HSBC Settles Mortgage Abuse Claims with US DOJ and States

A recent press release issued by the United States Department of Justice reports that the Justice Department and other federal agencies along with almost every State Attorney General have reached a settlement resolving allegations that HSBC committed mortgage loan origination, servicing and foreclosure abuses. The settlement appears to total $470 million of which $370 million is scheduled to be available for consumer relief including modifications and other forms of mortgage relief.

The implementation of the settlement will be overseen by Joseph A Smith, Jr., who was the monitor for the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement which was reached in February 2012. It is estimated that approximately 345 New Jersey consumers may be eligible for relief under this program if they either lost their homes or where the victim of abuse by HSBC from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2012.

Unfortunately, it appears that the selection of current or former HSBC mortgage holders will receive assistance under this program will be done by HSBC. HSBC will also determine what relief to offer to eligible consumers.

We are urging anyone who believes that they might benefit from this settlement to contact us for assistance in filing a mortgage modification application. If you would like to review the Department of Justice press release regarding this issue click on the following link:US DOJ Press Release

Wells Fargo Settles Fraud Claims with Government

The New York Times today reports that Wells Fargo has settled claims that it defrauded the government by processing mortgage loans for certain low income individuals whom Wells knew did not qualify for particular programs and then failing to advise the government that these people did not qualify. When the borrowers defaulted and the mortgages failed, Wells Fargo then demanded that the government reimburse it under these programs. The Times further notes that Wells is the last of the big banks to settle these types of claims with the government. Wells will have to pay $1.2 Billion to settle. It is not clear if these funds will make their way into the programs to help homeowners save their homes.

The Complaint alleged Wells poorly trained it employees, failed to properly underwrite the loans and failed to advise the government when it discovered that certain borrowers were ineligible for the program. Although 1.2 Billion is a large sum, it is miniscule when compare with the chaos which Wells and the other big banks caused the entire world economy and the terrible suffering of millions of Americans caught up in the financial disaster who faced foreclosure on their homes. The article makes no mention of jail time for any of the Wells executives.

If you are still struggling with mortgage debt, please feel free to contact us to speak about a mortgage modification or a possible Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to try to get some relief. To see the full article follow this link: NY Times-Wells to Pay 1.2 Billion

Mortgage Fraudster Sent to Jail

A recent item in Newsday reports that Aaron Wider, a mortgage broker who lured people into mortgages which they could not pay, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. It is about time that those who perpetrated these frauds on consumers receive the punishment which they deserve. We still wait anxiously to see if any of the executives of the nations biggest banks, who orchestrated the massive collapse of the economy are brought to justice. Unfortunately, his conviction will do little to help those who have already lost their homes or who are still in foreclosure. If you are still looking to obtain a mortgage modification, call us to discuss your options. For more information click on the following link — Newsday

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.

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.

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.

UPDATE ON MORTGAGE ROBO-SIGNING ISSUES IN NEW JERSEY

When we last visited this topic the NJ Supreme Court had frozen all foreclosure sales in New Jersey and has assigned Judge Jacobson to investigate the allegations that many mortgage lenders and their attorneys had been filing inaccurate and less than truthful affidavits as part of their foreclosure papers.  There was quite an expectation that some of the bad actors would actually be punished for their wrongdoing.  It appears that the major outcome of the proceedings is that the banks and their attorneys will have to file updated and corrected affidavits on existing cases and will have to be more careful in filing new cases.  The bad guys get away again.

The Supreme Court adopted revised Court Rules to tighten the procedures to  be followed by the lenders and their attorneys to insure that the banks and their attorneys are truthful in the future, however, due to a loose end, most of the big banks have not resumed foreclosure sales.  The Supreme Court has been asked to decide if the Fair Foreclosure Notice (which must be sent by the banks to the homeowner prior to starting a foreclosure) must name the actual holder of the mortgage(as required by law) or may contain only the name of the Servicing company(as the banks have been doing).  It appears that new foreclosure cases are not being filed and that the clean-up of the existing backlog of pending foreclosure cases will not move forward until this issue is decided.

