Fri Oct 22 3:48:03 EDT 2021
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NAMFS Executive Director Eric Miller Wants $120K Of Your Hard Earned Money

Leave it to the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) to come up with new ideas to take money from Labor. Fresh off of a series of pay raises reported on the most recently available NAMFS IRS 990 tax return, Eric Miller, NAMFS Executive Director has rolled out the most brazen money grab since the failed Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS) background checks. For $138,107 a year plus benefits, travel expenses, and a bully’s pulpit, Miller’s best suggestion for assisting the Mortgage Field Services Industry is to give him $120,000 more dollars for his lobbyist pals. It is the true definition of irony coming from a trade association whom have committed wholesale fraud against Minority Females and Labor. Here is how Miller kicks off the digital panhandling,

This engagement has a significant cost of $120,000 which covers strategy, outreach, and weekly calls.  NAMFS has committed an initial $10,000 from our savings to start this partnership.  NAMFS is seeking support from all industry providers and your support is crucial to the success of this pricing adjustment initiative.

Really? It takes $120,000 to write emails and pick up the telephone which is what Eric Miller is supposed to be paid to do anyway? It gets better, though. Miller is blunt when he states he wants the money so that he can give it to unnamed parties with little to no oversight or accountability. Here is how Miller puts it,

To address this critical issue NAMFS has explored engagement with a highly accomplished firm that specializes in raising awareness and bringing this concern to the forefront of the agencies that can effect change.  The NAMFS Board of Directors have approved a proposal as part of our July 2021 monthly Board Meeting.

It gets better, though. Here is what Miller says you will get for $120,000:

      • Current Property Preservation & Inspection Allowables across all investors/insurers
      • Cost of Living/Living Wage Consideration
      • Frequency of Periodic Reviews
      • Potential “New” Allowables
      • Possible Extensions to Completion & Conveyance Timeframes

Let me break this down in only the way that a trained media professional such as myself is capable of doing. Miller wants to spread allowables across all investors and insurers. Great idea! Matter of fact Foreclosurepedia made this point beginning nearly six years ago at roughly the same time Ed Delgado did over at Five Star. Nothing novel and certainly nothing that will ever happen because it has been NAMFS members themselves whom created the fiefdoms which alienated the Clients from the Vendors. The Cost of Living adjustment is a laughable cause. It is a well documented fact that NAMFS members keep well above fifty percent of all monies in the Industry. Their pricing could easily reflect a Cost of Living adjustment but they never will. In fact, this is one of those race card kind of statements. Adjusting the Frequency of Periodic Reviews is not going to happen as neither the US government nor the financial institutions have any interest in unfunded mandates from which they are incapable of making a claim against. The Potential New Allowables is simply a lobbyist term for bid after the fact (BATF) which was a cornerstone for fraud against Labor. And finally the Possible Extensions to Completion & Conveyance Timeframes benefits no one other than NAMFS members as they are paid a fee for handling the portfolios anyway.

What is also telling is the simple and salient point that Eric Miller is now asking for DONATIONS. That is a legal term and key in and of itself. In fact, it is quite telling with respect to the fact that NAMFS, for all intents and purposes, it bankrupt. If they were not, why would they not simply pay for it themselves? Moreover, though, why not simply have the unnamed lobbyist work on a commission based setting?

Eric Miller’s leadership — if you call it that — has been an abysmal failure. Throughout his tenure as the eternal NAMFS Executive Director, he has overseen an all white NAMFS Board of Directors throughout the history of NAMFS. His fear an loathing of boots on the ground Labor has cost hundreds of NAMFS members and tens of millions of dollars in settlements for claims pertaining to employee misclassification. Giving Miller $120,000 to spend on an unnamed company in an unknown location with zero accountability would be the epitome of insanity.

Department of Labor Sends OSHA COVID ETS To White House

The US Department of Labor (DoL) has sent an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for final White House review that will force all private-sector companies with over 100 personnel to require employee vaccinations. DoL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent the rule to the White House’s regulatory office Tuesday, the agency announced. Although the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can sometimes take months to conclude its analysis, President Joe Biden called for an expedited process, which could mean the office will give its OK in as little as a day. OSHA would then be able to publish the emergency temporary standard, and it would take effect immediately. Historically, the agency has provided businesses with a short period before they’d be required to comply. The standard implements the president’s Sept. 9 order for a regulation requiring businesses with at least 100 employees to mandate workers get fully vaccinated or be tested weekly for Covid-19. Biden also asked for the rule to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects.

As Foreclosurepedia has been exclusively reporting on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) side, implementation has been rapid. Moreover, though, we are of the understanding that a forthcoming Mortgagee Letter (ML) will buttress the requirements of both President Biden’s Executive Order that all federal employees, contractors, and subcontractors — including remote workers — be vaccinated as well as the forthcoming DoL OSHA ETS.

