Mortgage and Financial News

Scary Bogus Collection Calls From Someone Claiming To Be With the Government.

2013 November 8 by

A client of mine has been receiving calls at home and work from a “collection agency” saying they are going to haul him off to jail and press charges against him if he does not pay the money he owes.

When I called the number provided., 1-904-410-2217, I spoke with a man who put me on hold to transfer me to their attorney.   When the attorney picked up the line he sounded just like the gentleman who answered the phone.   Nevertheless, he claimed to be a lawyer with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network  (see for the official government site).   He said his name was “George Schneider.”   He said he was being paid very well by the FinCen and didn’t need to speak with me.

Mr. Scneider, who sounded more like an Ahmed, refused to provide me with any information about the alleged case or crimes and told me he would only speak with a criminal lawyer.

I asked him for his attorney bar number.   He refused.

I asked him for the case or file number.  He refused.

I asked him for his address.   He refused.

I asked to speak with his supervisor.  He refused and got angry.

He demanded my client call him back personally or he was going to jail.

That’s NOT how an attorney reacts to another’s call in the real world.

This is a bogus off-shore collection call!

This is not the first one my clients have experienced.   I was fortunate to even speak with a real person.  Typically, when I call the “collection agency’s” phone number they will disconnect the call once they know I am an attorney.  When I call back, the number is mysteriously disconnected.

I googled the phone number and collectors like this one and found a Consumer Alert at

Here is what the web site says:

“FinCEN Warns of Ongoing Financial Scams (03.25.11)

FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) recently sent out a reminder to the public to be on alert to ongoing financial scams that attempt to solicit funds from unsuspecting victims. They have received calls and reports of financial scams attempts conducted via the telephone. The caller represents themselves as an employee of FinCEN and ask for the victim by name, usually at the victim’s home telephone number. The caller will identify an outstanding debt; this debt may be actual or bogus. The call will provide the victim with account, Social Security or other similar number and demand that immediate payment be made. The caller’s knowledge of the victim’s name, telephone number, account description and personal information serves to legitimize the caller.

FinCen has become aware of another financial scam conducted via email and telephone in which a person claiming to be a representative of the U.S. Department of Treasury of FinCEN informs them that they have received a large Treasury Department grant. To obtain the grant, the victim is instructed to provide bank account information and make some type of initial payment or donation.

Recipients of these calls, letters, or emails should not respond to such messages, and should not send money or provide any personal or confidential information. Those who believe that they are or have been a victim of the financial scam, should report this information to local, State, or Federal law enforcement authorities.

FinCEN does not send unsolicited request and does not seek personal or financial information from members of the public. FinCEN does not have authority to freeze assets or block funds transfers. In addition, correspondence may purport to be from an overseas office of FinCEN. FinCEN does not have any offices outside of the US.”

Don’t tolerate this kind of abuse and criminal behavior.   Call your state and local authorities and report the call.  It’s a scam.


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HAMP’s Redefault Rate at 27% and Likely to Rise

2013 November 1 by


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Over the life of the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program ( HAMP ), 1.25 million homeowners have received permanent HAMP modifications, and 27 percent of those have later redefaulted on their loans, according to a quarterly report to Congress from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program ( SIGTARP ).

In its report released to lawmakers this week, SIGTARP berated Treasury for not heeding the office’s previous recommendations regarding HAMP , stressing that the inspector general expressed concern in April that “the number of homeowners who have redefaulted on HAMP permanent mortgage modifications is increasing at an alarming rate.”

About 184,000 homeowners (29 percent) who received HAMP modifications through TARP rather than through the GSEs have redefaulted, costing taxpayers $972 million in incentives paid to servicers and investors for those workouts, according to SIGTARP . Among borrowers participating in the GSEs’ HAMP programs, just under 154,000 (26 percent) have redefaulted ( HAMP incentives on GSE loans are paid by the GSEs themselves). Additionally, about 10 percent of all active permanent HAMP modifications were one or two months delinquent as of the end of August.

