Hanna & Associates Forced to Settle

Over the many years we have been representing consumers in bankruptcy and debt collection matters we have repeatedly seen lawsuits brought by Hanna & Associates. Many times our clients had no recollection of incurring the debt over which the suit was being brought. For a long time we have suspected that this debt collection firm was bringing these lawsuits without any basis. A recent article in Collections & CreditRisk reports that this very aggressive debt collector is about to settle a lawsuit brought on by the Consumer Financial Protection Board. We are pleased that this new federal consumer protection agency has aggressively gone after one of the nation’s most awful debt collection mills.

If you are currently facing a lawsuit brought by Hanna & Associates on behalf of an alleged creditor please contact this office as we may be able to provide assistance in defending against this action.

We applaud the actions of the Consumer Financial Protection Board and urge every citizen to contact the agency to applaud its good work on behalf of consumers.

If you would like more information regarding the settlement of this lawsuit please follow this link Collections & CreditRisk

Bank of America Mortgage Modifications

The United States Department of Justice recently anounced that it had reached a new settlement with Bank of America. As a result of this settlement, Bank of America is resolving many outstanding claims against it which were made by the various Departments of the US government and also matters outstanding with several State Governments.

The settlement is valued at 16.65 billion dollars. Of greatest interest to consumers is the fact that of the 16.65 billion, 7 billion is earmarked for relief to consumers. Those eligible for relief include consumers who had mortgages with Bank of America, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. The relief may come in the form Mortgage Modifications and possibly may include Principal Loan reduction for some homeowners.

If you have a mortgage which was with Bank of America, Countrywide and/or Merrill Lynch, now is the time to seriously consider filing for a mortgage modification.

Our office stands ready to assist you should you choose to apply for a mortgage modification. Do NOT let this opportunity pass. If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet with us call us at 732-752-8834

For more information click here

9/22/2014

STUDENT LOAN UPDATES

It has been some time since we have posted to this item on our website. We remain convinced that the aggregate debt accumulated by students, parents, grandparents and family friends through student loan borrowing is going to be one of the most important factors in the next major financial crisis. As we have noted before on this site our, legislators must get to work to fashion a solution to this problem. In the items noted below we bring to your attention various issues which have been addressed in the popular and financial press over the last several months. If these issues are important to you and your family we urge you to contact you elected officials at all levels and demand that they put some energy into finding a solution for these problems.

FOR PROFIT COLLEGES – Finally a day of reckoning

A recent Bloomberg article recounts the Department of Education cutting off Corinthian Colleges from receiving federally-subsidized student loans as a result of its students’ high delinquent rates (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-07/corinthian-takedown-signals-tougher-education-agency-enforcement.html). New rules allow the Department of Education to impose restrictions on schools with consecutive years of high student loan delinquent rates. Eventually, the government can force a school out of business. The Department of Education’s action reflects the growing number of students carrying thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars in debt and the growing delinquent rates. Critics counter the new rules have a “chilling effect,” allowing the federal government too much control over higher education. If you have large student loans from a for profit college such as Corinthian, please contact us as there may be some relief available to you.

The Picture Gets Bleaker for Student Loan Borrowers
A recent New York Times editorial (http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/author/mark-kantrowitz/) demonstrates the bleak future for student loan debtors. In a statistical analysis, student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz states that one-third of borrowers are late paying their first student loan bill. Particularly troubling, Kantrowitz notes that 35% of young people are 90 days ore more delinquent on their payments. Even with the six-month grace period after graduation provided by the federal government, students are still having trouble repaying their loans. Kantrowitz’ commentary confirms the concerns of the potentially pending student loan crisis. Without new legislation we see little hope that people caught in this trap will be able to get any relief. Even if you do not have a student loan you are effected by this problem. Young college graduates will become the next generation of persons who whoudl be buying home, cars, and other durables. If these people are crippled by overwhelming student debt it effects us all.

Student Debt and Senior Citizens
Young people are not the only ones carrying student debt. A report by Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-12/more-elderly-americans-are-struggling-with-student-loan-debt) shows a growing number of adults over 50 with student loans. Even though seniors hold 17% of the debt, the amount of debt held has tripled since 2005. This reflects a growing number of unemployed adults going back to school to develop new skills for an evolving job market. Although education provides its benefits, the article notes that seniors have to pay their student loans out of their Social Security. With the cost of living rising in America, less Social Security for seniors in order to repay student loans spells trouble for the future. This is an issue which requires all of our attention.

