Links of the week

June 15, 2009 by Todd Murray · Leave a Comment 

Capital One Looks to Adapt to Credit Card Laws. How Capital One plans to reinvent itself in the wake of stronger credit card regulations.

The Debt Settlement Industry Is Busy, but It’s a Bit Nervous, Too. In a soft economy, business is booming for debt settlement firms. But with the increased business comes increased scrutiny.

State of Minnesota shuts down local collection agency. Bloomington, Minnesota debt collection agency allegedly misappropriated $125,000 in client funds.

Steering Clear of Dishonest Loan Modification Companies. Tips to identify and avoid fraudulent mortgage modification companies.

Hard Times Make Credit Score Key. With credit harder to obtain, your credit score is more important than ever.

Beware of Neighbors Home Foreclosure. How a foreclosure in your neighborhood can impact your home’s value.

Links of the week

May 18, 2009 by Todd Murray · Leave a Comment 

Notes From Another Credit Card Crisis. Op-Ed contributor Suki Kim compares America’s current credit card crisis with similar problems in South Korea in the early 2000’s.

Right Steps to Take Before Disputing a Credit Error. How to dispute an error on your credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

A Final Lesson: Repay Student Debt Quickly. Columnist Michelle Singletary advises new graduates to take a hard look at their budgets and attempt to pay back their student loans as soon as possible.

Plan to Encourage Banks to Allow Short Sales. The Obama administration has proposed incentives for banks to allow homeowners to sell their home at a loss, rather than going through foreclosure.

Weighing the Options with Credit Card Debt. Tips for resolving your credit card debt.

Consumerist Interviews Goolsbee on Credit Card Reform. An interview with Obama credit card advisor Austan Goolsbee on proposed credit card reform legislation.

Minnesota’s foreclosure wave moves upscale

April 29, 2009 by Todd Murray · Leave a Comment 

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a story today about the shifting demographics in the wave of foreclosures that have hit Minnesota. In a report to be released today, half of the people seeking foreclosure counseling from the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, a leading foreclosure counseling organization, held prime, not sub-prime, mortgages. Approximately half of those people cited job loss as the primary factor for the foreclosure. This shift is also evident on the national level. According to one study cited in the story, the national delinquency rate for prime mortgages increased from 4.34 percent to 5.06 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

200foreclosure2One of the myths of the foreclosure crisis is that it is being fueled by reckless sub-prime buyers, who bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford. But the Minnesota Home Ownership Center study, as well as statistical trends on the national level, seem to indicate that job loss, rather than reckless borrowing, may be a more relevant factor. The Star-Tribune story quoted Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. in Minneapolis. Anderson notes that the new wave of people unable to pay the mortgage often is middle-class families that most likely have two incomes. One loses a job and all of a sudden they can’t afford their house. Or they are under water on their mortgage and can’t refinance. ”As this recession has intensified, the face of this mortgage crisis has changed by 180 degrees,” said Anderson.

If you live in Minnesota and are facing foreclosure, please contact me for a free case evaluation.

(photo: Michael Slatoff)

In foreclosure? Watch out for fraudulent loan modification programs

April 7, 2009 by Todd Murray · Leave a Comment 

2539334956_87cef7e4574Yesterday I wrote about the dubious value of for-profit debt settlement companies in the context of credit card and other unsecured consumer debt. Today’s New York Times has an article about congressional efforts to fight back against similar companies that prey on desperate homeowners in foreclosure.

Like debt settlement companies, these mortgage modification companies promise to obtain favorable loan modifications for homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. As the article notes, many of these companies demand large up-front fees and then fail to deliver a loan modification. The companies intentionally mislead consumers into thinking that their services are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to help with the foreclosure crisis.

Consumers in foreclosure should exercise extreme caution when dealing with for-profit mortgage modification programs. If you need help negotiating a modification with your mortgage, there are many government and non-profit programs that will provide real assistance.

(phote: respres)