“The longer a homeowner remains in HAMP , the more likely he or she is to redefault out of the program,” SIGTARP stated. The redefault rate among the oldest HAMP modifications is 48.3 percent, according to SIGTARP’s report.

Homeowners who fall three months behind on their modified payments redefault out of the program and fall “often into a less advantageous private sector modification or even worse, into foreclosure,” SIGTARP said.

About 32 percent receive another modification, often a proprietary one, and about 13 percent work out a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with their servicer. About 22 percent of HAMP redefaulters enter foreclosure.

SIGTARP also reported the breakdown of redefaults by servicer, finding that three servicers account for almost 60 percent of HAMP redefaults: Ocwen Loan Servicing, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. While these three servicers contributed the greatest number of HAMP defaults, none of the three ranked highest in terms of the percentage of HAMP redefaults.

Among the eight largest servicers participating in the government program, Select Portfolio Servicing had the highest percentage of redefaults with 43 percent of its HAMP-modified loans falling behind on payments. Ocwen and Bank of America followed with 31 percent of their HAMP loans defaulting again. Twenty-five percent of Nationstar’s HAMP loans have redefaulted.

SIGTARP said in April that “Treasury still does not understand … the reason the permanent modifications in HAMP actually failed.”

The inspector general stated in the latest report to Congress, it was “a positive sign that following SIGTARP’s April 2013 recommendations that Treasury initially expressed its commitment to assessing and reducing redefault rates. . . . Following that, however, on July 22, 2013, Treasury posted a blog” defending the HAMP program and stating in the post, “mortgage modification programs include an inherent risk of homeowner default, given the difficult situations homeowners face when they seek assistance (like job loss).” In the same defensive posture, Treasury stressed “that not all will succeed” in the HAMP program.

For its part, SIGTARP said “ HAMP is a program that has been plagued with servicer misconduct” and recommended Treasury “research and analyze whether and to what extent the conduct of HAMP mortgage servicers may contribute to homeowners redefaulting” in order to ensure homeowners in HAMP are getting sustainable relief from foreclosure. SIGTARP charges Treasury with establishing a benchmark for redefaults, measuring the program against that benchmark, and revealing the results to the public.

Treasury has responded that “it cannot establish a benchmark without SIGTARP’s guidance,” to which SIGTARP responded, “it is up to Treasury to set performance standards for its own program and measure the participants’ performance.”

In its report to lawmakers, SIGTARP also revealed basic characteristics of HAMP modifications. The vast majority—95.9 percent—include an interest rate reduction. About 63.2 percent include a loan term extension, and 15.3 percent include principal forgiveness.

Treasury has extended the HAMP application period for two years until December 31, 2015.

©2013 DS News. All Rights Reserved.

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Number of U.S. Mortgages Going Unpaid = 4,594,000

2013 October 25 by

Lender Processing Services provided the media with a “first look” at the company’s mortgage performance statistics for the month of September.

The industry’s foreclosure inventory continued its downward trend, and while delinquencies were up slightly from the previous month, they were down when comparing the numbers year-over-year.

LPS counts a total of 3,266,000 mortgages nationwide that are 30 or more days past due but not yet in foreclosure. That tally represents 6.46 percent of all outstanding mortgages.

September’s delinquency rate is 4.23 percent higher than the rate reported for August, but remains 12.63 percent

below September 2012’s rate. Of the more than 3 million delinquent loans, LPS says 1,331,000 have missed at least three payments but haven’t started the foreclosure process.

Another 1,328,000 mortgages are currently winding their way through foreclosure pipelines, according to LPS’ data. That total puts the nation’s pre-sale foreclosure inventory at 2.63 percent in September, down 1.29 percent from the month prior and down 32.18 percent from last year.

All-in-all, there are 4,594,000 mortgages going unpaid in the United States. Comparatively speaking, the nation’s non-current total stood at 5,640,000 in September 2012.

LPS reports the states with the highest percentage of non-current loans (non-current combines foreclosures and delinquencies as a percentage of all active loans in the state) include: Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Maine.

North Dakota has the lowest percentage of non-current loans among states, followed by South Dakota, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.

