The attorneys at Doucet & Associates Co LPA help homeowners in Ohio dealing with foreclosure lawsuits in a variety of ways. We can assist homeowners during the loan modification process, identify mortgage errors, and help file an answer when being served with a complaint in a foreclosure lawsuit...
March is National Credit Education Month and Doucet & Associates would like to invite you to read some of our articles on improving your credit, keeping track of your credit report, and your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act...
First-Knox National Bank applied our clients mortgage payments wrong after they were granted a loan modification with deferred interests and other charges. In this case, we learned that an employee must manually remove deferred interests from a loan when applying a mortgage payment...
Do you know your rights with Vehicle Recalls?
Inspecting for motor vehicle safety defects and recalls help get unsafe vehicles off the road and repaired. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can help vehicle owners who are not informed about a vehicle recall and suffer an injury from a mechanical flaw.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) inspects vehicles with suspected unsafe mechanics. The NHTSA identifies the duties for manufacturers involved in a recall and the rights of vehicle owners. Motor vehicle safety is a key factor in reducing auto accidents and saving lives.
Manufacturers can voluntarily recall vehicles before the NHTSA investigates a reported problem. Manufacturers are required to notify all registered owners and buyers about a safety defect and recall by first class mail. The recall must include risks associated with the safety defect and owners right to a repair, replace, or refund.
Manufacturers get to choose whether a repair, replacement, or refund is appropriate for the recall. Repairs are done for free and at no charge for the vehicle owner. If replacing, the owner should receive the same vehicle or a similar vehicle. If entitled to a refund the owner is eligible to the purchase price minus a reasonable wear and tear charge.
Vehicle owners do not have the right to a free repair or refund from the manufacturer if the vehicle is over ten years old at the time of the recall. The age is determined from the date the owner purchased the vehicle. Vehicle owners should still have the recalled safety defect inspected and fixed if their vehicle is too old for a repair and refund.
Tire recalls must be repaired or replaced by tire manufacturers within 60 days owners receive a recall notification. The manufacturers are only required to repair and replace tires that are under five years old. Consumers have to report to a tire dealer to receive services for a tire recall.
Vehicle owners can report a vehicle safety complaint online by clicking here or by calling the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236. To read more about vehicle owner rights with recalls under the NHTSA click here.
Credit Reports are Improving Since the Housing Crisis
Homeowners that suffered from foreclosure during the housing crisis and Great Recession are starting to get their foreclosure histories taken off their credit reports. Removing foreclosure from a credit report can make it easier for a consumer to increase their credit score. Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. helps consumers’ correct errors on their credit reports and assists homeowners fight foreclosure.
The Great Recession refers to the economic decline during the financial crisis and the housing crisis that happened between 2007 and 2009. The rise of unemployment during the financial crisis caused many homeowners to fall into foreclosure, which negatively impacted their credit reports. Foreclosure stays on a consumer credit report for seven years.
There are many reasons that simultaneously caused the recession. The rise in foreclosures and drop in number of people buying homes at that time led to the United States housing bubble collapsing. The prices of homes were dropping, current homeowners were struggling to pay back mortgages, and people were frantically looking for jobs after being laid off. The recession left many Americans with long-lasting consequences.
If your foreclosure history is not being removed from your credit report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants consumers the right to write a letter asking the credit reporting agency investigate the error. The removal of foreclosure from a credit report is going to influence consumers getting approved for lower interest rates. If the credit reporting agency is denying your request to have foreclosure cleared from your credit report after seven years the lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can provide legal assistance. Contact us today at (614)-944-5219.
Do You Want to Improve Your Credit Score?
Experian estimated Columbus, Ohio’s average credit score to be 666 in 2015. That is only three points below the 669 national average. If your credit score falls below these averages, there are steps you can take as a consumer to gain some points. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can also offer advice about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and how to correct problems on your credit report.
Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
1.You should first check your credit report for errors using at least one of the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Your credit score may differ a little on each report based on resources the agency used to develop your score. If there is an error on your credit report, the FCRA says you can send a letter to the credit reporting agency asking for the error to be corrected. If the credit reporting agency fails to correct the error, you can contact Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. for help on correcting your report or read more about the FCRA on our website by clicking here and they may have to pay our fees. Correcting the errors on your credit report can improve your credit score.
2.Get a credit card. Having a credit card shows that a creditor can trust you to pay back borrowed money. If you use the credit card correctly without developing debt, then you can increase your credit score.
3.Pay off your credit card debt. Some people cannot pay off all their debt in one payment. If that is the situation for you, stop using your credit cards and focus on minimizing your debt by making the required minimum payments every month.
4.Pay your bills on time. This includes all bills such as credit card bills, utility bills, medical bills and student bills. Failure to pay bills on time lowers your credit score.
5.Ask for a raise on your credit card limit. Getting a raise does not mean you have to spend more on your credit card, but shows that your creditors trust you more.
6.Get involved in paying off different types of loans, whether it is all at the same time or separately. Your credit score can be improved if you have history of accurately paying off a credit card, an auto loan, student loans and a home mortgage loan. If you encounter problems paying off a home mortgage loan the lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. have experience helping homeowners secure loan modifications and fighting foreclosure lawsuits.
Mistakenly Charged Off
A bank charging off a person’s bank account is harmful to a consumer credit report. Sometimes charge-offs can mistakenly continue after a consumer has paid off their debt. Troy Doucet, the firm principal at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., shares his legal advice on what a consumer can do to protect their credit report from a false charge off in Help! The Bank Charged Off My Debt – After I Paid It.
A charge-off is when the bank writes off the consumers loan on its accounting financial statements. Usually this action will appear on a credit report as a charge-off and can lower a consumer’s credit score. There are ways to correct a false charge-off appearing on a consumer bank statement and credit report.
A consumer should notify the bank when seeing an invalid charge-off on a bank statement. The consumer should question if money is still owed on a previous debt and the reason for the charge-off if it is disputed. A consumer who discovers a false charge-off on a credit report has the right to correct the problem under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The FCRA protects consumer right to have an accurate credit report distributed to lenders. A consumer can send a letter to a credit reporting agency such as TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to request a change in false information. A consumer should provide all documents possible to support why the information is false. A credit reporting agency must then re investigate the credit report and verify with the consumer that the information was corrected. A false charge off on a credit report can substantially affect a consumers ability to receive a loan and low interest rates.
More information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can be found in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Check out some of our related articles about credit report errors:
Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies to provide accurate information to lenders. The FCRA also creates legal rights for consumers whose information is being investigated and misrepresented by credit reporting agencies such as TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Credit report agencies make money off of lenders who are requesting credit reports to justify loans and interest rates. Credit report agencies are not government funded. Credit reports are often required for loans on larger purchases such as cars and homes mortgages. Credit reporting agencies over report negative credit information to lenders, such as missed payments and debts. Lenders make more money off of people who are deemed a higher credit risk because they can enforce higher interest rates. Therefore, a lender will keep returning to a credit reporting agency who can help provide information that can support higher interest rates.
Consumer Rights Protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
A consumer has the right to have an accurate credit report distributed to lenders. A consumer also has the right to challenge credit report agencies who are providing false or inaccurate information. A lender must provide a consumer with the name of the credit reporting agency who allegedly provided inaccurate information on a credit report if requested.
The FCRA also made it illegal for credit reporting agencies to provide subjective information on a credit report such as religion, race, how long you have been committed to your job and details about other people you may live with.
How Can a Consumer Challenge a Credit Reporting Agency Under the FCRA?
A consumer must send a written letter to the credit report agency detailing the inaccurate information provided on the credit report. It is important for the consumer to provide as much documentation as possible to support why the information is inaccurate. Depending on the inaccurate information bank statements, records, and receipts of purchases are good examples of documents to provide.
