan, he receives regular mailings, emails and phone calls from similar cash-advance institutions.

They say, lsquo;So, youre saying you dont want the money? They try to make you feel stupid for not taking the money, says Berry.

Contact the writer: or 714-796-4976 Twitter @LilyShumLeung

Safety is the word of the season

by Shelton on January 28th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

Wouldn’t it be nice if criminals took the holidays off? In reality, they don’t, and I would venture to guess they may even thrive during this time of year. Talk about the Grinch that stole Christmas.

You don’t have to look far to see a trend of seasonal criminal activity. Just check out the weekly police log or look at the posts being made on social media and you will quickly see what local crimes have residents concerned.

One such concern is thieves stealing unattended packages left on front porches. FedEx offers several tips on its website to help combat package theft. Some of the suggestions include requesting a signature for packages, having packages sent to the nearest FedEx Office where you can pick it up later, putting a hold on deliveries while on vacation, picking an alternate delivery place besides home and even scheduling your own delivery time.

The company also offers a free delivery manager service, which you can sign up for, and a delivery mobile app for your iPhone. More information can be found at

Another area of concern has to do with community mailbox break-ins. Last week’s police log cited two separate reports, and another one was reported the week before.

“I noticed that I didn’t receive mail for two days, which I knew was odd,” explained Tracy resident Lindsay Ortiz, who lives in an area of Tracy that has seen multiple community mailbox break-ins. “I received a call from my bank stating that my credit card, newly issued with a chip, had attempted to be used in Stockton to withdraw money. Since I had never set up a PIN to take cash advances, the transaction was declined. I closed that account and reported the mail theft to Tracy Police Department and the post office.”

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the community mailbox concept. I understand that the system might be easier for the person delivering the mail, but the grouping of boxes can also be an enticing target for mail thieves, instead of them going mailbox to mailbox.

The United States Post Office also offers a list of tips for postal customers with centralized (community) mailboxes, which can be found by visiting

Quick cash loans under scrutiny in Virginia

by Shelton on January 27th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

Marty Williams needed to pay off a loan quickly, and had his choice of 10 Lynchburg businesses that would copy his car’s keys and take its title in exchange for money.

He used the cash to settle a years-old $150 loan from another lender after callers threatened jail time in March 2015 if he didn’t pay the $400 they said he owed in interest, he said.

The disabled 52-year-old lives with his wife in Lynchburg and receives monthly Social Security checks of about $850. He called friends and family for a lifeline.

“They didn’t really have money,” Williams said.

Payday lending was legalized in 2002, giving Virginians a quick cash fix with minimal credit checks, but consumer advocates say it can prey on the poor.

The General Assembly is expected to take up several bills designed to tighten payday and title lending industry regulations in its upcoming session.

“It’s a statewide problem,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, a Democrat elected in November to the seat that includes eastern Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties. “And every time I get off I-81 it seems like I see four car title lenders.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Terry McAuliffe have vowed to support new rules.

Products require high interest rates

Payday loans are unsecured cash advances up to $500 where borrowers get no grace period and are generally required to repay the loan in two pay periods.

Instead of risking overdraft charges as high as $35, people opt for payday loans generally costing about $15 for every $100 borrowed, said an email from Amy Cantu, a spokeswoman for the Community Financial Services Association of America. The national organization represents more than 40 payday loan companies.

If interest rates were capped at 36 percent annual interest, fees on a two-week $100 loan would be $1.38.

Advocates in the title and payday lending industries argue high interest rates are necessary, because of the product’s short-term nature.

“Consumers use payday loans to get through a financial pinch,” Cantu said.

Borrowers repaid payday loans in an average of 45 days in 2014, according to State Corporation Commission reports on payday and car title lenders.

Title loans typically mature in 12 months and use a borrower’s vehicle title as collateral.

Across Virginia, payday and title lenders provided roughly a quarter-million people with loans in 2014, the SCC report said.

Annual interest rates on payday loans averaged about 278 percent –equivalent to a two-week fee of about $10.50 for every $100 borrowed, the SCC report said.

Getting traction in the legislature

The Virginia General Assembly passed the Payday Lending Act in 2002 and car title lending was legalized in 2010.

In 2015, then-Del. Surovell proposed legislation keeping lenders from offering different loan products at the same location, he said.

