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.

STUDENT LOAN DEBT EXPLODES

Recent articles in both the financial press and the consumer press note that student loan debt in the United States is increasing at a dizzying rate.  It is estimated that the aggregate Student Loan Debt nationally now exceeds the aggregate credit card debt.

In many cases well meaning parents co-signed for these debts along with their children.   There does not appear to be any easy relief on the horizon for parents and students trapped under the enormous burden.

For many young people the debt load means that they will have to forego full participation in todays financial world.  They will be unable to afford to purchase a home or a new car form many years, if ever.  Many of them are unable to  afford to live on their own and will have to  continue to live with their parents for many years as they try  to work down these debts.

For may parents who co-signed these loans these crushing debts will mean a delay in the start of a retirement or  a need to scale back their own living standards.

For those parents and students who are trapped in Private student loans, the lenders are offering little or no  relief and without Congressional action it appears that the future will bring not much change.

For those parents and students who are in Government student loans recent changes in the regulations may offer some opportunities to make their situations more rational.  Income Contingent and Income Based repayment programs may  offer  some relief.

If you would like  to learn more about these programs and the relief which might be available to you, please call the office and make an appointment to speak with us.

 

 

 

Is Student Loan Debt Crippling You?

We have recently learned of changes to the student loan regulations which may afford relief to people with Federal Student Loans.  This relief may be consolidation, reduction of payments or other potential elements of relief.

Some parents have been crippled by the student loans they took out for their child’s education.  Parents and children are working together to shoulder the burden but the parent could be hit harder financially due to being in a worse position given the current economic conditions and how they have impacted older generations of workers.

You are encouraged to read more here about this predicament.

If you are struggling with student loan debt or if you know someone who is struggling with these issues, please reach out to us to further discuss your options.  We would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your issued in a free consultation.  Please call us at 732-752-8834.

 

You May be Eligible for Foreclosure Aid

Were you active in the foreclosure process anywhere from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010?  If so, you may be eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review, a program created by the federal governement between the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of Thrift Supervision. 

The program is designed to determine whether consumers suffered financial injury through errors, misrepresentations or other deficient practices on the part of the mortgage companies.  If eligible, you may have received a notice in the mail from your mortgage servicer but we encourage you to look at the requiremetns and proactively and seek it out on your own, or with our help.  Some of the eligibility requirements are that the mortgage must have been ACTIVE in the foreclosure process from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.  Also, the mortgage must have been serviced by one of the following servicers:

  • America’s Servicing Co.
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • BAC Home Loans Servicing
  • Bank of America
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • CitiMortgage
  • Countrywide
  • EMC
  • EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
  • Financial Freedom
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage Services
  • MetLife Bank
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wachovia Mortgage
  • Washington Mutual (WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
  • Wilshire Credit Corporation

If you qualify for this program, you could receive payments to remedy the financial injury you may have suffered during the foreclosure process. 

 This program is another chance to get some releif from an unfair foreclosure.   To get more information, please go to https://independentforeclosurereview.com/.   As always, if you have questions about forclsoure, bankruptcy, debt consolidation or other financial issues, please contact the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Offices at 732-752-8834.  We are here to lend an ear and help you sort through your financial and legal troubles. 

There are other programs out there, to read more, go to a few previous blog posts on HAMP and the National Mortgage Settlement.

Student Loan Debt – A Growing Problem

If you are in college or putting a child through college, you are already familiar with the high costs of tuition.  With many people struggling to make ends meet but not willing to forgo a college education, they turn to loans.  There are two types of student loans available: federal and private.  Federal student loans are more heavily regulated and come directly from the government with a fixed interest rate.  Also, these loans have payment plans that are usually tied to the consumer’s income and even deferment programs for hardship situations.  Unfortunately, the amount available to an individual is not usually enough to cover all tuition costs, so the consumer turns to private loans.  Private student loans make up about 15% of the $1 trillion in outstanding student debt and do not come with any protective provisions.  Private loans aren’t guaranteed by the government and usually have higher rates because the borrowers are young, with little or no credit history.  These loans are big business for banks like Sallie Mae (SLM), J.P. Morgan, Discover, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, and Bank of America, because they are able to borrow the money from the Federal Reserve for almost 0% and then charge the consumer as much as 9%. 

If you have student loans, unfortunately they are a debt that cannot be discharged through a bankruptcy.  However, if you have other debts, bankruptcy may be able to free you from those crushing debts and allow you to focus on paying off those student loans.  Furthermore, there are some rumblings in the media that there may be relief as Congressmen are alerted to this growing issue.  Watch this space for more information! 