A credit reporting agency who receives a letter must re investigate in the information being provided on the consumers credit report. Then must reply to the consumer detailing if the information was corrected or not. If a credit reporting agency refuses to fix inaccurate information, the consumer should then seek out a consumer lawyer to help sue the company.
What Type of FCRA Damages Can a Consumer Sue For?
- Actual damages are real losses for the consumer. Regarding the FCRA, a consumer might experience financial loss due to inaccurate information being provided on a credit report. A consumer who receives a higher interest rate on a loan or mortgage can experience economic loss and possibly debt.
- Statutory damages are when the credit reporting agency is providing inaccurate information, but the consumer has not financially been affected yet. The inaccurate information could be preventing the consumer from even acquiring a loan.
- Punitive damages are deliberate wrongdoings by a credit reporting agency. An example of a wrongdoing would be a credit report agency refusing to read a letter from a consumer or refusing to re investigate the information being provided on a credit report. Punitive damages are rare in cases regarding the FCRA.
A credit reporting agency will also be responsible for paying lawyer fees if the consumer wins the case.
Why May There Be Inaccurate Information on a Credit Report?
Mistaken identity is an issue the credit reporting agencies battle. These mistakes are often due to a merged file. Consumers with common last names and the same first names can be confused. False addresses can appear on credit reports from someone with the same name living at a different address. Seniors and Juniors can be commonly confused especially if they live at the same address to.
There are many complaints about credit report agencies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not have resources and funding to check all the information the credit report agencies are providing to lenders.
How Can a Consumer Check Their Credit Report?
Consumers are able to access their credit report annually from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Most negative information is only listed on a credit report for seven years. Bankruptcy is usually listed for ten years. Also consumers have to give permission to lenders to look at their credit report.
You can find more information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by reading 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet. If in Ohio, call Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. at (614) 944-5219 for a consultation.
Robo-signing: A still present problem for homeowners
“Robo-signing”. Most homeowners are aware of the term as a type of fraud that involved banks and mortgage servicers colluding to fabricate false documentation. The servicer would fashion legal documents of property ownership they did not have in order to initiate foreclosures on properties. Countless homeowners lost their homes when these documents were filed with the foreclosure action as “true and accurate” documents before the courts.
There was an attempt at culpability for this debacle that ultimately resulted in a $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement among the five leading mortgage servicers. Robo-signing never should have happened in the first place, but most of America was given the impression that the settlement was the end of it.
However, writer David Dayden of the financial news and analysis blog Naked Capitalism asserts that robo-signing has continued to this day. Dayden presents as proof an email sent to a former mortgage industry loan officer-turned-licensed private investigator specializing in securitization and chain of title analysis. This former mortgage industry insider is often called upon as an expert witness in foreclosure defense lawsuits. The email came from a document services provider working for large mortgage firms. The sender promises clients “peace of mind” that if documents are missing in a mortgage recording, their highly-trained researchers will locate and record these documents. In doing so, they create plausible deniability for fabrication of mortgage records.
The email to the former loan officer turned investigator requests a signature for an assignment of mortgage from the investigator. The investigator informed Dayden this isn’t the first time he’s been solicited for such a request. He theorizes that these companies are attempting a form of mutually assured destruction. If they can get him to sign on a forged record, it would indicate he is complicit in foreclosure fraud and tarnish his reputation and credibility as an expert defense witness. Alternatively, he posits that maybe they really did just need someone to help produce this mortgage assignment, and his name came up because he’d previously worked for the bank that needed it.
However, it’s likely worth noting that this same company was just fined $1.6 million in restitution and civil penalties by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for not honoring modifications for loans transferred to them by other servicers.
The investigator initially feigns ignorance. He asks for more information from the firm. The company responds by again indicating that an assignment is needed to show the bank assigned the loan over to the services firm. The “team lead” who had been communicating with the investigator attached a copy of the mortgage – which included confidential information that likely violated privacy laws.