Foreclosurepedia’s take on this is that from a technological point-of-view, compliance is a fairly easy task. And while National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) members such as Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS) will undoubtedly look to gouge millions of dollars in profits from Labor, the reality is that firms such as CredPro already have the product available for less than $15 a year — that price is not a typo. Realistically, there will be two exemptions: One will be religious and the other medical. Fact of the matter is that [w]orkplace Covid-19 vaccination mandates have largely survived a first wave of legal challenges even as the number of lawsuits over them has soared with their expanded use. Workers and advocacy groups have filed at least 39 federal cases this year, contesting vaccination requirements imposed by employers or governments, with 85% of them arriving after Aug. 1, according to a Bloomberg Law review. Courts have denied requests for temporary orders against mandates in 12 of the suits, while seven have ended with dismissals.

Moral opprobrium aside, the reality is that if you are going to do business in the US, you and your supply chain are going to vaccinate. And for those whom believe that the fines will be easier to deal with than the free cost of vaccination? Under 29 C.F.R. § 1903.15(d) if a company violates the Posting requirement, commits an Other-than-serious violation, or a Serious violation, the fine is up to $13,653. The commission of a Willful violation the fine shall not be less than $9,753 and shall not exceed $136,532. Where the teeth really begin to sink in is in the addressing a Repeated violation which the fine shall not exceed $136,532 and the Failure to correct violation which shall not exceed $13,653 PER DAY.

Foreclosurepedia has a great Industry Insider podcast this weekend with the owner of CredPro which you don’t want to miss out on! We talk about their discussions with HUD, their referral over to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and their target of less than $15 per year for verification of COVID vaccination.

Bank Of America Minimum Wage $21 NAMFS Members $3 Inspections

For years, National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) members have serviced Bank of America’s (BofA) distressed asset portfolio. And while BofA has continued to raise the minimum wage for their employeesnow at $21 an hour — NAMFS members have continued to pay $3 per inspection. In fact, since taking the reins in 2011 as NAMFS Executive Director, Eric Miller has received nearly $40,000 in yearly salary increases. As of the FY2019 IRS 990 tax return submitted by NAMFS, Miller is paid $138,107 per year plus fringe, travel and other benefits. All the while both NAMFS membership rolls and monies from their annual conference have plummeted under his leadership. By way of comparison, NAMFS members have demanded more and more financial and administrative compensation — paying for their own background checks, unneeded workman’s comp for sole proprietors, etc. — from their misclassified employees.

Bank of America is now paying its U.S. workforce at least $21 an hour — or nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has not budged in a dozen years even though a majority of Americans support an increase. The pay hike announced by the nation’s second-biggest bank on Wednesday follows BofA’s May pledge to pay its workers a minimum hourly wage of $25 by 2025. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender is also requiring its U.S. vendors pay their workers who are dedicated to the bank’s business at least $15 an hour.

JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank, pays a minimum of $16.50 to $20 an hour, depending on an area’s cost of living. Wells Fargo pays its workers between $15 and $20.

Adding fuel to the fire of discontent in the Industry are the upcoming requirements to obtain a COVID vaccination as well as document accordingly. Time and again NAMFS members have forced unfunded mandates upon the shoulders of Labor while pocketing the profits. It is probably the reason why, time and again, the federal judiciary has presided over tens of millions of dollars in settlements pertaining to misclassified employees.

NAMFS Members Begin To Face Calls For Vaccination

The National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) appears to be one of the only trade associations in the mortgage sector whom continues to remain silent with respect to COVID vaccination for their membership and subcontractors. There is no denying that NAMFS members and their subcontractors interact with elderly Americans nearly each and every day of the week in the course of their duties ranging from in person initial inspections and distribution of information to the forced eviction of those most vulnerable in our population. More on point, though, these interactions occur, in a higher propensity, upon minorities versus the white population in the US. And it is important to note this statistic as the all white NAMFS Board of Directors, whom has never had a minority Executive Director, colors its decision making process from a privileged point-of-view.

Most recently, there is widespread evidence that the real estate finance industry targeted Black and Latino or Hispanic neighborhoods with subprime loan products, committing “reverse redlining” in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. As a result, foreclosure rates between 2005 and 2009 were an estimated 3.5 times higher in Black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods, and 2.7 times higher in Latino or Hispanic neighborhoods.

