South Florida Couple Accuses Wells Fargo of Fraud

March 3, 2015 Posted by kingcade

A South Florida couple claims that Wells Fargo engaged in fraud when it accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for a promise of a permanent loan modification, which was never delivered. The Federal lawsuit centers on the issue of a “Trial Period Plan.”

After falling on hard times, the couple received an offer from Wells Fargo called a Trial Period Plan. The letter began by stating, “”Wells Fargo Home Mortgage wants to continue to work with you to modify your mortgage.” According to the letter, the family “must make new monthly ‘trial period payments’ in place of (their) normal monthly mortgage payments” at a little more than $2,000 and “after all trial period payments are made, (their) mortgage will be permanently modified.”

After making three payments, and several more, Wells Fargo worked to reschedule the foreclosure sale and no permanent loan modification was granted.  “It felt like the rug got pulled out from under us. Because of the fact that we’ve given them everything and they still said, ‘No, you’re denied.’ It was very frustrating. Because you’re going through this modification process, you’re doing what the bank asks you to do because we’re told to trust the bank,” the family said.

The family’s attorney is accusing Wells Fargo of misleading the couple with broken promises, acting maliciously, and breach of contract. They are seeking injunctive relief to protect the ownership and title of their home and $75,000 in damages.

The lawsuit also alleges that Wells Fargo had “no intention of offering such permanent loan modification … by inducing Plaintiffs into making thousands of dollars of additional payment (that could not otherwise be collected) with the false promise of a loan modification Defendants, Wells Fargo, can collect more from the distressed homeowner, than the $4,000 maximum incentive payment collected under Defendant, Freddie Mac, loan modification program.”

Click here to read more on this story.
http://www.local10.com/news/south-florida-couple-claims-wells-fargo-engaged-in-fraud/31341328

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

South Florida’s Tax Fraud Explosion Explained

March 2, 2015 Posted by kingcade

One little number has fueled South Florida’s tax-fraud explosion- The Electronic Filing Identification Number, EFIN for short, is an obscure processing number issued by the IRS.  For tax preparers, including CPA’s and numerous businesses, EFINs are essential for handling tax filings in the digital age.  But in the wrong hands, these can amount to a computer pass for filing bogus returns in bulk.

In the last few years, records show the federal taxing agency has issued thousands of EFINs to purported electronic tax preparers throughout South Florida.  Some of the highest concentrations are zip codes in North Miami, North Miami Beach and Miami Gardens, which authorities say have become hot spots for refund fraud. The number of EFINs in those mostly poor inner-city communities is similar to that in Miami’s traditional business districts, such as Brickell Avenue.

With the exception of convicted felons, the IRS allows practically anyone to obtain an electronic filing ID to file multiple refund claims in others’ names.  Most recently, Josue Pierre exploited this special IRS tax-filing designation, using stolen IDs to file hundreds of fabricated online tax returns.  The scam allowed the former North Miami resident to lease a luxury condo in downtown Miami’s Icon Brickell and drive around town in a Land Rover.

South Florida, already boasting the nation’s highest rate of identity theft, has now secured the title of being the country’s capital of tax-refund fraud — a crime that costs the IRS more than $5 billion a year in losses nationwide.

EFINs have poured gasoline on the tax fraud fire, according to federal investigators. They give scammers — armed with stolen ID info such as a Social Security number — the distinct advantage of filing refund claims without the need for personal identification numbers, or PINS. Moreover, EFIN preparers can also submit multiple claims without an electronic W-2 income tax form.  Currently, the IRS does not have any specific tests or training for an individual to obtain an EFIN.

