Catch Up On The Latest From The Division of Investigation

DOI_WORDPRESS_BEAR-FLAG-2010-themeNew on The DOI Page: A southern California man has been charged with 11 felonies after an investigation revealed he was illegally using licenses belonging to an Architect and Professional Engineer. Read more here.

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to The DOI Page! By subscribing, you will receive instant email updates to your inbox. Subscribe HERE.

Check Out CalBRE’s Newest Licensing Video

 

Now, there is one more tool at your disposal when applying for a Real Estate Broker’s License. The California Real Estate Bureau has a new tutorial video for those individuals interested in applying for a Real Estate Broker’s License.  In just a few minutes you’ll learn the guidelines and steps in order to complete the process.

If you have any questions regarding the Broker examination, visit the CalBRE website or contact them at (877) 373-4542.

New Video on the California Lemon Law

Have you ever wondered when a car is considered a “lemon?”  Do you know what to do if you think your car might be a lemon?  The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP) has released a new video to educate consumers on the California Lemon Law and how the ACP can assist consumers pursue resolution to their vehicle disputes.

The Arbitration Certification Program was established to protect California new car owners by ensuring state certified arbitration programs provide a fair and quick process for resolving Lemon Law disputes.

If you or someone you know has a vehicle that has had persistent problems while still under the manufacturer’s warranty, it could be a lemon.  Watch this video and learn more about your rights as a consumer.

Now Online: Physical Therapy Board of California’s Strategic Plan

15-020_PTBC_Strat_Plan_v4.inddCheck out the Physical Therapy Board’s (Board’s) recent accomplishments and goals for the upcoming years. Visit the Board’s website and download its 2014-2017 Strategic Plan.

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The Physical Therapy Board regulates more than 27,000 licensees who practice physical therapy in California. The license status of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can be verified by visiting the Board’s website at www.ptbc.ca.gov. Information about filing complaints against the Board’s licenses is also available on the Board’s website.

Why Hiring the Right Fiduciary is Critical

shutterstock_217936621The importance of finding the right Professional Fiduciary was brought to light with the unfortunate, cautionary case of a Bay Area fiduciary whose license was recently revoked after dozens of clients were bilked of more than $16 million.

Christine Backhouse was stripped of her State license after a yearlong investigation found she was partially to blame for the millions of dollars in losses after failing to adequately supervise her business associate and longtime boyfriend Leo Kennedy, who was sentenced to federal prison for diverting funds from the accounts of approximately three dozen clients of Backhouse Fiduciary Services.

According to the seven-page accusation from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, Backhouse “gave a third-party unfettered access to her clients’ assets that she was charged with protecting.”

When considering hiring a fiduciary, the Bureau’s website (www.fiduciary.ca.gov) can verify that they are licensed with the State, and will show any previous citations or disciplinary actions. The Bureau also recommends interviewing at least three candidates when seeking a professional fiduciary to manage a client’s personal affairs such as daily care, housing, and medical needs, as well as financial duties ranging from paying bills to managing a trust.

The Bureau has a checklist of questions to ask fiduciary candidates about many essential issues, including the use of internal controls, a succession plan, and the frequency of accounting reports.

In addition to online resources, including a consumer resources list of website links for seniors and those with special needs, the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau can be reached at (916) 574-7340 or by e-mail at fiduciary@dca.ca.gov.

Physical Therapist Agrees to Revocation of License

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SACRAMENTO – A Southern California Physical Therapist has agreed to have his license revoked as part of a stipulated settlement with the Physical Therapy Board of California following his conviction on fraud charges.

Eddie Choi’s license revocation will be effective March 11, 2015.

In March 2013, Choi plead guilty to illegally paying others to refer patients to him. Choi paid an acupuncturist $3,322.07 to refer Medicare beneficiaries to California Neuro-Rehabilitation Institute located in Los Angeles, which he and a partner owned. Between January 2010 and March 2011, the acupuncturist referred approximately 220 Medical beneficiaries to California Neuro-Rehabilitation Institute. California Neuro-Rehabilitation Institute then billed Medicare for 220 patients for physical therapy services which were never provided. Medicare suffered a loss of $1,058,047.26 for fraudulently billed services.

Choi was obligated to inform the Board of his plea within 30 days of the occurrence. He reported his conviction seven months later.

In June 2014, Choi was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

The Acupuncture Board of California has been notified of the acupuncturist related to this case.

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The Physical Therapy Board regulates more than 27,000 licensees who practice physical therapy in California.  The license status of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can be verified by visiting the Board’s website at www.ptbc.ca.gov.  Information about filing complaints against the Board’s licenses is also available on the Board’s website.

