Home Loan Modification Program Ends

Home Affordable Modification Program, (HAMP) a program created by the Obama administration to help struggling home owners keep their houses, came to an end in December 2016.

On one hand, consumer advocates were not thrilled with the program, as many felt it did not go far enough to help home owners in trouble nor did it hold financial institutions accountable for their actions in contributing to the housing crisis.  However, as Republican held Washington has no intention of replacing the program, many financial institutions are now saying that they are ready to present their own foreclosure-prevention programs, based on what they learned from HAMP.

 “There’s tremendous public good in having an industrywide approach,” said Justin Wiseman, the director of loan administration policy at the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group. “No one wants things to revert to what we had before.”

However, as the mortgage industry created the need for such a program in the first place and were also responsible for many of the shortcomings of the HAMP program, many advocates have good reason to be skeptical.

Under the now defunct program, nearly 70 percent of home owners who applied for home loan modifications were turned down, with only 1.6 million homeowners getting to the point of having their loans permanently modified — which was less than half the number the program was intended to help. Meanwhile, nearly 14 million homes went into foreclosure, according to Attom Data Solutions, which tracks foreclosure filings.

 “Payment reduction, more than anything else, matters the most in making a modification successful,” said Wiseman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “It sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but it took us six years of data and research to get there.”

Read full article here:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Foreclosure-prevention-returns-to-the-unknown-10907574.php?cmpid=email-premium

Credit Bureaus Get Fined for Shady Practices

The New Year found the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordering two credit reporting agencies to pay more than $23.2 million in fines and restitution for deceiving consumers about their credit scores.

TransUnion and Equifax were fined due to their business practices, where they lured consumers into enrolling in their credit monitoring services, in most cases advertised as ‘free’ or costing only $1, but ended up costing as much as $200.

In addition to the fines, both companies have been ordered to change their marketing practices by making it clear what the fees are and when they will be charged.

In addition to the issues over the shady marketing practices, both credit entities were chastised for falsely representing that the credit scores they provided to consumers for a fee where the same scores provided to lenders determining credit worthiness.

“Credit scores are central to a consumer’s financial life and people deserve honest and accurate information about them,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

TransUnion will reimburse $13.93 million to consumers and pay a $3 million civil fine, while Equifax will reimburse $3.8 million and pay a $2.5 million civil fine, the CFPB said.

Read full story here:  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cfpb-transunion-equifax-idUSKBN14N1T5

Company Charged with Fraud in Foreclosure Bailout Scam

A complaint filed in Superior Court alleges that several New Jersey individuals and their companies defrauded potentially thousands of financially strapped people in the state, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General.

According to the release, three people, through a company called MVP Home Solutions LLC and its associated entities, charged substantial monthly fees for debt adjustment and foreclosure consulting, but failed to perform the promised services.

“We alleged these defendants shamelessly exploited homeowners who were drowning in mortgage debt and desperate to hang onto their homes; charging them up to $1,625 a month in exchange for foreclosure rescue services that were never provided,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in the release.

Instead of helping homeowners out of their financial crises, the defendants allegedly made it worse by causing people to fall further behind on their mortgages as they paid for undelivered services with money that could have been applied to their mortgages.

According to the complaint, the defendants were not licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance, as required by law, to act as debt adjusters or foreclosure consultants.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

Read the full article here: http://patch.com/new-jersey/tomsriver/these-n-j-companies-potentially-defrauded-thousands-new-jerseyans-ag

Borrowers are Being Illegally Barred from Making Income Based Payments on Student Loans

Unfortunately, in this day and age, student loans are a necessary evil that nearly every college student has to indulge in – and now the process of repaying those loans has gotten even more complicated.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB) has determined that many student loan ‘servicers’ are illegally denying borrowers the right to adjust their repayments to match their income, even though they qualify for the special repayment programs.
One of the reasons servicers do not want borrowers to use the special income driven repayment programs, is that after 20 years any balance can be ‘forgiven”.
However, CFPB is demanding that Government appointed servicers live up to their original agreements and allow qualifying borrowers access to income driven repayment plans.
For more information, see complete article here http://tinyurl.com/j3wsz7g

New Jersey had second highest Foreclosure Spike in US in October

While many financial pundits are talking about ‘recovery’, things are still rocky on the housing front.  New Jersey had the second highest initial foreclosure filings in the nation in October, with Atlantic City toping the metropolitan charts with 1 in 301 homes having papers filed in October, 2016.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions the curator of the US’s largest fused property database, New Jersey’s foreclosure rate hit one in every 564 housing units as compared to the national foreclosure rate of one in every 1,258 housing units.

October marked the 13th consecutive month when U.S. foreclosure activity decreased on a year-over-year basis, but the month-over-month increase in October was the biggest monthly increase since August 2007, according to the report.

For a full copy of the article and the list of 11 towns with the top foreclosure rate, go to   http://tinyurl.com/jhpfbqa