There is no singular public official who bears the entire burden for failure to prosecute banks during the foreclosure crisis. However, many of them do have some responsibility, considering some 9.3 million American families lost their homes during the late Bush and most of the Obama years, just before, during and after the housing market crashed. foreclosure defense

There was a perfect storm of wrongdoing by lenders, brokers and others – including inflated appraisals, falsified underwriting and improper placement into subprime loans, which all led to misconduct and fraud in loan servicing, securitization, foreclosures and loan modification. Millions of phony documents were used as evidence to secure eviction. In other words, there was unlawful fraud going on in every step of the process. And despite this, there was very little accountability by those in power which, at the time, were mostly Democrats.

Case-in-point, as noted recently by The New Republic, is Kamala Harris. As the previous attorney general (now serving as a U.S. senator), Harris overrode a recommendation from state prosecutors to pursue civil enforcement action against OneWest Bank, a company under the direction of now-treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, accused of repeatedly violating state foreclosure laws. Harris declined to provide a reason for this, and it has caused many even on the left to view her with great skepticism.  Continue reading

Wells Fargo has repeatedly found itself answering to government regulators for violating consumer rights – most recently for overcharging military veterans on home finance loans.foreclosure attorney

Just one week before announcing the $108 million settlement it had reached with the federal government for this wrongdoing, the bank revealed it was paying out $80 million in compensation for wrongfully force-placing car insurance on some 570,000 consumers. A significant number of those customers their vehicles wrongly repossessed when they couldn’t keep pace with the artificially high payments – which impacted their credit scores too. And just before that, the bank was answering to allegations that more than 5,000 former employees opened 2 million unauthorized accounts in order to rake in sales and bonuses. The bank paid an $185 fine, plus another $142 million settlement following a class action in that case.

In the case of military veterans, it all stems from a 2006 lawsuit claiming the Interest Reduction Refinance Loans through the Department of Veteran Affairs – issued by Wells Fargo – should not have been eligible for guarantees through the VA because the bank was reportedly charging loan fees that weren’t authorized. The VA then paid claims after a number of those loans defaulted, and the government then sought redress from Wells Fargo. Continue reading

Housing prices in four of the country’s largest cities – including Miami – have been deemed overvalued, potentially setting the stage for another housing market bubble. Prices for homes in Miami, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Denver are now considered too high for long-term sustainability. foreclosure defense

That’s according to a new report from CoreLogic, which contrasts current home prices to what are known to be viable in the long term, weighing elements like local disposable income. A market is considered “overvalued” if prices of homes are at least 10 percent above what is deemed to be that sustainable mark. In this most recent analysis, none of the top 10 markets were deemed undervalued, as they were just a few years ago, following the housing crisis. Six were considered “at value.” But Miami was among those in the top 10 considered overvalued.

Market researchers say affordability is going to be an ongoing challenge in the years to come, until either more houses are built (increasing the supply) or there is another bursting bubble and prices fall again.  Continue reading

A internal report from executives at Wells Fargo has determined more than 800,000 people who took out loans for their vehicles were forced into buying unnecessary auto insurance. Some of those people are still paying for the coverage, and the expense has pushed a quarter million of them into delinquency. Additionally, some 25,000 people suffered wrongful vehicle possessions as a result of this practice. debt defense lawyer

The 60-page report was obtained by New York Times reporters, who noted that some of those affected included members of the U.S. military who were on active duty.

As our debt defense lawyers know well, this is not the first time Wells Fargo has landed in hot water for strong-arming customers into coverage or accounts they did not need. Most recently, the company incurred millions of dollars in fines when it was revealed employees generated millions of bank accounts and credit cards for which customers never asked. The fines were imposed on the bank just last year.  Continue reading

The student loan industry in many ways is mirroring that of the mortgage industry, and financial crisis may soon be on the horizon.debt defense

The only reason it hasn’t completely erupted up until this point is that despite the large number of student loan debts that are in default or delinquent, the share of their total debt did not balloon to the point of completely unsettling markets or setting public opinions alight. In fact, until recently many held the attitude that it was borrowers, saddled with mountains of debt they could not shed through bankruptcy, who had made their own bed. That could soon change, as companies purchasing distressed student loan debts – also known as “bundlers” – are finding themselves in the very same spot as many subprime mortgage companies did a few years ago.