If you have questions about debt, debt consolidation, bankruptcy, loans, foreclosure or other legal issues, do not hesitate to reach out to us.  We are here to help you figure out a course of action and find relief!  Please call us any time: 732-752-8834.

New Mortgage Modifications on the Horizon

If you have been thinking about seeking a modification for your current mortgage, now is the time to act. Also, if you had previously sought a modification for your mortgage but were rejected, the landscape is changing and we recommend that you try again. A few new laws and other events have happened as the federal government recognizes that this mortgage crisis is too big to ignore.

In March, you may have heard of the National Mortgage Settlement, which was reached as a result of the misbehavior on the part of the 5 large mortgages servicers: JPMorgan, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, and Wells Fargo. The outcome was a $25 billion settlement, $837 million earmarked for New Jersey, but now we are finally seeing that money impact distressed consumers. If your loan originated with the 5 institutions above and f you are in need of a loan modification now, are current on your mortgage but underwater, or if you have lost your home to foreclosure, there may be money available to you. Go to http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com for more information and to see if this is the right solution for you. You can also go to https://www.mortgageoversight.com/where-can-i-find-help/ to be directed to assistance specific to your own situation.

Another program is the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which as of Friday, June 1, 2012, has been expanded to include more distressed homeowners. HAMP is for consumers who are employed, but struggling to make their monthly mortgage payment, if eligible, homeowners are able to reduce their monthly payment. Even if you previously did not qualify for HAMP, the requirements have been expanded, so you may qualify now.

All of this information can be quite confusing for consumers. We have over 20 years of experience assisting clients with issues like this and as always, we are happy to help you navigate these new options. Please give us a call at 732-752-8834 or email us at stephengoldberg@smgpc.com. Finally, beware of scammers who are posing as representatives of these programs, make sure you use a reliable source for information for any of these programs.

Rebuilding Credit — An Old Scam Resurfaces

 

I write once again on the subject of rebuilding credit after a bankruptcy because it has recently come to my attention that an old scheme used by lenders to defraud consumers has recently re-emerged and if you are not cautious will result in further damage.

We do recommend that consumers take appropriate steps to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy, however we do not believe that the programs described below are in anyway useful for consumers. There is Danger in these programs.

Recently, consumers from Middlesex and North Plainfield, New Jersey, who have obtained discharges of their credit card debt in Chapter 7 filings have advised us that they have received solicitations which promise to establish a new credit card account if the consumer pays off some or all of an old debt.

The problem is that the consumer owes nothing on this debt because the consumers obligation to pay the debt was discharged in the bankruptcy case. We have also learned that in other circumstances, particularly when there has been no bankruptcy filing, the same solicitation is often sent to consumers whose debt is over 6 years old and collection efforts would be barred by the NJ Statute of Limitations which sets a fixed period of time in which a creditor must bring a legal action to collect a debt. If the creditor does not start the action within the specified time, then the creditor is barred from bringing a suit to collect the debt.

We caution all consumers to review these offers very carefully as there may be seriously bad consequences as a result of accepting any of these offers.

In the paragraphs below we offer a more detailed look at the problems with these offers and companies which make them.

Consumers have no legal obligation to repay any debt which was discharged in bankruptcy. Additionally, any creditor who attempts to collect on a discharged debt is violating the Bankruptcy Court’s Discharge Order and is violating the law. To get around this restriction the companies which offer these programs disguise what they are doing and make an offer of new credit contingent on an agreement to repay some or all of a previously discharged debt. In other cases the debt is so old that the creditor is barred from bringing any legal action by the Statutes of Limitation. Statutes of Limitation have been interpreted to start running, not from the date on which the account was opened but from the date of the last transaction on the account. A current payment by the consumer has been interpreted as sufficient to “revive” a debt under the New Jersey Statute of Limitations. By making a payment on an old debt or a discharged debt the consumer is possibly reviving the debt. Reviving an old debt is an accepted legal principal which would make the consumer liable once again for a debt on which he is not currently liable. Once a payment is made on the new arrangement the creditors also will re-age the account, that is they will reset the last activity date on the account to the date of the recent payment and the date of last activity reported to the credit bureaus to the date of the new payment. In any future legal proceeding the creditor will allege that the consumer made a voluntary payment as of a current date and that the debt is no longer stale thereby depriving the consumer of the benefit of the protection of the Statute of Limitations. Often times the creditor or its collection agents will change the account number so as to confuse the consumer.

Consumers are cautioned to review these types of offers very carefully and make sure that they understand:

The interest rate on any old debt which they agree to repay

The interest rate on any new charges on the new credit account they have been promised

The fees which they will be charged to open the new account(these are usually charged to the new account thereby reducing the amount of credit available to the consumer)

If credit on the new account will be available to them immediately on approval of their application or only after they have paid off the old debt.

