Articles Posted in consumer rights

A high-level federal examiner at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reportedly leaked information to Wells Fargo about the existence of an investigation – something that is strictly forbidden. debt defense

Debt defense attorneys in Miami know that this kind of disclosure means the bank could have taken measures to protect itself from criminal or civil liability.

American Banker reports the tip-off was uncovered by a watchdog agency with the U.S. Treasury Department, which found the examiner in charge of the Wells Fargo investigation for the OCC reportedly let the bank in on the probe by the Treasury Department. The exact nature of that investigation and the details of what Wells Fargo executives learned about it have not yet been released. In general, employees for the OCC are not supposed to discuss any pending investigative details unless they specifically have the express approval to do so.

This lead wasn’t previously reported, but was discovered in a recent report released by the inspector general’s office for the Treasury Department. It should be noted the OCC’s budget is dependent on fines and assessments against the banks it oversees – which includes Wells Fargo, a company with more than $2 trillion in assets. Continue reading

Over the last several months, the authority and drive of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been eroded piece-by-piece. consumer rights lawyer

Recently, The New York Times reported the agency’s pursuit of predatory payday lenders relaxed considerably amid intense lobbying of the industry to this administration. In just two months, hundreds of lobbyists from the industry will be in Florida for a retreat at the Trump National Doral Golf Club. Meanwhile, the CFPB’s interim director, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, announced a halt to enactment of a rule imposed tight restrictions on short-term payday loans, which lead to some of the most extreme cases of abusive payday lending. He has also stopped enforcement actions against payday lenders who trick consumers into thinking that borrowing rates are less expensive than they truly are.

Then there was word the agency was dropping the investigation into the Equifax data breach. This was the incident that exposed the private, personal data of millions of Americans to hackers. To put this into perspective, criminals now have access to critical, sensitive data from 145 million Americans (including addresses and social security numbers), putting those consumers at high risk for fraud victimization that can damage their credit and financial security – and the company negligent in allowing this breach suffers no consequences. Continue reading

A recent letter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency slams Wells Fargo & Co., and warns it may be taking federal enforcement action against the financial institution for a host of wrongs in its mortgage and auto insurance operations. consumer rights attorney

The Wall Street Journal reports the federal regulator, in a letter submitted last month, accused the bank of willfully causing its customers harm. The bank has been given the opportunity to respond. The financial giant is alleged to have failed repeatedly to take corrective action on known problems in a broad range of its consumer services – beyond just mortgage lending and auto insurance.

The bank refused to comment on the letter publicly, telling the WSJ it is continuing with its commitment to fixing existing problems, working closely with its risk management teams to rebuild trust from both consumers and employees. The OCC turned down the opportunity to comment further on the pending regulatory action. Continue reading

Stolen consumer data from Equifax is reportedly being used by criminals, who heisted the information to apply for student loans, credit cards and even mortgages. The Chicago Tribune reports a class action lawsuit alleges this, as well as individuals using the compromised information to tap into consumer’s bank accounts, file claims with insurers, steal tax refunds and rack up sizable debt. consumer rights attorney

The lawsuit involves dozens of consumers who filed complaints from each state, as well as in the District of Colombia. The data taken from Equifax included credit card accounts, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers and other information that could be used to drill into individual’s accounts and finances. The breach of information from the purportedly secure databases of Equifax affected nearly 15 million people in the U.S.

The class in this case is likely to become enormous, and asserts the credit bureau violated a number of state and federal laws.  Continue reading

Researchers from The Ohio State University, Rutgers University, the Chicago Fed and Georgetown University have concluded banks are attempting to influence voters’ opinion of the Dodd-Frank Act, hoping to discredit the truth: That the financial reform measure has been great for consumers. It’s also opined the banks are seeking to influence Congressional action on a bill to reform the financial measure. foreclosure lawyer

Specifically, the study authors posit in their working paper, “The Politics of Foreclosure,” that banks responsible for servicing delinquent mortgages held off on proceeding with foreclosures in electoral districts where members of the House Financial Services Committee are poised for re-election. The researchers discovered that although there was no difference in the rates of mortgage delinquency between non-committee districts and committee districts, the committee districts had far lower rates of foreclosures.

Basically, the banks were turning down the volume on the foreclosure complaints committee members would receive. Because there would not be as many foreclosures in those districts, there would be far fewer complaints from constituents regarding the financial hardship of the mortgage crisis fallout. In turn, the Congressional leaders would be more lenient during the debate on the bill, giving the banks an edge.  Continue reading

The sweeping financial reforms instituted by the previous White House administration face serious threats as Wall Street and the politicians backed by them set their sights on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The creation of the CFPB in 2010 is intended to serve as a watchdog over large banks and corporations that threaten consumer rights – much like what we saw leading up to the housing market collapse that drove us into a recession.consumer rights lawyer

The first significant victory, of course, happened in late October, when Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate necessary to block implementation of a new landmark rule by the CFPB to ban arbitration provisions by banks and credit card firms. The rule ensured wronged consumers would still have access to the courts to settle disputes via class action litigation, which evens the playing field when consumers are wronged by large corporations and financial institutions. Now, though, the arbitration provisions will continue, and class action lawsuits will grind to a halt. The CFPB’s director put it simply, “Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.”

