Obama’s “Home Affordable Modification Program” Modifies a Way to Foreclose this Person’s Home just Before #Christmas

HAMP#AceNewsGroup  says WASHINGTON  – Courtesy of MCDC  who have found and reported this story about how companies use HAMP! As Billions of dollars in foreclosure settlements between big banks and government regulators haven’t helped Laura Biggs.

The California woman is scheduled to lose her home nine days before Christmas because her mortgage company concluded that the house is no longer the primary residence of her husband, who’s been dead since 2003.

Technically, though, it still is George “Kenny” Mitchell’s primary residence. He resides at the home in Rialto, east of Los Angeles near San Bernardino, in an urn. His cremated remains are part of an altar that Biggs, 65, keeps in memory of the trucking-company manager. Many mementos from their marriage surround his smiling photo.

Biggs faces a Dec. 16 sale date, a holiday spoiler. It’s a property in which she’s built up more than $100,000 in equity and where she’s lived for 13 years, making payments on time. Her issue is back taxes, but more on that later.

“I’m getting ready to get tossed out. Whoever buys the property could toss me out,” she said.

The struggles of the career nurse who spent a lifetime helping others underscore this key point: Despite high-profile legal settlements in recent years that have resulted in large banks such as Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase paying billions of dollars for past sins, the foreclosure process remains a mess.

Centre for Responsible Lending “It’s just a continuing misalignment of incentives: that a (mortgage) servicer doesn’t get paid for figuring this stuff out, but they get paid for foreclosure,” said Michael Calhoun, the president of the Durham, N.C.-based Center for Responsible Lending, which has fought to hold servicer’s accountable. “Even today, the servicers are understaffed and overwhelmed. If this were your local community bank, they of course would be working with you.”

Servicers are essentially mortgage-payment collectors for investors who bought slices of complex mortgage bonds, composed of thousands of mortgages that combine to provide the investor an income stream through the monthly payments made by Biggs and millions of other American homeowners.

SPSThe company that collects Biggs’ mortgage is Select Portfolio Servicing Inc., a Utah-based company that services many of the poorly underwritten sub-prime mortgages that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis and a collapse in home prices. On its website, the company lists a P.O. Box in Salt Lake City for an address, offers no information on corporate officers and gives only toll-free phone numbers that feed to automated call centers.

BOFAThe company became a sub-servicer last year for Bank of America, which purchased disgraced subprime lender Countrywide Financial and its loan portfolio during the financial crisis.

HAMP ProgramPaperwork that McClatchy obtained shows that Select Portfolio Servicing initially worked with Biggs to find a solution, including a potential mortgage modification through the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program.

But in a Nov. 13 letter addressed not to Biggs – who’s on the deed to the property, though not on the loan – but to her late husband, who’d been dead for a decade, the servicer did an about-face.

“We are unable to offer you a HAMP modification because the property is not your primary residence,” the letter said, saying there’d be no foreclosure for at least 30 days. There now is a foreclosure date that’s three days after the 30-day window expires.

The problem of surviving spouses not being on loans is big enough that the Treasury Department, which devised a series of incentives for servicers to modify mortgages, has an entire section of a manual devoted to it.

“In this case, servicers should collect an Initial Package from the non-borrower who now owns the property and evaluate the request as if he or she was the borrower,” the guidance says, seemingly allowing Select Portfolio Servicing to treat Biggs as the homeowner. A Treasury spokeswoman, speaking only on the condition of anonymity as a matter of policy, said the agency didn’t comment on individual cases and didn’t collect data on the number of surviving spouses in loan modifications.

Mitchell’s loan originated with Countrywide, which underwrote it in April 2000. One reason Countrywide was so successful is it offered unsuspecting homeowners low monthly payments that didn’t include taxes and insurance. Only after signing the contracts did many homeowners learn that they were on the hook for taxes and insurance, too.

Mitchell and Biggs married in 1971, and although Biggs didn’t have her name on the title at the time, her name was on the check the couple sent to pay the mortgage. When he got sick with a disease that causes a cluster of veins in the brain to bleed, the couple started the process to add Biggs to the title but Mitchell, lapsing in and out of a near-comatose state, died before that could happen.

California law recognizes spouses as inheritors of property, and Biggs continued to pay the monthly mortgage with a check in her name. In 2005, Biggs had health problems, and while she kept making the mortgage payments she couldn’t pay the separate taxes and insurance. Select Portfolio Servicing added an escrow account and folded those payments into her monthly mortgage payments until they were paid off.

Fairbanks Capital CorpThe servicer had been renamed a year earlier from Fairbanks Capital Corp. after a $40 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2003 for illegal loan servicing practices. On its website today, Select Portfolio Servicing boasts that it handles more than 300,000 “nonprime residential mortgages.” That’s a more generous way of saying lower-performing subprime loans.