The investigator then asks for a “prepared assignment,” which is a template from the company to fill out. Company responds with an attachment with blanks for investigator to fill in. It’s pre-signed and pre-notarized, with amounts that differ from the actual note (indicating the company wanted the document to appear as if it was first created in 2002).
Dayden characterizes this as “solicitation to commit a felony,” specifically, to fabricate a mortgage document. The investigator says that by “recreating chains of title,” they are dumping “garbage” into the courts daily.
Catching this kind of flaw in the chain of documentation requires the help of an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of the foreclosure process and can spot irregularities. The firm of Doucet & Associates specializes in foreclosure defense. If you are facing foreclosure, call Doucet & Associates to schedule a consultation and let us help you save your home.
Watch Out for the Dotted Line!
This week, the Ohio Sixth District Appellate Court in Toledo dismissed a consumer’s appeal after he claimed he was convinced to sign a consent agreement with the property owner through fraud because he had entered into a contract that barred his case. The lesson to learn from the Sixth District is to be aware of what you sign and how it can affect you into the future.
Charles Hanson was living in a house when Flex Property Management purchased it at a sheriff’s sale. Flex Property gave notice to Mr. Hanson to leave the property, and was directed to vacate by the end of February 2015. Mr. Hanson, representing himself pro se, entered into settlement agreement with Flex Property outside the courtroom. In exchange for $1000 cash, receiving a pre-approval letter from the bank, and an appraisal on the home, Mr. Hanson was permitted to stay in the house and make an offer to purchase. Mr. Hanson signed a consent judgment in April 2015 that was sent along with a drafted purchase agreement for the property.
However, when the two sides returned to the court, Flex Property filed the consent judgment and, according to Mr. Hanson, this showed that Flex Property had no intention of allowing him to purchase the property. With the consent judgment duly filed, the court informed Mr. Hanson that he would be removed from the house on May 30, 2015. Mr. Hanson appealed the court’s order.
The Sixth District court dismissed Mr. Hanson’s appeal.
The key issue identified by the Appellate Court is that a consented judgment entry or settlement agreement is a binding contract between the parties. Generally, one cannot appeal a contract. Since Mr. Hanson did not expressly reserve the right to appeal in the terms of the consent agreement, he was barred from contesting the judgment in that fashion.
Since the fraud that Mr. Hanson alleged to Flex Property occurred outside the courts, there is no evidence of it on the record. As such, Mr. Hanson could not argue the fraudulent inducement claim in a direct appeal either. Instead, the Sixth District instructed that Mr. Hanson would have to petition the court to set aside the judgment under Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 60(B) and make that case to the trial court. This is a more difficult process than a direct appeal.
Realize that when you sign something, you are likely forming a contract with the other party. Mr. Hanson represented himself and entered into two contracts with Flex Property: the settlement agreement & the consent judgment. Without realizing it, he had given up some of his rights and limited his options for the future.
A contract does not need to be a formal document that reads “Contract” at the top, or have “Wherefores” and “Therefores” sprinkled throughout. If the essential legal elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, and consideration) are met, the court will likely deem an agreement a legally binding contract.
Before you sign anything, ensure that you understand the consequences of each term and element. If you are across from a bank or property management company, you know they have had their attorneys make sure their rights and options are well protected. The best option is to get an attorney on your side to review everything and protect your interests. Contact Doucet & Associates to help ensure that your rights are protected.
Read the decision [Capital Income & Growth Fund, L.L.C. v. Hanson, 2016-Ohio-2973]
How to Avoid and Fix Contract Disputes With a General Contractor
Many homeowners need a checklist on hiring a contractor to ensure the work gets done correctly. At some point, most homeowners will need to hire a general contractor for a home improvement project or addition to the property, but many do not know where to begin when searching, or what to look out for in order to avoid a contract dispute. The homeowner is the first and last line of defense when it comes to choosing the right general contractor, and deciding on the right one starts with proper research.