Now, that director is stepping down, and there is ongoing talk of shutting down the CFPB, with powerful bank and business representatives lamenting the agency’s “unchecked” power and “lack of accountability.” The truth of the matter is that although the agency has only been in existence for about 5.5 years, enforcement actions against everyone from small-time debt collectors to the world’s biggest banking giants has resulted in the return of nearly $12 billion to some 30 million consumers. Further, it’s public database of consumer complaints against lenders has resulted in a host of new rules on everything from prepaid cards to student loans to mortgages. The agency also has been able to obtain some type of solution to some 160,000 consumer complaints out of 800,000. Continue reading

The Department of Justice is reporting an additional multi-million dollar fine against banking giant Wells Fargo for the illegal seizure of motor vehicles from active military service members.debt defense lawyer

Federal law mandates that any bank seeking to repossess the vehicle of an active duty service member must first get a court order. Wells Fargo didn’t in hundreds of cases – and it’s not the first time.

Last September, CNN Money reported the banking institution would pay $24 million in order to settle allegations that it had unlawfully repossessed the vehicles of nearly 415 soldiers, absent a court order, in direct violation of federal statute. These repossessions took place between 2008 and 2015, with the initial complaint coming from an Army National Guardsman who alleged his car was repossessed as he prepared to deploy to Afghanistan. The vehicle was later auctioned and the bank attempted to collect $10,000 from the serviceman’s family. Continue reading

A rule created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to shield consumer rights in the form of class action lawsuits against financial institutions has been voted against by the U.S. Senate – with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking ballot. consumer rights lawyer

In a White House Press release, it was argued the majority (half plus Pence) were “standing up for everyday consumers and community banks,” rather than the trial lawyers, whom the White House said stood to gain the most from the CFPB’s policy, which it characterized as “ineffective” and “uninformed.”

The reality of the situation is that wronged consumers will lose a great deal if this rule is scrapped. The rule, which pertains to forced arbitration clauses in consumer transactions, was carefully studied by the CFPB for five years before it was formally passed. The arbitration clauses are forced onto consumers in the fine print by companies seeking a way to shield themselves from litigation. The clauses force consumers with complaints to handle them through arbitration, rather than in a court of law. Rather than allowing consumers the opportunity to band together and fight as one in class action litigation in court, it will require consumers to fight these matters as individuals before a mediator in arbitration.  Continue reading

There are many arguments for why one should never represent themselves in court – even if he or she is a licensed attorney. It’s referred to as “pro se” litigation, and it’s a legal term that means “on one’s behalf.” It’s generally not required for civil litigants (or even criminal defendants) to hire an attorney to represent them. That’s because most people don’t have the knowledge it takes to adequately represent themselves, and even if they do, they lack the experience. Beyond that, most people are too close to their own case to be objective. foreclosure attorney

When you’re dealing with something as serious as the foreclosure of your home or debt defense against a large credit card company, it’s generally unwise to go it alone. That said, it is your right. But understand that you will likely face a legal system that will be harsh and unforgiving – and maybe even unfair – to pro se litigants.

Take, for instance, the recent resignation of long-time federal judge Richard Posner. Posner was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President Ronald Reagan, and has served in that capacity ever since. He abruptly resigned in September, and when asked why, he told The New York Times he, “Awoke from a slumber of 35 years” in which he came to the realization that people without attorneys are mistreated by the legal system. He wanted to act on it. However, the 11 other judges in the circuit refused his idea for how to address it.  Continue reading

Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, is responsible to collect detailed data from American consumers, including driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers and more. Earlier this month, a massive data breach was revealed that may impact as many as 143 million Americans. As many as 209,000 people have had their credit card information, and personal identifying information was exposed on some 182,000 consumers involved in disputes on their credit report. consumer rights lawyer

Despite this, Republican lawmakers continue their push for deregulation of credit agencies, as well as the strength of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The hack is a major deal not only for the fact that Equifax is one of just three national credit reporting companies responsible to rate and track the financial history of consumers. It’s also notable that Equifax won’t be contacting everyone who was affected – only those who dispute records or credit card information was accessed. The company has recommended consumers sign up for identity theft protection, which it is offering free for one year. Doing so, however, may limit your right to file a consumer rights lawsuit against the firm later, instead forcing you into arbitration, unless you file notice with the company within 30 days that you choose to opt out. Continue reading