Now that it is that time of year when we all file for our tax returns, it is advisable that you watch out for three tax scams.
1. Telephone Calls.—The scam artists pretend that they are the IRS and tell you you owe money. Hang up immediately and call IRS at 800-829-1040. If you know you do not owe taxes call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
2. Identity theft. — They steal your identity and file a false tax return to claim your money. If you believe that someone has stolen your identity call IRS Identity Protection at 800-908-4490.
3. Phishing.—The scam artists email you pretending that they are the IRS and ask you to give them financial info. The IRS never initiates contact by email. Phishing emails should be sent to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Linda Fessler 213-617-8684 or 213-446-6766Read More
1Rear-End Car Crash Can Cause
Neck Injuries and Whiplash
Call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-617-8684 or 213-446-6766.
One of the most common types of car collisions in Southern California is the rear-end car accident. There are many factors that cause these crashes but most of the time, it is because of tailgating and speeding. More often than not, the driver of the rear car is at fault in rear end car accidents.
Rear-end collisions are not as serious as other types of auto accidents, but the injuries sustained in rear-enders can affect the victims for the rest of their lives. Victims often sustain a whiplash or other neck injuries such as nerve damage, disc damage, and sometimes fractures of the cervical vertebrae.
Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries
So why whiplash and neck injuries? When a vehicle is struck from the back, the vehicle gets pushed forward, the seat pushes back against the victim’s torso and propels the victim forward. This will cause distortion as the victim’s unsupported head lags behind the torso as the neck bends backwards. This distortion pushes the person’s neck muscles and ligaments beyond the normal range of motion which can cause injury.
Neck Injury and Insurance Compensation
In the U.S. neck injuries (including whiplash) are the most frequently reported to insurance companies.
Effect of a Neck Injury
Many victims make light of the effects of whiplash and neck injuries because they think the symptoms are minor (i.e. soreness, neck pain and stiffness). They do not report the injury or go to the doctor. But there is the potential that these injuries can become long-term and disabling. It is important for any victim of a rear-end accident to first seek medical attention even if you think you’re fine. Second, you should talk to an attorney so that you can recover for your medical expenses, property damage, loss of wages and pain and suffering. If you go it alone, most insurance companies will take advantage of you.
Here are some tips you may follow to avoid neck injuries or whiplash:
Make sure that your vehicle’s headrest is positioned about 3.5 inches below the top of the head.
Watch your seating position. It is advisable that when the driver is seated, the distance from the back of his head to the headrest is less than 4 inches in order to minimize neck distortion.
Buy or choose vehicles with high ratings of geometric head restraints. High ratings equal less risk of neck injuries.
For questions or concerns about neck injuries or whiplash in a rear-end crash, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-617-8684 or 213-446-6766.
2 WAYS TO COLLECT FROM A MORTGAGE COMPANY FOR THEIR WRONGDOING—-Call Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766
One of the ways is a consent order. The other is a lawsuit.
A consent order is a legal document which provides information about an agreement reached among individuals/companies involved in a legal case. Also known as a consent decree, this type of order allows the parties to settle a case without having to wait for a court judgment. It is legally binding.
In order to be legally binding, a consent order must be approved by a court. Once the order has been approved, it goes into effect.
This voluntary agreement can be a useful tool for resolving cases without a trial, thus resulting in a quicker resolution of the issues.
Time saving is a reason some companies and government agencies will attempt to resolve a legal issue with a consent order. For example, this technique has been used to a great extent by our government against the mortgage companies that helped bring the economy down with their predatory lending and other unethical practices.
Many of these consent orders required payments to the borrowers, modification of their mortgages, or even paydowns of their mortgages.
Sometimes an injured party who accepts a payment as a result of these consent orders is not allowed to file his/her own lawsuit; but on most occasions they can proceed and file their own claims against the mortgage company through a lawsuit, thus providing a second way of collecting your damages. Below are some of the consent orders that have recently been amended to better serve their objectives.