The bill and several others restricting payday and title lenders were tabled in the House Commerce and Labor Committee, according to the Virginia Legislative Information System.

Surovell said his colleagues told him they delayed regulation to give lenders time to voluntary make changes in their businesses.

“I think the whole process is abusive, but some people feel that the industry is being evasive,” Surovell said.

A year later, he said the voluntary changes have not materialized and hopes the climate in 2016 will be more favorable.

Clusters of lenders

Williams has no criminal record. When callers threatened his arrest he worried his right to carry a concealed firearm would be in jeopardy, even though failure to pay a debt is not a criminal offense in Virginia.

Out of options, Williams drove his 1998 Ford Explorer Sport to one of the three Lynchburg locations of Fast Auto Loans and traded his title for cash.

He already had a loan on his other vehicle and owed about $600 in three additional unpaid, short-term loans, he said.

In 2014, a quarter of the people given title loans in Virginia failed to make a monthly payment for more than 60 days, and 19,000 people had cars repossessed, the SCC report said.

Repossession and delinquency rates for purchased and financed cars averages less than 1 percent, according to a report from the credit reporting agency Experian.

Fast Auto Loans and its parent company, Community Loans of America, declined to comment.

In two studies conducted by the Center for Responsible Lending, researchers found correlations between lending store locations and neighborhoods with poor or minority groups.

“We suspect there is a lot of targeting there in terms of where they choose to put their stores,” said Delvin Davis, a senior research analyst at the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group.

In Lynchburg, three title lending locations are clustered in the 2500 block of Memorial Avenue, where an average of 35 percent of people live below the federal poverty line — $23,834 for a family of four, according to 2014 US Census Bureau data.

Five more title lenders sit between the 3800 and 2100 blocks of Wards Road, where about 23 percent of residents — and about 40 percent of black or African American residents — live below the poverty line, census data said.

The cost of an emergency

With check in hand, Williams wired money to the debt collector, but quickly got behind on his title loan payment.

He also had a separate loan from CashNetUSA, a cash advance firm that lends money online or by telephone. “We’ve got you covered, cash for emergency expenses,” said the homepage.

The next day, $450 was in Williams’ account, he said.

Cashnet also tacked on an annual interest rate of 299 percent and a transaction fee of $67.50 — calculated as 15 percent of the advance amount, according to US District Court documents filed by Williams as part of his lawsuit against CashNet.

When Williams fell behind on his CashNet loan, the company began debiting his bank account, court documents said.

Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. Attorney Jeremy White filed a lawsuit in August against CashNet on Williams’ behalf. White said 40 percent of his caseload involves title and payday loans.

Williams’ case accused Cashnet of violating state and federal laws and settled for an undisclosed sum, White said. Williams has since paid off his outstanding debts.

Enova International, Inc., parent company of CashNet, was contacted but had no comment.

Changing products for new rules

Between 2002 and 2007, payday loans to Virginians increased from $165 million to roughly $1.3 billion, SCC reports said.

The General Assembly passed additional restrictions in 2008 limiting high-interest payday loans, Surovell said.

After the legislation passed, companies began offering open-ended lines of credit loans. The loans offer a grace period of 25 days and no term limit or interest rate caps on the debt, White said.

The number of borrowers seeking help from VLAS with what they think is a payday loan but is actually open-ended credit has increased, White said.

Companies also have designed alternatives for title loans utilizing the Depression-era Virginia Consumer Finance Act to loan, White said.

Under the Consumer Finance Act, amounts below $2,500 can be loaned with a maximum interest rate of 36 percent, but there is no rate restriction over $2,500.

The loans can still use a car’s title as collateral, White said.

“It looks like a title loan, smells like a title loan, but they say it’s not,” White said.

When TitleMax added a consumer finance subsidiary to Virginia lending locations, loan amounts received between 2013 and 2014 increased 40 percent, but total loans only increased 16 percent, a Surovell press release said.

Between 2014 and 2015, lending companies TitleMax, Anderson Financial Services, Check into Cash of Virginia and Community Loans of America contributed about $650,000 to both Democrats and Republicans, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Attorney General Herring worked with Surovell to introduce bills capping interest rates on consumer finance loans and open-ended lines of credit, Communications Director Michael Kelly said.

A bill enhancing reporting requirements and prohibiting car title and consumer finance lenders from opening in the same location or near military bases and casinos is also expected, Kelly said.