California 2015 Laws

eggsHundreds of new laws—930 to be exact—go into effect this year. Most took effect on January 1; however, some laws, such as the smartphone kill switches requirement, ban on plastic bags, increase in assisted living fines, mandatory sick days, and pet insurance consumer protections won’t go into effect until July 1.

Here’s a rundown of some of the bills Governor Brown signed into law:

Smartphone kill switches: Senate Bill 962 requires all smartphones sold in California have theft-deterring technology that allows owners to remotely disable their stolen devices.

Dogs at restaurants: Under Assembly Bill 1965, restaurant owners can decide whether to allow dogs in their outdoor dining areas, and local jurisdictions retain the ability to prohibit the practice or add restrictions.

Ban on plastic bags: SB 270 bans supermarkets and large pharmacies from using single-use plastic bags. Customers will be encouraged to use reusable cloth bags but can purchase paper bags at a cost of at least 10 cents each.

Military spouses: AB 186 requires the Department of Consumer Affairs to provide military spouses and domestic partners licensed to practice professions in other states a 12-month temporary license to practice in California when their spouses are stationed in the State.

Pet insurance: AB 2056 requires that pet insurance policies clearly disclose details, including coverage limitations, reimbursements, waiting periods, and deductibles.

Online reviews: AB 2365 makes nondisparagement clauses in consumer contracts for goods or services in California unenforceable; businesses cannot use them for civil lawsuits against Californians offering opinions or reviews on Internet sites such as Yelp.

Chickens: With the backing of 2008’s Proposition 2 and then 2010’s AB 1437, every egg laid or sold in California must come from hens with enough space to stand up, turn around, lie down, and stretch its wings.

Ride-service insurance coverage: AB 2293 requires that drivers for ride-service companies, such as Uber and Lyft, must be insured during the time they have their app open but have yet to accept a call. The bill also calls on insurance companies to offer policies tailored specifically for ride-service drivers.

For more information on California’s new laws, go to http://www.gov.ca.gov.

Health Insurance and Taxes, Two Big Reasons to Act By Feb 15

Covered California and their tens of thousands of partners are working hard to ensure as many people as possible get the health insurance they want, and avoid future tax penalties.  With just a few days left before the February 15, 2015 deadline, time is short, but you still have time to sign up.

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If you don’t know how to get started, the best thing to do is to go online and head on over to www.coveredca.com.  From the website it is easy to compare plans and get your questions answered, or you can call them at 800-300-1506.

Not having health insurance can be stressful on its own, but there is another reason to think about the February 15th deadline.  Taxes!  When the Affordable Care Act passed it was understood that everyone needed insurance or they would face a tax penalty.  In an example provided by H&R Block, and reported by NPR, one couple with a combined income of $65,000 would have to pay a fine this year of nearly $450.  Next year that fine doubles, so if you want to avoid writing a big check to the IRS on April, 15, 2016, you better get in contact with Covered CA before February 15th of this year.

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If that news made your heart jump, don’t panic, and remember there are tens of thousands of Covered CA partners out there who are working hard to make sure you get the insurance you want, and avoid the tax penalties you don’t want.

Water Conservation Never Out of Season

shutterstock_WaterOffCalifornia’s Water Year 2014 as defined by the Department of Water Resources
(Oct. 1–Sept. 30) was the third-driest on record in the past 119 years. The 2013 calendar year was the driest ever, and that followed two years of below-average precipitation.

It has been taxing on State reservoirs and groundwater supplies.

Even as a significant storm system settles over Northern California, along with some relief that came with periods of major precipitation in December, intermittently wet weather shouldn’t give you a false sense of security—water conservation remains a critical component in the effort to minimize our statewide drought.

The public education program Save Our Water, a partnership between the Department of Water Resources and the Association of California Water Agencies, offers 10 conservation tips:

  1. Take shorter showers.
  2. Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth.
  3. Water your lawn only when it needs it.
  4. Use a broom to clean driveways and sidewalks.
  5. Adjust sprinklers so they don’t water driveways and sidewalks.
  6. Only wash full loads of laundry.
  7. Run the dishwasher only when full.
  8. Fix leaky faucets and toilets.
  9. Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose.
  10. Plant California-friendly trees and plants.

The Save Our Water website offers more ways to conserve both indoors and outdoors.

Financial Aid Questions? BPPE Takes Your Calls At KCRA 3’s Cash for College Day

Cash for College 2There is still time get your financial aid questions answered! The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education is answering calls at KCRA 3’s Call 3 – Cash for College Day until this evening.

If you’re in the greater Sacramento area, call (916) 447-2255 between now and 7:00pm to get your student financial aid questions answered.

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The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has joined the California Student Aid Commission to answer questions about financial aid requirements, application deadlines and make other resources available to students.