The Biden Administration has made no bones about the fact that all federal contractors and subcontractors — NAMFS members included — shall receive the COVID vaccination or lose their ability to perform upon any federal contracts including, but not limited to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development‘s (HUD) Management and Marketing (M&M) Asset Manager and Field Service Manager (FSM) contract. This applies to Prime Vendors, their in house office staff, their domestic remote personnel and all contractors and subcontractors. It additionally applies to Realtors performing upon the HUD M&M AM contract and operating as Listing Agents. These requirements are absolute and unassailable. The Biden Administration’s requirement that all companies with 100 or more personnel must also submit to COVID vaccination, under the Department of Labor’s OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to be released soon. This undoubtedly will include all Top Tier and Prime Vendor NAMFS members. And yet, NAMFS remains silent.

The biggest scandal, by far, is the belief that a trade association whose membership have been embroiled in waste, fraud, and abuse will address COVID differently. I wholeheartedly believe that NAMFS membership will fight COVID vaccination of its personnel, contractors and subcontractors. I wholeheartedly believe that in the same modus operandi in which NAMFS members have projected when it comes to misclassifying employees, the same will be applied to COVID vaccination requirements. And I wholeheartedly believe that this callous behavior could put elderly and minority Americans at risk of death.

It is vital to understand that foreclosures happen at a higher level with minorities than with white people. And based upon that, the contact between NAMFS members, their contractors and subcontractors is markedly higher. These systemic inequities have most recently been exposed by COVID-19’s disparate impacts along lines of race and ethnicity. Nationwide, Black people are dying at 2.4 times the rate of white people — the result of the inequitable living conditions, work circumstances, underlying conditions, and lower access to health care that characterize segregated neighborhoods.

Millions of dollars thrown away to rub shoulders and not a single penny for Labor on the front lines of COVID.

The irony of ironies is that tens of millions of dollars poured into NAMFS members through welfare programs like the America CARES Act — Paycheck Protection Program and SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) — were gobbled up all the while from the Trump side of the aisle. Case in point is the One Million Dollars given to the Trump Inauguration Campaign by NAMFS member Cyprexx’s owner Ronnie Ory. To that point, NAMFS members appear not to give a damn about whether or not front line personnel whom interact with the elderly and minorities are vaccinated as it would appear to be a liberal issue and on the other hand will gladly take the money distributed based upon COVID as a crisis. If they did, perhaps they would have both ensured that their contractors were either testing or vaccinated and compensated them as front line workers — instead of dropping pricing.

The most challenging group to vaccinate, and the largest, are those ideologically opposed to Covid-19 vaccines. A July poll by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that among unvaccinated people, 35 percent said they probably would not get vaccinated, while 45 percent said they definitely would not. And refusal is closely tied to political views. “The group that really hasn’t changed over time are those in that ‘definitely not’ or ‘only if required’ groups,” said Kirzinger. “They’re largely white — there are loads of white evangelical Christians, they live in rural areas, they lean Republican, and they haven’t changed their minds.” If that sounds vaguely familiar to the corporate hierarchy of the Industry, you wouldn’t be far off base.

Part of the problem, which we cover in this week’s Foreclosurepedia Podcast, is that the Mortgage Field Services Industry has refused, for over a decade, to modernize. Archaic software such as CoBOL exists throughout the Industry — CoBOL is not even taught in universities anymore. Moreover, though, there has been a visceral campaign to ensure that NO software providers are allowed in the Industry without NAMFS membership. Concerns over data privacy, business secrets, profiteering and spite have resulted in a fragmented approach creating fiefdoms rather than a national system as both Ed Delgado of the Five Star and Foreclosurepedia proposed years ago. The fact of the matter is there is a responsibility to protect Labor; to protect the homeowners; and to protect the employees — including those working remotely. And while the US government has stepped to the plate, it is quite obvious — from the deafening silence — that NAMFS members are not onboard.

Tune in for this weekend’s Foreclosurepedia Podcast as we interview a new Tech Start Up providing COVID testing and vaccination verification. Did we forget to mention that for less than ten cents a day — that is not a typo — they verify AGS Number (or any background check), Insurance documentation, Licensing (both trade and business), and all from a universal dashboard? And if you are interested in some of the Product lines Foreclosurepedia offers, take a look below.

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Tech Start Up Rolls Out COVID Compliance

With the Biden Administration’s fast rolling COVID vaccination compliance taking hold, the entire federal contracting sector have been scrambling to find resources which past muster. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. On 09 September 2021 the Administration issued an Executive Order and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Both of these will build the basis of the COVID compliance regulatory environment. The former was President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, has been covered extensively by Foreclosurepedia with respect to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And the latter will require COVID testing or vaccination for companies whom have over 100 employees. And it is the ETS that truly has the costly part of enforcement.

