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.

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

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.

 

Treatment of Cigarettes in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans

If you are considering a bankruptcy discharge, you may be familiar with the detail that the Bankruptcy court looks at your spending habits and budget.  It is especially important to look at the treatment of what you consider a regular expense and the Bankruptcy court may scrutinize.

One such expense is that associated with cigarettes.  While many people understand that cigarettes are harmful to one’s health, due to its addictive nature, they may find it too hard to quit the habit.  With cigarettes costing consumers well above $7 per pack in New Jersey, cigarettes are a hard habit to fund.  Also, the expense associated with many products used to quit smoking can be as costly as the cigarettes themselves.

How does the bankruptcy court treat tobacco addiction?  On one hand, the court is unwilling to make a judgment on a consumer’s choices with their money.  On the other hand, that money set aside in a plan for cigarettes could be used towards funding the plan, and go towards creditors.  The Bankruptcy Court may examine the amount of money set aside to fund a cigarette addiction and request adjustments if it appears to be too high.  Ultimately, the discretion lies with the judge, but the judge will hesitate before making sweeping changes to the plan if it logically fits into the debtor’s plan.

If you are interested in reading more about the legal implications of this issue, please click here to read a Harvard Law Review Note.

If you are facing financial issues and even considering bankruptcy or any other debt relief, please contact the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Office in Green Brook, NJ at 732-752-8834.  We are happy to answer any questions for you and will even meet with you for free.  Please call at any time to set up an appointment.

New Jersey Still Waiting for a Glut of Foreclosures to Close

New Jersey is second in the country for the rate of homeowners with seriously deliquent loans.  These are mortgages 90 days late or in forclosure.  This means that, while some parts of the country are starting to recover from this mortgage debacle, other states, like New Jersey are still waiting for solutions.  Homeowners and banks are still waiting for foreclosure.  This means that NJ home prices are still falling, which is a burden on the New Jersey economy. 

Unfortunately, the bad news does not end there.  What is also burdening New Jersians is that there is a greater quantity of shadow inventory.  Shadow inventory is real estate properties that are either in foreclosure and have not yet been sold or homes that owners are delaying putting on the market until prices improve. Shadow inventory can create uncertainty about the best time to sell (for owners) and when a local market can expect full recovery. Also, shadow inventory typically causes reported data on housing inventory to understate the actual number of inventory in the market. You can read more about shadow inventory here

New Jersey has about 60,000 foreclosures that were started in January 2008 and are still waiting for resolution.  THe hold up is partly because of the robosigning scandal.  The NJ state courts became alerted to the robo-signing scandal and were concerned that there was no good process in place for foreclosures that would maintain fairness for homeowners.  As the state has worked out the process, the foreclosures are starting to come through the system, with banks beefing up foreclosure departments to push them through faster. 

One may think if foreclosure is such a slow option, banks would turn to short sales.  Banks are happy to short sell and get some money for the mortgage right away but homeowners are hesitant to do so, not wanting to uproot their families and hoping for a different solution.  One solution is to wait and see, which many homeowners are doing.  Why move out if you don’t have to do so? 

If you are facing foreclosure, we encourage you to contact us at the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. law office.  We have helped many clients  who are facing financial peril and can help you make sense of it all.  Please call us at 732-752-8834 to discuss your situation or even schedule a free consultation.   We are here to help you.

Student Loan Debt Still a Financial Burden on Consumers

Chances are, you went to school to better yourself, your future and your family’s future. But now, due to this economic crisis, you have this new degree but no new job to go with it. Or a new degree and the same old job you had before you got the degree. But worse still, you have a pile of student loans that you took out to pay for the new degree. You wonder how you will pay for this education? Will it ever pay off? This is a question many Americans are asking themselves.

The trouble is, right now, there are not a lot of answers for people struggling to pay mounting student loan debt. Right now, student loan debt is greater than $1 trillion. Most of that is public student loan debt, held by Sallie Mae, but some of it is held by major lenders like Chase, Wells Fargo, CitiBank and other banking institutions.

As the student debt load grows, there are few ways to fight it. Bankruptcy, while an option for many other consumer debts, is very challenging to use to discharge student loan debt. When a consumer files for bankruptcy, the judge must apply a special test to student loan debt to determine whether it may be discharged. The test has 3 requirements:

The judge will determine whether the debtor has made a good faith effort to repay their debt by trying to get a job, earn as much as possible and has lived modestly. 

The judge will examine the debtor’s budget, which is designed to maintain a minimal standard of living.

The judge will look at the debtor’s future earning prospects: whether there is a “certainty of hopelessness” in that the debtor will most likely never be able to pay off the debt.  Many judges are uncomfortable with making the determination of what will happen in the future of a debtor and this test tends to be passed for people with extraordinary circumstances.

Unfortunately, although there have been discussions in Washington D.C. to combat this mounting issue, nothing is on the horizon to make any great changes to this unfortunate circumstance.  This is your chance to urge your senators and representatives to bring this important issue to the forefront of debate.  This is an issue that will affect our children and grandchildren until something is done.

Also, remember, at Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Office, we are interested in helping you get the financial relief you need. We help consumers with bankruptcy, debt consolidation, mortgage modifications and other debt relief issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to come in for a free consultation about your personal situation. Our number is 732-752-8834.

