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DFPI Moves to Revoke PACE Administrator’s License After Finding Its Solicitor Defrauded Homeowners



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SACRAMENTO – The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) today announced it has moved to revoke the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Administrator license of Renovate America, Inc. (Renovate) after finding that one of its solicitors repeatedly defrauded homeowners in San Diego County. It is the first time in the program’s history that the Department has moved to revoke the license of a PACE administrator.

Renovate enrolled an entity known as Martinez Construction and authorized it to sell PACE financing. However, Renovate failed to verify that the entity representing itself as Martinez Construction was the real company. A fraudulent entity using Martinez Construction’s name and CSLB number, contracted with Renovate to be one of its solicitors and solicited nine homeowners in 2018 and 2019 throughout San Diego County to enter into ten PACE contracts to finance clean energy projects.

The Department’s investigation found that that the solicitor created fake email accounts and forged consumer phone numbers in order to have the financing documents routed to them for confirmation. Additionally, homeowners deny signing the financing documents, and state that the voices on recorded phone calls with Renovate are not their voices, but rather that of an impersonator.

“This is a brazen attempt to defraud homeowners and it is inexcusable that Renovate would have missed such clear signs of abuse,” said DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez. “This is a clear warning to all PACE administrators that the actions of their solicitors and contractors reflect on them and they should be properly vetted and investigated.” 

Further, the DFPI determined that fraudulent paycheck stubs or wage documents were submitted in the financing package in order to increase the income level of the homeowners and meet the “ability to pay” requirements contained in PACE laws. Homeowners allege that absolutely no work was done and only learned of the PACE assessment when they received their property tax bill, months after the PACE lien was placed on their property. 

While Renovate received and documented the homeowners’ complaints, sent persons to verify if the work was done or not, and cooperated with regulatory investigative requests, Renovate did little else of substance to address the complaints. The PACE liens remain on the properties for at least nine homeowners. Renovate filed for bankruptcy on December 21, 2020. To help homeowners, the DFPI is coordinating with the Western Riverside Council of Governments, the public agency that issued the PACE liens.

With these findings, Commissioner Alvarez has found Renovate responsible for acts of its solicitor, whose fraudulent practices are found to be injurious and unsafe to the public. After filing an Accusation to Revoke Renovate’s PACE license, the company has 15 days to respond and request a hearing.

The DFPI licenses and regulates PACE program administrators, who are responsible for administrating the program behalf of a public agency. The program administrators in turn authorize PACE solicitors and their agents to enter into an assessment contract with prospective homeowners. Solicitors and contractors are regulated by the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB). PACE is a financing product that allows homeowners to finance certain clean energy products and services such as solar panels, water heaters and windows. The financing is provided by public agencies who add the financed amount as a special assessment to the homeowner’s property tax secured by a lien on the property. If the homeowner does not pay the special assessment, the financing entity can enforce the lien, including through foreclosure.

The DFPI continues to investigate fraudulent practices in the PACE financing area. If you have PACE financing for your home improvement project and believe that you have been a victim of fraudulent or misleading practices, please contact the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation at (866) 275-2677 or email at

More information regarding PACE financing and DFPI oversight of PACE administrators can be found at

In addition to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program administrators, the DFPI licenses and regulates state-chartered banks and credit unions, commodities and investment advisers, money transmitters, mortgage servicers, the offer and sale of securities and franchises, broker-dealers, nonbank installment lenders, payday lenders, student-lending servicers, escrow companies, debt collectors, rent-to-own contractors, credit repair companies, consumer credit reporting agencies, debt-relief companies, and more.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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