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2010 Bankruptcy Articles

Dead Soul Is a Debt Collector

December 31, 2010
The Wall Street Journal

Martha Kunkle has come back to life.

She died in 1995. Yet her signature later appeared on thousands of affidavits submitted by one of the nation's largest debt collectors, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc., in lawsuits filed against borrowers.

Some regulators complain that the use of Ms. Kunkle's name reflects an epidemic of mass-produced, sloppy and inaccurate documentation in the debt-collection industry. Lawsuits have surged as more borrowers fall behind on payments and collection firms turn to courts to get what they are owed.

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Mortgage Modifications in U.S. Decline as Fewer People Qualify for Program

December 29, 2010

The number of delinquent borrowers who started U.S. home loan modifications declined in the third quarter as fewer people qualified for easier payment terms, according to the Treasury Department.

Loan servicers started 470,321 modification or payment plans in the three months ended Sept. 30, down 17 percent from the previous quarter and 32 percent from a year earlier, the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision said in a report today.

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Wells Fargo Reaches Agreement with California to Modify Risky Mortgages

December 21, 2010
Los Angeles Times

Wells Fargo & Co. reached an agreement with the state of California to make mortgage modifications valued at as much as $2.4 billion on risky mortgages that let borrowers decide how much they would pay each month.

The bank also will pay $32 million to more than 12,000 California borrowers who had such loans and lost their homes to foreclosure, according to the accord, announced Monday with Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown's office. The $32 million works out to an average of about $2,650 for each former homeowner.

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Total Bankruptcy Filings Up 11 Percent Through First Nine Months of 2010 While Business Filings Decrease

November 8, 2010
American Bankruptcy Institute

November 8, 2010 Alexandria, Va.— The 1,222,589 total U.S. bankruptcies filed for the first nine months of 2010 (Jan. 1 – Sept. 30) represented an 11 percent increase over the 1,100,035 cases filed over the same period in 2009, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Consumer filings totaled 1,179,573 for the first nine months of 2010 representing nearly a 12 percent increase over 1,054,525 filed during the same period in 2009. Bankruptcies have continued to increase since the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code.

Why a Foreclosure Moratorium Is a Bad Idea

October 18, 2010
The Wall Street Journal

Attorneys general from all 50 states launched a joint investigation last week into allegations that mortgage-servicing companies submitted fraudulent documents and broke laws in foreclosure proceedings. Some lawmakers are calling for a national moratorium on foreclosures. In response, major mortgage servicers—including Ally Bank, Chase, Bank of America and PNC Financial Services—have announced a freeze on all foreclosures until internal investigations are completed.

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Foreclosure Crisis Slams Into Banks

October 15, 2010
The Wall Street Journal

The mortgage-foreclosure crisis spilled into the financial markets on Thursday, driving down bank stocks and weighing on mortgage bonds as investors took a grim view of the potential costs.

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It's Official: No Social Security Increase Next Year

October 15, 2010

More than 58 million retirees and disabled Americans will get no increase in Social Security benefits next year, the second year in a row without a raise.

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'Signer' Issue Raised for Wells Fargo

October 15, 2010
The Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK—Wells Fargo & Co. may be added to the list of big mortgage companies that used "robo-signers" to execute foreclosures.

In a deposition for a lawsuit in Palm Beach County, Fla., an employee in Wells Fargo's sprawling mortgage-servicing business said that she signed "hundreds" of foreclosure affidavits a day without verifying the documents' information, as her signature would imply that she had.

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GMAC Mortgage Expands Review of Its Foreclosures

October 13, 2010
The New York Times

Amid growing inquiries by law enforcement into dubious paperwork by home lenders, one of the nation’s largest, GMAC Mortgage, said Tuesday that it was expanding its review of foreclosures to all 50 states.

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B of A Halts All Foreclosure Sales

October 8, 2010
Wall Street Journal

Bank of America Corp. said it is placing a moratorium on all foreclosure sales across the U.S., amid political pressure on U.S. banks to examine foreclosure-documentation problems.

The nation's largest bank by assets is the first financial institution to stop all foreclosure sales amid revelations that the banking industry had used "robo signers," people who sign hundreds of documents a day without reviewing their contents, when foreclosing on homes. Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc. (parent of GMAC Mortgage) last week postponed foreclosures in 23 states where a court's approval is required to foreclosure on a home.

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New Law Gives Calif. Homeowners Deficiency Protection After Short Sale

October 6, 2010

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a state bill into law Oct. 1 prohibiting mortgage holders from pursuing deficiencies after a short sale is accepted.

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Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Up 11 Percent Through Nine Months of 2010

October 4, 2010
American Bankruptcy Institute

Alexandria, Va.— U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings totaled 1,165,172 nationwide during the first nine months of 2010 (Jan. 1-Sept. 30), an 11 percent increase over the 1,046,449 total consumer filings during the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The consumer filings for the three-quarters of 2010 represent the highest total since 2005, when Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) to try and stem the tide of filings.

“While the 2005 bankruptcy overhaul law aimed to reduce filings, overall consumer debt and continued financial stress have led to consumer bankruptcies climbing back to pre-BAPCPA levels,” said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “We expect that there will be nearly 1.6 million new bankruptcy filings by year end.”

The overall September consumer filing total of 130,329 was 4.4 percent more than the 124,790 consumer filings recorded in September 2009. The September total also represented a 3.3 percent increase from the August 2010 total of 127,028 consumer filings. Chapter 13 filings constituted 30 percent of all consumer cases in September, a slight increase from August.

Shock Therapy for Wall Street: JPMorgan Suspends 56,000 Foreclosures; GMAC and BOA Many More

October 2, 2010

The hits are coming fast and furiously. It appears major Wall Street mortgage lenders could again be in serious trouble – and looking again for handouts.

On September 20th, Ally Financial Inc., which owns GMAC Mortgage, the nation’s 4th largest lender, halted evictions and the resale of repossessed homes in 23 states. This was after a document processor for the company admitted that he had signed off on 10,000 pieces of foreclosure paperwork a month without reading them. The 23 states were all those where foreclosures must be approved by a court, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois.

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Jobs Still Elusive, 5 States Posted Record Unemployment Rates in January

March 10, 2010
The Associated Press

Unemployment rose in 30 states in January, the Labor Department said Wednesday, evidence that jobs remain scarce in most regions of the country.

The data is somewhat better than December, when 43 states reported higher unemployment rates, but worse than November, when rates fell in most states.

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