Making the scam even easier is the fact that EFIN allows criminals to order and obtain hundreds of prepaid debit cards, eliminating the need for bank accounts, transfers or checks.  To mitigate the situation, IRS criminal investigators have worked closely with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office to pinpoint suspicious operators in South Florida. By mid-2014, they had revoked a total of 117 EFINs used to file 166,000 phony refund claims, according to authorities.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Student Loan Debt May be Sabotaging Your Shot at being a Homeowner

February 27, 2015 Posted by kingcade

In 2014, student loan debt topped $1.2 trillion, its highest figure to date. A sample taken from Equifax showed that most borrowers owed an average of $27,000. This number is 74 percent higher than it was ten years ago. Economists believe student loan debt is largely to blame for the decrease in young adults becoming homeowners. The number of 27-30 year olds with home-secured debt has dropped significantly since 2009, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The Federal report also showed that financial conditions for young adults are not improving. In the last quarter of 2014, the percentage of delinquent student loans rose from 11.1 to 11.3. Missing student loan payments can greatly impact a consumer’s credit score. Since the housing bubble burst, credit scores and debt-to-income ratios have been held to higher standards, making it harder to be approved for a home loan.

Click here to read more on the effects student loan debt has had on homeownership over the last decade.

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Mortgage Rates Continue to Increase

February 26, 2015 Posted by kingcade

Although the 30-year fixed-rate average is down year to date from 4.28 percent to 3.73 percent, mortgage rates moved higher again this week. One week ago the fixed rate average was 3.69 percent, up .04 percent. Earlier in February, the rate hit a 21-month low of 3.59 percent.  The 15-year fixed-rate average also increased from 2.99 percent to 3.05 percent in the past week. The one-year ARM average moved higher to 2.45 percent, up .03 percent from last week.

With mortgage rates rising for the second consecutive week, housing starts declined 2 percent according to Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. However, Kiefer said home builders are remaining confident in new home sales. In addition to housing starts, home loan applications were also down approximately 13 percent last week. The refinance index decreased 16 percent while the purchase index dropped 7 percent. Economists say it is no coincidence that mortgage rates hit the highest number of 2015 and home loan applications dropped sharply, particularly for refinances.

Click here to read more on the rise in mortgage rates this week.

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Steps to Protect your Credit Score when you get Married

February 25, 2015 Posted by kingcade

Many people assume that once you are married, you automatically take on your spouse’s past credit and any debt they have. This is not the case. However, things change when you start incurring debt during the marriage. Once you open a joint account with your spouse, you are both responsible for the debt incurred. If you have worked hard to maintain your credit score and your spouse or future spouse has not, it can greatly impact your own credit score. Below are a few tips to protect your credit score in marriage.

1. Understand your liability for your spouse’s debts: You are not automatically responsible for your spouse’s debts once you say “I do.” However, if you have opened a joint account, applied for joint credit, cosigned on a loan or added your spouse as an authorized user, your credit score will reflect any of your spouse’s financial mistakes. If your spouse incurs debt during the marriage, you may be responsible for the debt to creditors if you live in a “community property” state. If you live in a common law state, you are generally only responsible for debts in your own name. Florida is a community property state.
2. Share your financial past with your spouse: Before you getting married, make sure you know of any debt or past debt your future spouse has owed and vice versa. When you’re planning a wedding, it may seem insignificant; however, disagreements about money is a leading cause of divorce.
3. Wait until you have your finances in order: If your partner has substantial debt, experts suggest waiting until you both have your finances in order to tie the knot. If you do not want to wait, you may consider waiting to open up a joint account in the marriage.
4. Make major purchasing decisions together: Make sure you both agree on when and how to make major purchases before tying the knot.
5. Consider applying for credit individually: If your spouse does not have responsible spending habits; you may want to consider applying for credit individually. If your spouse’s credit score is low, it can make your interest rate higher than usual.
6. Be careful when you cosign: Do not cosign on anything your spouse wants to purchase unless you are fully prepared to make the payments if your spouse fails to do so.
7. Add he or she as a joint account holder: If you decide to add your spouse as a joint account holder, your spouse is then responsible for the balance. The only way it will hurt your credit score is if your spouse uses all of your available credit or an amount that you cannot pay.
8. Add he or she as an authorized user: By adding your spouse as an authorized user, they are not responsible for the debt. They can however, get you in trouble if they spend more than you can afford to pay.
9. Keep your individual accounts open: Even if you open a joint account, keep your individual accounts open. The length of your account history is a factor in your credit score.
10. Consider legal agreements: Although it may make for an uncomfortable conversation, prenuptial agreements can be one of the best ways to protect you from your spouse’s debt in case you divorce. Prenuptial agreements let you and your spouse agree upon how debt and assets will be handled if the marriage does not last.