Biggs continued to pay her mortgage month after month but she fell behind again on the property taxes in 2011. Select Portfolio Servicing initially said in a letter on Jan. 5, 2012, that it would do the same as in 2005 and add those monthly amounts to the mortgage statement, like what’s done today on most new mortgages.

But when Biggs tried to talk directly with the company, customer services representatives refused to deal with her, insisting on speaking with Mitchell, something that’s impossible. The offer to roll the taxes into the loan was abruptly withdrawn, she said.

“Because my name was not on the loan, they wouldn’t talk to me,” Biggs said. “It always had my name on the checks. My name has been on those checks ever since we got the property. It was never an issue until last year.”

Biggs tried to continue making monthly mortgage payments but the servicer refused to accept them. The mortgage became delinquent and later was placed in default, despite more than $100,000 in equity built up.

“A little common sense. . . . Why wouldn’t you deal with this person?” said Calhoun, who has no involvement in the Biggs case. “It is just a lack of common sense, capacity and incentives. This is not a unique case.”

It wasn’t until this September that Select Portfolio Servicing began talking with Biggs, as an Oct. 2 sale date loomed. By then, her name was on the deed but still not on the loan.

“It wasn’t until I came to George that they realized that my husband was dead,” Biggs said.

George is George Bosch, the legal administrator for the Los Angeles-area law firm of Edward Lopez, which has taken the Biggs case pro bono.

“If you have a surviving spouse, legal documents are not necessary. (Select Portfolio Servicing) didn’t realize they were in California,” said Bosch, who did the paperwork for Biggs to seek a mortgage modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program. “They came with a new loophole. The guy doesn’t reside here.”

Select Portfolio Servicing, which doesn’t list a media contact on its website, didn’t return calls requesting comment.

Biggs authorized a McClatchy reporter to speak to a relationship manager with the company last week, and a representative of the servicer said Biggs didn’t qualify for a mortgage modification because she wasn’t the executor of Mitchell’s estate. When reminded that Bosch had cleared up this issue weeks ago, the representative agreed to escalate the case with an eye toward postponing the sale, which hadn’t happened as of the close of business Friday.The Treasury Department, in its third-quarter 2013 servicer assessment report, said Select Portfolio Servicing “has areas requiring moderate improvement” but stopped short of discontinuing the provision of financial incentives to the company to remain in the mortgage-modification program.

And Biggs? With a bad back that’s partially disabled her, she may not spend Christmas decorating her home but rather finding somewhere else to live.

“I couldn’t move in with family,” she said ruefully, noting that she has too many belongings and two dogs. “I’d actually have to find somewhere else to live.”

 

#acenewsgroup, #bank-of-america, #bank-of-america-home-loans, #biggs, #california, #center-for-responsible-lending, #federal-trade-commission, #home-affordable-modification-program, #laura-biggs, #los-angeles, #mortgage-loan, #salt-lake-city, #select-portfolio-servicing, #subprime-lending, #wells-fargo

National Do-Not Call Registry

 

Logo for the United States National Do Not Cal...

Logo for the United States National Do Not Call Registry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Federal Trade Commission announced updated fees starting on October 1, 2012, for telemarketers accessing phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

 

All telemarketers calling consumers in the United States are required to download the numbers on the Do Not Call Registry to ensure they do not call those who have registered their phone numbers. The first five area codes are free, and organizations that are exempt from the Do Not Call rules, such as some charitable organizations, may get the entire list for free. Telemarketers must subscribe each year for access to the Registry numbers.

The access fees for the Registry are being increased as required by the Do-Not-Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007. Under the Act’s provisions, in fiscal year 2013 (from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013), telemarketers will pay $58, an increase of $2, for access to Registry phone numbers in a single area code, up to a maximum charge of $15,962 for all area codes nationwide, an increase from the previous maximum of $15,503. Telemarketers will pay $1 more per area code for numbers they subscribe to receive during the second half of the 12-month subscription period, for a total of $29 per area code.

 

 

#call-registry, #charitable-organization, #federal-trade-commission, #national-do-not-call-registry, #telemarketing, #telephone-number, #telephone-numbering-plan, #united-states

Two Renown Health Acquisitions Gave it 88 Percent of the Cardiology Market

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In late 2010, Renown Health agreed to acquire SNCA’s medical practice and hire its 15 cardiologists practicing in the Reno area. Before this, Renown Health did not employ any cardiologists, and the acquisition positioned it as a direct competitor of RHP. In March 2011, Renown Health acquired RHP and hired its 16 Reno-area cardiologists. According to the FTC’s complaint, other than the physicians associated with SNCA and RHP, there are very few cardiologists practicing in the Reno area. Accordingly, the FTC alleged, competition for adult cardiology services was effectively eliminated.

