Thursday, October 7, 2010


The Securities and Exchange Commission announced proposed changes to its securities regulation that would require issuers and raters of asset-backed securities to provide investors with additional disclosures, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The regulator said yesterday that as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act it is required to prescribe regulations on representations, warranties and enforcement mechanisms available to investors before Jan. 14, 2011. "The Dodd-Frank Act imposes new disclosure obligations so that investors receive information about the representations and warranties and repurchase history so they may identify originators with clear underwriting deficiencies," according to the SEC statement. The comment period for these proposals ends Nov. 15.

Wells Fargo to Forgive $772 Million in Risky Home Loans

David Stern

You have got to read this article and the full transcript!

Justice Department Sues American Express, MasterCard and Visa to Eliminate Rules Restricting Price Competition; Reaches Settlement with Visa and MasterCard

Mon, 04 Oct 2010 10:35:55 -0500

The Department of Justice announced today that it filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging rules that American Express, MasterCard and Visa have in place that prevent merchants from offering consumers discounts, rewards and information about card costs, ultimately resulting in consumers paying more for their purchases.

FHA Loan Apps

MBA also reported that the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.25 percent last week, down from 4.38 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also fell, from 3.77 percent to 3.73 percent.

Chase Will Offer Mortgage Aid to Unemployed Michigan Borrowers

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) designed this program to help homeowners continue to make mortgage payments on their homes even after they have lost their jobs.

Chase will partner with MSHDA to make the program available to its customers. The program will pay up to half of qualified borrowers’ monthly mortgage payments for up to 12 months on their primary residence.

Ohio Attorney General Files Fraud Suit Against GMAC Mortgage

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday against GMAC Mortgage and its parent, Ally Financial Inc., Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray accuses the loan servicer and its agents of filing fraudulent affidavits in an attempt to mislead courts in hundreds of Ohio foreclosures.

“We know that as Ohioans were fighting to save their homes, this loan servicer benefited financially from the dire circumstances,” Cordray said. “Instead of stepping up and assisting those at risk of losing their homes, it is clear that GMAC chose to compound the problem through fraudulent and unfair and deceptive practices.”

According to the lawsuit, filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, GMAC and its employees committed fraud on Ohio consumers and Ohio courts by signing and filing hundreds of false affidavits in foreclosure cases.

The servicer’s mishandlings of foreclosure documents came to light after a GMAC employee testified in a foreclosure case out of Maine that from 2006 to 2010, he signed thousands of affidavits a month without verifying the content.

On September 20th, GMAC suspended foreclosure actions and REO sales in 23 states to allow the company to undertake a review of what it said was a glitch in its internal procedures. GMAC said it expected any resulting delays on foreclosures already in process to be cleared up within a few weeks, “without serious consequence.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

S. Fla. bankruptcies up 49% in September

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties saw a slight decrease in the number of bankruptcies filed in September compared to August. But, the monthly rate of individuals and businesses filing bankruptcy continues to be far higher than last year.

In the three-county area, personal bankruptcy filings rose 49 percent, year-over-year, to 3,332 from 2,242, but were down 1.6 percent from August. Business bankruptcy filings rose 14 percent, year-over-year, to 115 from 101, but fell 3.3 percent from August.

In Miami-Dade County, personal bankruptcy filings rose 74 percent, year-over-year, to 1,818 cases opened, and were up 1.7 percent over August. There were 50 new business bankruptcies for Miami-Dade in September, up from 35 last year and 49 in August.

Personal bankruptcy filings in Broward rose 33 percent over last year, to 1,041 cases opened, and fell 2.4 percent from August. There were 41 new business bankruptcies filed in Broward County in September, down from 46 last year and 43 in August.

Palm Beach County personal bankruptcies rose 13 percent, year-over-year, to 473, but decreased by 11 percent from August. There were 24 new business bankruptcy filings in Palm Beach County in September, up from 20 cases last year and down from 27 cases in August.

