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Author Archives: ProPublica

Newbie Attorneys Reaking Hell at Foreclosure Law Firms

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by Marian Wang, ProPublica A few months into the foreclosure scandal, we reviewed job listings seeking supposed foreclosure experts and even department supervisors, noting that many listings offered low pay and required little education [1]. Some listings we saw were posted by staffing agencies, recruiting workers and paralegals for banks and foreclosure law firms. As it turns out, those clerical ... Read More »

    Bank Errors Taint Credit Reports and Lower Credit Scores

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    by Marian Wang, ProPublica, We’ve pointed out cases in which banks’ miscommunication and disorganization have caused mistaken foreclosures [1], but as several recent [2] reports [3] have noted, that’s not the only way in which bank mistakes have affected homeowners. Some consumers have been surprised to see damage to their credit score after requesting information from the banks. One Nevada ... Read More »

      False Attorney Signatures Cast New Doubts on Foreclosures

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      by Sasha Chavkin, ProPublica Many foreclosures have been thrown into question because of flawed documentation such as inaccurate affidavits describing a mortgage’s history. But three recent court cases point to another type of flaw in foreclosure filings that could place thousands more cases in doubt: false attorney signatures on court documents. Experts said that foreclosures that relied on court documents ... Read More »

        Major Foreclosure Contractor Underplayed the Extent of Document Flaws

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        Marian Wang, ProPublica In our primer on the players in the foreclosure scandal, we noted that the biggest foreclosure contractor to which banks outsourced servicing tasks, Lender Processing Services (LPS), has been accused of flaws in the processing of key mortgage documents. The company has said that it is “not aware of any defects in our signing and review processes ... Read More »

          Unemployed People Facing Loss of Benefits. What Next for Them?

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          by Marian Wang, ProPublica Unless Congress acts to extend programs for those who have exhausted regular state unemployment benefits, millions of jobless workers may soon be phased out of emergency unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits from states typically last for 26 weeks, but since 2008, Congress has on four occasions passed emergency provisions that use federal funds to extend benefits for ... Read More »

            Government Loan Modification Money Not Being Used by Banks

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            by Paul Kiel, ProPublica When the Obama administration launched its flagship foreclosure prevention program in early 2009, it pledged to spend up to $50 billion helping struggling homeowners. But the government has so far only spent a tiny fraction of that. A recent Treasury Department report summarizing TARP spending put the total at $600 million through October. Although the Treasury ... Read More »

              Regulators Totally Missed Foreclosure Problems

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              Marian Wang, ProPublica While they may be conducting their own investigations, federal prosecutors and national bank regulators for the most part aren’t the ones leading the investigation into the foreclosure mess. At least that’s the perception–one that’s reinforced when Elizabeth Warren, Obama’s head of consumer financial protection, says her money is on a 50-state investigation by the states’ attorneys general. ... Read More »

                Would You Rather Work at Burger King or Be a Foreclosure Department Supervisor?

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                by Marian Wang, ProPublica For years, banks and other companies handling foreclosures have turned to cheap labor to process the growing volume of foreclosures. At JPMorgan Chase, they were called “Burger King kids“–walk-in workers hired to handle foreclosure proceedings. Many barely knew what a mortgage was and had only high-school educations. Prompted by a Financial Times article about banks hiring ... Read More »

                  What Elections Could Do to Financial Regulations

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                  by Marian Wang, ProPublica As Americans go to the polls today, their votes will influence a number of issues that we’ve been watching, whether it be the foreclosure scandal or implementation of financial regulation and healthcare reform–some of our favorite topics. So here’s our attempt to parse some of the election coverage and bring these issues into sharper focus: Foreclosure ... Read More »

                    A Who’s Who in the Foreclosure Scandal.

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                    by Marian Wang, ProPublica The unfolding foreclosure scandal just keeps expanding. Scrutiny first fell on the “robo-signers” who rubber-stamped banks’ foreclosure paperwork, but they’re one of the many players who may have contributed to the mess.To help sort it all out, we’ve drawn up a cast of characters. Let’s start with the basics: Loan Originators/Mortgage Issuers — Banks make mortgage ... Read More »

                      Robo-Signer Foreclosure Scandal Update

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                      by Marian Wang, ProPublica There are more headlines every day about banks using shortcuts and questionable paperwork to push through foreclosures. A group of 40 state attorneys general is expected to announce an investigation this week into the mortgage servicing industry, while calls for a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures– an idea the White House opposes— have grown louder. It’s not ... Read More »

                        Putting the Foreclosure Paperwork Scandal in Perspective

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                        by Marian Wang,ProPublica The scandal over flawed paperwork and sloppy practices by mortgage servicers continues to broaden. The issue is complicated, and “robo-signers” — individuals working for servicers and signing off on thousands of foreclosure documents without much verification — are only part of the picture. So we brought some of our questions about the broader foreclosure process to Geoff ... Read More »

                          Biggest Banks Nailed by Foreclosure Paperwork Problems

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                          by Marian Wang, ProPublica Three of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers have halted foreclosures as scrutiny increases over whether they verify the required paperwork. Several other servicers have also been faulted for foreclosure affidavits that were signed without much authentication, but they have not yet halted foreclosures. Last week, we noted that the discovery of “robo-signers” — employees who signed ... Read More »

                            For-Profit Schools Donate to Lawmakers Opposing New Financial Aid Rules

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                            by Sharona Coutts, ProPublica Between 2005 and the beginning of this year, Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., received $6,000 in campaign contributions from sources related to for-profit colleges. This year, he received more than $20,000 from the schools and their lobby groups, according to campaign finance records. What changed? For one, the colleges have upped their lobbying efforts considerably in ... Read More »

                              Tips for Getting Loan Modifications for FREE

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                              by Srinivas Rao, ProPublica ProPublica asked a simple question of more than 700 homeowners dealing with the administration’s mortgage modification program: Knowing what you know now, what tips would you give someone who’s struggling with a mortgage payment?Their advice: Get help, stay organized, and don’t give up. In total, 718 homeowners, all of whom applied for a loan modification through ... Read More »

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