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State of Oregon warns about advance fee lending scam; fraudsters using name of real company - 10/08/21

Oct. 8, 2021

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is warning consumers about fraudulent activity from an alleged Internet-based mortgage lending and consumer finance company that is committing an advance fee scam, as well as impersonating a legitimate company.

The division has received five complaints from victims of the advance fee scam. Four of the five complaints were filed in the past year. The scammers have co-opted the name and address for a real Portland-based company named Canyon Investments. The real Canyon Investments has nothing to do with the lending scam.

The fraudsters, whose identities the division has not been able to determine, have set up an imposter website to make it look like the real Canyon Investments. They use Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP),  phone apps, spoof emails, and stock photos to give the appearance of a legitimate company offering funding for real estate purchases and investments. The real Canyon Investments does not have a website and does not offer loans to consumers.

As part of the fraud, the scammer convinces its victims they have been approved for a loan, but, in order to receive the loan funds, the victims must pay various upfront fees. Those fees are not sent directly to the scammer or the purported company, but rather to accounts in the names of people who serve as intermediaries in the scam. These intermediaries, or money mules (people who transfer or move illegally acquired money on behalf of someone else), then forward most of the funds on to the scammers after keeping 5 percent to 10 percent as their fee. The scammers also occasionally require the victims to send cryptocurrency, typically Bitcoin, as payments of these alleged fees.

“Information provided by victims of the scam indicated that payment of the fees leads only to requests for more money in order to pay a continuous list of never-ending fees,” said TK Keen, administrator for the division, which is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “In reality, there is no loan, and once a victim discovers this hard truth and stops paying the fees, the scammers stop all communication.”

The investigation has also found that the money mules who received and transferred the funds from the victims are often victims themselves. In the most recent complaint, the money mule was the victim of an online romance scam. He believed he was in a relationship with a woman who asked him to receive and transfer funds for a business deal she was working.

“He did receive some commission from this transfer, but it was small and it seems that he was not aware that he was participating in this fraudulent, criminal activity,” Keen said. “Do not transfer money for people you do not know to other people you do not know.”

State and federal laws require that certain consumer finance lenders and all mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, and mortgage loan originators be licensed. The division recommends that people check into any consumer finance or mortgage company before signing any documents or sending money. People can verify a company’s license or registration by going to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) database https://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org. Also, it is best to contact that company directly to confirm payment instructions before sending funds to any intermediary claiming to receive funds on its behalf. 

“It is important for consumers to not work with a lender until they have confirmed it is a legitimate, licensed company.” Keen said. “The best way to protect against being defrauded is to verify the lending company is legally licensed to engage in the mortgage lending or consumer finance business.”

Consumers can also contact the division’s advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) to ask questions, file complaints, or check the license of a broker, lender, or loan originator.

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The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov. 

Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA administrator to leave post for position with State of Washington (Photo) - 10/05/21

Salem – Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood will leave his post at the end of this month to take a job with the State of Washington, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced today.

The department expects soon to name an interim administrator of the workplace health and safety division, with a national recruitment for the position planned. 

“Michael has dedicated his career to public service,  has skillfully steered Oregon OSHA through many challenges, and is leaving behind a strong team of highly skilled professionals who are ready to address new challenges,” said Andrew Stolfi, DCBS director. “We will miss him and wish him well as he moves into a new phase of his impressive career in public service.”

Wood’s last day with Oregon OSHA is Oct. 22. He has accepted a position as deputy director of operations for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Wood has served as administrator of Oregon OSHA for 16 years. Before joining the State of Oregon in his current position, he worked for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for more than two decades.

Wood, a Certified Safety Professional and a graduate of Gonzaga University, said Oregon has made its workplace health and safety system a success for decades. 

“We have demonstrated a resilience and flexibility in the face of these extraordinary times,” he said. “I also know that I leave behind a team that is truly capable of extraordinary work.”

Even as it has quickly responded to the COVID-19 emergency – including adopting requirements to protect workers – Oregon OSHA has continued to advance its long-running work addressing high-hazard industries and various emphasis safety programs. For decades, the division’s efforts – part of a larger system in Oregon focused on safe and healthy workplaces – have helped drive down injury, illness, and fatality rates in Oregon workplaces.

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About Oregon OSHA:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

 

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
Five ways to help young adults get financially ready for college - 09/21/21

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

Salem – Heading off to college is an exciting time for many young adults. As colleges and universities across the state welcome students back to campus, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is sharing five ways young adults and their parents can financially prepare for the adventure.

  1. Insure your belongings – Check with your insurance company about covering your belongings. Ask about renters insurance, and use the division’s shopping guide to find the right insurance coverage for you.
  2. Understand how you are paying for college – Make sure you understand the financial aid offer and terms of your student loans. Make a plan, and update it regularly, to ensure you graduate with debt you can afford.
  3. Take credit cards seriously – Credit cards can help build your credit profile, but charges can add up fast. Before applying to get that free gift, review the fine print and weigh the pros and cons. You may need a co-signer, or you could be an authorized user on someone else’s card, if they also manage their credit well. Remember, pay the balance in full each month; don’t pay interest for that late-night pizza.   
  4. Start a budget – Map out a monthly budget to make sure you have enough money for important expenses, such as books, loans, food, and rent. This will also help you see how much you have available for fun activities and building up your savings.
  5. Find a bank or credit union – If you are going to be opening new checking and savings accounts, do some research to choose the one that provides the best rates and perks. Bank On Oregon lists some financial institutions with low-cost accounts. If you already have a bank or credit union, check to see if it has a branch close to campus or make sure it has the apps and tools to meet your needs online. Banks and credit unions are federally insured and protect your deposits, unlike Venmo and PayPal accounts.

