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EDD Fraud: Federal Judge Issues Sweeping Injunction Against Bank of America – CBS San Francisco



SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Bank of America Tuesday in the wake of widespread fraudulent Employment Development Department (EDD) claims totaling billions of dollars and the suspension of unemployment benefits to the hundreds of thousands of Californians affected.

The injunction compels Bank of America to unfreeze accounts and reopen investigations into stolen benefits issued on prepaid bank debit cards in a fraud epidemic first exposed last fall by KPIX 5. The bank was also ordered to pay provisional credits to EDD claimants and improve its customer service after it failed to handle the flood of customer phone calls and complaints over the lost funds and lack of security measures.

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“I feel violated, cheated, unheard,” said Jennifer Yick. The San Francisco based realtor says Bank of America never helped her, after making multiple calls to report fraudulent charges that emptied her account last November.

Hundreds of thousands of benefit recipients reported a slew of problems, including unauthorized transactions on their chipless EDD Bank of America debit cards. “I’m a taxpayer. I paid into the system I’m collecting because I’m out of work and you can’t assist me?” said Yick.

Since last fall, hundreds of others have been reaching out to KPIX 5, desperately asking for help, saying their claims were denied without an investigation, sometimes a day after calling the bank.

In January, Yick found an attorney to file the first class-action lawsuit related to security issues, freezing of accounts, and denials of provisional credit.

“The bank stopped its normal procedures of conducting an investigation and started to use a flawed screening process,” said Yick’s attorney Brian Danitz with the law firm Cotchett, Petrie and McCarthy.

Two weeks ago, a federal judge ordered the two parties to come to some kind of agreement, even as the legal proceedings continue.

Among the dozen newly-agreed upon items now part of the court ordered injunction: the bank cannot use its current “claim fraud filter” to freeze accounts or to close unauthorized transaction claims and must conduct an investigation beyond that. Any closed claim based solely on results of the previously-used fraud filter has to be reopened within 30 days. The bank now must offer a new option that allows victims to authenticate identity at a local bank branch, or by calling a new dedicated 800 number.

“With this agreement, we are committing to additional measures to help unemployment recipients who have been victimized by fraud receive their benefits as quickly as possible,” Bank of America said in a statement to KPIX 5.

In court documents, the bank said the “plaintiffs wide-ranging demands would (instead) help legions of criminals perpetuate fraudulent schemes,” because it says most of the fraud claims were filed by criminals in the first place.

“They are trying to find the balance between needing to prevent fraud, which we know has pervaded this case from the beginning and getting money back to the people who deserve it,” said Ted Mermin, who teaches consumer protection law at Berkeley School of Law and is the Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice.

“It is certainly a win for the plaintiffs. It’s certainly progress in the case. It means that the court is serious about making sure that bank of America investigates people’s claims,” said Mermin.

“We were able to get this preliminary injunction so early in the case because after we filed, we did receive publicity about the case from your channel. Because of that we were contacted by hundreds of plaintiffs who wanted to join the case,” said Danitz.

*Seven months have passed and Yick says her account still hasn’t been credited, but she’s not feeling helpless anymore. “I feel like our voice is being heard or being acknowledged,” said Yick.

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New Bank of America Report Says Digital Currencies ‘Could Boost Economic Growth’ in Developing Countries – Fintech Bitcoin News




New Bank of America Report Says Digital Currencies ‘Could Boost Economic Growth’ in Developing Countries

A new Bank of America (BOA) research study has found that both central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and private digital currencies hold “a lot of potential” for increasing financial inclusion in developing countries. In the report, the bank also argues that such “digital currencies could reduce transaction costs and allow more economic activities in emerging market economies.”

Digital Currencies and Financial Inclusion

Still, the study findings show that while digital currencies are likely to “boost economic growth” in developing countries, their adoption will carry some risk. In addition, the study also finds that the rise of digital currencies “could lead to inflation and dollarization.”

Meanwhile, a separate report quotes David Hauner, the BOA’s head of emerging market cross-asset strategy and economics for EMEA, explaining why digital currencies could be pivotal in emerging market countries where more than 50% of adults lack a bank account.

“Digital currencies have the potential to address many practical constraints on financial services in poor countries,” said Hauner.

The report also lists the reduction of cross-border payment costs as well as the reduction of corruption and other illegal activities as some of the constraints that can be addressed by digital currencies.

Risks to Physical Currency

The BOA research study found that the rise of digital currencies could potentially “undermine a country’s physical currency,” however. Expanding on these findings, Hauner stated:

Easier access to alternative digital currencies is also likely to increase the volatility of domestic money supply and the exchange rate. Easier access to alternatives also raises the risks of rapid shifts of liquidity out of (or into) the currency and the banks which can magnify macro volatility in already less stable countries. Higher macro volatility would then reduce the effectiveness of policies and undermine the long-term rate of growth.

