Citibank ordered to pay $770 million over credit card practices

 

 

Citibank ordered to pay $770 million over credit card practices

RICHA NAIDU Jul 21st 2015 1:55PM
Citigroup Inc’s (C.N) consumer bank has been ordered to pay $700 million in relief to borrowers for illegal credit card practices, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.

The bank will also pay civil penalties of $35 million each to the consumer finance watchdog and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The $770 million total payout is about 1 percent of Citi’s estimated revenue for 2015, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

“Citi is fully reserved to pay costs associated with the agreements,” the bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The CFPB said that about 7 million customer accounts were affected by Citibank’s “deceptive marketing” practices, which included misrepresenting costs and fees and charging customers for services they did not receive.

The CFPB, set up under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act aimed at reforming Wall Street practices, said a Citibank unit also “deceptively” charged nearly 1.8 million consumer accounts often unnecessary same-day payment fees while collecting payments.

Citibank misrepresented the charge of $14.95 per account as a “processing” fee and did not explain that the fee was merely to make a faster payment, the CFPB said.

Citi said it had been issuing refunds and had stopped selling products that were part of its agreements with the regulators, including credit monitoring and debt protection products.

The bank said it no longer charged a fee to make same-day payments over the phone.

Citi is not the only big U.S. bank whose credit card practices are under scrutiny.

U.S. authorities, including the CFPB, said earlier this month that JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) would pay $136 million and reform its credit card debt collection practices.

JPMorgan was accused of relying on robo-signing and other discredited methods of going after consumers for debts they may not have owed and for providing inaccurate information to debt buyers. …

 

 

Read More

$280 Million Uncollected by Consumers

$280 Million Uncollected by Consumers

Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and Others under the Microscope for Mortgage Servicing

by RE-Insider on June 29, 2015

 

In 2011, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Reserve ordered 16 mortgage services to hire independent consultants to review files for homes in any stage of foreclosure, an enforcement known as the Independent Foreclosure Review. The goal was simple: put an end to the forged or sloppy paperwork being used to hastily foreclose on homes, an act better known as robo-signing.

While many of the mandated changes have been undoubtedly met, it would seem that some lenders still haven’t fully complied, as the OCC has recently slapped Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and four other banks with restrictions on each bank’s mortgage servicing operations.

According to the OCC, the six banks, Wells Fargo, HSBC(HSBC), EverBank (EVER), JPMorgan Chase, Santander Bank NA (SAN) and U.S. Bank National Association(USB), are restricted from:

  • Acquisition of residential mortgage servicing or residential mortgage servicing rights (does not apply to servicing associated with new originations or refinancings by the banks or contracts for new originations by the banks);
  • New contracts for the bank to perform residential mortgage servicing for other parties;
  • Outsourcing or sub-servicing of new residential mortgage servicing activities to other parties;
  • Off-shoring new residential mortgage servicing activities; and
  • New appointments of senior officers responsible for residential mortgage servicing or residential mortgage servicing risk management and compliance.

Wells Fargo and HSBC were dealt the hardest blow and are prohibited from the following:

  • Acquiring of mortgage servicing rights until the consent order is terminated
  • New contracts to perform mortgage servicing prohibited until the consent order is terminated
  • New offshoring of mortgage servicing activity until the consent order is terminated

EverBank, JPMorgan Chase, Santander Bank NA, U.S. Bank National Association will only need prior approval from the OCC on mortgage servicing activity.

Each of the affected banks said that they are working with the OCC on the related matters.

Some lenders are in the clear though – the OCC also announced that Bank of America (BAC) Citigroup (C) and PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) are in compliance with the IFR and will no longer have restrictions on their mortgage-servicing activity.

So far, the IFR Payment Agreement resulted in the distribution of more than $2.7 billion to more than 3.2 million eligible borrowers, representing more than 90% of the total amount available for distribution.

But despite that high cash rate compared to many other payment distributions, the OCC anticipates that approximately $280 million from OCC-supervised institutions will remain unclaimed at the end of the year after considerable efforts to locate eligible borrowers have been exhausted.

If you think you may be owed money or if you have any other questions, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

Read More

TRUCKS versus CARS

 

PERSONAL INJURY CASES

Trucks are only involved in about 9% of all traffic accidents, yet they are responsible for about 14% of the fatalities. There are several reasons for this.Blind spots are a danger with any type of vehicle. With large commercial trucks, blind spots can be large.

The massive weight of a big rig combined with highway speeds give the large trucks far more momentum and power than a passenger vehicle.

Many trucks carry hazardous and flammable materials that can cause fires, explosions, and toxic exposure when their tanks are pierced..

Compensation for Truck Accidents

  • In March, 2015, a Georgia jury awarded $15 million to a truck accident victim for his injuries and $1.5 million to his wife for loss of consortium resulting from an accident caused by a logging truck that pulled out onto a rural highway into the path of the vehicle.
  • In December, 2014, Art Van Furniture paid $1.37 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a five month old son of parents killed in a crash with one of its trucks.
  • In February, 2015, a Santa Fe jury delivered a $165 million against FedEx, for the death of a mother and her four-year-old daughter who were killed when a FedEx truck slammed into the back of their pickup truck.

