Wells Fargo and Chase in Trouble Again

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Maryland Attorney General took action against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, for an illegal marketing kickback scheme they participated in with Genuine Title, a now-defunct title company.
According to the bureau, Genuine Title gave the banks’ loan officers cash in exchange for business referrals.
As a result, Wells Fargo will be required to pay $24 million in civil penalties, JPMorgan will be required to pay $600,000 in civil penalties, along with $11.1 million to consumers whose loans were involved.
“These banks allowed their loan officers to focus on their own illegal financial gain rather than on treating consumers fairly. Our action today to address these practices should serve as a warning for all those in the mortgage market,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
“Homeowners were steered toward this title company, not because they were the best or most affordable, but because they were providing kickbacks to loan officers who referred consumers to them,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “This type of quid pro quo arrangement is illegal, and it’s unfair to other businesses that play by the rules.
Genuine Title was a Maryland-based title company that offered real-estate-closing services from 2005 until it became defunct in April 2014.
As part of the scheme, the title company offered loan officers services and cash kickbacks to increase the amount of loan business that was generated.
In return, the banks’ loan officers increased Genuine Title’s profits by referring homebuyers to the company for closing services.
This scheme violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which prohibits giving a “fee, kickback, or thing of value” in exchange for a referral of business related to a real-estate-settlement service.
Wells Fargo:
The investigation identified more than 100 Wells Fargo loan officers, largely in Maryland and Virginia, who participated in the scheme. The CFPB alleged that these loan officers referred thousands of loans to Genuine Title.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Wells Fargo would be required to pay $10.8 million in redress and $24 million in civil penalties. The bureau also filed an administrative consent order against Wells Fargo.
JPMorgan:
The CFPB alleged that at least six Chase loan officers in Maryland, Virginia, and New York were involved. These officers referred business to Genuine Title on almost 200 loans.
Under the proposed consent order filed today, Chase would pay $300,000 to customers and $600,000 in civil penalties. Additionally, the CFPB also filed an administrative consent order against Chase.

 

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

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IMMIGRATION UPDATE

DACA from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
If you request either initial or renewal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), you must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and required fees. USCIS will reject your request if you fail to submit Form I-765, the required filing fee, Form I-765 Worksheet, and Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For complete instructions on requesting DACA, go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page.
For DACA renewals, USCIS strongly encourages you to submit your renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date located on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document. Filing during this window will minimize the possibility that your current period of DACA will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request.
USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. However, you may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry, please visit egov.uscis.gov/e-request or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833)

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

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OCWEN AGAIN IGNORES THE LAW

California Regulators Want to Suspend Ocwen’s Mortgage License
Published January 13, 2015
Associated Press
California regulators are trying to suspend the mortgage license of Ocwen Financial Corp., saying the company failed to provide information that shows it complies with the state’s laws to protect homeowners.
The state passed a package of laws, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, that took effect in 2013 and were designed to increase transparency in the foreclosure process and reduce mortgage fraud.
California Department of Business Oversight spokesman Tom Dresslar said that the department has been seeking information for nearly a year from Ocwen to ensure the nation’s largest subprime mortgage servicer is complying with these laws. But he said that Ocwen has repeatedly failed to adequately respond.
As part of this process, the Department of Business Oversight issued a subpoena and a regulatory order to get the information; Dressler says both were violated. So the department to the matter to an administrative law judge, asking that the company’s license be revoked. A hearing is scheduled for July.
Ocwen did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The company, based in Atlanta, provides residential and commercial mortgage loan servicing.
Ocwen recently reached a settlement with regulators in New York after they identified a number of problems with the company’s practices, including wrongful foreclosures, missing paperwork and more. As part of that agreement, announced last month, the company must reform its practices and provide $150 million to help struggling homeowners. The agreement also requires its founder, William Erbey, to resign as executive chairman of the corporation and chairman of four related companies.

 If you have further questions, please contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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How Do Insurers Value an Injury Claim?

How Do Insurers Value an Injury Claim?
Here’s how insurance companies determine the value of your personal injury claim.