The internet offers myriad resources for reviewing and researching general contractors. Sites such as Google and Angie’s List offer ratings and reviews that can be helpful in deciding on which general contractors are trustworthy and capable. Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau register complaints made against businesses and general contractors. Homeowners can check to see if potential general contractors have any formal complaints, and avoid any potential contract disputes.
The State of Ohio does not require general contractors to be licensed, but most cities in the state do, such as Columbus. Homeowners can check with city websites to see if a potential general contractor is licensed and bonded. A bonded general contractor has some sort of financial policy in place to pay damages against them in the event of a lawsuit or contract dispute. While a general contractor does not need to be bonded to work, it is typically a sign that the general contractor is responsible, diligent, and most importantly, doing what they can to avoid a contract dispute. You should only hire a contractor who has an insurance policy in place, and any such contractor should be happy to provide you a copy.
Homeowners would be wise to have an idea of what permits or licenses will be required for their specific job. A good general contractor will know and include such expenses in a written estimate, but homeowners would be wise to take the time to research costs. An attorney can offer advice on which permits and licenses would be required for a specific job and how to avoid illegal behavior in completing a project.
General contractors will be able to offer items that help potential clients decide for themselves whether or not they are capable of handling a job. Many keep portfolios of projects they are proud of and regularly share with potential clients. A good general contractor will be proud of their work and will make available several satisfied past clients as references. Portfolios and references are excellent resources to help determine how general contractors interact with their clients, and whether or not they can complete the job in a way that is satisfying to the client.
Cost is always at the front of everyone’s mind in a home improvement project, and general contractors are aware of this. They will be able to provide written estimates of the job, including itemized lists of materials, labor estimates, and any miscellaneous costs that may incur, such as permits. Homeowners will want to get at least three estimates from three separate general contractors to get an idea of how much the job will cost.
After settling on a general contractor, homeowners can ensure the contract they sign is fair for all parties. A general contractor should not get more than 20% of the total cost of the job up front, and will should earn a ask for a 10-20% profit over the costs. All guarantees, warranties, and promises should be written in the contract. It is perfectly normal for general contractors to be paid in stages of completion with final payment contingent upon inspection from a third party. Homeowners can also prearrange to pay for materials with an agreed upon supplier and have them delivered to the site, removing the general contractor from the process entirely.
No advice can hold true for every situation, and homeowners should always consult with a professional if they are concerned that a general contractor may be taking advantage of them. Call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219 if you are concerned that a contract may be unfair, or if you need assistance unraveling a bad transaction or settling a contract dispute.
Doucet Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Chase Mortgage for Alleged Violations After Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Doucet & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase Mortgage) alleging a systematic practice of violating borrower court ordered and approved Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plans. Our after-bankruptcy lawyers allege that the practice does not allow mortgage debtors to have the fresh start they deserve following the successful completion of the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy process. The option remaining for our after-bankruptcy lawyers is to sue, and our bankruptcy lawyers have filed this lawsuit specifically alleging that Chase Mortgage:
- Improperly applies and accounts for after-bankruptcy mortgage payments made as part of confirmed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans.
- Continues attempting to collect (and collecting) additional fees following successful completion of their Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans.
- Blatantly ignoring court orders discharging our client under Section 1328(a) of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
- Ignoring our clients multiple requests to update their account.
- Disregarding notices from our client’s previous bankruptcy lawyer explaining that Plaintiff’s Chapter 13 Bankruptcy had been completed and discharged.
The suit alleges that after bankruptcy Chase Mortgage continued to treat our client as if the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy had never been completed. The recourse here is for the lawyers with Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. to file a class action lawsuit and sue Chase Mortgage after its bankruptcy errors.
The complaint alleges that our client and those similarly situated, having followed the proper rules and made payments under their court approved Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan, are now left to pay hundreds to thousands of extra dollars in unknown and un-accounted fees after bankruptcy. Chase Mortgage is also alleged to have mishandled the bankruptcy credit reporting process leaving our client’s account as “in bankruptcy” and not properly accounting for the current status of the loan.
