By Scott Graham – The Recorder
The First District Court of Appeal has been encouraging attorneys to file electronic briefs along with paper versions for some time. But starting March 17, e-filing will become mandatory for virtually all civil cases. Attorneys will be required to file in PDF or compatible format and submit through ImageSoft’s TrueFiling system. E-filing will be required for criminal cases as of April 14.
Few appellate lawyers know the system better than Gordon & Rees partner Don Willenburg, the only practicing lawyer on the Judicial Council’s Court Technology Advisory Committee. Led by First District Justice Terence Bruiniers, the committee has been hammering out the project in earnest over the last year, and Willenburg and a few colleagues in the appellate bar have spent the last several weeks giving it a test-drive.
Q: This will be the first California appellate court to make virtually all filings mandatory?
A: Yes. I think it particularly makes sense not so much with the briefs, but two other categories of materials. One is the record, which otherwise can be volumes and volumes and boxes and boxes of stuff. And there’s really no point in burdening the court any more than necessary. The other is relatively routine administrative matters, stipulations to extension of time, that kind of thing, where it really doesn’t make sense to have paper at all.
Q: So this is a two-step process. You’ll have to register first.
A: That’s right.
Q: How difficult is that to do?
A: I gave it a try on a test program last week and it wasn’t hard. There were multiple steps, as there are in many computer registration schemes, but it was easy enough that even I could do it, as well as my able assistant. [read more]
By ACA International
ACA International’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act petition on behalf of the credit and collection industry is now public, and the Federal Communications Commission is seeking comments.
In July 2013, the ACA International Board of Directors approved initiatives to protect the long-term viability of the credit and collection industry. These efforts are funded by a three-year Industry Advancement Fund assessment.
On Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission posted a public notice requesting comments regarding ACA’s petition requesting clarification and revisions to rules governing the TCPA.
Posting of the public notice opened a 30-day comment period, ending on March 24. ACA members are encouraged to submit thoughtful comments of support, which can be done electronically or by mail. To ensure your comments are submitted in support of ACA’s petition, please include reference to the Rulemaking Number – 11712 and Proceeding Number 02-278.
Online comments can be submitting via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. The FCC also has the ECFS Expert Form, which provides additional ways to find proceedings and allows you to upload documents including PDF files. Electronic comments must be filed by midnight Eastern Time on the date of the deadline. ECFS also allows you to view other comments that have been filed. [read more]
By Marilyn Kalfus – Orange County Register
Mortgage servicers who play “shell games” with homeowners and fail to follow new rules on how to help borrowers in default or facing foreclosure will pay for their actions, a top government consumer watchdog warned last week.
Steve Antonakes, deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, made the statements at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s national mortgage-servicing conference in Florida.
“My message to you today is a tough one,” he told the conference. “We have raised the bar in favor of American consumers, and we are ready, willing and able to vigorously enforce that bar.”
The warning came the same week as a New York Times report that consumers around the nation are having difficulties dealing with specialty mortgage servicers that collect mortgage payments.
Katherine Porter, a UC Irvine law professor and the state’s monitor for the 2012 $25 billion settlement between the nation’s largest banks and federal authorities, said in the Times story that mortgage-servicing companies have “overpromised and underdelivered.”
“The conventional wisdom of the last three years is that nonbanks specializing in mortgage servicing do a better job at assisting homeowners,” Porter told the Register in an interview Thursday, “but complaints from homeowners indicate multiple problems with helping homeowners in the loan-modification process.”
Servicers, whether they’re banks or so-called nonbank companies, take mortgage payments from borrowers and forward them to the loan owners. The servicers also handle loan modifications and foreclosures. More and more, these tasks have been shifted from banks to servicing companies, which now have more than 17 percent of the mortgage-servicing market, said Guy Cecala of Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. [read more]
By ACA International
District courts see a 26 percent decrease in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act filings, a 19 percent increase in early Fair Credit Reporting Act filings and a 30 percent jump in Telephone Consumer Protection Act filings, according to January data from WebRecon.
In January 2014, 709 lawsuits were filed in U.S. district courts for alleged Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations, representing a 26 percent decline from January 2013, according to new data from WebRecon. The number of Fair Credit Reporting Act filings increased from 161 in January 2013 to 191 this year—a 19 percent jump. Telephone Consumer Protection Act filings grew from 160 last year to 208 in January 2014—a 30 percent increase.
Of the cases filed in January, about 940 were from unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit). Of those 940 plaintiffs, about 299 (31.8 percent) had previously sued under consumer statutes. Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 1,595 lawsuits since 2001. Approximately 782 different collection firms and creditors were sued.
WebRecon also reports that 2,975 consumer complaints about debt collectors were filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in January 2014. [read more]
By Bill Briggs – NBC News
They’re zeroes, and proud of it.
In the happy depths of the credit basement, a rare place 300 points beneath the lowest-measurable FICO score, a sub-culture is humming, and some of its inhabitants – many of whom worked hard to descend there – now aim to be heard.
They’ve paid every outstanding balance, yet gleefully dumped their all-consuming chase for seductive, sky-high credit scores, spurning the pump-your-number advice of financial experts like Suze Orman. They refuse to play, ever again, what they dub “the debt game” as they niftily navigate the American economy via all-cash lifestyles.
“It’s the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept: My wife, Alana, and I just wanted to get out of debt, but as we did, we found we cared less and less about our credit score,” said Brad Chaffee, 38, who lives in Charlottesville, Va. In 20 months, they sold their bank-owned house and vehicle, paid off student loans, fulfilled then closed all credit lines, and bought a cheap car on eBay. By October 2009, they had achieved their goal. They have never gone back.
“We decided to make decisions based on what was better for us financially instead of what was better for some three-digit number that’s thrown around like it’s a lifeline that we all need to survive,” Chaffee added.
To ensure his newly sparse credit record contained no errors, Chaffee checked with FICO, the company that calls itself “the standard measure of consumer credit risk in the United States,” offering a scale of 300 to 850, allowing lenders to assess personal debt. He got an unexpected response: “There is not enough information to calculate a score.” That brought a grin.
Within a rising subculture to flee FICO’s influence, people like Chaffee utter the mantra: “The perfect FICO score is probably zero.” He adds: “I’m perfectly happy without one.”
But in a consumer nation where plastic holds sway – where credit numbers can determine everything from whether you qualify for a home loan or for lower auto-insurance rates or even for a job – the people who flaunt their zeroes remain relatively few. [read more]
By Patrick Lunsford – insideARM
In one of the largest acquisitions in accounts receivable management industry history, Norfolk, Va.-based Portfolio Recovery Associates (NASDAQ: PRAA) announced late Wednesday that it will buy Oslo, Norway-based debt buyer Aktiv Kapital, a company that specializes in accounts from Europe and Canada.
The consideration paid in the deal will be $880 million plus the assumption of $435 million in corporate debt, making the total transaction value more than $1.3 billion. PRA is expected to finance this transaction with a combination of cash; $170 million of seller financing; $435 million from the company’s domestic, revolving credit facility; and by accessing an accordion feature on its credit facility of up to $214 million.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.
“This will be a transformative transaction for PRA, expected to be immediately accretive to earnings,” said Steve Fredrickson, chairman, president and chief executive officer, PRA. ”In Aktiv Kapital, PRA has found a true partner, an international acquirer of consumer debt with a conservative balance sheet, a deep and diverse data set, and remarkable analytical and operating capabilities.” [read more]