Articles Posted in Debt Defense

Recently, the New York Attorney General’s Office announced indictments of nearly a dozen individuals tied to an alleged organized crime family for engaging in broad scale illegal loansharking. The long-term investigation reportedly uncovered “the largest” loan sharking operation ever investigated by the agency, with defendants allegedly saddling victims (lured in by an illegal gambling operation) with interest payments that topped $1 million in just a single year.debt defense attorney

Investigators say victims were required to drop off weekly interest payments at “exorbitant” rates that averaged 200 percent annually, setting a trap of high-cost debt for those who took out the loans.

Meanwhile, let’s compare that to the investigation into payday lending firms that was suddenly dropped by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Trump administration earlier this year. The CFPB announced in January it was no longer pursuing litigation against a group of payday lenders – despite the fact that this group allegedly carried interest rates as high as 950 percent annually. That is almost five times as much what the accused loan sharks in New York were allegedly charging their victims. Continue reading

America’s criminal justice system is being used to enforce private debts. That’s according to a new in-depth investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) into the extent and impact of courts cooperating with the private debt collection industry in the U.S.debt collection

In “The Criminalization of Private Debt,” the ACLU reports that courts in 26 states (including Florida) plus Puerto Rico have issued warrants for the arrest of alleged debtors, all because a private debt collection company asked them to. Of course, such practices violate numerous state and federal laws, as well as international human rights laws. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the hammer of these practices comes down especially hard on Black and Latino communities, primarily because of a long history of gaps in wealth and poverty along ethnic and racial lines.

It’s estimated 77 million Americans – 1 in 3 – has debt that has been turned over to a private collection agency. Of those, the ACLU reported, thousands were arrested and thrown into jail because they had not paid this money. Bear in mind: Debtors’ prisons were eradicated in the U.S. way back in 1833. And yet, the ACLU discovered tens of thousands of debt-related warrants are issued annually. Continue reading

While Americans are “drowning in debt,” the White House is waging a war on regulation that is ultimately going to push even more consumers into greater debt and higher rates of poverty. Although these plans are touted as part of a pro-business agenda intended to spur economic growth, our Miami debt defense attorneys recognize many of these measures are going to have a harsh impact on consumers – especially those already in the lower tax brackets.debt defense attorney

One of the most recent and perhaps most destructive of these efforts is the recent stripping down of the consumer protections and watchdog oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You may recall this is the agency created seven years ago that has since been dedicated (successfully so) to preventing consumer rip-offs by loan and credit card issuers, debt collectors, payday lenders and other large financial players. Prior to this administration’s assuming control of the CFPB, the agency had collected nearly $12 billion in compensation for 29 million consumer victims of financial scammers.

Since Mick Mulvaney (also budget director for the Trump administration) stepped in as interim director of the agency in November, he has been dismantling key elements of the program piece-by-piece. He has done significant damage just in the last several months, and planned actions are likely to further threaten consumer financial well-being. Continue reading

Phone scams are on the rise, with the U.S. Department of Justice reporting new investigations almost weekly. Some call and pose as debt collections agencies, seeking repayment of non-existent deaths. Others pose as charity workers. These individuals can be hard to spot – and extremely difficult to catch. The DOJ made major headlines last year with its indictment last year of more than 60 people in a multi-million dollar Indian call center scam that targeted U.S. victims. Callers often threatened victims with arrest if they didn’t pay. consumer protection

Now, some consumers are fighting back. Take The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s recent account of a man who began to get so fed up with scammers who continually called claiming to be with the Canadian Revenue Agency that he decided to take matters into his own hands. He began calling them back. Every second he can troll the trolls, he explained, was time they couldn’t spend trolling someone else.

The scammers set up a voicemail, claiming to be the government agency and demanding a call back to resolve a serious matter of criminal activity. Now, if one were to call back the actual government agency, they would be pushed through a series of bureaucratic menus before you ever get to a real person. However, when you call back the phony government agency, you’ll be put right through to an “agent.” Once the Canadian man discovered this, he started calling them every spare chance he got – on his lunch break, while waiting in traffic or if he found himself bored for a few minutes. He gives them phony names and erroneous numbers. If they hang up, he calls them right back, pretending the call was disconnected. Sometimes, the scammers demand he stop “pranking” them – but he doesn’t. He figures every minute they’re on the phone with him is less time they’re swindling someone else.  Continue reading

Tens of thousands of student loan lawsuits are filed every year by creditors who allege default on collectively billions of dollars in private student loan debt. student loan attorney

Although we are teetering on the edge of a student loan debt crisis, the reality is many of these lawsuits are riddled with factual and legal errors. Some borrowers who have defaulted may assume the outcome of the case against them is a foregone conclusion – they will lose. However, those who are fighting back against student loan lawsuits are discovering there are a number of effective legal strategies that may help them fight off a large judgment against them.

Miami student loan debt attorneys are closely familiar with the defenses outlined recently by The New York Times, which detailed the top ways these lawsuits fail (and work out in your favor).  Continue reading

A recent report by The New York Times details how billions of dollars in student loan debts have the potential to be wiped clean because of lapses in paperwork tracking – mirroring what happened during the 2008 housing crisis. debt defense attorneys

At the center of this controversy is an organization called National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. This is a group that purchased student loan debts from investors after they had been purchased from banks.

However, now they can’t locate the paperwork that proves who owns the loans. Absent that proof, the trust is unable to prove it is allowed to collect that debt, meaning courts have little choice but to dismiss the case – and the alleged outstanding debt.  Continue reading

An investigation into Wells Fargo’s unauthorized account scandal is now apparently worse than initially believed. The financial institution says it has uncovered approximately 3.5 million potentially fraudulent bank accounts created by employees under intense sales pressure without consumers’ knowledge. That figure involves the 2.1 million accounts that were previously uncovered between 2011 and 2015, plus more that were revealed in an in-depth probe that stretched back to 2009 through 2016.consumer rights

This is the latest development in a scandal for the bank that started a year ago – one of many the bank has been facing down in recent years, marring consumer trust in its practices.

Of those accounts discovered, the CEO now says nearly 200,000 customers were hit with fees from these accounts that were unnecessary. That’s up from the previous estimate of 130,000. On top of that, approximately 530,000 customers were unknowingly signed up for an online bill pay. Continue reading

Spotting a single cockroach scurrying across the kitchen floor when you flip the light on is disconcerting enough. What’s even worse is the knowledge there are almost certainly more you can’t see, lurking in dark crevices, part of a systemic problem (of your own creation or otherwise). The same is true of the consumer rights violations uncovered at Wells Fargo. consumer rights

As billionaire investor Warren Buffet recently commented to CNBC, Wells Fargo’s recent woes are indicative not just of issues within that institution, but are likely reflective of more widespread problems within then banking industry as a whole. When this issues are spotlighted – as is currently being done with a third-party review of the bank’s most recent sales scandal – we’re likely to be seeing more of the same. Even the bank’s CEO in an internal message warned workers to brace for the potential onslaught of negative headlines as the independent review nears a close.

Buffet commented that anytime an organization with thousands of employees is heavily scrutinized, issues will be uncovered. This is especially true when there have already been notable systemic problems. Such issues highlight the culture of a place, which can set the tone for other shady practices.  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

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