Our client followed the proper Chapter 13 Bankruptcy procedures, including making regular monthly payments to Chase Mortgage, until the plan was approved. She also submitted the proper monthly payments to the Trustee for submission to various creditors including Chase Mortgage during bankruptcy, and after bankruptcy, she made proper monthly payments again to Chase Mortgage.
Doucet & Associates believes that this is indicative of a broad pattern of incorrectly handling debtors’ mortgage loans for previously discharged debts, and has filed this class action lawsuit against Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. on behalf of our client and those similarly situated. We estimate this case could be representative of at least thousands of individuals and encourage anyone who has gone through a similar experience with Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. or any other mortgage loan servicer to call us immediately at (614) 944-5219 if they have been discharged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Doucet Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Nationstar Mortgage
Doucet & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against Nationstar Mortgage alleging a systematic practice of collecting and attempting to collect fees that were discharged following bankruptcy. Our client was forced to take money out of his wife’s 401k to prevent Nationstar from inexplicably foreclosing on his home. He alleges Nationstar made no effort to adequately explain or rectify the charges on his account, and damaged his credit by considering his account delinquent even after receiving a court discharge.
Terry Forson filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2008 and spent the next five years adhering to the repayment plan approved by the court. At the end of this period, the court issued an order deeming his mortgage current and requiring Nationstar to adjust his loan balances to reflect the amounts paid and discharged. In preparation for resuming responsibility for his mortgage, Mr. Forson sent a letter to Nationstar requesting information regarding his post-bankruptcy loan.
Forson claims Nationstar ignored his request for several months and never told him what his monthly payments would be. He contacted the trustee who managed his finances during bankruptcy and made several monthly payments for the amount he advised. According to the lawsuit, Nationstar accepted all of these payments.
After three months and two more written requests, Forson finally received some of the information he requested. However, the information he received made no mention of his total loan balance or any recent account activity. When Forson called to inquire about this, Nationstar responded by telling him to fax written his request. He obliged, but claims Nationstar never responded.
Forson eventually found a way to access his mortgage through Nationstar’s website. He was shocked to find the site allegedly stated he owed roughly $7,000 in delinquent payments and “Lender Paid Expenses.” Forson maintains Nationstar never adequately explained these charges to him, but spent the next eight months insisting his account was delinquent. Nationstar also allegedly refused to deem his mortgage current because it claimed he was delinquent on two payments. However, he made regular monthly payments every month both during and after bankruptcy, all of which were accepted.
Forson continued to make regular monthly payments until August 2014, when Nationstar rejected Forson’s payment. Forson called Nationstar about this, and it stated the amount was insufficient to cover the $8,100 he owed. Forson removed that money from his wife’s 401k in order to prevent what he felt was an imminent foreclosure. Despite their alleged claims that the $8,100 was required to bring his account current, Forson claims that Nationstar never updated his mortgage status. Forson made regular payments to Nationstar until the following March, when the company barred him access to the website.
Doucet & Associates believes that this is indicative of a broad pattern of incorrectly charging debtors for previously discharged debts, and has filed this class action lawsuit against Nationstar on behalf of Mr. Forson and those similarly situated. We estimate this case could be representative of at least thousands of individuals and encourage anyone who has gone through a similar experience with Nationstar or any other mortgage loan servicer to call us immediately at (614) 944-5219 if they live in Ohio or have been discharged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Social Security Administration Mislabeling People as Dead
60 Minutes released a report a few months ago concerning individuals who were incorrectly reported as dead to the Social Security Administration. The government agency keeps a Death Master File compiled from information submitted by funeral homes, doctors and hospitals, but this information is not always accurate and certainly subject to human error. The social security administration estimates that roughly 9,000 individuals are incorrectly labeled as deceased every year, which can cause serious problems to the people unfortunate enough to be on that list, but not actually deceased.
