LA Homeowners Falling Prey to Loan Modification Scams

Even though Los Angeles is no longer in a foreclosure crisis, thousands of Angelenos still have underwater properties and are targets of scam artists promising to modify their home loans. On Wednesday, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced he had filed criminal charges against two men who collected money from homeowners seeking

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The Unfair Opacity of Credit Cards Peddled to the Poor

When a company takes on the task of providing financial services to people overlooked by large banks, that would seem to be a good thing: Such customers need bank accounts, debit cards, and credit just like everyone else. In 2013, nearly 10 million American households didn’t have any interaction with a

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Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds

By Margot Sanger-Katz @sangerkatz | JAN. 5, 2016 The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails

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Debt and the Racial Wealth Gap

By PAUL KIEL DEC. 31, 2015 IF you are black, you’re far more likely to see your electricity cut, more likely to be sued over a debt, and more likely to land in jail because of a parking ticket. It is not unreasonable to attribute these perils to discrimination. But there’s no question

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Minorities Exploited by Warren Buffett’s Mobile-Home Empire

Originally published December 26, 2015 at 8:00 am | Updated December 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm By Mike Baker, Daniel Wagner THIRD OF SERIES GALLUP, N.M. — After a few years living with her sister, Rose Mary Zunie, 59, was ready to move into a place of her own. So, on an arid Saturday

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Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and MICHAEL CORKERY Clifford Cain Jr., a retired electrician in Baltimore, was used to living on a tight budget, carefully apportioning his Social Security and pension benefits to cover his rent and medication for multiple sclerosis. So Mr. Cain was puzzled when he suddenly could not make ends meet.

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Beware of Scams Targeting Older People During the Holidays

Our Office for Older Americans is working to provide older consumers and their families with the tools and information they need to protect themselves from frauds and scams. Scams that target older people occur every day, but you can count on scammers to ramp up their efforts to prey on people’s

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Inequality is now killing middle America

This week, Angus Deaton will receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics “for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.” Deservedly so. Indeed, soon after the award was announced in October, Deaton published some startling work with Ann Case in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – research that is at least as

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The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households

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Prospect Mortgage Hit with $10.1 Million Fine by State Regulators

Prospect Mortgage, a Sherman Oaks, Calif., nonbank lender, has agreed to pay $10.1 million in borrower restitution and penalties for violating federal and state laws, California's Department of Business Oversight said Thursday. Prospect inflated settlement service fees charged to more than 70,000 borrowers during a four-year period, the state agency said.

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For Some Americans, the Housing Crisis Isn’t Over

The millions of foreclosures stemming from the Great Recession made for dramatic headlines. Now, the housing markets in many of the hardest-hit areas have recovered, and cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York are even seeing record real-estate prices. Yet while the national housing market may be well on

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How the Government Polices What Student Debtors Spend

For borrowers seeking relief on their student loans in bankruptcy, there's no room for any spending seen as excessive. Tangerie Shells lost her only shot at life without debt when she decided to spend $175 per month on meals outside her home. Shells, a social worker at Sacramento County’s department of children's protective services, supports her

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Biased Lending Evolves, and Blacks Face Trouble Getting Mortgages

NEWARK — The green welcome sign hangs in the front door of the downtown branch of Hudson City Savings Bank, New Jersey’s largest savings bank. But for years, federal regulators said, its executives did what they could to keep certain customers out. They steered clear of black and Hispanic neighborhoods as they

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6.9 Million U.S. Homes with Mortgages Seriously Underwater in Q3

According to RealtyTrac's Q3 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, as of the end of the third quarter there were 6,917,673 U.S. residential properties that were seriously underwater -- where the combined loan amount secured by the property is at least 25 percent higher than the property's estimated market value

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Repossessions spike 66% as foreclosure crisis lingers

New foreclosures may be back to nearly normal, but the mess from the epic housing disaster in the last decade is far from gone. Bank repossessions, the final stage of the foreclosure process, jumped 66 percent year over year in the third quarter of this year, according to RealtyTrac, a

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Wells Fargo to Buy $32 Billion GE Assets, Add 3,000 Workers

Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to buy $32 billion in assets from General Electric Co. and take on about 3,000 employees as the industrial giant retreats from financial services. The sale includes commercial-distribution and vendor-finance units, and a portion of the corporate-finance business, from GE Capital, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said

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For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds

When the Obama administration agreed this summer to erase the federal loan debt of some former students at Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit school that filed for bankruptcy in the face of charges of widespread fraud, education officials promised to “protect students from abusive colleges and safeguard the interests of taxpayers.” But the Education

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Is HUD hiding embarrassing data on widow foreclosures?