- Consent Order Amendment for Aurora Bank, FSB (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for Bank of America (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for Citibank (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for HSBC Bank (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for MetLife Bank, N.A. (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for PNC Bank, N.A. (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for Sovereign Bank (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for U.S. Bank National Association, U.S. Bank National Association ND (PDF)
- Consent Order Amendment for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (PDF)
- FAQs About the Independent Foreclosure Review Agreements
If you have any questions about these consent orders or about filing your own lawsuit, please call LINDA FESSLER at 213-446-6766.
Bankruptcy Chapter 7
Call Linda Fessler 213-617-8684 or cell 213-446-6766
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal protection for people struggling with debt. Bankruptcy provides consumers with a chance to eliminate debt, to delay or prevent their homes from being sold in a foreclosure sale, to work out a modification with the mortgage company or to buy time to arrange a short sale.
In order to file under Chapter 7, a person must demonstrate that he or she does not have the “means” (that is, income) to make payments on their debts. In most cases, a filer’s assets are exempt (that is, they get to keep them). Chapter 7 has the power to completely eliminate a filer’s eligible unsecured debt. Debts from credit cards, medical bills, payday loans and judgements are all usually eligible for discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Once a debt has been discharged, no one has the right to collect it. Anyone who wants to file a Chapter 7 must complete a credit counseling session with an approved counseling service before filing their bankruptcy petition with the court. After the petition is filed they must take an approved financial management class. These sessions normally take about an hour and a half each. But it is well worth taking them.
Chapter 7 provides for the automatic stay. As soon as a person files a bankruptcy case the automatic stay takes effect. It usually remains in effect for the duration of the bankruptcy case. As a result of the stay, most creditors are prevented from taking collection action against the person who has filed the bankruptcy. This means they cannot foreclose, repossess, garnish wages, phone or mail you or continue with lawsuits that are already in court. Creditors who attempt to collect while the automatic stay is active are in violation of the law.
If you are interested in filing a Chapter 7, please contact Linda Fessler at 213-617-8684 or 213-446-6766. My fees include the convenience of working with me from your home and taking your counseling classes on the phone or online.
Multi-billion dollar Ocwen Class Action
Ocwen Financial Corporation, the largest nonbank mortgage loan servicer in the country, is being ordered to pay for years of misconduct in mortgage servicing. The misconduct included, but was not limited to, unauthorized fees, deception, and illegal foreclosures. Ocwen will be required to provide $2 billion in loan modification relief and will be required to refund $125 million to consumers whose homes were foreclosed.
Ocwen has been taking advantage of homeowners with shortcuts and unauthorized fees and deceiving homeowners about loan modifications.
Ocwen is a mortgage servicer. A mortgage servicer is the company to whom you make your monthly payment. A mortgage servicer administers mortgage loans, including collecting and recording payments from borrowers. A mortgage servicer will also handle defaults and foreclosures, and may offer programs to avoid foreclosure to assist delinquent borrowers.
This settlement involves Ocwen, Litton Loan Servicing LP and Homeward Residential Holdings LLC (also known as American Home Servicing, Inc. or AMHSI). If your loan was serviced by Ocwen, Litton, or Homeward, and you lost your home to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2012, the settlement administrator will mail you a notice letter and claim form.
For loan modification options, you may be contacted directly by Ocwen. You can also contact Ocwen for information about specific loan modification programs and find out if you will be impacted by this settlement.
The most important fact about this settlement is that you can file a claim and collect and still sue Ocwen for additional money. Many of the class action judgements will not allow you to do this. If you need more information please call me for a free telephonic consultation.
LINDA FESSLER 213-446-6766.
On January 1, 2013 a new California law took effect to guarantee fair lending and borrowing practices for homeowners. Most homeowners do not know about them.