Advocates like White hope that legislators will pass the proposed rules eliminating some of the legislative gray areas on open-ended and consumer finance loans.

“Then you at least have the backstop of limiting this cycle of debt,” White said. “And that’s a step in the right direction.”

CHED execs face probe over P1.2-B scholarship fund

by Shelton on January 26th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

In its 2014 annual audit report released this week, COA noted that out of the P5.2 billion appropriated in 2014 for college scholarships, grants-in-aid and study-now, pay-later loans, about P1.23 billion remained unspent due to the CHED’s low absorptive capacity.

COA also noted several irregularities in the disbursement of the scholarship fund, including unliquidated cash advances, ineffective monitoring and other operational lapses that resulted in “internal control weaknesses in the processing and releasing of claims.”

CHED’s Stufap includes scholarships ranging from P15,000 to P30,000 per academic year, grants-in-aid and study-now, pay later loans.

The lawmaker said he would file a similar resolution this week to investigate the reported P3.13-billion unliquidated fund received by CHED through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The audit body, in its report, also noted “inadequate monitoring mechanisms and enforcement of the liquidation/refund thereof from recipient SUCs.”

COA said such funds were meant to upgrade infrastructure in state universities and colleges, and fund grants-in-aid programs and researches.

“Where did these funds go? Why have these funds remain unliquidated? Clearly, there is something fishy going on. Congress needs to look into this matter, and see whether criminal acts – even corruption–have transpired,” the lawmakers said.

“We are particularly concerned since these monies come from the controversial DAP,” Ridon said.


CHED’s failure to release the scholarship fund “highlights the deception of the Aquino government in repeatedly boasting that it has increasingly expanded spending on education… but in reality, the budget it has allotted failed to reach those students who need it the most because of inefficiency and shady practices in the bureaucracy,” said Vin Buenaagua, national coordinator of Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan.

CHED has yet to comment on the COA report, although it earlier informed state auditors that it would conduct its own investigation into the supposed violation of existing guidelines for the release of student financial assistance.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines and its attached institutions like the Philippine General Hospital will receive an allocation of P11.8 billion in this year’s budget, or about P1 billion higher than what was proposed by the national government. – With Janvic Mateo

Can I Buy Powerball Tickets With a Credit Card?

by Shelton on January 25th, 2016

filed under Cash Advances

People all over the country clamored to buy Powerball tickets this week, driving the jackpot up over $1.5 billion on Tuesday. Thats no small feat: In most states, buying a Powerball ticket means looking up a licensed seller and venturing out to make the purchase. In Utah, where gambling is illegal, residents are driving across state lines to get in on the action. A border town in Idaho has reported long lines out of gas stations and convenience stores, where people from the neighboring state have flocked to purchase tickets.

Its not that difficult everywhere. The ease of buying lottery tickets largely relies on where you live, with some states accepting credit card payments and even allowing online purchases for lottery tickets.

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At least 14 states allow people to buy lottery tickets with credit cards. Even so, the circumstances under which a credit card is accepted vary widely. It could mean that retailers accept credit cards, but credit card purchases could be limited to online sales or lottery-ticket subscriptions. Like many things that vary from state to state, its a complicated issue. Here are the states where laws allow in some way for you to buy lottery tickets with a credit card, according to these states lottery websites.

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Washington

There may be more — some states dont specify if its legal or not. But, remember, even if the state allows retailers to accept credit card payments for lottery tickets, the merchant has the final say on that matter. (You can also check your states lottery website to see what rules may apply.) Keep in mind, merchant networks or your credit card issuer, too, may generally prohibit the practice.

A Dangerous Way to Pay and Play?

Of course, just because you can do something, doesnt mean you should. Gambling on a credit card can be very dangerous. Cash advances taken out in casinos, for instance, often have astronomical annual percentage rates associated with them and start accruing interest immediately. The dangers associated with running up a big credit card bill, particularly when you wont be able to pay if off in full anytime soon, are likely why so many states regulate or disallow the practice. Just imagine the potential that has to fuel a gambling problem or push you deep into credit card debt. (You can see how your current credit card balances are affecting your credit scores for free on So, if youre hoping to cash in on this Powerball mania, good luck to you, but as the saying goes, play (and purchase) responsibly.

More on Credit Cards:

  •’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
  • How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
  • An Expert Guide to Credit Cards With Rewards

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