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Author Archives: ProPublica

Financial Reform Headed Down Wrong Track. Is the OCC That Inept?

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by Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein, ProPublica Early last year, as they weighed whether to bar banks from speculative trading with their own money, congressional staffers turned to a key regulator for advice. The response from Julie Williams, the chief counsel of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, was startling, according to people familiar with the conversations. Williams ... Read More »

    Modified Mortgages Still Not Honored By Lenders

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    by Paul Kiel ProPublica Chanel Rosario was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. After years of sending and re-sending documents, waiting on hold and attending court hearings to avoid foreclosure on her Staten Island home, she’d finally received a much-needed reduction on her mortgage. Eagerly, she and her husband signed it and mailed it in last September. “We ... Read More »

      Flawed Foreclosure Process Investigation Identifies Others Responsible

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      by Marian Wang, ProPublica While federal and state officials investigating flawed foreclosures have largely focused on holding the banks accountable and bringing relief to wronged homeowners, officials in a few states have begun targeting the more obscure middlemen of the foreclosure scandal. Prosecutors in California and Illinois have sent subpoenas to Lender Processing Services, one of the largest firms that ... Read More »

        Banks Ask Homeowners Facing Foreclosure to Waive Rights

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        ProPublica This story was co-published with Slate. A few months ago, Bank of America offered Sergio Cortez of Staten Island, N.Y., the help he desperately needed to stay in his home: a break on his mortgage. Like millions of others, he was facing foreclosure. But there was a catch buried in the fine print. Cortez had to waive any possibility ... Read More »

          Lobbyists Battle Debit Card Charges

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          ProPublica Controversy over the Fed’s proposed debit card regulations has largely focused on the proposed cap on interchange fees-the fees banks receive from merchants for processing debit transactions. That provision has sparked an all-out lobbying war between merchants who think interchange fees are too high and banks who accuse the government of attempting to fix prices. Even the small banks and ... Read More »

            Bank Groups Try to Scare Consumers Using Twitter

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            by Marian Wang, ProPublica It’s April 21, and another Dodd-Frank deadline has come and gone. Today was the day the Fed’s regulations on debit card transaction fees, also known as interchange fees, were supposed to be finalized. Hasn’t happened. Controversy over the regulations caused the Fed to postpone finalizing the rules. But that win alone wasn’t enough for the banks, ... Read More »

              Lawsuit Reveals How a Middleman Is Blocking Mortgage Modifications for Homeowners

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              by Paul Kiel, ProPublica Pamela Jeter of Atlanta, Ga., has been trying to get a mortgage modification for more than two years. She seems like an ideal candidate. She has shown she can stay current with a reduction in her monthly mortgage payments. Everybody would seem to win. Even the investors who ultimately own her loan think she should be ... Read More »

                Factchecking Banks’ Dubious Claims on Interchange Fees

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                by Marian Wang, ProPublica The banking industry has been busy fighting to defeat or delay a proposal that would cap the interchange fees they collect from merchants when customers pay with debit cards. As we’ve noted, they’ve lobbied extensively, and some banks have warned that they’ll end free checking, end some debit rewards, or place limits on the size of ... Read More »

                  Behind the Battle Over Hidden Debit Card Fees

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                  by Marian Wang, ProPublica A provision within the financial reform bill that would regulate debit card transaction fees could be postponed by a year or two following fierce objections from banks. Specifically, banks large and small are objecting to a Fed proposal to limit what are known as interchange fees — the fees they collect from merchants every time a ... Read More »

                    Loan Modification Programs Broken. Crippled by Lax Oversight and Bank Control

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                    by Kiel and Olga Pierce, ProPublica With millions of homeowners still struggling to stay in their homes, the Obama administration’s $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has been weakened, perhaps fatally, by lax oversight and a posture of cooperation–rather than enforcement–with the nation’s biggest banks. Those banks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank, service the majority of mortgages. ... Read More »

                      New Evidence of Robo-Signers In States Where Foreclosures Bypass Judges

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                      by Marian Wang, ProPublica When problems in the foreclosure process caused banks to temporarily freeze foreclosures last fall, the focus was on improperly signed foreclosure affidavits–legal documents used when foreclosure are required to go through courts. But as we’ve noted [1], most states are “non-judicial [2]” states, meaning foreclosures can proceed without a court order. And turns out, those states–where ... Read More »

                        Voided Foreclosures Could Mean Big Trouble for Banks Moving Forward

                        by Marian Wang, ProPublica When Massachusetts’ highest court ruled against U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo earlier this month and invalidated two foreclosures, the decision was hailed by some as an important precedent [1] for courts seeking to resolve foreclosure disputes. While the decision’s impact isn’t entirely clear, even Wall Street analysts who downplayed its applicability [2]acknowledged its troubling implications for ... Read More »

                          Chase Bank Overcharges Troops on Mortgages and Admits to Improper Foreclosures

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                          by Marian Wang, ProPublica, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged this week that it overcharged some 4,000 military families for their mortgages and wrongfully foreclosed on at least 14. It’s not clear how much the mistakes have cost these families, but the bank told NBC News that it’s collectively refunding about $2 million [1] to those affected. It has also promised to restore ... Read More »

                            What Do Carmen Electra, 50 Cent & Shaquille O’Neal Have in Common?

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                            by Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica, Over the weekend, the popular rapper 50 Cent urged his 3.8 million Twitter followers to buy [1] the stock of a microscopic company in Florida. The penny stock jumped 290 percent on Monday. The rapper, who owns 7.5 million shares and warrants for 22.5 million more in the company, had a paper profit that was briefly ... Read More »

                              Stories of Homeowners and Loan Modifications: Where Are They Now

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                              by Karen Weise, ProPublica ProPublica has been covering the government’s foreclosure relief effort [1] since the Obama administration launched the program in the spring of 2009. This week, ProPublica is checking back with some of the homeowners we’ve profiled over the past year. Some homeowners received modifications that prevented foreclosure, some are still in limbo and others have moved on. ... Read More »

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