September consumer filings nationwide rose 4.4 percent, year-over-year, to 130,329 from 124,790, and rose 3.3 percent compared to August, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Read more: S. Fla. bankruptcies up 49% in September - South Florida Business Journal

How Private Is Facebook Under the SCA?

As online messaging services become more prominent, it is important to understand the extent to which the Stored Communications Act protects private communications and data on social networking and webmail sites, say Gibbons attorneys Mark S. Sidoti, Philip J. Duffy and Paul E. Asfendis.
Three major mortgage lenders have halted foreclosures in states where the process is handled through the court system after suspicions surfaced that employees did not legal procedures in preparing the required documentation. GMAC Mortgage was the first to do so, followed by JPMorgan Chase and then Bank of America.

The 23 states listed below primarily use the judicial foreclosure process, with two additional states (Hawaii and Nebraska) employing judicial procedures “fairly often.”













New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Dakota




South Carolina

South Dakota




TX Halts Foreclosures or Tries





Oct. 4, 2010, 9:52PM

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called for a halt on foreclosures Monday amid nationwide scrutiny over the way they are processed. Notices to suspend foreclosures were sent to 27 loan servicers doing business in Texas, including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, the Attorney General's Office said. It did not have the full list of companies available late Monday. The state office also called for a halt on the sales of properties previously foreclosed upon - possibly affecting auctions scheduled Tuesday - and on evictions of people living in such properties. The office said it began investigating foreclosures last month after reports that an employee of Ally Financial, a large mortgage lender, acknowledged signing thousands of foreclosure documents without reviewing them as required. Ally has since suspended foreclosures on certain properties in 23 states, as have JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, to investigate whether their employees rushed foreclosures, a practice called "rob signing." In the state's letter to JPMorgan Chase, Paul D. Carmona, chief of the attorney general's consumer protection and public health division, said rob signing practices can include signing documents without reading them, signing thousands of documents a month, signing documents without proper notarization, and signing affidavits falsely claiming personal knowledge of facts. Court order not sought. A JPMorgan Chase spokesman declined to comment on the attorney general's move, and Bank of America officials could not be reached late Monday. Chase and Bank of America, along with Wells Fargo, service more than 50 percent of the outstanding loans nationwide, said David Zugheri, co-founder of Houston-based Envoy Mortgage. Abbott sought the foreclosure suspension Monday "in an effort to determine the full harm Texas homeowners may have suffered or could suffer as a result of these business practices," according to a statement released late Monday by Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the office. The Attorney General's Office has not sought a court order, and wouldn't say what kind of action, if any, it might take if companies don't comply. "This is a demand from the Attorney General's Office that they thoroughly review their business practices to ensure they comply with Texas law and are not unlawfully harming Texas homeowners," Strickland said. The move could have a widespread impact on Texas borrowers and lenders. "If the AG can really do this, it's huge," said Zugheri. George Roddy, president of the Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service, which tracks foreclosures in 19 North and Central Texas counties, questioned the attorney general's authority to seek the suspensions. "I'm not sure how the AG could do that unless there's some type of fraud," he said . And stopping the sale of properties already lost to foreclosure could prove particularly complicated. "This could be opening up a real can of worms if they're actually talking about properties already sold," Roddy said. "Title has been passed back to the lender or a third party has purchased it at the foreclosure auction. Someone else could be living in the house." 'An October surprise' Gregg Stanley of, a San Antonio-based foreclosure listing service, said that the 23 other states where foreclosures have been suspended require lenders to go to court to foreclose. Texas has non-judicial foreclosures, which don't require court orders. But in its letter, the Attorney General's Office said the state nonetheless requires various documents with foreclosures and wants to be certain that paperwork is handled properly and in compliance with state law. "It could be a bit of an October surprise," Stanley said, noting that foreclosure auctions are scheduled across the state today. Harris County's auction is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in the Family Law Center downtown. In its letters to JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, the Attorney General's Office outlines steps the banks must take, including identifying employees or agents who participated in "rob signing." The letters ask the lenders to respond by Oct. 15

United States: Consumer Financial Protection Act Update: No New Consumer Financial Rules to be Issued Until at Least July 2011

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Good Articles

Paralegal Tips

Knowing how to get along with others you should have learned in kindergarten. But if you forget what you were taught ask any 7-year-old you know. They will be able to tell you how to play nicely with others.

