Below is information from SoCalGas on the suspension of service disconnections during this crisis.
Attached are some tips to help save money as we stay at home from SoCalGas. Good info to know!
The application link is now open for any California business wishing to apply for a disaster loan related to economic damage from the COVID-19 health crisis.
Below is the mandate that affects the operations of restrauants, gyms, and more. Please click on the link below to access the full story.
New info from US Chamber of Commerce regarding HR6201. This organization works on members behalf on a much larger scale then we do.
First, please see the attached summary of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201), which passed the House late Friday night/Saturday morning and will be taken up by the Senate in the coming days. Some of the key highlights include expanded unemployment insurance and mandatory paid sick and FMLA leave for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
Second, please see their policy recommendations for the next round of legislative action below. Moving forward, the U.S. Chamber recommends temporarily cancelling payroll tax remittances for the next three months; easing small business loan requirements; and expanding credit facilities for medium and large businesses.
U.S. Chamber: “Let’s Keep Going": Three New Actions Needed Now to Aid Businesses and Workers, Mitigate Job Losses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Chamber Recommends Temporarily Cancelling Payroll Taxes, Relaxing Small Business Loan Requirements, and Expanding Credit Facilities for Medium and Large Businesses
for immediate release - March 16, 2020
Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today called for additional swift, aggressive action to ensure American businesses of all sizes can mitigate the potentially devastating economic effects from the spread of the Coronavirus, starting with three key steps.
Taken together these three steps, in addition to other actions recommended by the U.S. Chamber and those already initiated by the federal government, will ensure that businesses have increased liquidity, access to financing, and the ability to pay their employees as they weather the temporary loss in revenue from the virus. The biggest issue facing businesses now is a lack of revenue due to a sudden and sharp drop in demand. Without assistance, that likely will force some businesses to choose among difficult options: pay workers less, not at all, or shut down altogether.
“We are pleased that Congress has taken some steps in the right direction. Let’s keep going. No business or family should go bankrupt from the temporary but significant disruption caused by the Coronavirus,” said Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We need big, bold policy moves now to ensure businesses continue to function, meet payroll, and keep American workers employed,” Donohue said.“Similar to major natural disasters of the past, the Coronavirus will have a significant economic impact—and we must act accordingly. We must not let this public health emergency leave a lasting, permanent impact on our economy, small businesses, and American workers. We urge Congress and the president to move swiftly to enact these three solutions to help American business respond to the virus so they can continue to support their workers and serve their communities.”
In a letter sent to President Trump and congressional leadership, the U.S. Chamber called on Congress and the administration to enact, as swiftly as possible, the following three proposals:
1. Legislation cancelling payment of all payroll taxes paid by employers for the months of March, April, and May. Employers send more than $100 billion to the federal government monthly in the form of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes. Collectively, these taxes add just over 15% to the cost of employing the average employee. Temporary relief from these taxes would give businesses more breathing room and operating capital to keep paying their employees and avoid layoffs.
2. Legislation expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses experiencing revenue loss from Coronavirus. The Small Business Administration(SBA) disaster loan program for those impacted by the Coronavirus should be immediately made available nationwide, eliminating the complex and time-consuming local certification processes. The SBA also should be given the authority to streamline its disaster-loan approval process for amounts below$350,000 in order to provide emergency capital more quickly. This should include removing the requirement that small businesses demonstrate that they cannot access credit elsewhere before turning to the SBA. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the virus’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
3. Legislation enabling the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees experiencing significant revenue loss from the Coronavirus. Specifically, legislation should expand the use of the Federal Reserve Discount Window through the easing of restrictions of Section 13-3 of the Federal Reserve Act. The U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation should also work in combination with banks to establish a system of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees that can be accessed by businesses with more than 500 employees to address disruptions from the Coronavirus.
In addition to these steps, the U.S. Chamber calls for a series of measures to help businesses weather supply chain disruptions, support business operations, assist employees, and protect small and midsize businesses. The U.S. Chamber also approves of action taken in recent days by the government to respond to the outbreak, including the Federal Reserve’s move on interest rates on Sunday and Coronavirus relief legislation currently under consideration in Congress.
