The establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came in 2012, following the fallout of the economic crisis set off by the collapse of the housing market and a massive wave of foreclosures. debt defense

As our Miami debt defense lawyers know well, the birth of the agency was an unprecedented effort to address and prevent the kinds of abuses by banks and other large financial institutions that led to the financial crisis. It also helps to keep fraud and debt collection abuses at bay.

But now, there are those who seek to severely undercut it with the introduction of the Financial CHOICE Act, which purportedly aims to curb excess regulation and enforcement (a non-existent issue in our opinion). The truth of the matter is those behind this measure are eager to scrap consumer protections because they are viewed as bad for business – even if the business itself is bad.  Continue reading

Nearly a dozen debt settlement companies in Florida were systematically defrauding consumers, leading the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorney general to recently shut down those operations.debt defense

Both regulators succeeded in obtaining a court order that requires the 11 companies (owned by three individuals) to stop marketing their debt settlement “services,” which in fact preyed on thousands of vulnerable people eager to stop creditor harassment and avoid bankruptcy. The case is a cautionary tale of why it’s best to avoid working with a non-attorney when you’re seeking a manageable debt settlement agreement.

According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, the companies conned consumers into believing they could avoid having to pay thousands of dollars in outstanding credit card bills. Instead, they were told to pay the debt settlement companies money every month, and those firms promised to negotiate a deal with the credit card companies. On the surface, this seems like a good deal – legitimate too. But Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says it wasn’t, and some consumers, after paying hundreds or thousands of dollars, learned their credit card debts were never paid and their accounts were deeply in default. Their credit was completely decimated. Some had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Others were sued.  Continue reading

Bank employees at Citigroup had suspicions for years that more than $1 billion in payments being sent over 30 million transactions to Mexico through its Banamex USA division were shady. Despite ample evidence, that generated some 18,000 suspicious transaction alerts, the company only initiated 10 investigations, filing just half a dozen suspicious activity reports with federal regulators.debt defense

Now, the California-based Banamex USA has conceded it violated criminal laws for its failure to have adequate anti-money-laundering safeguards in place. For its part, Citigroup admitted it didn’t maintain adequate oversight of Banamex. For this, it will pay $97.4 million, a settlement agreement that will steer it clear of criminal charges related to the inquiry.

Miami debt defense attorneys recognize this kind of action as revealing where the priorities of bankers truly lie. While large banks like Citigroup are quick to take consumers to task – sometimes even to court –  over a few missed credit card payments or a default mortgage after a job loss or on an underwater home, they turn a blind eye to what is clearly a viable source of income for violent criminal cartels. Continue reading

Tort reform supporters in Congress are fired up, gaining significant traction in recent weeks with a number of proposed measures that could substantially undercut consumer rights. people

One of the most troubling bills takes aim at class action lawsuits.

Misleadingly dubbed the, “Fairness in Class Action Act,” H.R. 985 passed 220-201 (largely along party lines), the measure might be more aptly named the Class Action Elimination Act.

The reality is this bill creates procedural and evidentiary burdens that some opine are so high, it will be nearly impossible to pursue class action litigation. That would be a huge blow for consumer rights because it’s a key tool consumers have to level the playing field against large companies for unfair dealings.  Continue reading

A federal bankruptcy court judge in California recently ordered Bank of America to pay a stunning $46 in damages after a years-long foreclosure nightmare that literally pushed one couple to the brink of death. house

The bulk of that $46 million will go toward public law schools and consumer attorney organizations to help fight back against similar abuses in the future.

In the ruling, Bankruptcy Judge Christopher M. Klein admonishes the top brass at the bank – not lower-tier workers. Further, the ruling is being interpreted as a sharp condemnation of the failure of government to police these types of interactions and protect homeowners  – even though banks should have been vulnerable to legal action on a massive scale for the actions leading to the foreclosure crisis and those that followed thereafter.  Continue reading

Illegal debt sales and debt collection practices have landed Citibank in hot water with federal regulators. In two separate actions, regulators ordered the bank to fork over $16 million in consumer relief, pay $3 million to the government in penalties and forego $34 million in collections from approximately 7,000 customers.business man

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized two actions against Citibank – one involving sales of credit card debt with inflated interest rates and not timely forwarding consumer payments to debt buyers. The second involved both the bank and two of the debt collection law firms that together reportedly falsified court records in debt collection lawsuits. For the first action, the bank is ordered to pay $5 million in consumer relief, as well as a $3 million federal penalty. For the latter, it is ordered to refund $11 million to customers and stop its pending debt collection actions against involved consumers.