Click here to read more on ways to protect your credit score when you get married.

If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Who will Claim $380 Million in Unspent Foreclosure-Abuse Money?

February 24, 2015 Posted by kingcade

After a 2013 settlement, the Federal Reserve and Office of Comptroller of the Currency are attempting to reissue checks to borrowers whose homes were improperly foreclosed on between 2009 and 2010. The nearly 600,000 checks being reissued range from several hundred dollars to $125,000. In many cases, the Federal Reserve is reissuing these checks to updated addresses. Approximately $3.1 billion dollars has already been cashed or deposited by homeowners who suffered from the foreclosure-related abuse.

An independent review of the banks’ foreclosure practices was conducted in 2011 and found that bank employees were processing foreclosure cases without personally verifying accounts. It was also discovered that the banks were improperly denying loan assistance to homeowners, made errors in assistance plans and charged improper fees. Ultimately, fifteen banks signed the multi-billion dollar settlement leading the Federal Reserve to reimburse some 4.2 million borrowers.

Click here to read more on who will be claiming the $380 million in Unspent Foreclosure-Abuse Money.

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Considering filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Read this FIRST.

February 23, 2015 Posted by kingcade

Many consumers unknowingly make detrimental financial mistakes before filing for bankruptcy. These mistakes can ultimately affect the outcome of your case. By avoiding the below mistakes, you can assure your bankruptcy filing goes smoothly and avoid challenges by your creditors and the bankruptcy trustee.

Do not transfer money or assets: Oftentimes consumers will transfer funds to a family member or change the name on titles to a child or spouse’s name. The court will view these type transfers as fraud, even if you have innocently transferred the property without any intention to conceal it.

Do not pay off certain creditors: Consumers sometimes pay off certain bills just before filing bankruptcy to satisfy their creditors. However, if a court finds these payments as “preferential transfers” it can lead to “claw back” lawsuits where the court sues the entity you paid to get the money back.

Avoid using your credit cards: Do not accrue unnecessary debt just because you anticipate it will be erased in bankruptcy.

Do not make unusual deposits into your bank account: Only deposit salary or wages into your bank account. For example, do not deposit any money in your account that you have borrowed from others or that has been given to you.  A tip to small business owners: Avoid conducting transactions for the business through your personal account.

Do not sue anyone: Any legal claim that you have is an asset that can be taken by the bankruptcy court. Even claims that you may have against others that have not been filed in court, is property of the bankruptcy estate.

Speak to your attorney before accepting future payments: Bankruptcy court can seize funds that are not actually in your possession, but you expect to receive. For example, if you are receiving an inheritance which will be paid in the future or filing tax returns that result in a refund.

Waiting too long to file: Many of the mistakes above can be avoided by simply not delaying the filing of your bankruptcy claim.

Click here to read more on mistakes to avoid before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Protecting Military Service Members from Predatory Loans Issue of National Security

February 20, 2015 Posted by kingcade

Laws such as the Military Lending Act are intended to reduce service members’ likelihood of ending up in debt to predatory creditors by capping interest rates on loans at 36%; prohibiting “roll over” loans where the borrower pays off an existing debt with another loan (usually with less favorable terms); eliminating forced arbitration with creditors; banning creditors from requiring that they carve out an automatic amount of money from their paycheck to pay back your loan; and forbidding prepayment penalties for borrowers who pay back some or all of the loan early.