A person's true character is seen in two situations, one of them is how graciously one can admit making a mistake. Mistakes are great, they teach you lessons and help you learn. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes them!

Harvesting Evidence From the Sea of Text Messages

The explosive growth of text messaging presents litigators with new opportunities and challenges. To understand the utility of text messages as an evidentiary tool, say attorneys Alan Winchester and Russell Maines, it is important to understand what text messages are, and how they work.

Fla. Judge Quashes State Subpoena in Foreclosure Probe

A Florida judge dealt a blow Monday to state AG Bill McCollum's investigation of foreclosure law firms by quashing a broad subpoena issued against one of the firms. The judge in a sharply worded order said it's up to the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Bar to regulate attorneys, not the attorney general. He also called the subpoena of Shapiro & Fishman "overbroad, vague, inconsistent and unduly burdensome" as well as "invasive" and said it was unlikely to reveal "actionable conduct" by the firm.

Old Republic Will No Longer Insure JPMorgan and GMAC REOs

Even more questions about the legality of foreclosure proceedings have prompted Old Republic National Title Insurance to decide it will no longer insure titles to homes foreclosed by JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage. Chase and GMAC both halted foreclosure sales in 23 states and are reviewing legal filings that they say may have been signed without a notary's presence or without verifying the supporting documents.

OneWest Becomes Early Adopter of HAMP Principal Reduction Program

OneWest Bank, the Southern California regional lender that was formed out of the old IndyMac, announced Tuesday that it has implemented the new Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA) piece of the administration's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). OneWest is one of the first servicers to officially launch the program, which was initially introduced by the Treasury in late March to provide some mortgage relief to the growing number of homeowners underwater on their mortgage.

The bank gave the following example to illustrate how principal is forgiven under the program.

A borrower with a principal loan amount of $200,000 and a property value of $150,000 is eligible for a principal reduction of $27,500. Through the PRA program, the borrower’s loan will be reduced to $172,500 and their loan to value ratio will be reduced from 133.3 percent to 115 percent. As long as the borrower is never behind more than three payments, on each of the first three anniversaries of their modification, one-third of the $27,500 ($9,167) will be permanently forgiven.

The PRA program has been structured to conform to the guidelines of HAMP and therefore, borrowers will continue to be eligible for incentives under the federal program, including an additional principal payment of up to $1,000 for each of the first five years, if the borrower maintains good standing.

Lawmakers Call for Federal Foreclosure Investigation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow members of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation are petitioning federal regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a formal investigation into servicers' foreclosure practices. The request was prompted by the recent reports of systemic mishandling of foreclosure affidavits by three major mortgage servicers. Delegation members say they have received thousands of complaints from their constituents, which "appear to outline a clear pattern of misconduct on the part of lenders and servicers."

Backlash Over Flawed Foreclosure Paperwork Rises; Many Government Officials Calling for a Freeze

The uproar over bad conduct by mortgage lenders intensified yesterday as lawmakers in Washington, D.C., requested a federal investigation and the attorney general in Texas joined a chorus of state law enforcement figures calling for freezes on all foreclosures, the New York Times reported today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 30 other Democratic representatives from California told the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency that "it is time that banks are held accountable for their practices." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) sent letters to 30 lenders demanding they stop foreclosures, evictions and the sale of foreclosed properties until they could provide assurances that they were proceeding legally. Both developments indicated that scarcely two weeks after the country's fourth-biggest lender, GMAC Mortgage, revealed that it was suspending all foreclosures in the 23 states where the process requires judicial approval, concerns about flawed foreclosures had mushroomed into a nationwide problem.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tree PreFiling Credit Counseling Course

Under federal law, you are required to obtain credit counseling from a qualified non-profit agency before filing for bankruptcy. This website will allow you to complete the counseling requirement online, and receive your certificate of counseling at no charge.  That's a $ 50 savings!!!!