CFPB’s director said the bank gave its consumers bad information when it sold their credit card debt, and then relied on shady law firms to change up court records to appear in the bank’s favor.  Continue reading

We are now slightly more than a month in to the Trump presidency, and Democrats are already gearing up for the next election, setting their sights on the next mid-term. However, if they want to prevail, they are first going to have to acknowledge and accept that the Obama administration did not oversee a golden era of financial and economic policies – no matter what kind of challenges he inherited.miami

The reality is Obama had many opportunities to help those in the working class, and he repeatedly declined to seize them.

The two main areas to which we refer:

  • Obama’s handling of the foreclosure crisis/ subsequent bank bailouts. The end result of the policies adhered to on these fronts resulted in concentrated financial power, rather than support of the American middle class.
  • Enactment of pro-monopoly policies. This approach crushed rural area economies, so it was unsurprising many of those voters – even those who had previously voted for Obama – swung to the side of Donald Trump.

Continue reading

Esteemed Miami foreclosure lawyer Bruce Jacobs has been given the go-ahead to proceed with his lawsuit that aims to oust the new Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel. american flag

The lawsuit recently survived a motion to dismiss after Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh ruled the complaint should be allowed to proceed. Walsh declined, however, too prevent the Democratic party from certifying the election of Bittel, as they had already done so.

Jacobs filed the lawsuit last month, along with Dr. Mae Christian, a civil rights advocate and president of Miami-Dade County’s Democratic Black Caucus. The lawsuit names as defendants Bittel, the Florida Democratic Party and the Miami-Dade Executive Committee chairman, Juan Cuba.  Continue reading

It’s been more than eight years now since the economic crash of 2008. Now, the big mortgage lenders – the same entities that played a huge role in that crisis, the same companies that received sizable bailouts under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act – are getting into the rental industry. It may surprise no one to learn these companies are awful landlords. In fact, as a new report by Bloomberg News shows, the companies are driving up the cost of that rent with the goal of evicting people from those homes.house

The Bloomberg report looks closely at a company called HavenBrook Homes, which is controlled by one of the largest money managers on the planet, Pacific Investment Management Co. Bloomberg noted that a study by the Atlanta Federal Reserve showed that in a single county in Georgia, this and other large institutional investors were twice as likely to file for eviction against renters as owners of smaller operations.

Essentially, these big investment, private equity and hedge funds that snapped up a huge portion of the properties left vacant across the country after the 2008 foreclosure crisis have been turning these sites into occupied rentals. They have altered the landscape of an industry that was historically dominated by mom-and-pop owners. With the sole goal of maximizing profits, the conversations about collections that used to take place on the front stoop between landlord and owner are now being funneled into international call centers. Good luck catching a break there. Continue reading

College debt is weighing heavily on tens of thousands of elderly Americans, pushing them into poverty. That’s according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, which revealed more than 110,000 people over the age of 65 had their Social Security checks garnished in 2015 in order to continue paying off student loans on which they had defaulted. coinerolls

The report further indicates more than 70,000 Americans over the age of 50 are currently living under the poverty line specifically because their Social Security payments are being slashed in order to cover the amount they still owe on student loans.

These figures contrast the widely-held notion that student loan debt is largely a problem for millennials. But what this report, which was generated at the request of Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), reveals this is an inter-generational problem. Further, it’s not one that is simply going to “sort itself out.” That’s because of those tens of thousands of borrowers whose Social Security checks are being cut to pay down this debt, they aren’t actually paying it down. Nearly 70 percent of those borrowers are only paying on the fees and interest. That means the overall amount of their debt isn’t decreasing, which means unless they start generating more money with another income source, they aren’t ever going to stop making payments. And guess who profits from all this? The federal government.  Continue reading