Soldiers wear protective masks as they attend a wreath laying event held in Madison Square Park in honor of Veterans Day, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

THE NEUTRAL ZONE: DEEP DIVE

On a day meant to recognize veterans for their sacrifice, a newly released study revealed a wide disparity in Veterans Affairs loan rates. The study, which analyzed public data from the top 20 VA lenders in 2019, found several conclusions. One, lenders set higher profit margins on VA loans than conventional loans. Two, VA lenders charge some of the highest origination fees in the industry. Finally, VA borrowers are frequent targets of loan churning schemes, where lenders would charge premium rates and fees on a mortgage then offer to refinance a mortgage multiple times in a year.

Lenders aren’t the only ones attempting to take advantage of veterans. One day before Veterans Day, a Georgia man was sentenced to two years in prison for “exploiting and financially damaging” four disabled Minnesota veterans while acting as their money manager and collecting $365,000 in government benefits. According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 3,800 active service members lost $23.3 million out of the 45,848 fraud reports filed since 2016 .

Nearly 200,000 service members face another financial obstacle: owing nearly $3 billion in student loans. Yet only 9% of those members have begun the process to have their loans discharged under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, according to data from the Student Loan Borrower Protection Center, and nearly one-quarter of those have been denied.

To honor Veterans Day, loan companies worked to help veterans pay off mortgages. Veterans United Home Loans partnered with veteran advocates like Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna to donate $25 to help pay off veteran mortgages for every “thank you for your service” tweet sent. The Tunnel to Towers Smart Home Foundation offers similar assistance, while also providing smart home technology. Rocket Mortgage pledged $1,000 for every NFL touchdown in November to fight veteran homelessness.
The election did bring some welcome monetary news for veterans. Three state ballot measures passed last week, extending property tax discounts to combat-injured veterans’ spouses in Florida; property tax deductions to peacetime veterans in New Jersey (formerly only available to combat veterans); and a vehicle tax exemption to disabled veterans in Virginia.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Their Service Entitles Them To Low-Cost Loans. But Veterans Often Pay More – NPR – 11/11/2020
He wanted to get a VA loan — backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — because he knew he was supposed to be able to get a better deal on the interest rate and other terms. Those are perks offered to vets and service members for their service. But a new study finds that the rates charged on VA loans vary widely and that veterans like Forr often pay more than they should for their mortgages. That can end up costing them tens of thousands more over the life of the loan.

Scammers are out in force exploiting your generosity toward veterans. Here’s what to look out for – Williamsburg Yorktown Daily – 11/9/2020
This year has been challenging for most, but all indications are people are still responding generously to calls from legitimate charities support the nation’s veterans. However, there are still many out there who will take advantage of people’s generosity when it comes to veterans and exploit the one day the men and women who have served in the armed forces are honored. The Federal Trade Commission emphasizes that not all charities are legitimate – “some are sham operators whose only purpose is to make money for themselves. Others use paid fundraisers whose fees eat up most of a donation, so very little of it is shared with those in need.”

Veterans Scams: Service members have lost $23M to fraud – WMAR – 11/11/2020
There are many schemes specifically aimed at service members. And according to the Federal Trade Commission, out of the 45,848 fraud reports filed by active service members, more than 3,800 lost $23.3 million since 2016. The top complaint continues to be government impostors. The United States Postal Inspection Service along with the AARP launched Operation Protect Veterans to warn veterans of common schemes.

‘Huge relief:’ Buckhead veteran gets mortgage paid off by Tunnel To Towers – Northside Neighbor – 11/10/2020
Former U.S. Army Capt. Dan Berschinski sacrificed himself in the War in Afghanistan, and an organization has rewarded him for his service by paying off the mortgage on his Buckhead house. Nov. 10, Berschinski was one of 10 retired soldiers or first responders or families of fallen soldiers or police officers or firefighters nationwide to receive a new home or to have his or her mortgage paid off by the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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