William E. Lewis Jr & Associates opens new location in Davie


As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates – a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity – announces the opening of a new office in Davie, Florida.

Having outgrown their former location, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates recently moved to 6099 Stirling Road, Suite 210, Davie, FL 33314. 

Formerly with Credit Restoration Consultants, Bill Lewis has been widely sought by many in the restoration of their personal credit worthiness.  As such, a new credit repair component was formed.

In tough economic times, your good name and reputation are more important than ever. Creditors have tightened their guidelines effectively barring millions of Americans from obtaining credit.  Even those with excellent credit are experiencing reduced credit limits and closed equity lines. Mortgage lenders, auto finance companies, credit card issuers and banks have all raised the bar.

The terms credit repair, credit restoration or credit rehabilitation are somewhat synonymous. Those with bad credit histories cannot afford to ignore the potential benefits of credit repair. In today’s economy, a strong FICO score is more important than ever.

Approximately 78% of credit profiles in the United States contain some sort of error or omission materially affecting credit worthiness.  Absent self-help and the “do-it-yourself” approach, a consumer may hire a credit repair company in the restoration of their good name and reputation within the community.

Long gone are the days of obtaining credit, goods, benefits, services and/or employment with a 620 score. In most instances, a consumer will be denied if they maintain a credit score lower than 740. Even those with high credit scores have experienced closed credit card accounts and equity lines.  When an account has not been closed, credit limits have been reduced to the current balance due.

Borrowers with low credit scores can expect to be denied or to pay significantly higher interest rates than those with excellent credit.

Operating within William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a boutique credit service organization specializing in the restoration of consumer credit worthiness as well as identity theft. Assisting consumers in achieving a favorable financial credit profile is their first priority.

Everything they do at William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is legal utilizing laws enacted by Congress to dispute negative, erroneous, obsolete, and/or fraudulent information contained within your consumer credit profile.

Utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates will assist consumers in the submission of disputes electronically, verbally and in writing to the Equifax, Experian and Trans Union consumer reporting agencies in addition to creditors, collection agencies, third-party record providers and state/federal/private regulatory authorities.

Unlike most credit repair clinics that submit the same written dispute letters monthly, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has devised a credit restoration strategy utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in addition to laws applicable to a consumers state of residence. 

Keep in mind that anything William E. Lewis Jr & Associates can do – you can do yourself.  That means that you do not have to hire William E. Lewis Jr & Associates – or any other credit repair company – to review, investigate and/or dispute alleged discrepancies on your credit report.

Where William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may have an edge over the average consumer is that we possess the education, knowledge and a source proven method that consistently yields results.

William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has obtained thousands of deletions and updates for its clients and can help remove erroneous and/or inaccurate judgments, liens, bankruptcies, student loans, inquiries, derogatory accounts, personal identifiers, arrests, etc.  While the credit restoration process can take anywhere from 30 days to six months, most clients see dramatic results in 45-60 days.

Credit repair, credit restoration and/or credit rehabilitation is as legal as pleading “not guilty” in a court of law. With that said, one must understand that as a credit service organization William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is not a law firm and that none of their employees is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

As such, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates cannot provide legal advice nor represent any individual before any court or in any legal proceeding.  In the event that legal representation is required, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may provide an appropriate attorney referral for consultation. 

Ordering Free Credit Reports:

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as modified by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report under a narrow set of circumstances.  If you have been denied credit, goods, benefits, services, insurance, and/or employment, the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are statutorily mandated to provide a copy free of charge.

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111 or www.Equifax.com; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742 or www.Experian.com; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800 or www.TransUnion.com. Be sure to prompt that you were denied credit when requested to do so.

Absent these exceptions, consumers are entitled to one free “annual credit report” per year. Credit scores are not included with any of the “free credit reports” provided by the national credit reporting agencies.

For your free annual credit report, contact the central source at 877-FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) or www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Follow the voice prompts and obtain your credit report for review.

When self-help or the “do-it-yourself” approach is not feasible and you decide to hire a company to restore your credit, be sure to check them out.  While the majority of credit repair clinics are scams, a few good ones do exist.  Consumers can check out a credit service organization through their state Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commissionat www.ftc.gov or through the Better Business Bureau at www.BBB.org.

For more information, please contact William E. Lewis Jr & Associates at (954) 337-1530 or visit them on the Internet at www.williamlewis.us.

_____________________________________

As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 11,550 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.

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Home buyers qualify for FHA loan despite short sale or foreclosure


Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage in Pembroke Pines
Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage in Pembroke Pines

Mortgage borrowers may now qualify for an FHA mortgage under new guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Eli Younes of Viking Realty Group in Pembroke Pines on Tuesday.

As a result of the housing collapse, many homeowners experienced a serious reduction in income or lost their jobs due to the crumbling economy.   Some mortgage borrowers were forced to file bankruptcy or short sale their home to avoid foreclosure.  

Others were not so lucky and lost their home on the courthouse steps.

The new HUD rules allow borrowers whose credit was damaged due to a temporary loss of employment or income to qualify for an FHA mortgage if they have substantially recovered from that situation and maintained a positive credit history for at least 12 months.

Borrowers who recently experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short-sale, loan delinquencies, deed-in-lieu, debt collections or other situation negatively impacting their FICO credit score may now be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

Recognizing that any number of events may have impacted a borrowers’ credit rating, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes that such catastrophic event does not mean they are not financially stable or unable to make a mortgage payment.  

