Dec 29

By Samantha Joseph – Daily Business Review

Deutsche Bank snoozed and lost on a foreclosure suit that took about seven years to play out in Miami-Dade.

While the bank’s case wound its way through the court system, Aqua Master Association Inc. started its own foreclosure claim to enforce liens and collect unpaid dues for a penthouse at 201 Aqua Ave. in Miami Beach.

The condo association gained ownership of the penthouse in 2011, and successfully argued in court that Deutsche Bank waited too long to pursue the case.

The Third District Court of Appeal agreed, siding with the condominium association and barring the bank from continuing the foreclosure.

The case shows the “negative consequences that lenders can face if they go too far with their delay tactics in foreclosure cases,” condo association attorneys Nicholas and Steven Siegfried said in a statement.

The case was Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas v. Harry Beauvais, a borrower who defaulted on his mortgage within months of securing it in early 2006.

Loan servicer American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. filed suit in January 2007, demanding accelerated payments for the full $1.44 million.

Ironically it was this move for upfront payments that would unravel the lender’s case and cost the bank the million-dollar property, because the condo association successfully argued the demand started a five-year clock for resolving the foreclosure. [read more]


Dec 24

By David Migoya – The Denver Post

Two more Denver law firms are accused of bill-padding and fraud in an ongoing state investigation of foreclosure practices that has already brought down one of the region’s largest law offices.

Attorney General John Suthers on Monday said he has filed civil lawsuits against the Vaden Law Firm — run by the city’s former public trustee and recorder Wayne Vaden — and the Hopp Law Firm, accusing each of inflating costs or, in some cases, the outright fabrication of others that netted them nearly millions of dollars in illicit profits.

Calls to Vaden and Robert Hopp were not immediately returned.

Last year, Hopp filed for bankruptcy protection after closing his law office. He is accused of additional misdeeds while later working for a new law firm.

The lawsuits bring to eight the number of law firms caught up in the two-year state investigation. The Denver Post since February 2011 has also written a number of stories revealing questionable practices by many of the law firms, as well as those of the county public trustee offices that oversee the foreclosure process in Colorado.

Nearly all the state’s accusations against the law firms are similar in that each is said to have puffed up the costs of court-ordered postings on properties that inform homeowners of the foreclosure against them.

In most cases, the law firms created a separate company, typically run by a family member, to do the posting work.

The inflated costs — a $150 charge for a service that should cost $25 — emanate from a Colorado law that some of the law firms were said to have helped pass, a well as write. [read more]


Dec 18

By Michelle Singletary – Philly.com

NATIONAL PUBLIC Radio’s David Greene and Robert Smith have been hosting a series of money talks around the country this year concerning personal finances.

Greene, host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and Smith, correspondent for “Planet Money,” start off by asking audience members and panelists who join them, myself included, “What keeps you up at night?”

For all of us, it has been one thing.

Retirement.

Coming in a close second was student-loan debt.

Two recent news events punctuate why we all should be concerned about our retirement readiness, even people who have been diligent financial stewards.

The first came from CreditCards.com, which found that a significant percentage of people don’t see an escape from debt. They believe they will die with it. The irony wasn’t lost on me that the survey was taken this month as people piled on debt while holiday shopping.

Last year, only 9 percent of those surveyed thought they would take their debts to their graves, according to CreditCards.com. This year, the figure doubled to 18 percent. Overall, 43 percent of those with debt expect to remain indebted until 61 or older.

Now consider this news: Congress is considering a measure that could significantly cut the private pensions of some retirees who are members of multiemployer pension plans.

Last month, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said multiemployer plans saw a more than fivefold deficit increase to $42.4 billion. This was a record for the multiemployer program, which insures the benefits of more than 10 million workers and retirees in industries such as building and construction, retail, manufacturing, trucking and transportation. [read more]


Dec 17

By Christine DiGangi – Credit.com

Debt collectors are legally prohibited from misrepresenting themselves as police or lawyers when communicating with consumers. Of course, that hasn’t stopped some collectors from breaking the rules, and there are plenty of debtors who can tell stories of precisely that.

The question of what exactly qualifies as misrepresentation is at the center of a lawsuit filed Dec. 1 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The suit alleges that debt collection company CorrectiveSolutions violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) after using letterhead of various prosecutors’ offices when contacting debtors. The complaint calls into question the process surrounding CorrectiveSolutions’ alleged practice of representing themselves as law enforcement to consumers and threatening legal action for failing to pay the debt. The tricky part of this case, however, lies in the fact that CorrectiveSolutions is under contract with several California’s district attorney offices for the expressed purposes of interceding on the government agency’s behalf. The legal dispute focuses on the way they intervened.

It’s all tied to California’s Bad Check Restitution Program. The program allows people who bounce checks and the businesses who received the checks to settle the case out of court through what’s known as a diversion program. In this diversion program, an offender can avoid prosecution by paying the amount the bad check was written for, plus fees, in addition to taking an 8-hour bad-check-offender class at the offender’s own expense. Through this program, people and businesses who receive bad checks can submit a complaint, along with evidence, to the mailing address listed on the DA’s website. [read more]


Dec 17

By Courtney M. Dankworth, Eric R. Dinallo, Mary Beth Hogan, Andrew M. Levine, Raj A. Vashi and Harriet M. Antczak – Lexology

On December 3, 2014, the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS” or the “Department”) issued final regulations on debt collection practices for third- party debt collectors and debt buyers.1 Announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as “reforms that will protect consumers against abusive and deceptive debt collection practices,”2 the regulations impose significant new requirements on certain companies that engage in debt collection in New York State. By defining “debt collectors” as excluding creditors the regulations limit their overt reach to third-party collectors and debt buyers. But, creditors will face new demands from their debt collectors and debt buyers for additional information about customers and debts, so that these entities can comply with the regulations. The new requirements extend well beyond current federal law and may foreshadow the anticipated federal rulemaking on debt collection by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”).

DFS’S FINAL REGULATIONS

The DFS regulations take effect on March 3, 2015, except for certain regulations relating to itemization of the debt to be provided in initial disclosures and relating to substantiation of consumer debts, which go into effect on August 3, 2015. Requirements under the new debt collection regulations fall into five categories:

Initial Disclosures by Debt Collectors.

The DFS regulations require significant additional information to be disclosed to consumers in initial communications, beyond the information required in the “validation notice” prescribed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). In particular, under the regulations, third-party debt collectors must send a written notification containing: (a) disclosure that debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection; (b) notice of the types of income that may not be taken to satisfy a debt; and (c) detailed account-level information including the name of the original creditor and an itemization of the amount of the debt, including totals for interest, fees, charges and payments.

Disclosures About Debts for which the Statutes of Limitations May Be Expired.

If a debt collector “knows or has reason to know” that the statute of limitations has expired, the debt collector must, prior to accepting payment on the debt, provide the consumer with notice that: the debt collector believes the statute of limitations may be expired; suing on expired debt violates the FDCPA; and if the consumer is sued on such debt, the consumer may be able to halt proceedings by alerting the court that the statute of limitations has expired. The debt collector must also explain that the consumer is not required to acknowledge the debt and that any acknowledgment or promise to pay the debt could restart the statute of limitations. This section mandates that debt collectors maintain “reasonable procedures” for determining whether the statute of limitations has expired. [read more]


Dec 15


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