LPS’ findings are derived from its loan-level database representing approximately 70 percent of the overall mortgage market. The company will provide a more in-depth review of this data in its monthly Mortgage Monitor report, which is scheduled for release in early November.

By: Carrie Bay

©2013 DS News. All Rights Reserved.


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FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Bankruptcy

2013 August 20 by

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is allowing borrowers who went through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, or short sale to reenter the market in as little as 12 months, according to a mortgage letter released Friday.

Borrowers who experienced a foreclosure must wait at least three years before getting a chance to get approved for an FHA loan, but with the new guideline, certain borrowers who lost their home as a result of an economic hardship may be considered even earlier.

For borrowers who went through recession-related financial event, FHA stated it realizes “their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

In order to be eligible for the more lenient approval process, provided documents must show “certain credit impairments” were from loss of employment or loss of income that was beyond their control. The lender also needs to verify the income loss was at least 20 percent for a period lasting for at least six months.

Additionally, borrowers must demonstrate they have fully recovered from the event that caused the hardship and complete housing counseling.

According to the letter, recovery from an economic event involves reestablishing “satisfactory credit” for at least 12 months. Criteria for satisfactory credit include 12 months of good payment history on payments such as a mortgage, rent, or credit account.

The new guidance is for case numbers assigned on or after August 15, 2013, and is effective through September 30, 2016.



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Speaking Engagement

2013 April 11 by

I, Jesse Aschenberg, had a great time speaking at the monthly meeting of the Mile High Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Thanks for having me!

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Refinancing Your Home Mortgage After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

2013 April 9 by

As a Denver bankruptcy lawyer, I have been receiving multiple calls from clients who filed bankruptcy a few years ago who are now eligible to re-finance their current mortgage or purchase a home.

The mortgage lenders and brokers frequently ask my clients “Did you reaffirm the mortgage?”

Wells Fargo, in particular, has been offering our past clients refinancing of their mortgage only to deny it later because a reaffirmation agreement was not filed in the bankruptcy case.

Wells Fargo tells our clients that they’ll approve them for a re-finance if they will file a reaffirmation agreement in their two-year-old chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Unfortunately, this is not an option. Once the bankruptcy discharge has been issued by the court, the court cannot approve a reaffirmation agreement.

Our solution: If you cannot re-finance with the mortgage lender you had when your bankruptcy was filed, apply with a different lender.

Our contacts at First Option Lending have recently told us that an individual who filed chapter 7 over 2 years ago is eligible to re-finance their mortgage now if they have not missed any mortgage payments and otherwise qualify. You don’t need a reaffirmation agreement to re-finance if your have a stellar payment history and your income is steady and verifiable.

It is common practice for bankruptcy attorneys to advise their clients to not reaffirm their mortgages and other debts. A Reaffirmation Agreement is an agreement made between the debtor (our client) and a creditor (like Wells Fargo) to agree to pay a debt that would otherwise be discharged (forgiven) by the bankruptcy.

The agreement is a court-approved new post-bankruptcy contract with the creditor. It gives back the lender the right to sue our clients (including wage and bank garnishment) if they default in the future.

How can a bankruptcy attorney advise his client to put himself or herself in that situation? Especially today when an astounding number of homes are underwater and the economy is so uncertain.

The benefits of signing the reaffirmation agreement are outweighed by the risks.

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The Latest Foreclosure and Mortgage News

2011 March 24 by

According to Consumer Bankruptcy News, nearly 3 million properties in the U.S. received foreclosure papers during 2010. This is a 2 percent increase from 2009 and a 23 percent increase from 2008.”Total properties receiving foreclosure filings would have easily exceeded 3 million in 2010 had it not been for the fourth quarter drop in foreclosure activity – triggered primarily by the continuing controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures that prompted many major lenders to temporarily halt some foreclosure proceedings,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Even so, 2010 foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report, and many of the foreclosure proceedings that were stopped in late 2010 – which we estimate may be as high as a quarter million – will likely be re-started and add to the numbers in early 2011.”Source: Consumer Bankruptcy News, February 24, 2011 Continue reading »