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Orlando Bankruptcy Law Blog

Florida company scams those facing home foreclosure

Whenever a homeowner is struggling, there may be the need to reach out for help as a means of keeping one's home. While there are many widely recommended programs available, there are those who have intentionally scammed people who simply want help so they can avoid home foreclosure. Recently, a Florida based company and their practices made news as it was investigated for scamming homeowners in another state.

The company used local agents in the state in which it operated to bilk customers. It referred struggling homeowners to professionals who vowed to help them obtain loan modifications. The company charged these homeowners a few thousand dollars for the help.

Settlement and agreement can help deter home foreclosure

For a few years during the recession, the banks handling many home loans across the country became the target of legitimate complaints related to how they handled mortgage issues. Many homeowners in Florida and elsewhere faced home foreclosure, even as they were attempting to get help via loan modifications or other means. Due the unfair and illegal practices, a major settlement has reached and new agreements have been put in place. However, despite the settlement and agreement, there are still many complaints about how mortgages and the home foreclosure processes are handled.

The settlement was in excess of $20 billion. Roughly half of the money was used to help homeowners who were underwater and at risk for default. Other parts of the settlement were used to help with programs that aimed to help those who had to short sell and for service members who had no choice but to sell at a loss.

Knowing how to handle credit card debt

When someone has credit card debt, it can be tempting to go along with any kind of payment request. However, Florida residents should be aware of a few facts and tips as to how best go about dealing with creditors calling for collection of credit card debt or any other kind of financial obligation. Blindly going along with payment terms or giving out bank information to settle a debt might sound like a quick fix, but it may be a mistake.

It is important to understand the statute of limitations for debt. When the statute of limitations has passed, the debt may still be owed. However, a creditor can't threaten to sue for the debt. Before agreeing to pay, it is advised to ensure that the debt is still owed. This can be through a letter called a "verification of debt request."

Man uses religion to perpetuate loan modification hoax

Whenever a homeowner is struggling and looking for a way to stay on top of their financial obligations, they may reach out online for help. One option that has worked for homeowners is to seek a loan modification to lower a high mortgage payment. However, Florida homeowners should be aware of potential scams related to some loan modifications.

Recently, a man was caught and is being criminally prosecuted for a loan modification scam that he apparently perpetuated on others. The man hosted a website touting his books and owned an online ministry. He used this outlet as a means to get homeowners to trust him to secure loan modifications so they could stay in their homes.

Tips for managing credit card debt for Florida consumers

Any kind of debt can impact a family's lifestyle and plans for the future. However, it can be difficult for some Florida families to gauge whether they have out-of-control debt or a manageable amount of credit card debt. It can also be difficult to formulate a plan to manage that credit card debt once it is deemed too much to handle in a reasonable manner.

Having a high salary or secure employment may make people think their debt is normal or manageable. However, it is usually the type of debt that determines whether it is considered manageable or not. High credit card balances may be seen as bad debt, while student loans may not be bad debt to have at all.

Reverse mortgages may lead to home foreclosure in Florida

For senior citizens, the reality of retirement may cost more than they may have ever planned because they are simply living longer and incurring more expenses than they may have anticipated. One way that seniors have found as a means to generate money and avoid home foreclosure during the recession is through a reverse mortgage. While a reverse mortgage has helped Florida seniors stay in their homes, it has posed a unique problem for their heirs when the senior owners have passed on.

A reverse mortgage is a way for senior citizen homeowners to tap into home equity without an income or other typical qualifications associated with a traditional loan. It allows these homeowners to get the money they need to pay for living expenses without the risk of losing their home. They are popular, yet they are also confusing and can entail high interest rates.

Bank settlement helps Florida homeowners with loan modification

During the recession, a number of national banks were found to have conducted wrongful practices that led to more complications for already struggling homeowners. Some of the struggles for Florida homeowners related to obtaining a loan modification and enduring home foreclosures that were not properly verified. Years later, as the market starts to rebound, the banks are being made to pay damages for the wrongdoing and the mistakes that were made.

The national settlement is for a total of $25 billion. Over $9.2 billion of that was earmarked for Florida homeowners. For 32,000 Florida homeowners, breaks came in the form of short sales. Some 50,000 other Florida homeowners had their second mortgages wiped clean. Many others were able to get their principal mortgage payments reduced.

Mistaken home foreclosure shocks Florida residents

It can make for a difficult time when a family is struggling financially and has to consider their options when it comes to their home. Once a Florida homeowner ventures into the home foreclosure process, it can be a long and complicated ordeal. However, there are times when banks make mistakes and foreclose on the wrong homes, causing undo stress for those who may not have any mortgage issues, as was the case for one Florida couple recently.

The couple came home from a trip to New York and discovered that the locks had been changed and all the utilities to their home had been turned off. A company that inspects and maintains foreclosed properties in Florida had taken action against the couple's home, believing they were in default. The company simply had the wrong address.

Florida home foreclosure rates fall, zombie homes still problem

The recession had a ripple effect on nearly every community in the country. The housing market suffered terribly and is just now starting to get back on a positive track. However, in Florida and elsewhere, the home foreclosure crisis left behind what have been deemed zombie houses.

Zombie houses are essentially homes that were foreclosed on, then left unattended. The affected properties have not been kept up with necessary repairs. Eventually, the homes become unlivable and eyesores that directly affect the value of other homes around it. Approximately 21 percent of the homes that are in some stage of the foreclosure process are reportedly in this condition.

Tips for Florida residents dealing with credit card debt

Many people struggle with various kinds of debt, and it can have a ripple effect on every aspect of life. For many in Florida, credit card debt can be particularly debilitating and lead to further financial difficulties. There are a number of tips for people who are trying to get a handle on their credit card debt and other debts too.

Like any kind of consolidation for loans, credit card debt consolidation is a popular option for those who have varying balances on a number of cards. However, there are stipulations to be aware of. One warning pertains to fees. Some credit cards may charge a fee of anywhere from 3 to 5 percent of the balance being transferred.

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Paul Urich
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