Currently, 29 C.F.R. § 1903.15(d) controls the penalty phase of violating OSHA’s ETS. There are six types of penalty types: Posting requirement violation, Failure to correct violation, Other-than-serious violation, Serious violation, Repeated violation, and Willful violation. If a company violates the Posting requirement, commits an Other-than-serious violation, or a Serious violation, the fine is up to $13,653. The commission of a Willful violation the fine shall not be less than $9,753 and shall not exceed $136,532. Where the teeth really begin to sink in is in the addressing a Repeated violation which the fine shall not exceed $136,532 and the Failure to correct violation which shall not exceed $13,653 PER DAY.

Regardless of the opinions upon COVID vaccination, the reality is that it is already the law of the land when it comes to federal contracting and with respect to the private sector, the US government has already stated there will be zero deviation. Ann Rosenthal, Senior Advisor to HUD laid the ETS framework out including the fact that OSHA will not provide an opportunity to comment on the ETS prior to its publication as a rule, but the ETS preamble will solicit comments.

It should be noted that the complete vaccination process in both the EO and ETS guidance — other than the Johnson and Johnson vaccine — takes roughly 6 weeks as there is a two week period after the cycle before its efficacy is effective in both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

The penalties for non compliance are substantial — both financial and from the loss of federal contract awards. And the need to legitimately verify compliance cannot be overstated. Simply ticking a box will not do. The Mortgage Field Services Industry may be tempted to simply add a self reporting box in the Aspen Grove Solutions (AGS) system; however, as has been well documented, the AGS number is easily spoofed and so unreliable that even Prime Vendors such as ServiceLink have discontinued its use. At the end of the day, Compliance is the name of the game. One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind has been whether or not requesting a copy of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card triggers Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. The answer is no. In fact, this is what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has to say,

If an employer asks an employee to provide proof that they have been vaccinated, that is not a HIPAA violation, and employees may decide whether to provide that information to their employer.

The protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is of paramount concern even though HIPAA may not be triggered. The Industry has, on multiple occasions, suffered from PII breaches such as the massive Assurant breach Foreclosurepedia exclusively reported on or the National Field Network breach. The larger issue with the Industry’s problem deals with technology itself. For years, many of the systems used by Prime Vendors are coded in CoBOL and other archaic computer languages — they do not even teach CoBOL in universities anymore! Moreover, though, the data that the Industry collects jumps through multiple hands. Part of this is due to the remarketing of the data and part of it is simply do to virtually no regulatory oversight.

Walgreens found out, the hard way the dangers of attempting to allow data to commingle with multiple providers,

If you got a Covid-19 test at Walgreens, your personal data — including your name, date of birth, gender identity, phone number, address, and email — was left on the open web for potentially anyone to see and for the multiple ad trackers on Walgreens’ site to collect. In some cases, even the results of these tests could be gleaned from that data.

While multiple Prime Vendors in the Industry have had catastrophic data failures including Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS), the reality is that even the most basic precautions such as securing a website are still ongoing with Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) such as Freddie Mac whose website is still insecure. To that point, there is a reason why compliance is generally offloaded to third party service providers.

The US government has been clear in how they are going to implement compliance. Here is what HUD had to say,

[T]he likely scenario for M&M will be that subcontractors or employees of the prime that are required to visit HUD properties will be required to provide the proof to the prime contractors, and HUD will conduct periodic surveillance using the sign-in logs matched against records obtained by the primes.

More on point and we will cover this over the weekend, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has issued guidance that ALL federal contractors and subcontractors must be vaccinated regardless of whether they work remotely or if the jobsite is considered outdoors. Additionally, they must all mask up. Currently, the Industry’s regulatory compliance is a hodgepodge of antiquated technology and extremely limited verification. For example, there is no way to verify that the person entering an AGS number into their mobile app is actually the person issued the number. In fact, multiple instances of using AGS numbers — purportedly for background check purposes — from multiple IP addresses across the United States on the same day is common. That means that one person is capable of deploying their AGS number for multiple subcontractors. There is no meaningful verification of insurance policies. There are no requirements for an educational component. And there ultimately is no way to attest to the veracity of anything on a per work order basis. Much of this is because the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) and its membership have refused to allow access to API’s deployed and when access is granted, it is only to NAMFS members.

For an Industry to thrive it needs to be agile. Relying upon antiquated technology and isolating power and control only in the hands of the few invites decay. Continuity is key and competition must be encouraged in order to thrive within the Industry ecosystem. To that point, Foreclosurepedia will be dedicating this weekend’s Industry Insider podcast to the tech firm whom have already developed software which addresses real time verification of background checks, insurance, licensing, master services agreements, and yes COVID testing and vaccination. To say that Compliance is in their DNA is an understatement! Even more impressive is their pricing at less than $35 a year without any start up or ongoing fees.