If you need advice regarding this or any other issue involving a personal injury please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

Read More

SCAM— LOWER CREDIT CARD INTEREST RATE

FTC stops robocall scam

June 29, 2015

by

Lisa Weintraub

Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

… The FTC just shut down Payless Solutions, a scam using illegal robocalls to lie about lowering your credit card interest rate.

Here’s the scam: A robocall – often from “Card Services” – says that you qualify for a special program to lower your credit card interest rate, save thousands of dollars, and pay off debts sooner. If you press a number, a representative might tell you they work for your bank or credit card company. They don’t.

It gets worse. Next, they ask for your credit card information and Social Security number. Then, they charge $300 to $3499 for their interest rate reduction services – often without your permission. Most of the time, you don’t get a lower interest rate. And you lose your money.

The FTC and the Florida Attorney General filed a lawsuit to shut down this scam. Why? Payless lied about lowering interest rates, lied about working for consumers’ banks, and unfairly charged consumers’ credit cards without authorization. And those annoying robocalls? They violated the Do Not Call rules.

How can you guard against phone scams like this one? Here are some suggestions:

  • If you get a robocall, hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to an operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Keep your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to yourself. Don’t tell them to callers you don’t know – even if they ask you to “confirm” this information. That’s a trick.
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. If you’re on the registry and get a sales call, it’s a scam.
  • You can also sign up for a service to block robocalls, like nomorobo.com, which won the FTC’s 2013 Robocall Challenge.
  • Report your experience to the FTC online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Looking for ways to lower your interest rate and pay debts? Consumer.gov has tips on managing debt and using credit. For example: when comparing credit cards, don’t just look at interest rates. Also ask about the annual fee, other fees, and the grace period for late payments. Want more help? Check out the FTC’s advice about choosing a credit counseling service.

If you need further information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

Read More

Coalition Demands Investigation of OneWest Foreclosures

 

The California Reinvestment Coalition has demanded a federal investigation into the foreclosure policies of OneWest Bank in minority neighborhoods.

The group said that its investigation raised “serious red flags” about servicing at OneWest. The bank has foreclosed on more than 35,000 homes in California over the last six years. When compared with U.S. data and maps, the California data revealed a high concentration of the foreclosures were in “communities of color,” the Coalition said.

Among OneWest’s total foreclosures in California, 68% were conducted in ZIP codes where at least half the population is nonwhite.

“OneWest’s mortgage servicing has been widely criticized and these data increase our concerns that bad servicing practices may have had an outsized impact on communities of color,” Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, said in a Tuesday press release.

The $21 billion-asset CIT Group has agreed to acquire OneWest for $3.4 billion.

 

If you suffered a foreclosure at the hands of OneWest, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

Read More

WHAT DOES A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY DO?

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be considering obtaining a personal injury lawyer. What can she/he do that you cannot do for yourself. After all, you are not required to have an attorney and an attorney will take a share out of your settlement. Once you see what an attorney will do, you may decide that it is better to hire one than to handle your case yourself.
Investigation
The first thing that an attorney will do is investigate. Your attorney will investigate the accident, talk to witnesses, gather evidence, and may hire a professional investigator to dig deeper into the situation. Determining the cause of the accident, any underlying and contributing factors, and any factors that contributed to the seriousness of your injuries are crucial in determining who can be held financially responsible.
You cannot rely on the police or the insurance companies to investigate your accident properly. The police are much too busy to do a thorough investigation.   When it comes to the insurance companies, their investigators will be looking for ways to avoid paying you and refute your claim. Your attorney will look for evidence to support your claim.
Your attorney may discover facts that were not evident to you at the time of the accident, such as dangerous intersection design and failure to modify a dangerous intersection in spite of a history of accidents at the location.
Another part of investigating your case is identifying all of the insurance coverage that is available to pay for your injuries. This part of the process can be very complicated.
Moving Forward
After the investigation, an attorney has many responsibilities including:

  • Making sure you meet all deadlines
  • Filing the complaint and other filings
  • Determining who to name in your lawsuit
  • Determining how much money you should demand
  • Conducting discovery
  • Negotiating with the insurance company
  • Hiring the necessary experts
  • Preparing for and taking your case to trial

If you need advice regarding this or any other issue involving a personal injury please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

Read More

MEDI-CAL and YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE

Personal Injury Cases

 

If you have been injured in an auto accident and it is not your fault you can still collect even if MEDI-CAL has paid for your medical treatment. In fact MEDI-CAL will only take a maximum of 50% of your settlement after costs and attorney’s fees. For example, if you settle your case for $50,000 and your attorney’s fees are 30% or $15,000, the maximum MEDI-CAL will take is ½ the balance or $17,500. So even if you owe them $20,000, they can only take $17,500.

Of course, if you only owe them $5000, that is all they will take.

This is important in that many people believe that MEDI-CAL will take the entire settlement or the lion share of it. This is simply not the case. But many people, thinking that MEDI-CAL will take everything, do not pursue their case.
 