Persons currently facing foreclosure continue to get a partial reprieve due to the delay.  Sooner or later, the wheels on the foreclosure machine will start turning again.   Homeowners BEWARE!!!!!

NJ FORECLOSURE RESCUE FRAUD PREVENTION ACT

The New Jersey Legislature has finally taken action to limit the frauds which have been laid on the heads of distressed New Jersey homeowners.  The recent passage into law of the “Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act” possibly signals the end to the awful fraud to which distressed homeowners have been subjected over the last several years.

 

While these types of frauds have been around for years, the recent financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market have spawned a whole new generation of unsavory individuals engaged in this type of fraudulent activity.  Thousands of homeowners have been the victims of these frauds by so called “mortgage, foreclosure or home rescue consultants” over the last few years.    These scammers often approached distressed homeowners with promises of miraculous schemes to save their homes from foreclosure.  The scammers often took substantial up-front fees and then performed no work of any value.   In other cases the scammers convinced the homeowners to transfer the title of their home to the scammer on the promise of a “rent back and repurchase” arrangement.  The scammer would then strip any remaining equity out of the property by refinancing and making it impossible for the homeowner to ever regain possession of their property.

The new law which becomes effective in several months regulates not for profit loan modification services, sales of property by “foreclosure consultants” and the sale and leaseback scams.  The law also regulates those consultants who offer mortgage reinstatement services, mortgage modifications and promises of credit repair resulting from mortgage default.

Foreclosure consultants must now obtain a license from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

 

 

Will the Home Mortgage Crisis ever end ??????

The financial press last week reported on two important and interesting developments in the Federal government’s response to the historic and catastrophic residential mortgage crisis. With foreclosures again on the rise, the financial press announced that the White House has floated a plan to pressure the mortgage lenders into offering reductions in principal as part of certain mortgage modifications. At the same time it is reported that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is going to formulate a bill to try to end the Federal Governments mortgage modification programs.

The housing crisis effects all of us. There can be no national economic recovery until there is a recovery in the housing market. Even if you own a home and are paying your mortgage on-time the fact that others in your community are facing foreclosure or have already been forced out of their homes adversely effects the value of every property in the community. We all have a great stake in the health of the housing market.

The current federal efforts to rehabilitate the housing market(TARP and the administrations HAMP program, among others), have been more aimed at saving the big banks than restoring sanity to the residential real estate market. It seems to me that the only solution is to force the mortgage lenders to recognize the losses in their portfolio’s immediately. What better way that to compel them to write down the principal on underwater home mortgages.

I urge everyone who has a stake in restoring sanity to the real estate market(this is, in reality, all of us) to let the White House and Congress know that you support efforts to compel the residential real estate lenders to write-off or write-down mortgage balances which are in excess of the current value of the property. The Republicans are correct that the current Federal efforts to stabilize the residential real estate market(HAMP program) are not working, the solution is not, however, to kill the programs, but rather to review, modify and amend the programs to make them more effective in accomplishing the goal of stabilizing the values of property in the residential real estate market. Write down of underwater mortgage is the key to moving towards a solution.

Please contact the White House and the Republican leaders in Congress and let them know what you think.

Congress Blames Wall Street for the Financial Crisis

The New York Times recently reported that it has seen the report of the Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and that the Commission concludes that the crisis was entirely avoidable.   Those who the report targets as having failed to understand and act properly include the current and past federal administrations, the Federal Reserve and all of the bank regulators.  The inaction or ineptitude of these govermental entities allowed Wall Street to run wild and fulfill their wildest fantasies at the expense of the American People.

Those of us who represent consumers in bankruptcy, credit card suits and foreclosures could have saved the government a ton of money.  The culprits were obvious to us three to four years ago.

Many of the culprits, whose actions bordered on criminal, remain free and others are making a fortune “helping” the government clean-up the mess which they themselves made.  As soon as the report becomes available we will provide a link from this website.

I would urge you to contact your congressperson, however, since most of them have accepted the donations of the culprits, what good would it do??