Predatory Companies Falsely Promising Relief from Student Loans
Recognizing the growing number of students with student debt, companies typically aligned with credit card debt settlement are changing their practices. In a recent New York Times article (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/companies-that-offer-help-with-student-loans-often-predatory-officials-say/), the newspaper reports an increase in the amount of companies offering student loan debt settlement. For a lump sum and monthly fee, the companies offer services to manage the student’s debt load. Unbeknownst to the student, many of these services are already offered for free through the Department of Education. Many times, students pay for services they could have received for free. In an effort to combat these practices, states like Illinois are suing these companies before they gain an even larger foothold in the student debt industry. We have seen the conmen savage home mortgage borrowers, there are recnt reports that they are moving into automobile financing, and this report indicates that they are already in the student loan arena. Our advice is to be cautious if you choose to deal with any of these companies.
If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this post, please feel free to contact our office.

8/27/2014

New Jersey Foreclosure Future Bleak

Foreclosure levels in New Jersey are the second highest in the nation, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. New Jersey’s 7% of homes in foreclosure just barely rank behind Florida’s 7.1% of homes in foreclosure. New Jersey also has the second highest level of mortgage delinquencies of more than 90 days.

While most states appear to be on track to get caught up with foreclosures by spring of 2014, New Jersey will likely require at least another year to clear its backlog. This means that the frustration of New Jersey homeowners who are stuck in foreclosure will likely continue for another 18 months, if not more.

There are many options available for struggling homeowners. Among these are loan modifications, debt reorganizations, and bankruptcy. We have over 50 years of combined experience dealing with troubling financial situations. We are glad to talk to anyone free of charge regarding their situation and options for the future.

To read the Wall Street Journal article about foreclosures, please click here.

If you want to speak to an experienced professional about your financial situation, please feel free to contact us using the form on this website or by calling the office at 732-752-8834.

Debt Collection Practices being Regulated

Government officials seem to finally be taking tougher stances against debt collection practices across the nation. Banks have been offering direct deposit advances, which are very similar to problematic payday loans. These have been relatively unregulated until recently, but new guidance attempts to limit the risks inherent in these types of loans. Additionally, debt collectors will be facing more stringent requirements in the next year.

Direct deposit advances are a scattered practice among big banks. Wells Fargo has offered the service since 1994, but none of the other major banks offer these advances. Deposit advances allow banks to lend money to customers based on the money that routinely gets deposited directly into their bank accounts. Generally, customers end up paying $10 on every $100 they borrow in this manner in interest and fees.

New guidance issued jointly by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Limits banks’ ability to give multiple of these loans to the same customer in a short period of time. It additionally limits the issuance of the loans to customers whose accounts are frequently overdrawn. These new rules, officials hope, will protect the customers from getting themselves into more debt than they can handle.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), meanwhile, is preparing to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking as to debt collectors. The new rules propagated by the CFPB would modernize debt collection laws. Currently, the rules do not account for the latest Internet, mobile, and social media technology, which debt collectors are beginning to harness. The rules would also require debt collectors to verify the debt they are trying to collect and to employ less abusive tactics for collecting.

To read more about the direct deposit advance restrictions, please click here. To learn more about the new rules for debt collectors, please click here.

If you would like to discuss your financial debt situation, please contact our office using the form on this website or by calling 732-752-8834. Remember that your first consultation is absolutely free. We would love to talk with you and try to answer your questions.

CFPB Calls for Comments on Rules for Debt Collectors

Too many people in America these days have been subject to harassing phone calls, threatening letters, and stressful times at the hands of debt collectors. The main law regulating debt collectors is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which was passed in 1977 and has not been updated very often since that time. Finally, the primary regulatory agency for debt collectors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is taking notice of this issue.

The CFPB is seeking public comment on proposed rules for debt collectors. This issue should be of interest for every person in America. The CFPB has the power to limit debt collectors’ ability to constantly harass and bully the public. Debt collectors will inevitably end up lobbying against such rules being put in place. To get some relief, the public has to lobby in favor of the rules.

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking put out by the CFPB is available here. It is not necessary to read through the entire thing in order to comment. For a short summary of the CFPB’s request for comments and information on how to make comments, please click here.

If you want to discuss these proposed regulations or your financial situation in general, please contact the office using the contact form on this website or by calling us at 732-752-8834.

Bank of America Fined by Bankruptcy Judge

Many people today enter bankruptcy as a result of intolerable mortgage obligations. Too many homeowners owe multiple mortgages on their homes. For those with a first mortgage that is already worth more than the value of their home, a second or third mortgage can be crushing.