Despite these risks, Hauner suggests that more central banks are “likely to issue a general purpose CBDC in the next three years.” As previously reported by News, several countries — including a few in Africa — are currently at different stages of developing or piloting their digital currencies. Several more countries are likely to join the race as more studies show that digital currency benefits outweigh the risks.

What are your thoughts on the latest BOA research report on digital currencies? You can share your views in the comments section below.

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Why a HELOC might be right for you | Core Bank Personal




Why a HELOC might be right for you | Core Bank Personal

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a good way to utilize the equity you have in your home to make a large purchase that otherwise is difficult to save up for. A credit limit will be established based on your home’s current valuation.  With a HELOC you not only get great flexibility by being able to access your money whenever you need it, but you also only pay interest on how much you actually use.

Let’s run through a few scenarios where taking out a HELOC would make sense.

Home renovations

One of the most popular reasons homeowners take out a HELOC is to fund renovation projects. Renovations can be a great use of money since they not only make your house more enjoyable to live in, they also generally increase your home’s value.

Reducing debt

Tired of paying a high-interest rate on your debt? You’re not alone. Using a HELOC to consolidate other forms of debt is a popular choice among homeowners. Credit card debt, for example, has a much higher interest rate than a HELOC would. The key to using this method of debt reduction is to plan ahead and make sure you know how you’ll pay off the loan.

Emergency funds

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again – having an emergency fund is always a good idea. Your home’s equity can be that emergency fund for you. If you find yourself faced with a medical emergency, job loss, or any other unexpected emergency, know that your equity is there to help.

Higher education

Looking to further your education? A HELOC might be a good alternative to student loans since they tend to offer a lower interest rate. Another benefit to a HELOC is that you may have more money available to you.

Federal student loans have borrowing limits which can make it hard to pay for an education if you still have a balance due even after utilizing other forms of aid, such as financial ad and scholarships.

Travel plans

Traveling is always fun, but paying for it is another story. While you can fund some trips with your everyday budget, some trips require a little more money. Using your HELOC can be a lifesaver when it comes to making your dream vacation a reality. No need to pull out the credit card or overextend your budget.

Equity is one of the many benefits of homeownership and can play a big role in helping you achieve financial wellness.  Learn how to make the most of your home today

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De-Banking! Former GOP Candidate Witzke Says Wells Fargo Shut Down Her Account: Report




De-Banking! Former GOP Candidate Witzke Says Wells Fargo Shut Down Her Account: Report

First liberal corporations attacked conservative speech, but now they are destabilizing the finances of those they disagree with, as former Senate candidate Lauren Witzke has reportedly discovered.

American bank Wells Fargo has reportedly shut down the bank account of Lauren Witzke, a 2020 Delaware Senate GOP candidate and outspoken activist. An account purporting to represent Witzke claimed via Telegram that her bank account had been shut down, leaving her penniless in Florida: “Wells Fargo has shut down my bank account, taking all of my money and leaving me with a zero balance.” The Witzke account torched Wells Fargo for leaving her in the lurch and causing her to rely on the charity of her friends:

“When I called Wells Fargo told me that it was a ‘business decision’ and that they have the right to close my account at any time. Had I not been surrounded by friends in Florida, I would be completely stranded. Use this as a warning and get your money out of Wells Fargo if you are a conservative. This is so evil.”

Wells Fargo responded to inquiry from MRC Free Speech America by denying any political motivations:

“Wells Fargo does not consider political views or affiliations in making account decisions.  An account may be closed for a number of reasons based on individual facts and circumstances. While we cannot discuss customer accounts because they involve confidential customer information, we can report that we have reviewed this situation, gave ample notice of our decision and it was handled appropriately.”

Conservative firebrand Michelle Malkin wrote in a commentary on CNSNews that Witzke’s “entire life savings of roughly $15,500 had been transferred to ‘loss prevention.’” Malkin further asserted that “[Witske] would be barred from retrieving her funds at any branch office and that they would ‘mail a check.’”

Malkin reportedly heard from Witzke directly, the former candidate stating, “The current weaponization of corporations and banks against conservatives and Christians is terrifying.” Witzke reportedly recounted how sudden her ousting was from Wells Fargo:

“I have banked with Wells Fargo for years, using it as savings when I was working in ministry. Only when I was given a platform to share my Christian views on the national stage did Wells Fargo decide to shut down my account. The Evil Oligarchs at Wells Fargo left me, a young woman, with a balance of zero dollars, stranded, and a thousand miles away from my home with no explanation…Christians and Conservatives, get your money out of Wells Fargo, NOW!”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your local representative and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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