Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Here’s how to avoid disaster recovery scams

Here’s how to avoid disaster recovery scams

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

Administrator McMahon visits Florida communities recovering from Hurricane Michael.Last week, I visited Florida communities recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.  The SBA’s disaster assistance team is working long hours at local recovery centers, helping homeowners, renters and businesses navigate the challenges that come with financing the rebuilding of one’s home or business.

Sadly, after every major disaster, scam artists prey on people at the most vulnerable points in their lives.  During my visit, disaster survivors told me stories about unscrupulous building contractors who convince people to give away their insurance proceeds without doing any construction work.

Here are a few tips from our disaster recovery partners at FEMA to keep in mind so you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud:

Government employees don’t charge for recovery assistance 

Federal and state workers never ask for or accept money and always carry identification badges.  There is NO FEE required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration or the state

Watch out for Price Gouging

Price gouging occurs when a supplier marks up the price of an item more than is justified by the actual costs.  Disaster survivors are particularly susceptible because their needs are immediate and they have few alternatives to choose from.   Notify your state’s Office of the Attorney General if you suspect a vendor of price gouging.

Dealing with Contractors

Individuals and business owners should take steps to protect themselves and avoid fraud when hiring contractors to clean property, remove debris or make repairs.
Here are a few tips:
  • Don’t pay a contractor in full before work begins or is finished, and do not be pressured to endorse your insurance claim check to a contractor for repairs. Make final payments only after the work is completed and use a verified payment source (check, credit card, etc.).
  • Only use contractors licensed by your state.
  • Get the estimate in writing and review several contractors before deciding.
  • Demand and check references and get any guarantees in writing.
  • Any builders you hire should have their own general contractor liability insurance — ask to see proof. The insurance should cover any bodily injury or property damage the firm accidentally causes to you, your family, and your property.
  • Insist on a written contract. Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces.
The best way to avoid fraud is to arm yourself against it by having a checklist to remind yourselves of your specific rebuilding needs and what you need to demand when hiring a contractor.

For information on how to apply for SBA disaster assistance, location of recovery centers, visit www.sba.gov/disaster

About the Author:

Linda McMahon
Linda McMahon
SBA Administrator
Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As a member of President Trump’s cabinet, she advocates on behalf of the 30 million small businesses in America, which employ nearly half of all American workers and account for 56.8 million jobs.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Being a Notary Public is a Great Asset

Why Become a Notary
Want to enhance your resume?  Why not become a Notary Public. Most employers expect their paralegals to be notaries and trust they know what they are doing!  Being a Notary Public is definitely an asset.

According to the National Notary Association, here are the top five reasons why you should consider becoming a Notary Public:


Make Additional Income
While Notaries are appointed by their states and serve as public officials, they charge their clients directly and the revenue is theirs to keep. That’s why tens of thousands of people hit the streets as “mobile Notaries” in their communities. Most states regulate how much a Notary can charge for an individual notarization (for example, $10 in California and Florida), but many clients often need more than one signature notarized. You’re also allowed to charge additional fees for items such as travel, supplies and other expenses.

Become a Notary Signing Agent
If you like the idea of being a Notary to make additional income, becoming a Notary Signing Agent  (NSA) is right up your alley. An NSA is a trained and certified professional who handles the notarization of loan documents in real estate closings. For the mortgage finance industry, NSAs serve as the critical final link between the banks and the borrower to complete the loan. They are hired directly by title companies and signing services as independent contractors to ensure that real estate loan documents are signed by the borrower, notarized, and returned for processing. Notaries make a considerable amount of extra income from this line of mortgage finance work, in addition to their work as a mobile Notary.

Improve Your Resume/Skill Set
Notaries are in high demand in a variety of industries, including banking, finance, medical, legal, government, insurance, technology … the list goes on. In fact, just about every industry uses the services of Notaries, so becoming one will add to your marketable skill sets, improve your resume and increase your value as an employee. In the workplace, Notaries serve two general functions: Notarizing documents in the back office for co-workers and bosses, or notarizing for customers in a bank or their local photocopy and shipping shop. Many employers value employees with Notary skills to handle their document authentication needs and provide customers with top-notch service.

Enjoy a Flexible Schedule
If you choose the mobile Notary/Notary Signing Agent route, you will have the flexibility to set your own hours. It’s a perfect line of work for home-based entrepreneurs, moonlighters, stay-at-home parents (who can do mobile notarizations in the evening) or anyone looking to make some additional income. Many people who need notarizations request them after normal business hours, so you can make the most of your evenings, or arrange a time that’s right for you.

Help Your Community 
America’s Notaries are known for their spirit of helping those in need. If you are the type of person who enjoys giving back to your community, being a Notary is a great way to support that passion. Many types of people need notarization services but cannot afford them, like the elderly, homeless, disabled and college students. These groups typically need notarizations for powers of attorney, residency affidavits, advance medical directives, college transcripts and enrollment verifications. Notaries often hold events at community centers, retirement homes and campuses to provide free or low-cost notarizations. It’s also a great way to network and market yourself for paying clients.

Requirements to Become a New York Notary
  • 18 years of age.
  • State resident or have an office or place of business in New York.
  • Must read, write and understand English.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Must have the equivalent of "common school education".
  • No conviction of a felony or certain misdemeanors unless an executive pardon or a parole board certificate of good conduct has been received.

The Chamber Coalition (NACC, AAICC and HAICC) has partnered with the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates to offer a 3-hour Notary Public Training Program. This seminar, which is open to students, alumni, and the general public, covers everything you need to become and serve as a Notary Public for the State of New York.  The Training Program is presented by Brian Figeroux, Esq., Senior Partner of the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates. To register for the Chambers’ notary training program visit www.nacc.nyc or call 718-722-9217.