Surprise! Congress Sides With Banks and Robo-Signers

October 26, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

The debate over who controls Congress – the voters or the financial industry – is finally over. Your congressman believes that what is good for Bank of America  and JP Morgan Chase is good for the country.

How can we be so sure? Just look at how Congress responded to the recent “robo-signer” foreclosure mess, in which banks have been filing false affidavits by the thousands throughout the country in support of their foreclosure actions. What was Congress’ response? Well, why not just pass legislation making it easier for the banks to continue this practice?

Here Come the Robo-Signers

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Foreclosure Insanity Continues

October 18, 2010

Consumer Warning Network Managing Editor Terry Smiljanich is offering up a dose of reality to banks claiming they’re surprised by the latest foreclosure paperwork mess. CWN has been reporting on the document fiasco for more than two years, starting with our “Produce the Note” expose‘.  Terry explained to the Tampa FOX affiliate that banks are now claiming they’re shocked, only because they’ve been outed by employees who’ve confessed publicly.  Click here to watch and see Terry explain how this affects homeowners in foreclosure

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Facebook Privacy Breach

October 18, 2010

Facebook is once again under fire for leaking users’ private information. This time, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that 10 Facebook applications, including the popular FarmVille, have been transmitting the private, personal information of its user’s, as well as the information of those user’s friends. Bottom line, tens of millions of Facebookers have been affected.

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.  Click here to read full story.

Record Salaries on Wall Street – AGAIN!

October 12, 2010

Profits are down, bonuses are up! That’s the way of Wall Street.  The financial gurus who crippled the economy are once again rewarding themselves, this time to the tune of $144 billion, on pace to break a record high for the second year in a row.  A study conducted by the Wall Street Journal shows more than three dozen top banks and securities firms will once again pay executives copious amounts of salary and benefits.

The $144 billionin compensation is a 4% increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009, according to the survey.  Twenty-six out of 35 firms are expected to increase their compensation.  That despite the fact that the estimated$61.3 billion in profits for 2010 are still about 20% below their record profits of  $82 billion in 2006.  A fact that proves this obscene level of compensation is in no way performance based.  Consider that over that same period, salary and benefits across the firms increased by 23%.  So, profits down, compensation up. Sounds like capitalism at its best!

Wall Street firms claim they NEED to keep paying their executives more because, if they don’t, they may lose their top talent.  Why don’t bosses in regular work-places use that logic? Bummer, isn’t it?    Click here to read the full report in the Wall Street Journal.

Robo-Signing Impact on Foreclosures

October 12, 2010

Consumer Warning Network Managing Editor Terry Smiljanich was interviewed by FOX 13 News in Tampa about the latest document debacle involving foreclosures.  Bank of America and other major lenders are halting foreclosures in all 50 states and Attorneys General are now investigating because of major concerns over how foreclosure documents were processed, including questions about out and out fraud in many cases.  Click here to watch.

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Top Reasons for Defriending on Facebook

October 11, 2010

Don’t tell anyone, but every once in awhile a friend becomes rather annoying, and you just have to do it.  A new survey conducted by a  University of Colorado business student tells us the top reasons why people are “defriended” on Facebook.  Click here to watch this report from ABC 7 in New York.

And… drum roll please… here are the top five:

  1. Going on and on and on
  2. Talking Religion
  3. Talking Politics
  4. Racism
  5. Being Vulgar

Apple TV vs. Google TV – Which Is Better?

October 11, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

Data giant Google announced that its new “Google TV” will finally be available this month. “Apple TV” has been around for three years, but released its newer, smaller, cheaper model just last month. Both company’s are vying for the potentially huge home TV/Internet market. Which one will win? Which one should you buy?

The TV/Computer Marriage

Television has been around for more than 60 years, home computers for more than 25 years. Combining the two, allowing a person to get the content of a small computer screen onto the living room television set, has been a goal for decades, with mixed results.

Apple finally beat everyone else with its “Apple TV,” a small (8″ square, 1″ high) hardware device that wirelessly connects your TV with your computer and allows you to access Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes library.

What does this mean? Well, say you have 10,000 songs in your iTunes that you have copied from your CD’s and several movies that you have downloaded onto your computer. You can remotely access them from your living room and play all your music through your stereo system, or watch downloaded movies on your TV set.

Add Netflix movies instantly downloaded, YouTube videos from the internet, and any photos stored in your iPhoto library, and you have a central home media library now accessilbe through your television set.