Imagine you’re a senior who has just lost your spouse.  Soon after their funeral, while still grieving, you receive a letter in the mail, informing you that because your spouse passed away, you’re also going to lose your home to foreclosure. Unfortunately, this horrible scenario is not imaginary- it has been

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Mortgages, debt collectors top list of consumer complaints

Americans don't like being in debt. Aside from the obvious drawback of having to pay back the money, debt can entail various other problems, from being treated poorly by lenders to failing to understand the terms of a loan. That's one takeaway from a growing body of complaint data compiled by the

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A Student Loan System Stacked Against the Borrower

“It feels like I’m being set up to fail.” That’s how Patrick Wittwer, 31, described his experience trying to repay his roughly $50,000 in student loans. Between misdirected payments by one of the companies servicing his loan and the abusive collection tactics he encountered when he fell behind, Mr. Wittwer said

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Protection Bureau Seeks End to Arbitration-Only Clauses in Consumer Contracts

To many businesses, class-action lawsuits are synonymous with ambulance-chasing lawyers extracting multibillion-dollar settlements. They have been called frivolous and are faulted for swelling the legal costs of Wall Street banks and Main Street auto lenders. For years, financial firms have tried to ward them off by requiring customers to agree not

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Loan Modification Fraud Victims to Get Small Compensation

Four years after the Attorney General’s Office and the State Bar shut down an operationthat used false advertising to lure distressed homeowners into suing their mortgage lenders, victims are getting some of their money back. A receiver appointed by Los Angeles County Superior Court has recommended distributing $350 to each of

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Crocodile Tears From Mortgage Lenders

Starting Saturday, the real-estate industry will be subject to new disclosure rules, courtesy of the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lenders will be required to make transparent and complete disclosure of the terms of mortgages -- including all costs and fees. This information was sorely lacking during the

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As Banks Retreat, Private Equity Rushes to Buy Troubled Home Mortgages

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago. As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from

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Big Banks Abusing 2012 Settlement Deal

The nation’s largest mortgage lenders are violating the terms of a punitive 2012 settlement that was meant to prevent unfair and unnecessary foreclosures that destroyed communities and pushed working families from their homes. Interviews by POLITICO with more than 20 housing counselors, Legal Aid lawyers and government prosecutors in states hard

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$32.75 Million Mortgage Discrimination Settlement With Bank

Mortgage discrimination against black and Hispanic communities has led to a proposed $32.75 million settlement between Hudson City Savings Bank and the federal government. The New Jersey-based lender located branches, chose mortgage brokers and marketed loans that discouraged borrowers in predominantly minority communities, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Justice

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Justices Back Broad Interpretation of Housing Law

The Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a broad interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, allowing suits under a legal theory that civil rights groups say is a crucial tool to fight housing discrimination. “Much progress remains to be made in our nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation,” Justice Anthony

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The U.S. government’s predatory-lending program

Most parents will do just about anything for their children, especially when it comes to education. Predictably, at a time when college costs are exploding and students are staggering under more than $1 trillion in debt, one opportunistic lender is making huge profits on loans to their doting moms and dads. Less

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Banks That Failed to Fix Mortgage Services Face Restrictions

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and four other large banks have failed to make long-promised improvements to their mortgage operations, a federal regulator said on Wednesday. The six banks, and several others, had agreed in 2011 to make dozens of changes to the way they issue and service mortgages after being accused

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RPM Mortgage Fined $20 Million Over Loan Scheme

An Alamo-based mortgage lender and its CEO have been fined $20 million for illegally paying bonuses and higher commissions to loan agents to steer consumers into costlier loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said RPM Mortgage CEO Rob Hirt paid his employees bonuses to place clients in loans with higher interest

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