The new rules are:
A. A homeowner must be contacted prior to foreclosure:
1. A mortgage servicer cannot record a Notice of Default until 30 days after he has contacted the homeowner to try and find ways to avoid foreclosure.
2. A mortgage servicer must, at the time of recording the Notice of Default, include an unsworn declaration stating that the homeowner was contacted or attempts were made to contact the homeowner.
B. There is a restriction on dual track foreclosure:
1. Mortgage servicers cannot continue the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on getting a loan modification. (Foreclosure proceedings are halted until a decision is reached on the loan modification application.)
C. There must be a single point of contact:
1. Mortgage servicers are required to provide a single contact person to homeowners who are at risk of default. This person is responsible for helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.
D. There must be a verification of documents:
1. Mortgage servicers that record and file multiple unverified and inaccurate documents will face civil penalty of up to $7,500 per loan. In addition, they may face penalties by licensing agencies, such as the Department of Corporations, the Department of Real Estate and the Department of Financial Institutions.
E. These rules can be enforced by the homeowner:
1. Borrowers have the right to seek civil relief for any material violations of the new
foreclosure rules. Injunctive relief will be available before a foreclosure sale while
recovery of damages will be available if a sale has already taken place.
F. Tenants will have rights:
1. Purchasers of foreclosed homes are required to honor current leases. For example, ifa tenant signed a fixed-term lease before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the new owner must respect the lease, unless he/she can prove that there has been fraud involved.
G. There are new methods to prosecute mortgage fraud:
1. The statute of limitations to prosecute mortgage-related crimes is extended from one to three years for mortgage fraud crimes. In addition, the Attorney General can use a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict perpetrators of financial crimes taking place in different counties.
If you have any questions call LINDA FESSLER at 213-446-6766. I look forward to working with you.
2 WAYS TO CHALLENGE AN UNFAIR PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT
Though you would think that property taxes should decrease when home values do, a terrible housing market alone will not get you a lower assessment.
What you need to prove is that your assessment, which governs the amount of tax you get charged, has not been adjusted properly relative to similar homes.
There are two ways to challenge an assessment: Demonstrate that it is inaccurate in its description of your property, for example by crediting your home with more bedrooms or square footage than it actually has. The second way is by showing that the assessed value is higher that comparable properties in your neighborhood. If you fall into the first category, you probably do not need to file a formal appeal; just call the assessor’s office.
However, if you fall into the second category, you will have to file an informal appeal and provide written evidence that shows that your property is being taxed at a higher value than those comparables.
Remember, property tax procedures differ from county to county.
For example, in Los Angeles County, on the “Regular Assessment Roll,” a formal appeal may be filed from July 2 though November 30. If November 30 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, an application is valid if either filed or postmarked by the next business day. Other counties will have there own rules.
Here is a checklist for appealing:
Make sure all deductions to which you were entitled were granted.
Determine the deadlines for your county.
Check the accuracy of the assessor’s math and the description of your property.
Consult with professionals who may be of assistance. (For example, call Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 or 213-617-8684)
Locate at least five comparable properties.
Compare your assessment against the other five properties.
File your appeal.
Attend an appeals board hearing to get an idea of the process.
Prepare a written summary of your case and rehearse your presentation.
Let me know if I can be of further help. 213-446-6766
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY ON FACEBOOK—-IT CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU IN COURT
A Lot of Incriminating Evidence
The photos taken after a few too many drinks, the pictures that show people engaged in dangerous or even illegal behavior—————–
But it’s not just the pictures that can get you in trouble. Maybe you’ve testified in court you were in a certain place on a certain day at a particular time, but your Facebook page shows you were somewhere else. If your child custody agreement limits your travel with your kids to Los Angeles County, but you post a status update saying that you are taking them to the San Diego Zoo.
These are just a couple of ways in which Facebook can get y ou into trouble.