Figuring out how much your accident injuries are worth is a critical aspect of any personal injury claim, and it’s the part of a claim that is most difficult to determine; the amount varies depending on your circumstances. Here is an overview of how insurance companies determine what a claim is worth.
What an Insurance Company Must Compensate:
Here are the types of damages for which you may be compensated. Usually, the insurance company of the person at fault — must pay for the following:
• medical care and related expenses
• income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries
• permanent physical disability or disfigurement
• loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event
• emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships — for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations, and
• damaged property.
The Insurance Company’s Damages Formula:
When determining compensation, it is usually simple to add up the money spent and money lost, but there is no precise way to put a dollar figure on pain and suffering or on missed experiences and lost opportunities. That’s where an insurance company’s damages formula comes in.
At the beginning of claim negotiations, an insurance adjuster adds up the total medical expenses related to the injury. These expenses are referred to as “medical special damages”. That’s the base figure the adjuster uses to figure out how much to pay the injured person for pain, suffering, and other nonmonetary losses, which are called “general” damages.
When the injuries are relatively minor, the adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by 1.5 or 2. When the injuries are more painful, serious, or long-lasting, the adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by up to 5.  The multiplier may be as great as 10 in extremely serious cases. The adjuster then adds on any income lost as a result of the injuries.
That’s all there is to the formula. However, this figure — medical specials multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, then added to lost income — is not a final compensation amount but only the number from which negotiations begin.
Percentage of Fault:
The extent each person is at fault is an important factor affecting how much the insurance company is going to pay. The damages formula gives you a range of how much your injuries may be worth, but only after you allow for the question of fault do you know the actual amount you will be paid.
Determining fault for an accident is not an exact science, but in most claims both you and the insurance adjuster will at least have a good idea whether the insured person was entirely at fault, or if you were a little at fault, or if you were a lot at fault. Whatever that rough percentage of your comparative fault might be — 10%, 50%, 75% — is the amount by which the damages formula total will be reduced to arrive at a final figure.

If you are in need of more info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Damages: How Much is a Personal Injury Case Worth?
The answer comes down to “damages” — figuring out what your injuries have cost you monetarily, physically, and mentally (and, in some cases, whether the defendant’s conduct is so egregious that it should be punished).
In a personal injury case, money damages are paid to an injured person by the person who is found to be legally responsible for the accident. A damage award can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement — among the parties or may be ordered by a judge or jury following a court trial.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory,” meaning that they are intended to compensate the injured person for what was lost due to the accident or injury. A compensatory damages award is meant to make the injured person “whole” again from a monetary standpoint. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to put a number to — like reimbursement for property damage and medical bills. But it is more difficult to place a monetary value on pain and suffering or the inability to enjoy activities because of physical limitations caused by lingering accident-related injuries.

Here is a list of the different types of compensatory damages that are common in many personal injury cases.
Medical treatment. A damages award almost always includes the cost of medical care associated with the accident — reimbursement for treatment you’ve already received and compensation for the estimated cost of medical care you’ll need in the future because of the accident.
Income. You may be entitled to compensation for the accident’s impact on your salary and wages — not just income you’ve already lost but also the money you would have been able to make in the future, were it not for the accident.
Property loss. If any vehicles, clothing, or other items were damaged as a result of the accident, you will be entitled to reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was lost.
Pain and suffering. You may be entitled to get compensation for pain and serious discomfort you suffered during the accident and in its immediate aftermath — also for any ongoing pain that can be attributed to the accident.
Emotional distress. Usually linked to more serious accidents, emotional distress damages are meant to compensate a person for the psychological impact of an injury — including fear, anxiety, and sleep loss.
Loss of enjoyment. When injuries caused by an accident keep you from enjoying day-to-day pursuits, you may be entitled to receive “loss of enjoyment” damages.
Loss of consortium. In personal injury cases, “loss of consortium” damages typically relate to the impact the injuries have on the person’s relationship with their spouse — the loss of companionship or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed outrageously careless, the injured party may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages awarded.
Punitive damages are awarded to the injured party, but the real goal of these kinds of damages is to punish the defendant for its conduct and to act as a deterrent.
How Injured Person’s Actions (or Inaction) Can Affect a Damages Award
In some cases, an injured person’s role in causing an accident — or their inaction after being injured — can diminish the amount of damages available in a personal injury case.
Comparative negligence. If you’re at fault (even partially) for the accident that caused your injuries, chances are that any damage award will reflect that. That’s because most states adhere to a “comparative negligence” standard that links damages to degree of fault in a personal injury case.
Contributory negligence. In the small handful of states that follow the concept of “contributory negligence” for personal injury lawsuits, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all if you’re deemed partially to blame for the accident.
After the accident: failure to mitigate damages. The law expects an injured person to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” the financial impact of the harm caused by the accident. If an injured person fails to get necessary medical treatment after an accident, and thus makes their injuries much worse, a damages award might be significantly reduced.

