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Quantitative Easing Keeps Rates Low… For Now…

With all the financial support from our government and the Federal Reserve, it is difficult to know whether improvements in our economy are legitimate or artificially produced.  Many believe that the Federal Reserves’ Quantitative Easing (QE) initiative is the reason that our US stock markets have achieved record high levels in 2013, leaving investors wondering what will happen to their investments when the program ends.  The same is true for the bond market and mortgage rates.  It would be difficult to dispute the argument that QE has been a significant driving force to mortgage rates staying as low as they have for the past three years.  This has many homeowners concerned about where interest rates may be heading in the future. 

Quantitative Easing Defined

According to Wikipedia, Quantitative Easing (QE) is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when standard monetary policy has become ineffective.  In this case, the Federal Reserve is buying mortgage bonds (which directly determine the interest rate offered on mortgage loans) as well as long term US Treasury Bonds. Currently, the Federal Reserve is buying $40 billion worth of mortgage backed securities and $45 billion of US Treasury Bonds each month.  This is driving down yields and significantly lowering interest rates.

QE Purchases and the Federal Deficit

The $1 trillion + per year required to keep QE in force is not currently contributing to the national debt because new money is created to support the program.  With the printing press producing such massive amounts of money, the primary long term concern is inflation.  As we learned in the 1970s, high levels of inflation create a significant drag on our economy and decrease the value of our currency making it difficult for those on a fixed income to afford their cost of living. 

QE and the Unemployment Rate

One of the primary goals of QE is to reduce the unemployment rate.  This occurs in a couple ways:

·  It drives down the safe returns in the bond markets to force investors to sell bonds and purchase stocks.  This has led to a sharp rise in the value of our stock market, giving those close to retirement the ability to exit the workforce and retire, thereby reducing the number of workers seeking jobs.  In turn, this pushes our unemployment rate lower. 

·  As businesses see the value of their stock rise, they are able to easily raise money to support expansion, which leads to new job creation. 

Although we are not sure of the exact date when QE will end, most experts believe it will continue at current levels through 2013 and wind down some time in 2014.  Eventually, the $85 billion per month invested in QE will end and we will be left to see how the financial markets perform without the manipulation of the Federal Reserve.  Most experts expect market volatility to increase as the end nears.  Most fear a significant drop in the stock market, which would help soften the blow to the bond market as investors will likely be seeking safety in the bond markets. 

If you are wondering if the drop in interest rates has created an opportunity for you to save money on your mortgage loan, visit my web site at www.citycreekmortgage.com and click on the “Price your Loan” tab.  After answering a few questions, we will generate a customized offering of interest rates and closing costs available for you.  Remember to look for the interest rate that offers total closing costs of $0 or below and either hit “Apply Online” or call me for more details.

-Mike Roberts

City Creek Mortgage


Scammers using fake phone numbers to target elderly and disabled

Click here to see the telephone number spoofing video: 

SALT LAKE CITY — More and more scammers are passing off other people's phone numbers as their own to steal your money.

That's what a Utah woman learned when someone called her up and promised her a medical alert system , completely free.   I received a fax at home from some company called "Fast Working Capital."

It's illegal because I've never done business with this company, and surely I'll never do business with a company that starts out illegally.

But it came with a phone number, indicating where the fax came from. Trouble is, it's a disconnected phone number.

The number is "spoofed." Whoever sent this simply changed the number to anything they wanted so I could not easily find them and it's called "phone spoofing."

It's a great way for con artists to hide, while trying to cheat us, and it's perfectly legal.

"I just want to catch this person," said Annette Balser.

In less than two weeks, Balser got at least five phone calls from an outfit saying her personal medical alert system was ready for delivery — all paid for including the shipping.

Balser let KSL-TV listen in on one of the messages:

"Looks like you're getting the system because either yourself, or a friend, or a family member or even someone you know, has experienced a fall in the past," the message said. "Again, it's already been paid for, so there's no cost to you whatsoever."

"I think they target older people," Balser said.

Indeed, warnings are out across the country that scammers are calling up the elderly and disabled about a free medical alert system. Only it's far from being free.

People have been tricked into a $40 a month bill. Others have had their bank or credit card information, even Social Security numbers, pried out of them by con artists.

"This would be a nightmare for my husband me, if we had done it," she said.

Balser couldn't get the name or company behind those phone calls. But her caller ID showed various call-back numbers so she tried calling back.

