April 8, 2013 |
Periodically, I get a question that needs to be considered publicly because more than one person would be interested, but find I can't fill an entire column on that topic alone. So I'll tackle a few things this week. First off: an apology. My March 17 column told the story of Vernyce Dannells and her spouse, Kip, and their loving renovation of "Stony Girl," their house in Overbrook Farms. Farms, as Dannells said, not Park, as I wrote. As penance, I must report that the 24th Overbrook Farms House Tour and Tea is set for April 28. Information and tickets: www.overbrookfarmsclub.org . (Just one house-tour mention per annum, however, and this one is penance, as I said.)
March 12, 2013
If there was an argument for letting lenders and mortgage servicers operate free of consumer-minded oversight, it is blown away by news of illegal foreclosures against 700 active-duty military personnel. In 2009 and 2010, while service men and women were putting their lives on the line for their country, their country was looking the other way as banks and mortgage servicers stole their homes. The outrageous foreclosures went ahead even though these members of the military were current on their mortgage payments, according to a New York Times report.
February 18, 2013 |
Press 1 if you're disturbed to discover that more than one in four consumers found a "potentially material error" on a credit report from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion, according to a new study of credit reporting commissioned by the Federal Trade Commission. Press 2 if you're dismayed to learn that 21 percent of the study's participants won corrections to at least one of their credit reports. Press 3 if you're angry to hear that a quarter of those found an error big enough to cut their credit score more than 20 points - enough, say, to raise their rate on a car loan.
January 12, 2013 |
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday unveiled its long-anticipated "qualified mortgage" regulation, designed to guarantee that home loans be given only to borrowers able to repay them. Under the new regulation, a lender must obtain and verify an applicant's financial information, including employment status, income, assets, debts, and credit history; the prospective borrower must have enough income or assets to repay the loans, and teaser rates may no longer hide the true cost of a mortgage.
December 17, 2012
"Clearly, the fiscal cliff is having effects on the economy. This is a major risk factor right now. " - Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech in which he tied low interest rates to the unemployment levels. "If consumers are not checking their [credit] reports, these errors can persist and pop up when a consumer can least afford them . . . " - Richard Cordray, director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on uncorrected reports by the credit bureaus. "The labor market might be improving a bit quicker than expected.
December 3, 2012 |
It's easy to imagine harsh judgments - even the occasional blazing-hot eternity - for some of the people David Vladeck and his colleagues at the Federal Trade Commission have encountered in the last 3 1/2 years. But Vladeck will be satisfied if the marketplace gets the message, and if the worst actors never get a chance to repeat their misdeeds. Vladeck will step down next month from his post heading the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, a modest unit of about 425 people at a small federal agency with a large, multifaceted task: protecting consumers and the marketplace from practices that are unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive.
September 16, 2012 |
Vast numbers of Philadelphians suffered from the housing bubble, the financial collapse, and the Great Recession, and many still suffer from what is plainly the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. But by some measures, Philadelphia has done better than many other places - though "less awfully" might be a more accurate way to put it. To what do the city and region owe our small bit of gratitude? One oft-mentioned factor is that we didn't boom as dramatically, so our bust wasn't as painful.
August 16, 2012 |
Six federal regulatory agencies proposed a rule Wednesday to establish appraisal requirements for what they termed "higher-risk" mortgages. As defined by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, a high-risk mortgage is one secured by a consumer's home that has an interest rate above a threshold defined by a new section of the Truth in Lending Act. The proposed rule would require a creditor to use a licensed or certified appraiser who...
July 23, 2012 |
Prentiss Cox first caught wind of the scheme about 15 years ago. Consumers were finding charges on their credit-card bills and bank statements for unwanted services such as membership clubs or disability insurance. Cox, then an assistant Minnesota attorney general, noticed an odd pattern as their complaints flowed in. Most of the consumers — often people with limited mental capacity or trouble speaking English — said they had no clue where the charges came from. But when they disputed their bills, their banks insisted the charges were for authorized purchases from telemarketers.
June 23, 2012 |
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a lead sponsor of 2010's Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, joined with U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren on Thursday morning to call for tighter regulation of large banks' trading risks and warn that the finance industry continues to push for weaker rules and enforcement even after JPMorgan Chase's disclosure of an embarrassing, multibillion-dollar loss from derivatives trading. Both Massachusetts Democrats were key players in efforts to reimpose stronger regulatory oversight in the aftermath of the housing bubble, financial crisis, and Great Recession.