If you need more info or representation, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

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Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is simply a type of trust that can be changed at any time. In other words, if you have second thoughts about a provision in the trust or change your mind about who should be a beneficiary or trustee of the trust, then you can modify the terms of the trust through what is called a trust amendment.
Since Revocable Living Trusts are so flexible, why aren’t all trusts revocable? Because the down side to a revocable trust is that assets funded into the trust will still be considered your own personal assets for creditor and estate tax purposes. This means that a revocable trust offers no creditor protection if you are sued, all of the trust assets will be considered yours for Medicaid planning purposes, and all assets held in the name of the trust at the time of your death will be subject to both state estate taxes and federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes.
So why should you use a Revocable Living Trust as part of your estate plan? For three important reasons:
1. To plan for mental disability – Assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time a person becomes mentally incapacitated can be managed by a named trustee instead of by a court-supervised guardian or conservator.
2. To avoid probate – Assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time of a person’s death will pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement and outside of the probate process. This saves a great deal of money.
3. To protect the privacy of your property and beneficiaries after you die – By avoiding probate with a Revocable Living Trust, your trust agreement can remain a private document and avoid becoming a public record. This will keep the details about your assets and beneficiaries private. On the other hand, a Last Will and Testament that has been admitted to probate becomes a public court record that anyone can see and read.
If you need more information, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Personal Injury Cases

Personal Injury Case Types
Auto Accident
Auto accidents include injuries and damages that involve more than just your damaged car. From physical injuries to emotional distress and pain and suffering, you could be due compensation from the individual at fault for your accident.
A driver who failed to take reasonable care while operating a vehicle could have acted negligent, which resulted in the accident. If you suffered injuries and/or damages from an auto accident personal injury case, you need to prove that the other driver was at fault.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents on the property of a person or business could result in a personal injury case. You just need to prove that the property owner, whether private or public, was at fault for causing your incident. Parking lots with unlit steps or uneven pavement are examples.
The accident needs to results from the property owner’s negligence to maintain a safe environment for others. The injured individual also has a responsibility to use proper care for his or her actions as well. As there could be varying degrees of responsibility for any slip and fall accident, the injured needs to prove that the property owner is more at fault.
General Liability
General liability, or premises liability, results from an individual being harmed when they enter a property having the expectation of not getting injured. Property owners are responsible for keeping a safe environment for visitors and are liable when injuries occur on the property, under certain circumstances.
If a property owner is negligent in keeping his or her property safe from harm and you suffer injuries, you could potentially file a personal injury case. The property owner has different responsibilities depending on the status of the visitor, whether an invitee, licensee or trespasser.
• Invitee – someone who enters the property because they were invited, such as a customer in a store.
• Licensee – someone who enters the property for his or her own purpose and is present at the permission of the property owner.
• Trespasser – someone who enters the property without the permission to do so.
In a situation of a licensee and trespasser, the property owner has no implicit promise that reasonable care has been made to guarantee safety.

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Foreclosures and Bankruptcy

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 7 Proposals to Protect Homeowners

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing new measures to ensure that homeowners are treated fairly by mortgage servicers.

Here are the changes that will impact servicers:

  1. Extended borrower protection

At present a mortgage servicer must give the borrower certain foreclosure protections, including the right to be evaluated for options to avoid foreclosure. However, they are required to do this only once during the life of the loan.

Under the newly proposed rule, servicers would have to give those protections again for borrowers who have been current at any time since the last loss mitigation application. 

  1. Death protection

If a borrower dies, CFPB rules currently require that servicers promptly identify and communicate with family members who have a legal interest in the home.

The proposal would expand the circumstances in which family members would be notified, including when a property is transferred after a divorce, or transferred through a family trust, or when a borrower who is a joint tenant dies.