In the coming days, the U.S. Chamber will release additional recommendations policymakers should enact to help businesses mitigate, work through, and recover from the impact of the Coronavirus.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping American businesses respond to the Coronavirus so they can support their employees, customers, and communities. Our members and the state and local chambers, who are on the front lines of this pandemic, need us now more than ever to help them through this temporary but significant disruption. We will continue working every day to help our country’s people, businesses, and economy weather this storm and emerge stronger—just as we have at other challenging times in our nation’s history. Visit uschamber.com/Coronavirus for more information.
About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
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U.S. Chamber Press Contact
Contact: Chanse Jones
Dear Duarte Chamber of Commerce Members, Associates, Partners and Friends,
The Duarte Chamber is committed to bringing not only quality events and services, but are also committed to ensuring our businesses, customers and community are being protected to the best of our abilities. Our staff and Executive Board have been closely monitoring all aspects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) events and reviewing aspects of our programs and operations. These reviews have included not only governmental mandates, but health and industry input.
Our promise to all of you is to be a resource for you. You can expect staff to be ready and able to help you in the same manner as you are accustomed, with moderate changes in face-to-face interactions. As of March 13th, the Chamber has taken the following measures:
Our phones have been transferred to our remote locations and we can access our emails easily. Mail will be picked up by staff on a regular basis. The Chamber’s contact information follows.
Sheryl Lefmann, Executive Director/CEO: email@example.com
Diana Burckhard, Dir. Membership: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Robles, Accounting Clerk: email@example.com
Duarte Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 1438, Duarte, CA 91009
We will continue to monitor the situation and take steps accordingly.
The Chamber will be pushing out pertinent information to our membership as it comes in, however, we urge you to access information from appropriate authorities on this matter. These include the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State agencies that include the Governor's Office, the California Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health. We also urge you keep up to date with local information from the City of Duarte, Duarte Unified School District, and the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
We are all aware of the pace in which developments are unfolding related to COVID-19. We will strive to keep you informed about any other changes to our programs and services and our ability to serve our members.
As an example of our continued support of our members, we sent a survey to all our restaurants asking them if they offer delivery service. We will compile their responses and send it out to everyone so they can still eat at their favorite restaurants or try new ones.
For our member brick and mortar stores let us know what delivery services or unique services you are providing, and we’ll pass along the information to our membership and via social media. Just email us with the information. If you have published it on social media, tell us what platform you used, and we will cross promote it accordingly.
Being prepared and having knowledge is important for any business. Below are two resources just released by the US Chamber of Commerce (from CDC information) regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). One is for employers, one for employees. Please take the time to review these important documents and keep your business and your employees safe during these quickly changing times.
At the Chamber, we are placing more sanitizers at our events and constantly evaluating our events as new information becomes available.
Attached is great information presented by the Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District at the Duarte Chamber Networking Breakfast today. If you have any questions on the material, please contact General Manager Tom Love at 626-443-2297 or firstname.lastname@example.org. / www.upperdistrict.org
The Duarte Chamber and the City of Duarte Public Safety Office has some important information to share with you regarding the protection of your property. Please see the attached letter, which introduces and explains what a Letter of Agency is and how it can be used to help you protect our business. It also provides the form for your use.
Also, we will be having a drop-in meeting at the Chamber office on Thursday, December 5th from 5:30-7:00pm. There is no formal presentation, rather an opportunity to meet with Brian Villalobos, the Director of Public Safety and a representative from LASD to answer any questions you have and to hear what efforts are utilizing to reduce these incidents. The Duarte Chamber and Duarte Public Safety sincerely hopes that you will join us for this meeting on December 5th. Light refreshments will be served. While RSVPs are not mandatory, it would be recommended to ensure we have enough materials for everyone. To RSVP call the Chamber at 626-357-3333. Our address is 1735 Huntington Drive (corner of Huntington and Oak).
One of our members wrote a great article regarding wire fraud. Juliana Tu, Escrow Officer and Owner of Viva Escrow! Inc. wanted to educate everyone of the terrible issue we have with wire fraud, particularly in the escrow settlement industry/ real estate transactions where millions of dollars are transferred daily. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, and learn about this very real issue.
Who Took My Money???
A Grim View of Wire Fraud in the Real Estate Industry
Juliana Tu, CSEO, CEO, CBSS, CEI, SASIP
2019 President, California Escrow Association
Why drive to a local bank, put on a mask and rob the tellers out of a couple thousand dollars when you can sit in your home in front of the computer, and rob consumers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars? You don’t even have to get dressed!