In addition, the contracts between Renown Health and the newly hired cardiologists included “non-compete” provisions, which effectively prevented them from joining medical practices that competed with Renown Health. As a result of the acquisitions and non-compete clauses, the FTC contends, Renown Health currently employs 88 percent of the cardiologists in the Reno area.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Renown Health’s acquisitions of SNCA’s and RHP’s medical practices created a highly concentrated market for the provision of adult cardiology services in the Reno area, in violation of federal law. The complaint alleges that the consolidation of the competing practices into a single cardiology group controlled by Renown Health led to the elimination of competition based on price, quality, and other terms. In addition, according to the complaint, the consolidation increased the bargaining power that Renown Health has with insurers, and this may lead to higher prices for adult cardiology services in the Reno area.

Renown Health, the largest provider of acute care hospital services in northern Nevada, will release its staff cardiologists from “non-compete” contract clauses, allowing up to 10 of them to join competing cardiology practices. Renown Health has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its recent acquisitions of two local cardiology groups reduced competition for the provision of adult cardiology services in the Reno area.

Renown Health, based in Reno, Nevada, operates general acute care hospitals and commercial health plans serving the Reno area. Before the recent acquisitions, virtually all of the cardiologists in the Reno area were affiliated with two medical groups – Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates (SNCA) and Reno Heart Physicians (RHP).

In late 2010, Renown Health agreed to acquire SNCA’s medical practice and hire its 15 cardiologists practicing in the Reno area. Before this, Renown Health did not employ any cardiologists, and the acquisition positioned it as a direct competitor of RHP. In March 2011, Renown Health acquired RHP and hired its 16 Reno-area cardiologists. According to the FTC’s complaint, other than the physicians associated with SNCA and RHP, there are very few cardiologists practicing in the Reno area. Accordingly, the FTC alleged, competition for adult cardiology services was effectively eliminated.

In addition, the contracts between Renown Health and the newly hired cardiologists included “non-compete” provisions, which effectively prevented them from joining medical practices that competed with Renown Health. As a result of the acquisitions and non-compete clauses, the FTC contends, Renown Health currently employs 88 percent of the cardiologists in the Reno area.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Renown Health’s acquisitions of SNCA’s and RHP’s medical practices created a highly concentrated market for the provision of adult cardiology services in the Reno area, in violation of federal law. The complaint alleges that the consolidation of the competing practices into a single cardiology group controlled by Renown Health led to the elimination of competition based on price, quality, and other terms. In addition, according to the complaint, the consolidation increased the bargaining power that Renown Health has with insurers, and this may lead to higher prices for adult cardiology services in the Reno area.

Program’s Numerous Safeguards Make It Unlikely to Harm Competition:

The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition staff has issued an advisory opinion letter, in response to a request from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), stating that the staff will not recommend a challenge to an initiative intended to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration respond to the unprecedented increase in shortages of critically important medications.

The proposed program, called the Accelerated Recovery Initiative (ARI), would provide the FDA with information that GPhA believes will enable the FDA staff “more efficiently and effectively to accelerate the recovery of critical drugs in short supply.” The staff letter explains that a key element of the ARI is an agreement among drug manufacturers to pool competitively sensitive production information about shortage drugs. As a result, the ARI would raise substantial antitrust concerns if this information were shared among competitors, because such information could facilitate collusion among drug manufacturers.

However, the advisory opinion states, “GPhA has designed the program to safeguard competitively sensitive information” and “to limit the potential that the ARI might result in harm to competition.” Among other things, the letter notes, GPhA has selected an independent third-party to collect and transmit the data to the FDA, and no other party – including GPhA – will have access to the information or any analysis derived from it. In addition, the advisory opinion states, the ARI includes other features intended to minimize the risk that the program would facilitate collusion among drug manufacturers or cause other harm to competition, such as requiring binding commitments on ARI participants not to use the program for anticompetitive ends.

In light of all these safeguards, the FTC staff concludes that the proposed ARI program is unlikely to harm competition. Therefore, the staff has no present intention to recommend an enforcement action to challenge the program, “if it is implemented as described and the safeguards it contains are adhered to in practice.”

#cardiology, #federal-trade-commission, #ftc, #nevada, #reno, #reno-nevada, #renown-health, #snca

FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

Privowiki main page screenshot

Privowiki main page screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Rule has not changed since 1999 and this will be the first real overall of the system.

With the rise of social media ever on our mind it has become a matter of not just how ,we protect our children! But the fact we must at all costs shield them from the type of people who will at any cost, exploit their social appetite for such sites as Facebook and the like!

As the rise of social media has grown to obtain every extra morsel of information about our lives, it has led to many cases of children being exploited for gain! As in the past we have moaned and tried to stop our children consuming sugary drinks or eating quick snacks and we failed.

This time it is different and we must act now and l welcome any changes that will strengthen this act and provide a way to protect their fragile minds!

This time we must not fail them, they are our future!

via FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Rule.

#child, #children, #childrens-online-privacy-protection-act, #coppa, #federal-trade-commission, #ftc, #httpwww-facebook-comacedebtnews, #internet-privacy, #personally-identifiable-information, #privacy, #security, #social-media