  1. Proper notifications

Servicers must notify borrowers promptly that the loss mitigation application is complete, so that borrowers know the status of the application and if they have foreclosure protections.

  1. Holds servicers to timeframe

The proposal clarifies that generally a transferee servicer must comply with the loss mitigation requirements within the same timeframes that applied to the transferor servicer.

Under the present system, when mortgages are transferred from one servicer to another, borrowers who had applied to the prior servicer for loss mitigation may not know where they are in the process with the new servicer.

  1. Clarifies servicers’ obligations

The bureau is proposing what steps servicers and their foreclosure counsel must take to protect borrowers from a wrongful foreclosure sale.

Servicers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent the sale must dismiss a pending foreclosure action.

This will aid servicers in complying with, and assist courts in applying, the dual-tracking prohibitions in foreclosure proceedings to prevent wrongful foreclosures.

  1. Delinquent advance date change

It would clarify that delinquency, for purposes of the servicing rules, begins on the day a borrower fails to make a periodic payment.

Under the proposal, when a borrower misses a payment but later makes it up, if the servicer must apply the payment to the oldest outstanding periodic payment, the date of delinquency advances.

  1. Keep borrower updated, regularly

The proposal would generally require servicers to provide periodic statements to those borrowers, with specific information tailored for bankruptcy, along with requiring servicers to provide written intervention notices to let those borrowers know about alternative options.

 If you need more information, please contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.

 

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If you need further info or help in taking advantage of the President’s executive action, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

This post is in partnership with Time. The article below was originally published at Time.com

By Zeke J. Miller, TIME

President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is granting temporary legal status and work permits to nearly five million undocumented immigrants living in the country illegally, the largest single immigration action in modern American history.

More than four million undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children will receive new legal status under Obama’s executive action, if they have been living in the country for at least five years, pay back taxes, and pass a criminal background check. Obama, who will formally take the action on Friday at an event in Las Vegas, will also offer temporary status to several hundred thousand immigrants who came to the country as children, but did not qualify for his action on deferred deportations in 2012. This group includes those who were born before 1981 and those who arrived in the U.S. between June 15, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2010. …

The plan, which will be put into place by memoranda and the actions of cabinet officials, will also include new priorities and procedures for detaining and deporting those undocumented immigrants not granted special status. The new deportation priorities will focus on removing criminals, gang members, and those who have arrived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014.

“Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” Obama said. “We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.” …

The President and his team decided not to extend the special legal status to the parents of undocumented children, a group that could have covered several hundred thousand additional immigrants. “We made a determination that the law essentially did not support that,” the official said. In a publicly-released memo, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel wrote that in its opinion Obama could not justify granting deferred action to the parents of those covered by the 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

That temporary legal status, which was granted to hundreds of thousands of child arrivals in 2012, will now have to be reviewed every three years. …

 

If you need further info or help in taking advantage of the President’s executive action, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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If you need further info or help in taking advantage of the President’s executive action, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

This post is in partnership with Time. The article below was originally published at Time.com

By Zeke J. Miller, TIME

President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is granting temporary legal status and work permits to nearly five million undocumented immigrants living in the country illegally, the largest single immigration action in modern American history.

More than four million undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children will receive new legal status under Obama’s executive action, if they have been living in the country for at least five years, pay back taxes, and pass a criminal background check. Obama, who will formally take the action on Friday at an event in Las Vegas, will also offer temporary status to several hundred thousand immigrants who came to the country as children, but did not qualify for his action on deferred deportations in 2012. This group includes those who were born before 1981 and those who arrived in the U.S. between June 15, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2010. …

The plan, which will be put into place by memoranda and the actions of cabinet officials, will also include new priorities and procedures for detaining and deporting those undocumented immigrants not granted special status. The new deportation priorities will focus on removing criminals, gang members, and those who have arrived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014.

“Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” Obama said. “We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.” …

The President and his team decided not to extend the special legal status to the parents of undocumented children, a group that could have covered several hundred thousand additional immigrants. “We made a determination that the law essentially did not support that,” the official said. In a publicly-released memo, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel wrote that in its opinion Obama could not justify granting deferred action to the parents of those covered by the 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

That temporary legal status, which was granted to hundreds of thousands of child arrivals in 2012, will now have to be reviewed every three years. …

 

If you need further info or help in taking advantage of the President’s executive action, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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