The price? A hefty $200 for the large capacity model, capable of storing up to 200 hours of video and countless hours of music. But Apple just released its newer version of Apple TV, a much smaller (a mere 4″ square) and cheaper ($99) unit that does not copy the computer contents onto its own hard drive, but rather streams the computer contents to your TV set.

Enter Google TV

Google just announced the release of its much anticipated “Google TV,” a different approach to the home media market. Rather than a gadget that Google sells, Google TV will be incorporated into TV sets (Sony will launch its new HD TV’s with pre-installed Google TV) and Blu-ray disk players.

Some manufacturers will offer separate TV box tops for Google TV, but they may be very pricey. Logitech’s new Google TV model costs a hefty $299.

Using Google’s “Android” operating system, Google will basically allow full web browsing through your TV set. Whatever video content that is available on the internet will be accessible through your living room television.

Which Is Better?

As is often the case, comparing “Apples” and oranges is always problematic. The different approaches taken give each company selected advantages and disadvantages.

  • Google TV allows full web browsing, Apple doesn’t. Many web sites use Adobe Flash for videos on their site. Apple doesn’t play Adobe Flash, Google does. For a full web experience, Google TV is for now the only show in town.
  • Apple TV is tied to iTunes, Google can’t access iTunes. This is both a strength and a weakness. iTunes is, for some, an indispensable way of playing home music through their stereos, using their TV as the interface. But if content is not available on iTunes, or by separate agreement with Apple, Google TV is basically (without illegal hacking) the only option.
  • Both companies have agreements with Netflix to allow instant downloading of its vast collection of movies for watching on TV. Apple TV, however, only supports 720p High Definition (a “lighter” version of HD), while Google supports full 1080p HD.
  • Network TV doesn’t like Apple’s policy of only charging 99 cents for TV show rentals, so for most network TV (e.g., past episodes of your favorite NBC show) you have to buy them for $2.99. Apple does, however, have agreements with ABC, Fox, BBC and Disney for 99 cent rentals. Google has agreements with the Turner television network (TBS, TNT, CNN, and Cartoon Network), together with HBO.  Take your pick.
  • Google TV is basically just an operating system, requiring a compatible TV,  disk player or separately made TV box top. Apple TV is part of the Apple family, although it can be used with PC’s running Windows. If you already have an Apple system at home the Apple TV fits seamlessly into your home network. If your computer is not hard-wired into your TV set, however, you should have a good Wi-Fi network at home (built into both the Apple TV and your Apple computer).
  • Google TV promises apps for its system, meaning that games and special applications will be available on your TV set. Apple TV does not utilize apps, but everyone seems to agree that such capabilities are just around the corner for Apple. If so, the vast array of apps available through the Apple Store will be available on your TV set.

The Winner?

If you have music and videos stored in iTunes on your computer, the answer’s easy – go with Apple TV. You can also get access to thousands of movies and television shows, plus Netflix and YouTube, for downloading.

If you do not rely on iTunes and want full web browsing capability through your TV set, Google is the only answer. You will still have access to thousands of movies, including Netflix.

If you want the best features of both, there’s an answer to that as well. Get a new HD TV with built in Google TV, then hook up a $99 Apple TV device through one of the extra inputs on the back of the TV, and you will have the full panoply of home media services – music, movies and web browsing.  In other words, you get the best of both worlds.

Sneaky Credit Card Company Tricks

October 6, 2010

Credit card companies are supposed to follow new consumer friendly rules these days, but just when you thought the people won a little protection, here come some fancy new tricks.  Look out for funky new ways to nail you for extra fee. Things like:

Weekend charging: The new rules say if a due date falls on a weekend or holiday when the bank is closed, you can pay your bill on the next business day and not be hit with a late fee. But banks are keeping a few branches open on weekends, just so they can charge that fee.

College gotchas: The new rules say that if you’re under 21, you can’t get a credit card unless you have a parent co-sign or can show proof of a job that would allow you to pay your bills. But card companies seem to be looking the other way when classmates act as co-signers.

And there’s much more.  Click here to read the full report on CBS MoneyWatch.

Produce the Note Founder Talks about Foreclosures on Fox Business

October 1, 2010

Consumer Warning Network and “produce the note” founder Chris Hoyer was interviewed by Fox Business Anchor Gerri Willis on the continuing foreclosure debacle.  Homeowners continue to lose their homes in record numbers, despite the recent revelations that lenders processed phony documents in many foreclosure cases.  Click here to watch and learn more.