These rules, which protect our military are not just about doing something nice for our soldiers, it is an issue of national security. While it is unfortunate for any consumer to end up with revolving debt, there are particular concerns when the borrower is a service member.  Someone looking for unauthorized access to military information or assets may be able to leverage that debt in their favor. This is why service members with significant debt on their credit reports may end up having their security clearance lowered or taken away. Some debt collectors are using this as leverage when trying to get service members to pay up, threatening to reveal their financial situation in a way that will negatively impact their position in the military.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some debt collectors have even threatened to tell the soldier’s superiors about the debt and when their status comes up for review. Such contact is illegal as outlined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Even if a soldier’s security clearance is damaged by debt, they can appeal their case to an Administrative Judge of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, where they will be given a chance to explain how they ended up in debt and what they are doing to address the problem. This can include the soldier showing that they are currently living within their means; that they are making a good faith effort to resolve the unpaid debts; disputing debts that are not theirs, etc.

Click here to read more on this story.
http://consumerist.com/2015/01/09/protecting-military-servicemembers-from-predatory-loans-is-a-national-security-issue/

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Many States have cracked down on Predatory Payday Loans- But how are Lenders Still Evading the Law?

February 19, 2015 Posted by kingcade

Several states have passed legislation, which regulate or completely outlaw payday loans. These types of predatory loans often charge triple-digit interest rates and tend to be a last resort for the poor and extremely desperate consumer.  The business of lending to the low-income is a lucrative one and lenders continue to find loopholes.

Below are just five ways lenders have dodged current legislation:

1.) Disguising themselves as “other kinds” of lenders. Many payday lenders have become licensed as mortgage lenders, which operate under different rules and allow them to continue what they are doing.

2.) Altering the definition of “payday lending.” In 2006, Congress passed the Military Lending Act, which in part forbids lenders from charging active military households more than 36 percent interest on short-term loans. That provision has been something of a failure, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The problem lies in the definition of a short-term loan. For example, the law regulates payday loans of 91 days or shorter; to evade this law, many lenders are offering loans just slightly longer than 91 days.

3.) Issuing simultaneous loans. Payday lenders are splitting up big loans into small, concurrent loan. For example, in Mississippi, two-week loans cannot exceed $250. Instead, lenders are giving four $100 loans at the same time. Whereas it is illegal to make a $400 loan due in only two weeks, the four $100 loans is perfectly legal.

4.) Referring to themselves as loan middlemen. Many payday lenders have registered themselves as “credit repair organizations.” These groups operate as middlemen, connecting customers to law-abiding loans from third-party lenders. So how do they make their money? By tacking their own fees on top of each transaction.

5.) Using Indian tribes to evade the law. Some payday lenders are partnering with Indian tribes to exempt themselves from local lending laws. These lenders tend to operate online, which allow them to offer their services nationwide- including states where payday lending has been banned.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Consumers Still Struggling with Medical Debt

February 18, 2015 Posted by kingcade

The Federal Health Care Law was intended to keep an unexpected illness or injury from bankrupting Americans. When calling for the law’s passage, President Obama proudly declared, “people shouldn’t go broke because they get sick.” Even though the Affordable Health Care Act has authorized states to expand eligibility for Medicaid and created online insurance markets for those without employer coverage to qualify for federal subsidies- it hasn’t solved the problem.

In 2013, medical debt was the largest cause of personal bankruptcy — 1.7 million people lived in households experiencing bankruptcy because of health costs. The health care law brought regulations that limited for the first time the cost-sharing in plans. For example, an individual plan sold on an exchange cannot include out-of-pocket costs greater than $6,600. In practice, the average deductible (which must be paid before insurance kicks in), varies based on how expensive a plan is. This regulation still only applies to “in-network” doctors and specialists, which can be a short list. Many vulnerable consumers are incurring medical debt by visiting unapproved doctors or hospitals.

Deductibles keep growing. Last year, work-sponsored insurance plans had an average deductible of about $1,200. In 2009, the average deductible was $826. And this year, the silver plans sold through the federal marketplace require people to pay on average more than $2,500 or approximately $3,500 before their insurance benefits kick in. Bronze plans, known for having cheaper monthly premiums have average deductibles of about $5,300.

Even with the Affordable Health Care Plan in place, efforts to regulate how providers can collect on patient debt remain limited. For instance, hospitals and doctors can still obtain judgments, garnish paychecks and go after people’s assets, including their homes.

Click here to read more on this story.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/01/consumers-still-struggling-with-medical-debt/22587749/

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.