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

DeVry University Settles Lawsuit for $100 M to Cover Students’ Loans and Tuition

Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced that DeVry University had settled a major lawsuit that alleged the University put out false advertising claiming that their graduates found employment within six months of graduation at up to 15% higher salaries than students who graduated from other universities. 

“When people are making important decisions about their education and their future, they should not be misled by deceptive employment and earnings claims,” said Edith Ramirez, the F.T.C chairwoman in a statement

Under the settlement, $51 million in debt relief will be granted and an additional $49 Million in cash will be paid to students harmed by the advertising.  Tens of thousands of students stand to benefit from the agreement according to the F.T.C.

The settlement also contained provisions to prevent the University from making misleading statements in the future.

The full article can be read in the business section of The New York Times of December 15, 2016.

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

 

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Mortgage Fraud

The Consumer Financial Protection Board(CFPB) recently announced that it has ordered mortgage lender Amerisave Mortgage Corp., to pay $19.3 million for engaging in a bait and switch fraud affecting borrowers who made applications for mortgage loans from this lender.

The fraud occurred at numerous points in the borrower’s interaction with this lender. It started when the borrower first visited the company’s website and requested a quote, the quote which they received was based on an 800 FICO score. Additionally inaccurate rates and terms were posted on the company’s Website. At closing additional and unexpected fees were added to the borrower’s charges.

Ocwen is back in the news again. The New York Department of Financial Services recently reported that when has been collecting fees from distressed homeowners for force-placed Insurance through an affiliated company which practice is forbidden in New York State.

If you are considering the purchase of a home or a refinance of a home mortgage please make certain to consult with and review the documents with an attorney.

Should you require assistance with the attorneys in our office have substantial experience reviewing mortgage documents and would be pleased to assist you.

We can be reached at 732-752-8834.

Mortgages Still in Trouble Despite Upturn

As with so many things, the mortgage market right now presents both good news and bad news. The good news is that it appears as if the worst of the foreclosure crisis is past in most of the nation. In the vast majority of states, the foreclosure rate has dropped to almost normal historical levels. Further, late payments on mortgages are dropping, indicating that homeowners are slowly becoming more able to pay their mortgage payments on time.

The bad news, however, for those of us in New Jersey, is that the Garden State is still struggling. Not only does New Jersey still host more late payments on mortgages than most of the nation, but it currently has the second-highest rate of properties in foreclosure, behind only Florida.

One major reason for the excessive problems in New Jersey is the foreclosure process itself. In New Jersey, foreclosures must be handled by the courts. The mortgage industries have recently gotten in trouble for filing hundreds of foreclosure complaints at once. This process overloaded the courts and forced the foreclosure process to slow dramatically in order to try to process the influx.

The courts are now finally beginning to recover and process all of the documents filed. Once the majority of the papers are handled, New Jersey’s foreclosure numbers should begin to decrease. Hopefully they will fall to near historic levels in the next few years, but there is certainly a long way to go before that point is reached.

To read more about this problem, please click here. If you want to discuss your financial situation or mortgage troubles with a seasoned professional, please use the contact form on this website or call our office at 732-752-8834.

INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW PROGRAM ENDS 12/31/2012

INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW PROCESS
EXPIRES DECEMBER 31, 2012

We are writing to remind all of our friend and clients that the deadline to file a Request for an Independent Foreclosure Review is December 31, 2012.

If you had a foreclosure in process(initiated, pending or completed) between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010; and the property securing the loan was your principal residence and the mortgage was serviced by one of the lenders identified on the following link, we urge you to request an Independent review.

Link to list of lenders who must offer the Independent Foreclosure Review is at the Federal Reserve Governors website explanation of the program, listing of lenders informative video

http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/independent-foreclosure-review.htm

These reviews were ordered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in a effort to give homeowners who were unfairly treated and financially harmed by the actions of the listed banks and opportunity to make a financial recovery from the banks for the errors, misrepresentation or other deficiencies that may have occurred during the foreclosure process.

A very informative short video which further explains the program is noted above.  If you think you are eligible, we urge you to apply for a Review.

The deadline is December 31, 2012.  You can make the request over the internet.

An Independent Foreclosure Review process has been set up by Order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Additional information can be obtained from the Borrowers Quick Reference at the website below:

    http://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/framework-summary.html

Before you complete your application be sure to review the on the  Request for Review Help Sheet on following website:

 http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/files/independent-foreclosure-review-form-help-sheet.pdf

To submit an application go to:

   https://independentforeclosurereview.com/

Once again, we urge everyone who believes that they are eligible request a review.  There is no fee for the review.