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Banker News

Phony debt collectors scamming victims into paying loans
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin's financial regulator is warning of a scam in which crooks pose as debt collectors and pressure people into sending them money, in some cases to pay for loans the consumers never even took out. Sometimes the fake debt collectors call with personal information they've somehow acquired, such as a bank account number, which makes them sound more legitimate, said Peter Bildsten, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The most common threat: The person will be put into jail if payment isn't made. The state financial regulator is aware of only 10 times in which people in Wisconsin fell for the scheme, losing an average of $400. Often the fake collectors will demand money related to payday loans, but that is not the only type of loans they've cited while trying to confuse potential victims. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dane County's jobless rate 4.9% in January
Wisconsin State Journal (print only)
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that the 32 largest cities in the state had higher unemployment in January than in December. However, 30 of them were down from January 2011. Beloit's unemployment rate was the highest in January at 12.2 percent. The lowest was Caledonia at 3.5 percent. Among counties, Door had the highest rate at 13.5 percent while Dane had the lowest at 4.9 percent. The statewide unemployment rate in January was 6.9 percent.

Stress test won't significantly impact lending by banks
Business Journal of Milwaukee
Banks may be feeling a bit richer, having survived the Federal Reserve's stress tests. But don't expect them to suddenly start lending you money. After 15 of the nation's 19 largest institutions passed the Federal Reserve's doomsday scenario, several announced dividend hikes and/or stock buyback plans. While banks may now be more willing to share the wealth with investors, lending to businesses is a whole other ball of wax. Most banks cite sluggish demand from creditworthy borrowers as the key driver to the lackluster lending of the past several years. Banks also have faced pressure from regulators to avoid loan losses at all costs, which has fed lenders' reluctance to lend to all but the most creditworthy among us. The results of the stress tests do little to change either of those things. There are indications that lending is rebounding, but that seems to be demand driven. Business Journal of Milwaukee

Bernanke says Fed to make bank rules clearer
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that the Federal Reserve will try to make it clearer whether new banking rules apply to small lenders. He said the goal is to prevent community banks from wasting time and money trying to figure out if a new regulation applies to them. Bernanke said the Fed is also taking steps to improve communications with small banks and to better understand the challenges facing the industry, including the creation of a subcommittee to review how community banks are supervised. He also sought to calm fears among community bankers that the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law will have a big impact on their businesses. He told the conference that most of the new standards in the law are geared at making changes only to the largest banks. Reuters

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