Bankruptcy can discharge a borrower’s obligation to pay a mortgage. However, the mortgage issuer in such a situation retains the right to foreclose on the home and recover the property. The mortgage issuer has the right to continue contacting the borrower with respect to the foreclosure process, but is forbidden from attempting to collect the debt.

New York couple Edwin and Michelle Ramos took advantage of this process in their bankruptcy, and their obligation to pay their Bank of America mortgage was discharged. Bank of America, though, continued trying to collect the mortgage debt from the couple after the bankruptcy was completed. The Ramoses contacted their lawyer, who advised Bank of America to stop contacting the couple.

Bank of America never ceased their collection efforts on the mortgage. Recently, however, a bankruptcy judge took his own action to stop the big bank. For each month that Bank of America continues to bother the Ramoses, the bank must pay $10,000 plus attorney’s fees to the court. The judge pointed out that his ruling, though it may seem insignificant to Bank of America, was meant to send a message to creditors looking to collect on discharged debts.

To read more about this ruling, please click here.

If you have a creditor trying to collect money from you after you have obtained a bankruptcy discharge, or you want to file bankruptcy to discharge your personal obligations, please contact us to discuss your options. Contact us using the form on this website or by calling the office at 732-752-8834.

Student Loan Bubble Cripples a Generation

With all of the attention we pay to student loans, we felt that we had to share this video we found on YouTube with you all. The video features an interview between Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Salon.com contributor and author David Sirota and was published on YouTube by user golefttv.

Contact us to let us know what you think or if you would like to discuss your own financial situation.

Follow-Up: Credit Reporting Company Punished by Jury

Consumers might have a reason to fear credit report errors a little bit less this week than last week. A case in Oregon was decided on Friday, July 26, 2013 involving false credit report information – and the jury awarded the consumer $18.6 million.

Julie Miller, a woman from Oregon, first found out about the false information on her credit report when she was denied a bank loan in 2009. She contacted Equifax, the offending agency, multiple times across the following few years trying to get the information corrected. She learned that the other two major credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion, also had errors on her credit report. She contacted them, too, asking them to fix her information.

Experian and TransUnion corrected Ms. Miller’s information in a reasonable time. Equifax, however, continued asking for more information and refused to fix the errors. Ms. Miller continued to apply for credit and continued to be denied. Finally, she sued Equifax to get the errors fixed.

In a landmark judgment, the jury awarded Ms. Miller $18.6 million in damages for the trouble she endured with Equifax. Though the ruling will almost certainly be appealed and the award reduced, the case still stands as a victory for consumers. Perhaps now the credit reporting agencies will have more incentive to fix user-reported errors on credit reports.

To read more about the case, please click here.

If you would like to discuss your credit report or credit situation, please feel free to contact the office at 732-752-8834 or by using the contact form on this website. Remember, your consultation is free.

Credit Reports: For the Consumer or Against?

Every consumer in America knows about credit reports. They’re the cornerstone of the loan industry. Any reputable loan company checks a consumer’s credit report before issuing a credit card, mortgage, or any other loan. Because of this, an error on a credit report is potentially extremely detrimental to a consumer. When these errors inevitably occur, consumers hope that the credit reporting companies rush to fix them.

New evidence is suggesting otherwise, however. The credit companies are under no obligation to report information to the reporting companies. Thus, in order to keep receiving credit information from all of the major credit companies, the reporting companies have to stay on the “good sides” of the credit companies. This leads to the unfortunate result of inaccuracies tending not to get fixed in as timely a fashion as they should, if they get fixed at all.

Although the credit bureaus are required by Federal Law to conduct a reasonable investigation of consumer complaints. What qualifies as reasonable, however, varies. In a few hundred cases, consumers were reported as deceased on their credit reports. When one such affected man contacted the credit bureau, they said that they had conducted a reasonable investigation and found that he was, in fact, deceased.

Unfortunately, consumers have little control over the credit reporting companies. It is up to Congress to act to control the 20% error rate in credit reports. Congress has to act in order to protect the thousands of consumers who are adversely affected by the credit histories of others.

To find and contact your Representative, please click here.

For more information on this issue, please read the New York Times article here.

If you want to discuss your credit situation, please feel free to contact the office at 732-752-8834 or by using the contact form on the website. Remember, attorneys are more likely to obtain a favorable result for consumers than consumers can get on their own. The first consultation is free!