If you find yourself on the Death Master File, it effectively means that as far as the government is concerned you no longer exist. Your social security number is rendered invalid, and you no longer qualify for Medicare or social security. Government agencies such as the IRS and law enforcement are also affected, meaning that you can be labeled as an identity thief simply for trying to use your own credit cards. In addition to all of this, the Death Master File is used by banks and credit reporting agencies, which means that you may never be able to get another bank account or loan in your life.
According to the 60 Minutes report, one woman was locked out of her bank accounts, which essentially threw her $80,000 balance into limbo and forced her to live in her car for six months, as she was unable to rent an apartment. Attempts to correct this issue are often numerous and fruitless. The same woman attempted to correct an error with just one credit agency, and had to report the same information over twenty times simply to get them to consider correcting the error.
Doucet & Associates regularly works with our clients to correct errors on mortgages and credit reports, and is willing to evaluate your options if you have fallen victim to this bureaucratic error. If you have been incorrectly labeled as deceased by a credit reporting agency, or would like any other credit reporting error rectified, call us at (614) 944-5219. We may be able to help, and may be able to secure compensation or damages if this has happened to you.
If you would like to read the 60 Minutes report referenced, please click the following link:
Doucet & Associates Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Nationstar Mortgage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 13, 2015
Contact: Troy Doucet, (614) 944-5219
(Columbus) – The law firm Doucet & Associates recently filed a class action lawsuit against Nationstar Mortgage, LLC. Their client, Terry Forson alleges that the mortgage company has been engaging in a deliberate and systematic practice of coercing debtors into paying additional fees on their mortgages after bankruptcy. The lawsuit also claims that Nationstar has unfairly damaged the consumer’s credit score by failing to comply with court orders that deem the mortgages “current.”
Mr. Forson filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2008 and repaid his debts over a five year period. After completing the payment plan, the court ordered that his mortgage be updated to “current,” and all arrearages that existed prior to the filing be discharged. Mr. Forson also alleges that he made repeated requests to Nationstar to provide update statements, but that the company failed to do so for months after his bankruptcy ended.
He also maintains that despite a consistent pattern of timely payments that were accepted by Nationstar, he was still being charged for unauthorized fees. Additionally, Nationstar refused to update his mortgage status, which could be a clear violation of the court order. Ultimately, despite timely payments, Nationstar threatened Mr. Forson with foreclosure and required him to pay $8,109.41 in order to prevent his house from being foreclosed on.
Mr. Forson took money out of his wife’s 401k to pay the demand. This was in spite of the fact that he had made regular monthly payments that he alleges were both satisfactory to the terms of the mortgage and accepted by Nationstar. At this point, over a year after exiting bankruptcy, Nationstar still had made no meaningful attempt to clarify the nature of the charges.
Doucet & Associates believes that Nationstar’s practices affects thousands of individuals similarly situated. They have filed a class action lawsuit to recover the erroneously charged fees to Mr. Forson and others. If you would like to join the lawsuit, and you live in Ohio or have been discharged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy, please contact Doucet & Associates today at (614) 944-5219.
How to Correct Mortgage Errors
For years, homeowners have complained that mortgage companies do not adequately address concerns about their loans, do not respond to requests for information, or fail to correct errors. This has become such a problem that federal law now requires mortgage companies to formally respond to any homeowner’s written request when the request alleges the mortgage company:
Failed to accept payments or apply payments correctly;
Failed to credit payments on the receipt date;
Failed to pay escrows as agreed;
Charged unreasonable fees, or without a basis;
Failed to provide an accurate payoff quote;
Failed to timely provide transferring notices; or
Failed to provide assistance to avoid foreclosure.
Homeowners facing problems with their mortgage company have a right to demand the company research their complaint and provide a written answer within 30 days. The company must correct any mortgage error immediately, or it must provide an explanation why it believes the account is correct. It cannot simply mail the homeowner an accounting of the loan, and it cannot charge the homeowner to research the complaint.