Specifically, it’s being revealed in a number of pending cases that these student loan debt bundlers are not able to prove who actually owns the debt or when.  Continue reading

Private student loan debts – possibly tens of thousands of them, worth $5 billion – could be wiped away completely unless creditors start producing the proper paperwork.student loan debt defense

In a series of events that mirror that of the 2008 housing crisis and subsequent fall out, the troubled loans involve former students and graduates who have not been able to keep pace with their payments. Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, which is spread out over some 44 million borrowers – far exceeding the $620 billion owed to U.S. credit card companies. The average graduate in 2016 has more than $37,000 in student loan debt – an increase of six percent from just one year earlier.

Meanwhile, the student loan delinquency rate, as reported by the Federal Reserve, is 11.2 percent. The Consumer Federation of America reports $137 billion federal student loans had not been paid for at least nine months last year, which is a 14 percent uptick in just a single year. Continue reading

It’s well-established that free and open markets are the foundation of a vibrant economy. When competition is aggressive among open-market sellers, both businesses and individuals are supposed to benefit from higher quality services and goods as well as lower prices. The laws that enforce the rules of a fair, open market are called antitrust laws. Consumer rights attorneys know that these laws are important not just to businesses, but to individuals. consumer rights lawyer

Recently, journalism outlet Vox delved into whether the economic gap of income inequality between the coastal cities, which are overall thriving, and Middle America, may be blamed on lack of antitrust enforcement.

This all started with President Ronald Reagan, and a policy to mute the impact of antitrust oversight. The idea was to make it easier for large companies to merge. In so doing, however, large companies became extremely powerful, consolidating market power and trampling their competition. Prior to Reagan’s antitrust policies, monopolies were largely prevented from forming. Now though, we see such mega-firms commonplace in almost every industry, from pharmaceuticals to technology to retail. Yes, they are bad for competition, but it’s being speculated that they are also largely to blame for the decline of a number of cities across the country.  Continue reading

In the wake of the economic crisis largely fueled by weak financial regulations and poor consumer protections, the federal government enacted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was part of the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act, which included a number of elements that shielded consumers from abusive and predatory practices and extended power to hold violators to account. consumer protection

Now, the Trump administration and Republican Congress have made it clear they intend to weaken the CFPB, and slash other consumer protection too.

Just recently, the Treasury Department issued a report that proposes a major weakening of the act, dramatically reducing the role of the federal government in overseeing the consumer financial services market. In particular, the CFPB would be constrained to a major degree. Republicans have been after the CFPB since it was created and began providing regulatory oversight for seven different federal agencies. While even lenders have seen the value in consolidation of regulatory compliance, conservative lawmakers continue to try to undercut the act and the consumer protection it provides.  Continue reading

The first U.S. Supreme Court opinion in which Justice Niel Gorsuch wrote may not be of much note for its eloquence. However, you will find it means a great deal to you if you ever have – or ever will be – on the other end of the line when a debt collector calls to harass you in the middle of the night. debt defense

The decision in Henson v. Santander gives bottom-feeder debt collectors a pass to violate consumer rights and basic protections. Of course, it’s not shocking that Gorsuch, appointed by President Donald Trump, would defer to the big business party in the case. However, it seemed lost on the conservatives of the court that this ruling could have real-life implications that favor financial predators.

It is the hope of our Miami debt defense attorneys that at this point, Congress will weigh in to repair the damage. However, given the makeup of the current power structure, that’s unlikely anytime soon.  Continue reading

Since 2010, there has been a rapid growth in the U.S. car loan industry. A new report from Bloomberg indicates borrower fraud is soaring, and we may soon near a bursting bubble, similar to what we saw with the housing crisis. car accident

It’s estimated as many as 1 percent of car loan applications in the U.S. contain some type of material misrepresentation, according to Point Predictive, a data analytics company cited by Bloomberg. That’s close to the just-over-1-percent of fraud we saw in U.S. mortgages back in 2009, when the housing market financial crisis was in full swing.

The good news is the economic fallout is likely to be much less earth-shattering (for most of us) because there is simply less outstanding debt on automobiles as there are on houses. Still, there are some uncanny parallels between the mortgage and auto industries in terms of the growth of this type of fraud. While we don’t know just how widespread the problem was prior to 2009 (lenders weren’t reporting information to each other and often weren’t investigating such incidents on their own), it does seem as if we may be on a similar track.

Continue reading