Apr 23

By Ben Lane – HousingWire

CFPB: Green Tree harassed and threatened overdue homeowners

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that the organizations are taking action against Green Tree Servicing, a subsidiary of Walter Investment Management Corp. (WAC), for “mistreating borrowers” who were attempting to save their homes from foreclosure.

According to the CFPB and the FTC, Green Tree failed to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers, demanded payments before providing loss mitigation options, delayed decisions on short sales, and harassed and threatened overdue borrowers.

Recently, Green Tree received a superior five STAR designation as part of Fannie Mae’s Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards program for 2014. As part of the agreement, Green Tree agreed to pay $48 million in restitution to victims, and a $15 million civil money penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund for its illegal actions, the CFPB said.

“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of Green Tree, our consumers, our clients and our shareholders,” said Mark O’Brien, chairman and ehief executive officer of Walter Investment. “As a company, we have been and continue to be committed to properly serving homeowners and helping them remain in their homes. We continue to develop and deploy best practices in our servicing operations and believe these standards will serve us well as we partner with our consumers to support them in their goal to achieve sustainable homeownership. [read more]

Apr 21

By Gerri Detweiler – Credit.com

If you have old unpaid debts, it can be helpful to know the statute of limitation that applies to those debts. If the statute of limitation (SOL) has expired, a debt is said to be “time-barred,” and a creditor or debt collector is not supposed to sue you to collect.

Here are the seven most common questions we’ve received from readers about this topic.

1. How long is the statute of limitation for my debt?

The time period typically either starts when you fall behind on a debt, or from the date of your last payment, and the length of time depends on state law for that type of debt. This chart is a guide to state statutes of limitation. Unfortunately, it is not always clear-cut. So it’s a good idea to check with your state attorney general’s office, a consumer law attorney or legal aid, especially if you are being threatened with legal action.

2. Can a debt collector try to collect after the SOL has expired?

In many cases, yes. However if you tell the debt collector not to contact you again, they must stop. It’s a good idea to put your request in writing. Once they’ve received it, they can contact you only to confirm that they have received your request or to notify you of legal action they are taking to collect. In some states, however, trying to collect a time-barred debt is illegal and a creditor who attempts to do so is breaking the law. [read more]

Apr 17

By Alicia Wallace – The Denver Post

U.S. foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — saw an uptick in March, but the overall activity is at its lowest in eight years, according to a RealtyTrac report released Thursday.

The real estate research firm reported that foreclosure filings were made for 122,060 U.S. properties last month, representing a 20 percent gain from February and a 4 percent increase from March 2014. It was the first month since September 2010 when foreclosure activity had a year-over-year increase, according to the report.

A nearly 50 percent surge in bank repossessions — to 36,152 properties — triggered the March jump, officials said, noting that the 313,487 foreclosure filings in the first quarter were the lowest quarterly filings in eight years.

Colorado’s foreclosure activity decreased in the first quarter by 5.64 percent to 4,012 properties with foreclosure filings. That rate places Colorado 22nd among other states, RealtyTrac said.

“The 17-month high in bank repossessions in March corresponds to a 17-month high in scheduled foreclosures auctions in October,” Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president, said in a news announcement. “The March increase is continued cleanup of distress still lingering from the previous housing crisis; not the beginning of a new crisis by any means. [read more]

Apr 16

By Jennifer Robison – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada stayed in the top three states for foreclosures in the first quarter as banks picked up the pace on default activity.

One in every 209 homes statewide was in the fore­closure process from January to March, according to a Wednesday report from Realty­Trac. That was up 8.1 percent compared with the first quarter of 2014, and double the U.S. rate of one in every 421 homes. The national rate was down 8.3 percent year over year.

Nevada ranked third for foreclosure activity after Florida, where one in 178 homes was in default, and Maryland, where one in 199 homes was in the process.

RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said fore­closure numbers in general are “continued cleanup of distress still lingering from the previous housing crisis, not the beginning of a new crisis by any means.”

In Nevada, the cleanup has been prolonged by changes in state laws, which put new administrative requirements on banks looking to foreclose.

But industry observers predicted the foreclosure pace would pick up as banks adjusted, and RealtyTrac’s numbers show that has happened.

Lenders filed 3,070 foreclosure starts in Nevada in the first quarter, up 166 percent from the first quarter of 2014, though RealtyTrac said some of the increase may be from a change in data collection methods.

The state’s foreclosure market has had ups and downs with big changes in 2011 and 2013 default laws. [read more]

Apr 14

By Sheryl Harris – The Plain Dealer

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has shut down what it says is a robocall debt collection ring that harassed people into paying millions of dollars they didn’t owe.

The CFPB’s lawsuit says the collectors used bogus names such as “LRS Litigations,” “IRS Equity,” and “Worldwide Requisitions” and threatened consumers with lawsuits or arrest if they didn’t pay up.

LRS Litigations used a 216 number and dogged so many consumers for debts that the Greater Cleveland Better Business Bureau opened a file on the company, even though it couldn’t locate it.

The phantom debt collectors wouldn’t identify the companies the debts were owed to, the suit said, but they were able to convince people the calls were legitimate by ticking off personal information about them, including their Social Security numbers, dates of birth and employers’ names.

In addition to suing the collection companies, the CFPB went after the telemarketing firm that placed the robocalls and the payment processors who took consumers’ credit and debit card payments.

A federal court in Georgia issued a temporary restraining order against the debt collection companies pending further hearings. [read more]

Apr 10

By Chloe Della Costa – Cheat Sheet

Credit reports touch many aspects of people’s daily lives, from employment to housing, so accuracy is paramount to American consumers. Prompted by an investigation that started in 2012, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently reached a settlement with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, the country’s three leading credit reporting agencies (CRAs). The agreement was settled in March 2015, prompting reforms to better protect consumers, including improved credit report accuracy, a more effective system for reporting and fixing errors, restrictions on reporting debts from payday lenders, and a waiting period for reporting medical debts.

The three credit reporting giants have been criticized for frequent errors in reports, as well as the automated, and largely ineffective, process for correcting those errors. The most important action on the part of consumers is to request a yearly free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. This will help consumers catch errors or even instances of fraud as quickly as possible. Thanks to the new agreement, called the National Consumer Assistance Plan, when errors do occur, disputes will now be handled by trained employees.

Another consumer concern addressed in the plan is the treatment of medical debts. Back in August 2014, FICO agreed to discount medical debt from its scores, which was the first piece of good news for impacted consumers. Now with Attorney General Schneiderman’s new settlement, for the first time, CRAs will be required to remove past medical debts after they are paid by an insurer. Mark Rukavina, a longtime consumer advocate and principal of Community Health Advisors, told The New York Times the obligation to remove old debts was “long overdue.” [read more]