Attorney Troy Doucet of the Dublin, Ohio law firm Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. regularly litigates mortgage cases on behalf of homeowners. He recommends that homeowners with concerns about their mortgage send a written letter to their mortgage company that clearly identifies the concern, includes supporting documentation, and asks for a formal correction. He cautions that the letter must be sent to the address designated to receive correspondence (not the payment address), and he recommends keeping a copy of the letter sent via certified mail.
The mortgage company must acknowledge receipt of the letter within five days, and respond to concerns within 30 days. Failing to adequately respond to the letter can trigger damages under federal law, including attorneys’ fees. If the letter does not produce the expected results, a knowledgeable foreclosure and consumer attorney should be able to help with the next step. Call (614) 944-5219 to speak with one now.
Doucet Sues Caliber for Harassing Homeowners for Amounts Not Due
Doucet & Associate has filed a lawsuit against Caliber Home Loans, Inc. and the Bank of New York Mellon Trust on counts for RESPA, breach of contract, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and invasion of privacy.
The homeowners that Doucet represents took out a mortgage with Caliber Home Loans in 2005. In 2009, they were forced to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and entered into a payment plan to repay Caliber and the Bank every penny owed.
The homeowners paid back what they owed and the bankruptcy Trustee filed a motion with Caliber Home Loans that the homeowner’s loan be deemed current. Caliber Home Loans did not object. During this time, Doucet’s client alleges that a bank representative assured the homeowners the loan would be made current once the bankruptcy was discharged a month later. The bank issued a statement in bankruptcy court claiming the homeowners were not behind on their loan.
The Bankruptcy Court deemed the homeowners’ mortgage current. Yet, the lawsuit alleges Caliber Home Loans refused to acknowledge the court’s decision. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that the bank continually refused to update its records and harassed the homeowners with letters and phone calls multiple times a day.
The lawsuit alleges that the inaccurate reporting to the credit agencies have made it impossible for the homeowners to refinance their home or seek new employment. Most upsetting, however, is the severe emotional damage the bank’s harassments have caused the homeowners, which resulted in a tragic miscarriage of the homeowner’s baby.
The homeowners are seeking actual, punitive, and statutory damages, declaratory and/or injunctive relief, attorney fees and costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate.
Doucet & Associates is dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers, protecting their interests and offering legal assistance to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. If you need help with a company that is trying to take advantage of you or a loved one, call the firm today at (614) 944-5219.
Firm Wins Major Appellate Decision
Doucet & Associates is happy to announce it won a major case in the federal court of appeals yesterday, paving the way for consumers to be able to hold their mortgage companies accountable for failing to adequately respond to mortgage inquiries.
The firm’s client, Christine Marais, faced years of trouble trying to get her mortgage company to correctly apply her mortgage payments when she sent in more than the amount due.After trying repeatedly to get Chase Home Finance to correctly apply her overpayments, she retained Doucet & Associates in an attempt to hold it accountable.The law firm sent a formal written request to Chase pursuant to the federal law, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), demanding that Chase provide certain account information and that it correct her mortgage account.
Rather than making any corrections to Ms. Marais’ account in response to the firm’s formal demand, Chase’s representative testified in a deposition that it used a form letter to respond to the inquiry, and that letter contained no indication that any substantive review was undertaken of her account.
Chase Home Finance filed a motion with the trial court to win the case based on its outrageous claim that Ms. Marais could not show she suffered damages.The federal appeals court disagreed with Chase, and found Ms. Marais had properly alleged damages, and that she stated a claim to recover for Chase’s failures.The case now goes back to the trial court for further litigation.
The decision, Marais v. Chase Home Finance, LLC was decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and was recommended for publication as binding law throughout the federal court system encompassing Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.To the firm’s knowledge, this would be the first appellate level published case on this particular RESPA issue, meaning it will be persuasive authority throughout the United States.