In addition to these five steps, the division encourages young adults and their parents to consider these additional ways to financially prepare for college. 

  • Review health insurance – Students can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26. Make sure there are in-network providers available near the campus. If the health plan does not offer adequate in-network coverage in the area, see if the school has a student health plan that may provide better coverage. Remember, a cheaper premium does not always mean comprehensive health coverage. 
  • Review auto insurance – Make sure your auto insurance will cover the student as the primary driver and that the physical address of the car is updated. Be sure to double check the auto coverages on the car and that you have the right deductible amounts on your policy to make sure they fit your needs. 
  • Prepare for disaster – Disasters can happen anywhere. Take time to prepare for a disaster at your new location. A few simple tasks, such as building an emergency kit, creating a home inventory and making copies of important documents, will help save time, money, and stress when disaster strikes. Use this guide to help you prepare.

There are several ways to get financially ready for college. Starting with these steps will prepare you for your time away from home and help build a financial foundation you can build on for a lifetime. 

If you have questions about your insurance or financial accounts, talk with your company representative, agent, or broker. If you still have questions or concerns, free help is available from the Division of Financial Regulation’s consumer advocates: 

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The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

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OHIM logo
Se extiende la inscripción abierta para la cobertura médica de 2022: del 1 de noviembre al 15 de enero (Photo) - 09/21/21

(Salem) – El viernes, el gobierno federal anunció la extensión del período anual de inscripción abierta para comprar un seguro médico privado para el año del plan 2022 del 1 de noviembre al 15 de enero.

Junto con la extensión, los habitantes de Oregón tendrán la oportunidad de acceder más ahorros financieros que hayan estado disponibles en el pasado a través del Mercado de Seguros de Salud de Oregón debido al Plan de Rescate Americano. El Plan de Rescate Americano inició ahorros adicionales al eliminar el límite superior de ingresos para calificar para la asistencia financiera, y también disminuyó el monto de la prima que los consumidores son responsables de pagar antes de que estén disponibles los créditos fiscales.

  • Se ha determinado que más del 80 por ciento de los habitantes de Oregón son elegibles para recibir ayuda financiera a través del Mercado desde el 1 de abril, cuando entraron en vigencia las disposiciones del Plan de Rescate Americano.
  • Los habitantes de Oregon están recibiendo un promedio de $437 por mes en créditos fiscales para la prima para reducir su prima mensual gracias a la elegibilidad ampliada.

El Mercado de Seguros Médicos de Oregón ofrece un resumen de los planes y ahorros para los habitantes de Oregón elegibles. La herramienta, disponible en OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop, se ha actualizado para calcular correctamente los ahorros adicionales que ahora están disponibles para las personas que compran a través del Mercado. La herramienta se mejorará nuevamente este otoño para permitir a los habitantes de Oregón determinar si sus proveedores preferidos están cubiertos por cada plan. Los residentes de Oregon también podrán ver si sus medicamentos recetados están cubiertos y cuáles serán los costos estimados para los medicamentos recetados en cada plan. Los cambios estarán disponibles en la herramienta en octubre.

¿Aún necesita cobertura médica para 2021? Es posible que pueda inscribirse en un período de inscripción especial. Comience en CuidadoDeSalud.Oregon.gov para llegar a la solicitud correcta o para encontrar un agente de seguros o una organización comunitaria asociada que lo ayude a completar la solicitud e inscribirse. Los agentes de seguros y los socios comunitarios brindan asistencia local personalizada sin cargo. Esta ayuda está disponible virtualmente, por teléfono y en persona siguiendo protocolos de seguridad.

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El Mercado de Seguros Médicos de Oregon, una parte del gobierno estatal, ayuda a las personas a conseguir seguro médico cuando no tienen cobertura a través de su trabajo, y no califican para el Plan de Salud de Oregon u otro programa. El Mercado es el socio al nivel estatal a CuidadoDeSalud.gov. Para obtener más información, visite CuidadoDeSalud.Oregon.gov.

Attached Media Files: OHIM logo
OHIM logo
OHIM logo
Open enrollment for 2022 health coverage extended: Nov. 1 to Jan. 15 (Photo) - 09/21/21

(Salem) – On Friday, the federal government announced the extension of the annual open enrollment period to purchase private health insurance for the 2022 plan year from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.

Along with the extension, Oregonians will have the opportunity to access the most amount of financial savings that have ever been available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace due to the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan initiated additional savings by removing the upper income limit to qualify for financial assistance, and also decreased the amount of premium that consumers are responsible to pay before tax credits are available.

  • More than 80 percent of Oregonians have been determined to be eligible for financial help through the Marketplace since April 1 when American Rescue Plan provisions took effect.
  • Oregonians are receiving an average of $437 per month in premium tax credits to reduce their monthly premium under the expanded eligibility.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace offers a quick snapshot of the plans and savings to eligible Oregonians. The tool, available at OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop, has been updated to correctly calculate additional savings now available to people shopping through the Marketplace. The window shopping tool will be enhanced again this Fall to allow Oregonians to determine if their preferred providers are covered by each plan. Oregonians will also be able to see if their prescription drugs are covered and what the estimated costs will be for prescriptions on each plan. Enhancements will be live in the tool in October.

Still need health coverage for 2021? You may be able to enroll under a special enrollment period. Start at OregonHealthCare.gov to get to the right application or to find an insurance agent or community partner organization to help complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge. This help is available virtually, on the phone, and in person following safety protocols.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov. For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

Attached Media Files: OHIM logo