Perhaps this is not quite a true portrayal of a bank robber or a computer hacker, but the true story is that fraud, and in particular fraud perpetuated through hacking of the consumer or business computer systems has been the main topic of concern ever since 2016. It is a serious concern that threatens vulnerable real estate transactions. The thief does not even have to be near the location where the fraud will be perpetuated. They can, in fact, be on the other side of the world.
Let’s look at a synopsis of when funds go in and out in a real estate sale/purchase transaction. Due to time sensitivity of the contracts signed and conditions to be performed, there are many opportunities when a hacker can get his hands on the money and disappear before the theft is caught:
What is the most popular method of communication today? E-mail. And here is where the savvy hacker steps in. All it takes is for a knowledgeable hacker to scout real estate agents (look, there is a For Sale sign with a company name!) or Yelp “escrow” or “title agents” and seek a way to hack into their email address. If these targets are not using a secured email address, they leave themselves open to someone taking it over.
The hacker doesn’t make their presence known but monitors the emails until they see the communications which indicate a transaction is in progress. Then it is a matter of stepping in by either (1) using a fake email address that looks extremely similar to the real estate agent’s or the escrow officer’s address, or (2) spoof their emails completely and impersonate them. An email is then sent with fake wire instructions asking for the transmission of funds. If the unsuspecting client takes those instructions without verifying with a phone call and wires out the funds, then, unless stopped immediately, the funds will be irretrievable and transferred all over the world within minutes.
Here is a true story of what happened in my office:
On a Friday afternoon before a long weekend our office received a call which gave our escrow officer a great deal of concern. The Buyer of a transaction wired $72,000 to us, the funds, she said, that we requested to close her escrow. Confused, our escrow officer researched the file and advised the Buyer that her transaction was not ready for closing funds yet and we never gave her instructions to wire the funds.
Within a few minutes the story came out: The Buyer received an email request from her real estate agent which had a wire instruction attached. Upon receipt and without checking with us first the Buyer wired the $72,000 requested. The instruction was printed on simple letter paper with our escrow company’s name in block letters but without our logo or address. They were asked to wire to “Juan’s Grizzly, Inc.” (seriously) at a certain bank and account number. The clients went to their bank to send the wire first, then called us after they got home.
Where did the fake instructions come from? The instructions were in an email that supposedly came from the real estate agent. The email address was correct, but on further contact the agent came to the realization that her email had been hacked and her transaction emails were intercepted without her ever having seen them. The fake email was sent from her email account by someone else. Isn’t that scary?
Within minutes after tracing the chain of events we immediately told the Buyers that they must call their own bank, the recipient bank and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to report the possible loss. We could not do the reporting as we were not the ones with the potential claim. By the time the calls were made, her funds were already en route to the hacker’s bank.
The Buyers spent the whole long weekend in a state of panic. On Tuesday they were notified by their own bank that the recipient bank refused to take in the wired funds because the account name on the incoming wire did not match the name on the account. Although they sent the money to the bank and account number on the fake instructions the Buyers at least had the presence of mind to put our escrow company’s name as the payee and not “Juan’s Grizzly, Inc”. Thank goodness there is a Fairy Godmother watching!
Thankfully the Buyer got their money back but it was a very close call. Consumers do not realize that banks do not have the obligation to check or match the name of the payee to the name of the actual account. All they check is that they have the account number in the bank.
The real agent was told to immediately change her email address and have her computer scrubbed. How she picked up the hacker was unknown but the National Association of Realtors® as well as the California Association of Realtors® acknowledge that the practice of using public email servers like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc. make the real estate agents very susceptible targets for hackers.
Thankfully, this story had a happy ending, but unfortunately there are many other ones that do not. Until all consumers are educated, and perhaps Congress passes bills that will force the banking industry to take on more responsibility for their part in preventing wire fraud, there will always be those unsuspecting victims who lose their life savings because they are insufficiently aware of the fraudsters spying behind their shoulders.
There are questions to ask. First and foremost, what can be done to protect the integrity of the transaction and the funds? Here are some steps that we recommend to our real estate agents and clients:
Let me summarize: What are the Best Practices consumers and real estate agents should practice?
For the Consumer:
Juliana Tu, CSEO, CEO, CBSS, CEI, SASIP
2019 President, California Escrow Association