Buyer Beware – Pay Day Lenders

While watching television, you may see advertisements for short term loans to tide you over until your next pay check comes. Sometimes these are called cash advances, but they aren’t connected to a credit card. They are short term, unsecured loans, sometimes based on past paycheck history. You may hear many different names used to describe these loans, including payday loans or payday advances. 

They may seem like a great way to tide you over until your next paycheck, however, the fees and interest can add up quickly because many times, the interest rate is 400%. Yes, 400%! The interest can be quadruple the amount borrowed. That means, if you borrow $100 and do not pay it back for one year, the interest alone paid to the lender would be $400. This may be considered an extreme situation but unfortunately happens to many people. This does not even account for the fees that are associated with this type of loan.

Many of these lenders connect electronically to a user’s bank account, making it VERY difficult to cut ties with the lender. As a borrower in a hurry to get money, the borrower may agree to terms without knowing it, allowing the lender to reach into the borrower’s bank account electronically, taking money that the borrower maybe didn’t anticipate to be taken. It can get very difficult to unravel yourself from the pain of the electronic transactions and we recommend not getting involved.

Payday lenders are working to gain a stronger foothold in the lending industry. They are looking to shed their negative reputation and are lobbying to deregulate the industry. Even though we receive feedback from many clients that feel the process is confusing, the proposed deregulation would loosen the rules for how these lenders explain the costs of loans to the borrower.  This would make an already confusing loan product even more confusing for consumers!  Thankfully, recently in Washington, D.C., this bill was opposed vehemently. Click here and here to read more.

The best course of action in dealing with these loans is to avoid them!  Beware of these loans. They can be very dangerous. However, if you are having financial trouble, please reach out to us and talk to us about your options. We are always happy to help you with any questions you have and would love to sit down with you to discuss options to better your family’s situation.  We can set up a meeting for you for free.  Please call 732-752-8834 to set one up today.

Mortgage Modifications – The Trouble With Weak Legislation

Are you having trouble making your monthly mortgage payments? An increasing number of American households face this predicament.

More and more homeowners are facing financial challenges because of unfortunate and unforseen circumstances, such as the loss of job or a cutback in work hours. Others cannot make their mortgage payments because they face mounting medical or credit card bills. Some homeowners who have worked hard for years to make their mortgage payments suddenly find they cannot because their payment suddenly increases under the confusing terms of a hyper-complex mortgage.

Homeowners who hope for to save their homes often apply for loan modifications, especially when they know that a little give on the part of their lender would allow them to get back on track. However, most homeowners who apply for loan modifications are denied modifications by their lender.

If you are one of those homeowners who have been turned down by your lender for a loan modification you are therefore in the majority and are not alone.

In fact, about 4.3 million Americans have applied for mortgage modifications. Disturbingly, lenders have only approved about one quarter of those 4.3 million loan applications, leaving about 3 million Americans floundering and facing disaster. Sadly, about 1.4 million families who applied for loan modifications have already lost their homes or now face foreclosure and/or bankruptcy. For those families that were denied loan modifications and lost their homes, there is little or no recourse.

Modifications are denied because banks have no reason to help consumers unless the government gives them a reason to do so.

Banks often deny modifications even when it is obvious on paper that a homeowner’s circumstances have rebounded so that the homeowner could resume making their mortgage payments going forward if only given a chance. However, such homeowners usually do not have enough cash in the bank to deal with the arrears that have piled up. Banks which know exactly how much cash a homeowner has in the bank will insist upon a lump sum payment far in excess of the homeowner’s savings in order to “approve” a loan modification. Denials of loan modifications where the homeowner’s finances make clear sense on paper are confusing, depressing, and infuriating to say the least.

Homeowners are denied modifications for countless “reasons”. Sometimes homeowners facing hardships defaulted in the first place on their own bank’s advice, being advised by their lender that in order to be helped and considered for a modification they must first be in default. After this, painfully, many if not most of these people end up losing their homes. People are often denied modifications not because of the finances involved but because the banks claim to keep losing their paperwork or because the bank deems the documents to be “stale” at the time it makes its decision.

Banks obviously have a double standard, demanding homeowners be immediately responsive and have proactive and meticulous record keeping while asking homeowners to be sympathetic and understanding of the bank’s inability to find documents or to make decisions on loan modifications before the homeowner’s document become “stale.”

Because banks have been so miserly in granting modifications, the government enacted legislation to help homeowners, at least in theory, in 2009. This legislation, however, did not cure the problems faced by the majority of homeowners in default and was enacted merely to try to get the banks to modify mortgages without constant prodding by the government.

Despite the dismal numbers, if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments you should not give up hope. Many believe the despite the dismal numbers there is still no better time to be applying for a mortgage modification.

Although the 2009 legislation has obviously not been equal to the task and challenge of the housing crisis in America and the need for reform, it does show that the political wind can be changed. And the 2009 legislation at least shows that Washington D.C. is beginning to take notice.

Importantly, with a major presidential election on the horizon, the signs in Washington once again are pointing to change. If you are a homeowner struggling to make your mortgage payments, you should take this opportunity to contact your senators and representatives and urge them to make your voice heard – by requesting more reform for the majority of struggling homeowners like yourself.

Also, remember, at Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. law office we are interested in helping you get the financial relief you need. We help consumers with bankruptcy, debt consolidation, mortgage modifications and other debt relief issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to come in for a free consultation about your personal situation. Our number is (732) 752-8834.