"Every time he called, I called that back and just clicks off," Balser said. "Obviously bogus."

Computer forensics expert Trent Leavitt says that these scammers often use different numbers.

"That's a very common thing if someone is spoofing you over and over," he said. "They won't use the same number twice."

Leavitt says scammers love the anonymity of what's called phone spoofing. They use software to alter the name and number showing up on your caller ID when they call.

"They can call back again, saying they're a completely different organization trying to gather more information from you over the course of two or three months — they get enough information you're now a victim of identity theft," Leavitt said.

And phone spoofing is easy. There are several websites that show you just how to hide your phone number.

KSL-TV tried one of them. All we needed to do was enter the number we wanted to call, in this case a KSL producer. The bogus number we wanted her caller ID to say in this case was 444-444-4444.

Then the website told us to dial their number, and within 15 seconds, Kristine got the call.

"They can call back again, saying they're a completely different organization trying to gather more information from you over the course of two or three months — they get enough information you're now a victim of identity theft." Trent Leavitt, computer forensics expert

Instead of our real number, the bogus number with all those 4's we entered shows up. And while it's easy to place a spoofed phone call, it's much more harder to trace one.

Leavitt saws if you want to find the caller, you'll likely need to hire a lawyer and subpoena all the spoofing companies.

"But the amount of time, money and effort it takes to do something like that, you have to be very determined - it has to be altering your life to where you can't conduct your daily life for someone to go to that extent," Leavitt said.

So why is spoofing legal?

Police, collection agencies and call centers have used spoofing services for years. And you can too — as long as you stick to certain conditions:

"If you're threatening anyone, if you're intimidating anyone, if you're trying extract information on false pretenses, then it becomes a federal offense," Leavitt said.

A federal offense that comes with a $10,000 fine attached.

Still, that didn't dissuade the scammer who pushed the free medical alert system on Balser.

"I just see some older couple buying into this, and possibly losing any savings they have," Balser said.

So if you get those aggravating junk calls supposedly from your credit card company, or your insurance company with that caller ID return number, it's spoofed.

Sure enough, they'll start asking for a bunch of personal information in an effort to steal your identity.

State and federal enforcers generally do not make tracking them down a huge priority, until after someone loses their money. And by that time the number is disconnected and the thief vanishes.

Bill Gephardt

KSL News


Beware of Charity Scams After the Boston Marathon Tragedy

The Boston Marathon tragedies took place recently and look what we found already on the internet.  125 websites were created within 6 hours on the event.  All trying to get you, eventually, to please, send your dollars.  

And when we see images of people hurt and those who are rushing to help, it makes us all want to give.  It tugs at our heart strings.  We want to help.  Sometimes we are so far away but maybe the internet can provide a way for us to help some of those people.  

But the scammers will always try to take advantage of our generosity.  In this case we found them creating all of these bogus websites to try and steal your money.  125 websites created in just six hours after the Boston Marathon tragedy.  

Take a look at some of these. BostonMarathonattack.com, BostonMarathonvictimfund.com, BostonMarathonvitimsfund.com, and on and on and on.  

Which one of these are you going to figure out to give to?  So just again as a reminder, don’t give to any of these clowns because you just don’t have any idea where your money is going.  There are some ways to check this stuff out.  For example, the BBB has a place to checkout charities.  Also take a look at charitynavigator.org, that has been known to be a dependable source.  Or you can give to a nationally recognized charity such as the Red Cross.  

But whatever you do, don’t just give money unless you know precisely where it is going. 

Bill Gephardt  



How to Prevent Frozen Water Lines


With the extreme cold temperatures we’re seeing a lot of frozen water lines. Two ways to prevent frozen lines, First, open your cabinet doors under your sinks and let the heat from the house keep the water lines under the cabinet warm.

Second, running water will not freeze, so turn a faucet on just a small amount and let it run. I know it’s wasteful but cheeper than repairing frozen pipes.

Also with the colder temperatures your furnace is working overtime, which also means the filter is getting dirty quicker. Even if you replaced your filter earlier this year it’s best to replace it again.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way.

From now til January 31, 2013. Stop by our office and mention you saw this on Gephardt Approved and I’ll give you a 1″ pleated furnace filter FREE ($8.95 value) just for stopping by.

Manwill Plumbing and Heating

385 east 3900 south, SLC Utah 84107

*Limit of one per customer*