Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eric Friedman of Montgomery County's Office of Consumer Protection on Fox News

He warns consumers to watch out for scammers promising to sell tickets or other goods and services online. Eric is an ex-officio member of MCRC's board.

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PA Supreme Court says payday lenders must abide by state regulations

The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court ruled that out-of-state payday lenders must abide by the state’s banking regulations, even if the lenders do not have a physical presence in the state. The case, Cash America Net of Nevada vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Department of Banking, pitted an online payday lender that offers cash advances with interest rates of over 1,200 APR against a regulatory apparatus that had sought to enforce lending rates and requirements. The unanimous 7-0 ruling affirmed an earlier ruling from the court. It is unlikely that Cash America will be able to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To read the decision, click here.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scott Borison of the Legg Law Firm discusses foreclosures on MPT

Consumer lawyer and MCRC supporter Scott Borison on "Your Money and Business" on MPT:

Watch the full episode. See more Your Money and Business.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Smart utility meters draw complaints

New York Times: ... Over the last year, as utilities around the country have installed an estimated two million of the new digital meters, power companies have received plenty of complaints — and in some states have been hit by class-action lawsuits — most of them from consumers saying the smart meters are overstating their electrical usage.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/business/13meter.html?_r=1&hp

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What do you think the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should tackle?

Americans for Financial Reform says: "The sweeping Wall Street Reform Bill that was signed into law this summer calls for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Just like other consumer regulators work to keep dangerous products from hurting consumers, the CFPB’s job is to make sure financial products and services don’t harm consumers or our economy.

Please take the following survey to let us know what consumer financial issues you think should be first priorities for the consumer bureau."

Find the survey here.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Free workshops for consumers who are buying a home or refinancing a mortgage

BALTIMORE, MD -- Civil Justice Inc., the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs, the Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) are partnering this week to help Maryland residents understand the importance of avoiding the tricks and traps that far too often accompany home buying and mortgage refinancing. During “Mortgage Fraud Prevention Week,” consumer attorneys will explain why it’s worth getting legal help when purchasing a home, refinancing a mortgage or taking out a reverse mortgage, and they will explain how consumers can receive free legal advice during the purchasing or refinancing process.

"Civil Justice has worked with hundreds of Marylanders who were misled and deceived regarding the terms of their mortgages when they purchased their homes or refinanced their mortgages,” said attorney Diane Cipollone, manager of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Prevention Program at Civil Justice. “Had these homeowners who are struggling with payments or facing foreclosure on predatory loans consulted with an attorney prior to settlement, they would have been informed about the deceptive and unaffordable terms of these loans and would never have signed the mortgage agreements. The only common factor among victims of such practices is that they did not have independent legal advice prior to signing their documents.”

Rebecca Bowman, Administrator of the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs, urged people to get information before signing on the dotted line.

“Too often, our office hears from people after they have already become victims of predatory real estate and lending practices,” Bowman said. “The workshop in Howard County will provide the public with tips on avoiding deceptive practices and provide an opportunity to meet with attorneys who can review their paperwork before settlement.”

As part of Mortgage Fraud Prevention Week, the following workshops will be offered:

• November 4: 6:00-8:00 pm “More in the Middle—Financial Fitness” workshop at Impact Pentecostal Fellowship Church, Essex, MD. Sponsored by Associated Black Charities and Church of God in Christ (COGIC)


• November 5: 10:00-12:00 noon Legislative Black Caucus Annual Conference, Lowe House Office Building, Appropriations Committee Room 120, Annapolis, MD

• November 6: 9:30 am-1:00 pm “What’s In YOUR Loan? - Mortgage Fraud Awareness Workshop,” Bain Senior Center, Columbia, MD
This event will offer participants an opportunity to ask a panel of attorneys questions about home buying and mortgages as well as the chance to meet one-on-one with an attorney free of charge, but advance registration for this service is required; contact mfp@civiljusticenetwork.org or call Erica Evans at Civil Justice at 410-706-0174.

“We commend Civil Justice, Inc. for holding this session and encouraging homeowners and prospective homeowners to seek assistance from an attorney and housing counselor before they sign real estate or mortgage loan documents,” said Mark Kaufman, Maryland’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation. “The process of buying your first home or refinancing your mortgage is complicated and it is important to be informed and understand the consequences.”

Kaufman’s office encourages anyone having trouble paying his or her mortgage to call the Maryland Hope Hotline at 877-462-7555 or go to www.mdhope.org. And Marylanders who feel they may have been a victim of mortgage fraud are encouraged to call the Commissioner’s office at 410-230-6077 or complete a complaint form at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/finance/consumers.

“The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition is working to enact policies that would curtail mortgage fraud and home foreclosures,” said MCRC Executive Director Marceline White, “but it is equally important to educate consumers on ways they can avoid problems from the outset.”

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Robo-signed foreclosures should be tossed out, consumer attorneys say

MCRC coalition partner Civil Justice Inc. has asked for hundreds of foreclosure cases that were done by robo-signers to be dismissed. Read about it in this Baltimore Sun article.

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