The exact amount of the old debt which the consumer is agreeing to take responsibility for.

That all of the terms of the agreement should be reduced to writing and made available to the consumer to review.

The possibility that the consumer is reviving an old uncollectible debt

 

Consumers should also be aware that these types of scams which are designed to take advantage of individuals in financial distress have been investigated and prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Attorneys General from various states including New York and West Virginia.

 

Some of the companies who have been involved in these scams include Genesis Financial Solutions, Inc; Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC; CompuCredit Holdings Corp; Monterey County Bank; Tighorn Financial Services, LLC; PrivateBancorp, Inc; Mid America Bank and Trust Co; First Bank of Delaware; First Bank & Trust of Brookings, SD.

The list of companies involved in this activity is not complete and consumers are again warned to heed the old adage,

“If it looks to good to be true ………….”

Rebuilding credit is a great idea, undertake this type of activity with caution and with the help of professionals familiar with the pitfalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edison Leads NJ in Bankruptcy Filings Jan ’11

I took a minute earlier today to compile some statistics detailing the number of Bankruptcy Cases filed by residents of some Central New Jersey towns from which we see clients all the time.   The total number of Bankruptcy cases filed in New Jersey(Newark, Trenton & Camden) in January 2011 is reported as 2433, through Noon January 30, 2011.   The Bankruptcy Court in Trenton, which services Middlesex and Somerset Counties as well as other central Counties reports 828 bankruptcy Chapter 7 & Chapter 13 cases filed through noon on January 30, 2011.    The sad statistics are below, who says the financial crisis is over?????

21   cases   Edison, NJ

15   cases   Piscataway, NJ

10   cases   Old Bridge, NJ

9   cases Somerset and Sayreville, NJ

7    cases South Amboy, NJ

6   cases   Avenel, Carteret, Parlin, Perth Amboy

5  Cases    Lawrence Harbor , Woodbridge, Bound Brook, South Plainfield

4  cases   North Plainfield,  New Brunswick, Colonia, Somerville

3 cases or less    Watchung, Hillsborough, Branchburg, Warren, Manville, Middlesex, Dunellen, Basking Ridge, Highland Park, Lebanaon,  Green Brook, Colonia, Fords. Iselin, Metuchen

Please remember that I have broken out only those towns where our clients come from, there are hundreds of other cases from other parts of Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, Monmouth, Hunterdon, Warren, Ocean, and Burlington Counties.

We will provide an analysis of the cases from the Newark Bankruptcy Court which serves Union County and the northern part of the State at a later time.

These statistics are for the Month of January 2011 ONLY!!!!!!

Can I file for Bankruptcy?

Over the many years we have been assisting families and individuals who are in financial difficulty we have served people from all walks of life and from all over the State of New Jersey.  Can I file for bankruptcy is a question I’ve heard from clients including doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, computer professionals, tradesmen, laborers, office workers, government workers, teachers, politicians and people from just about every occupation.  We have helped retired people, disabled people, persons who are in jail and persons who are institutionalized.   Congress has created the Bankruptcy Code to provide relief for the “honest, but unfortunate debtor”.

Our clients have come from all over the State of New Jersey however, our office in the Green Brook New Jersey, at the meeting point of the Union, Somerset and Middlesex counties has proven to be very convenient from people who live within a 7 to 10 mile radius of our office. We have served individuals from Green Brook, Dunellen, Plainfield, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, Warren, Watchung, Middlesex, Bound Brook, South Bound Brook, Piscataway, Somerville, New Brunswick, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, Somerset, Raritan, Manville, Hillsborough and many of the other communities which are located within 15 to 20 min. of our office.

The current national financial crisis has forced many families and individuals into extraordinarily difficult economic situations. Many families who have previously never had a late payment are now facing substantial arrearages on their mortgages and an inability to pay their utilities and other debts as they come due. Many of these individuals and families suffer daily under a barrage of telephone calls from collection agencies and collection attorneys demanding payment of bills which it is impossible for them to pay.

If you are being harassed by creditor phone calls at work or at home, if you are afraid to pick up the telephone for fear that there will be a rude collection agent on the other end then you need to speak with us as quickly as possible. A bankruptcy filing may allow you the peace of mind and a fresh start in your financial affairs which you are seeking.

If you are feeling the crushing and relentless pressure of debt collectors and collection attorneys, if you are faced with collection lawsuits, judgments, wage garnishments, or bank levies you need to speak with us as quickly as you can to determine whether or not a bankruptcy filing will bring you relief.