If you need advice regarding this or any other issue involving a personal injury please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

Read More

What To Do Immediately After A Car Accident

What to Do Immediately After an Accident

If you are involved in a car accident and are injured, the first thing you should do is call 911 and report the accident. If you are seriously hurt, someone else should call for you.

Reports from Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and police will be valuable tools in your personal injury case. The EMS report will include a description of your injuries and the medical care they gave at the scene. EMS may also transfer you to the nearest hospital, where doctors will create more medical documentation.

A police report contains detailed information regarding the at-fault driver’s errors (including tickets issued), names and contact information of witnesses, weather conditions, accident diagrams, insurance information, and more.

Don’t let the other driver talk you out of calling the police.

Always call the police if anyone is injured or any property was damaged. Don’t agree to any arrangements that don’t involve making an official accident report. If you plan on filing a personal injury or property damage claim against the other driver, a police report will be very helpful.

EMS and the police can only document certain information in their reports. Try to gather any additional info you think may help during claim negotiations. The more information you have, the better your chance of a higher settlement.

Write down the following as soon as possible after the accident:

  • The driver’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and any other contact information you can get.

 

  • The driver’s insurance company’s name, telephone number, and the driver’s policy number.

 

  • The names and contact information for all witnesses.

 

  • Your immediate thoughts and observations.

Also take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and damage to the cars. If you’re badly injured, ask someone at the scene to help you take photos.

 

The Next Few Days

You will need to see a doctor to get treatment for your injuries. To make a strong case, you must have credible, independent medical documentation. Be sure to get referrals to any specialists you need to treat specific injuries.

Be wary of doctors and clinics advertising directly to personal injury victims. Many of these doctors have reputations for unnecessarily extending the length and cost of treatment. Insurance adjustors know who these doctors are, and immediately doubt their credibility. This  can be especially damaging if your case goes to court.

See your own doctor first. If you do not have a family physician, ask for referrals from family and friends. Seek out doctors who will objectively treat your injuries and render the medical documentation needed to support your case. Accept as much medical treatment and therapy as the doctor orders.

You will be contacted by a claims adjustor from the insurance company shortly after the accident. The adjustor’s sole job is to investigate and negotiate accident claims. They will try to settle for the least amount possible. They are not on “your side”, no matter how kind they sound.

If you have had an accident and need further info, please contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

 

Read More

GENERAL MOTORS SETTLES PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

General Motors Ignition Compensation Fund has approved settlement offers with families of 104 people killed in accidents caused by the company’s defective ignition switches, an increase of four from the week before.
The fund has 495 cases yet to review, including 26 involving fatalities.
So far the fund as approved payments to 12 people who suffered a loss of a limb, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns. Settlements have been offered to 179 people who suffered less severe injuries that required hospitalization or outpatient treatment.
The claims arose from GM’s recall of about 2.5 million small cars, mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, from the 2003-07 model years. The switches on those cars sometimes slipped from the “on” position to “accessory” either from the weight of a key chain or from inadvertent contact with a driver’s leg. That caused a loss of electrical power to the cars’ steering and air bags.
Some of the automakers’ engineers knew about the problem at least by 2003. Some GM attorneys knew by early 2013 that there were deaths that may have been caused by the defect, but the company didn’t begin recalling the models in question until 2014.

If you have a personal injury case against GM, Toyota or an individual party, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

Read More

How to handle a collection agency

when a debt collector calls

When a debt collector calls, your

best response is to confront the

situation head-on.

Be sure the debt collector

and the debt are legitimate.

 Find out:

  • § Who you’re talking to (get the person’s name)
  • § The name of the debt collection company
  • § The company’s address and phone number
  • § The name of the creditor

Ask the debt collector for:

  • § The amount owed
  • § The name of the creditor
  • § How you can dispute the debt or verify the debt is yours. Ask for the information in writing. It is a good idea to get this written notice before you agree to pay the debt collector or try to negotiate.

Harassment is illegal. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says

debt collectors can’t harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact.

For example, debt collectors can’t:

§ Make repeated phone calls that are

intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you

or any person answering the phone.

§ Use obscene or profane language.

§ Make threats of violence or harm.

§ Publish lists of people who refuse to pay their debts (this does not include reporting information to a credit reporting company).

§ Call you without telling you who they are. If you believe a debt collector is harassing you file a complaint.

Second, identify the debt

 If you recognize the debt- You can contact the debt collector and work out a payment plan that makes sense for you.

HOWEVER——If the debt is several years old—-

Before making a payment or agreeing to a payment

plan for a debt that is old, find out what your state’s

statute of limitations is for filing a lawsuit to collect

the debt. If time has passed for filing a lawsuit, they can do nothing if you do not pay them.

In time it will drop off your credit report.

If you’re not sure the debt is yours—-

Write and ask for formal written verification of the

debt, including:

§ The name and address of the original creditor (if

different than the current creditor)

§ How much you owe

§ Proof the debt is yours

If the debt is not yours—-

Write the debt collector to tell it the debt is not

yours and that you do not want to be contacted

about it again.

Third, keep your letters

 Keep the letters you receive and make copies of the

letters you send in case you need to dispute the

issue later.

Fourth, if you need additional help, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

 

Read More