A growing number of renters in South Florida report they have endured great expense and frustration as a result of receiving little-to-no notice that they must vacate their rental after it’s been resold through foreclosure. The Miami Herald recently reported families have been uprooted multiple times, some given no more than 24 hours notice that they must vacate.sad2

Miami foreclosure defense lawyer Bruce Jacobs, as an authority on real estate litigation and landlord-tenant law in South Florida, was asked to weigh in.

The best thing tenants can do, Jacobs said, is to become educated about their own situation, become involved in the legal process and have contingency plans.

“Rather than just putting your heads in the sand and waiting for the sheriff to show up – that’s the worst situation to be in,” Jacobs said. Continue reading

Student loan debt is a major problem in Florida. No state is untouched by the problem, of course, but new research by data website WalletHub reveals Florida ranks 40th in the country as one of the worst states for student debt.graduation2

Second to mortgages, student loans are the largest part of household debt for Americans. By the end of the first quarter of this year, the amount of outstanding loan balances was $1.19 trillion. That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which notes that figure is a $32 billion increase from the previous quarter and an astonishing $78 billion increase from where it was just a year earlier.

In essence, what this means is that a college degree is no guarantee of financial security. Continue reading

The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, was introduced by the Obama Administration in 2009 as a lifeline for homeowners who were drowning. It was supposed to give some 4 million struggling homeowners the opportunity to hang on to their homes by offering them reduced monthly mortgages through loan modification.realestate

But according to a new report on the program, that help didn’t come easy, if it ever came at all.

In fact, for most of the intended target borrowers, it was a nightmare that ultimately ended in foreclosure. The federal oversight report indicates that six years after the program was unveiled, only about 887,000 people received home loan modifications. That’s less than a quarter of what was promised when Americans were first informed of the program. Continue reading

There’s an old saying regarding two certainties in life: Death and taxes. As it turns out, you can also be pretty certain of another: The U.S. government is probably never going to forgive your student loan debt. elderly

In fact, not only with the government hound you throughout all your working years – no matter how little you actually earn – you can bet calls for payback won’t end when you retire. That’s due to legislation passed by Congress in 1996. The little-known law gives the government the power to garnish the wages of Social Security checks (paid to those over the age of 65) for student loan debts.

As of right now, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, there are approximately 700,000 senior citizens receiving Social Security who still have student loan debt. Of those, more than a quarter are in default and are having their monthly stipends garnished to repay those loans. The government takes 15 percent of the total, assuming that leaves the retired worker with at least $750 a month. Continue reading

The world’s largest credit card lender has been ordered by a U.S. government watchdog agency to repay $700 million to its customers, plus $70 million in fines, due to illegal practices.
Specifically, the bank marketed numerous add-on products for its credit cards in which it promised to offer credit monitoring, defer payments or forgive debts under certain circumstances such as job loss or financial hardship. The services were offered under such names as “Credit Protector,” “Payment Safeguard” and “AccountCare.”

Benefit of these programs were greatly overstated. Beyond that, the bank allegedly misrepresented fees, in some cases indicating the services were free or free for a period of time, when in fact, they were not.

In the case of “credit monitoring services,” there was no one monitoring changes made at the everyday transaction level, even though that’s what people believed they were paying for. Sales and marketing firms employed “leading questions” and also took ambiguous answers from consumers to mean confirmation they wanted the services.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren has firmly stated she will not run for President in the 2016 general election. However, she is still vying to keep her U.S. Senate seat, and she is continuing her staunch advocacy for consumer protections.
Among these efforts is to preserve the agency she helped start – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which numerous Republican party candidates have vowed to dismantle. She has put forth a petition, asking the public to help protect the agency from attempts to weaken or even kill it.

In her call to action, she notes government agencies offer protections of all kinds. They ensure toys aren’t made with lead paint, that medicine isn’t tainted with poisons and that cars aren’t manufactured without functioning brakes. There is even an agency that protects against exploding toasters.
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Consumer advocates have been warning for years that bank debt collection tactics by third-party collection agencies are unfair, deceptive and abusive.
Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the attorneys general of 47 states and Washington, D.C., have filed an enforcement action against one of the largest banks in the country for allegedly unfair credit card collection tactics.

The action outlines the systematic approach the bank reportedly took in collecting debts that were unverified, inaccurate, discharged in bankruptcy or were not collectible for other reasons.

Our Miami consumer protection attorneys understand the list of alleged transgressions is long.

Among allegations made:

The bank used documents that were illegally-sworn in obtaining court judgments against some 500,000 borrowers whose debts were not verified. In those cases, people may not have had the resources to fight back, and ended up getting slapped with a default judgment – owing a debt they should never have had to pay to start. The bank issued sworn statements promising the debts were valid and accurate, but in fact, the company failed on a consistent basis to review those records and make sure those statements were truthful.
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In a scathing article detailing dealings of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi writes about Holder’s lack of bank prosecutions in the wake of the housing market bust and how he may now be personally benefiting from that.
Taibbi calls out Holder as “Double Agent,” parading “brilliantly” as the U.S. Attorney General when, in fact, he was “the best defense lawyer Wall Street ever had.”

To back this assertion, Taibbi notes that prior to him taking on the position of attorney general, Holder was a top attorney for the firm Covington & Burlington, which is known to be one of the best white-collar defense firms in the nation. In fact, it’s a go-to for those in hot water on Wall Street.
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The latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates a quarter of all borrowers whose loans have come due are severely delinquent.students1

That tells us the percentage of Americans who have fallen further behind on student loan debts has spiked over the last 12 months, even though other measures indicate an economy that is steadily getting better.

As of June 30th, the number of outstanding student loan debts that were at least three months late stood at nearly 12 percent. That’s up from 10.9 percent one year earlier. Continue reading

Popular country singer Tim McGraw announced that on each of the remaining stops of his tour this year, he plans to give away a mortgage-free home to a U.S. veteran of the armed forces. flag1.jpg

The singer’s web site indicates he and Operation Homefront have gifted more than 100 homes to veterans and their families. By the close of his national tour in September, he said an additional 30 homes will have been given away.

McGraw cited the sacrifices so many U.S. veterans and their families have made, and noted the indelible mark made on his heart by those he has already aided. In his previous tour, he gave away 25 mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans or those whose families were in need.
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