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Whistleblower Leads to Shutdown of Infosys’ Alleged System for Avoiding California Taxes

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Labor & Employment

Whistleblower Leads to Shutdown of Infosys’ Alleged System for Avoiding California Taxes

  • California AG Xavier Becerra reached a settlement with India-based business consulting and outsourcing services company Infosys Limited and its subsidiary to resolve allegations stemming from a whistleblower’s qui tam lawsuit of visa misclassification and tax avoidance in violation of the California False Claims Act and Unfair Competition Law.
  • According to the AG’s office, Infosys allegedly misclassified its sponsored visas as B-1 rather than H-1B visas for approximately 500 employees between 2006 and 2017, and avoided California payroll taxes and the requirement to pay workers at the local prevailing wage through this misclassification.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, Infosys agreed to pay $800,000 to the State of California and $95,000 for the whistleblower’s attorney’s fees and expenses.

State AGs in the News

‘Tis the Season for Attorneys General Association Elections and Awards

  • Montana AG Tim Fox was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) for 2020, replacing outgoing NAAG President Louisiana AG Jeff Landry. AG Fox selected “Transformational Leadership and Civility” as his presidential initiative.
  • Kansas AG Derek Schmidt received the annual Kelley-Wyman Award, NAAG’s highest honor, which is awarded for doing the most to achieve NAAG objectives.
  • The new president’s election and the award ceremony were part of NAAG’s annual Capital Forum, held December 9-11 in Washington, D.C.

2020 AG Elections

State Delegate Isaac Sponaugle Announces Bid for Democratic Nomination for West Virginia Attorney General

  • Isaac Sponaugle, a member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates, declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for West Virginia AG in 2020.
  • Sponaugle, an attorney from Pendleton County, stated that he will not run for reelection to the House of Delegates, where he currently serves as Assistant Minority Whip.
  • As previously reported, private-practice attorney Samuel Petsonk is also seeking the Democratic nomination for AG, and Republican incumbent AG Patrick Morrisey has not formally announced whether he is seeking reelection.

Consumer Protection

Phantom Debts Result in Real Liability for Allegedly Crooked Debt Collectors

  • The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reached a settlement with debt collection company Global Asset Financial Services Group, LLC and related individuals (collectively “GAFS”) to resolve allegations of using illicit debt collection tactics in violation of the FTC Act.
  • The FTC’s complaint alleged that GAFS pressured consumers into making payments on phantom debts by threatening to take legal action in the case of non-payment while pretending to be attorneys, using harassing robocalls, and placing threatening calls to victims’ friends and family.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, GAFS is banned from debt collection, debt brokering activities, credit repair activities, misleading consumers, and impersonating attorneys. The settlement also includes monetary judgments of approximately $25.5 million, all but $3.1 million of which are suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay.

New York Attorney General Wins $16 Million Court Decision Over Fraudulent Magazine Subscription Solicitations

  • New York AG Letitia James won a lawsuit against marketing company Orbital Publishing Group, Inc. and related companies (collectively “Orbital Publishing”) in the New York State Supreme Court over allegedly fraudulent mailings of unauthorized subscription notices in violation of New York’s consumer protection law, which prohibits deceptive business practices and false advertising, and which also requires magazine renewal solicitations to disclose the month and year that the consumer’s subscription expires.
  • The complaint, filed by former AG Eric Schneiderman as part of a multistate law enforcement effort, alleged that Orbital Publishing sent out millions of magazine and newspaper subscription solicitations nationwide for well-known publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and National Geographic—without the publications’ permission—quoting inflated subscription prices while claiming that the offer was for one of the lowest subscription prices available, and pocketed the difference between the inflated price and the actual subscription price set by the publications. Consumers also found it virtually impossible to cancel their subscriptions.
  • The Court awarded the AG’s office more than $16 million in restitution and penalties, and permanently enjoined Orbital Publishing from engaging in the misleading practices described in the complaint.

Pharmaceuticals

There’s No Daylight Among Attorneys General When It Comes to Their Opinions About Fentanyl

  • In a rare show of unanimity, all 56 AGs from every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, led by Michigan AG Dana Nessel and Ohio AG Dave Yost, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, which seeks to permanently classify fentanyl and related compounds as Schedule I drugs—defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and possess a high potential for abuse.
  • In the letter, the AGs opine that the FIGHT Fentanyl Act is crucial to efforts to curb the opioid epidemic and note that approximately 40% of the 72,000 drug-related deaths in 2017 in the United States involved fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances.
  • The AGs’ bipartisan letter articulates an official position adopted by NAAG and was sent on NAAG letterhead.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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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

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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

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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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