Preventative Steps Before You Are Involved in a Lawsuit
1. Watch what you say.
2. Change all of your passwords so that your spouse or ex cannot gain access to your account.
3. Double-check your security settings so that only friends can view your page.
4. Remove any unsavory or questionable photos, especially those depicting alcohol consumption or parties.
5. Remove your Wall completely so that other Facebook friends cannot leave undesirable comments on your page.
But locking down the security settings on your Facebook account may not be enough.
If, during the legal discovery process, the other side asks for access to your social networking accounts, you have to supply the information intact— in the same state it appeared when you got the request (or in the state it was when you thought you might get the request). Judges have fined people who have tried to alter their information at this point.
And it’s not just Facebook accounts that can cause you problems. Some judges are ordering couples to swap passwords for their online dating sites.
So when in doubt, DON’T POST IT.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE REPUBLICANS TO PASS IMMIGRATION REFORM
First—-you may have a very long wait!
Second—- a modification in the old law may help you get legal status. This only applies to a citizen who is married to an undocumented person. Before the change, the spouse without documents would have to leave the country, before he/she would even have a chance at status. They might have to remain in their home country for 2 years to 10 years. However, the President changed the law. The change took effect March 31, 2013. Now the citizen can petition for status for the undocumented spouse WITHOUT THE SPOUSE HAVING TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY. So if it takes 2 years or 10 years, the undocumented spouse stays in the United States. If the petition is approved they do have to go to their home country for about 2 weeks to have an interview and receive their papers. They are away for the length of a short vacation to see family and friends. No risk and everything to gain. Give me a call if you think you would qualify. Call my immigration line at 213-446-6766.Read More
Tax Breaks for Charity Volunteers
If you volunteer your time for a charity, you may qualify for some tax breaks. Although no tax deduction is allowed for the value of services performed for a charity, there are deductions permitted for out-of-pocket costs incurred while performing the services. The normal deduction limits and substantiation rules also apply. The following are some examples:
• Away-from-home travel expenses while performing services for a charity, including out-of-pocket roundtrip travel cost, taxi fares, and other costs of transportation between the airport or station and hotel, plus lodging and meals are allowed at 100%. Unlike other areas of taxes, meals are not subject to the 50% limitation. These expenses are only deductible if there is no significant element of personal pleasure associated with the travel, or if your services for a charity do not involve lobbying activities. Any “significant element of personal pleasure” negates a deduction (i.e., not even partial deduction is allowed). Significant personal pleasure is assumed if the taxpayer has only minor duties and is not required to perform any duties for the charity for major portions of the away-from-home stay.
• The cost of entertaining others on behalf of a charity, such as wining and dining a potential large contributor (but the cost of your own entertainment or meal is not deductible).
• If you use your car while performing services for a charitable organization, you may deduct your actual unreimbursed expenses directly attributable to the services, such as gas and oil costs, or you may deduct a flat 14 cents per mile for the charitable use of your car. You may also deduct parking fees and tolls.
• You can deduct the cost of the uniform you wear when doing volunteer work for the charity, as long as the uniform has no general utility. The cost of cleaning the uniform can also be deducted.
No charitable deduction is allowed for a contribution of $250 or more unless the contribution is substantiated with a written acknowledgment from the charitable organization. To verify your contribution:
• Get written documentation from the charity about the nature of your volunteering activity and the need for related expenses to be paid. For example, if you travel out-of-town as a volunteer, request a letter from the charity explaining why you’re needed at the out-of-town location.
• Submit a statement of expenses if you are out-of-pocket for substantial amounts and, preferably, a copy of the receipts to the charity. Also arrange for the charity to acknowledge in writing the amount of the contribution.
• Maintain detailed records of your out-of-pocket expenses – includes receipts plus a written record of the time, place, amount and charitable purpose of the expense.
Circular 230 Disclosure, United States Treasury regulations effective June 21, 2005 require us to notify you that to the extent of this communication, or any of its attachments, contains or constitutes advice regarding any U.S. Federal tax issue, such advice is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that can be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.
© Copyright 2008-2013