As such, the previous 3-year waiting period required by the FHA on financing a new home has been revised.

“Referred to as the ‘Back to Work’ initiative, this program is designed for borrowers who lost their home through foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu and also suffered a 20% or more loss in household income,” Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage told Examiner.  “As with most FHA loans, this program only requires a 3.5% down payment and is applicable for all purchase loans other than the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”

In order to qualify for a mortgage under the “Back to Work” initiative, there are several steps that must be taken to prove an “Economic Event” that was beyond the borrower’s control.

Employment Requirements:

The lender must verify that the borrower lost at least 20% or more in household income – or became unemployed – for a period of six months prior to the foreclosure, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu.  To verify loss of income, the lender must request a written Verification of Employment to show the termination date or loss of income, receipt of unemployment compensation, or signed W-2’s and tax returns detailing the reduction in earnings.

To demonstrate a loss of income for part-time or seasonal employment, the borrower must prove a 2-year history in the same field prior to loss of employment.  Borrowers will also be required to prove that they have fully recovered from their hardship, increased earnings and have maintained other credit obligations for a period of 12 months following foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu.

Credit Requirements:

When evaluating a borrower for the “Back to Work” initiative following a foreclosure, the lender may deem the borrower eligible if:

1.)  The borrower’s credit report is free of any late housing payments within the last 12 months;

2.)  All other mortgage accounts must be current for the last 12 months, even if the loan was previously modified to avoid a foreclosure action;

3.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

4.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records.  This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

Bankruptcy Filings:

1.)  Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:  One year must have elapsed since the bankruptcy discharge.  Proof must also be shown that the bankruptcy filing was the result of an “Economic Event” covered within the FHA program guidelines.

2.)  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most lenders will require that the bankruptcy filing be discharged with all payments required under the agreement having been made on time.  For borrowers currently in bankruptcy, written approval from the court allowing them to enter a new mortgage contract is required.

Housing Counseling Requirement:

For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit following an “Economic Event,” mortgage borrowers’ under the “Back to Work” initiative must:

1.)  Receive homeownership counseling or a combination of homeownership education and counseling, at a minimum, one hour of one-on-one counseling from HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, as defined at 24 C.F.R. §214.100; and

2.)  Be completed a minimum of thirty (30) days but no more than six (6) months prior to submitting a loan application to a lender, as application is defined in Regulation X, implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 24 C.F.R. §3500.2(b).

The housing education may be provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, state housing finance agencies, approved intermediaries or their sub-grantees, or through an online course.  It may be conducted in person, via telephone, via internet, or other methods approved by HUD, and mutually agreed upon by the borrower and housing counseling agency.

Rules for Renters:

Under certain circumstances, renters may qualify under the “Back to Work” initiative.  For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit, mortgage borrowers must:

1.)  The borrower’s credit report is free of any late rental payments within the last 12 months;

2.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

3.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records.  This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

A foreclosure, short-sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or deed-in-lieu will continue to plague a borrower’s credit report at the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies for a period of seven years.  A discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for a period of ten years.

“With the housing crash, many homeowners experienced unemployment or depreciated home values and for one reason or another were not able to make their mortgage payments,” Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, told Examiner.  “The recent changes in the FHA guidelines have finally recognized the financial hardship faced by many borrowers and is allowing them to once again reach for the American Dream through homeownership.”

The new guidelines are in effect immediately and will be in force through at least September, 2016.

_______________________________________

As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

Home buyers may qualify for FHA loan despite short-sale or foreclosure



fha-back-to-work-program

As a result of the housing collapse, many homeowners experienced a serious reduction in income or lost their jobs due to the crumbling economy.   Some mortgage borrowers were forced to file bankruptcy or short sale their home to avoid foreclosure.  Others were not so lucky and lost their home on the courthouse steps.  Borrowers may now qualify for an FHA mortgage under new guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage in Pembroke Pines on Monday.

The new HUD rules allow borrowers whose credit was damaged due to a temporary loss of employment or income to qualify for an FHA mortgage if they have substantially recovered from that situation and maintained a positive credit history for at least 12 months. Borrowers who recently experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short-sale, loan delinquencies, deed-in-lieu, debt collections or other situation negatively impacting their FICO credit score may now be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

Recognizing that any number of events may have impacted a borrowers’ credit rating, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes that such catastrophic event does not mean they are not financially stable or unable to make a mortgage payment.  As such, the previous 3-year waiting period required by the FHA on financing a new home has been revised.

“Referred to as the ‘Back to Work’ initiative, this program is designed for borrowers who lost their home through foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu and also suffered a 20% or more loss in household income,” Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage told Examiner.  “As with most FHA loans, this program only requires a 3.5% down payment and is applicable for all purchase loans other than the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”

In order to qualify for a mortgage under the “Back to Work” initiative, there are several steps that must be taken to prove an “Economic Event” that was beyond the borrower’s control.

Employment Requirements:

The lender must verify that the borrower lost at least 20% or more in household income – or became unemployed – for a period of six months prior to the foreclosure, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu.  To verify loss of income, the lender must request a written Verification of Employment to show the termination date or loss of income, receipt of unemployment compensation, or signed W-2’s and tax returns detailing the reduction in earnings.

To demonstrate a loss of income for part-time or seasonal employment, the borrower must prove a 2-year history in the same field prior to loss of employment.  Borrowers will also be required to prove that they have fully recovered from their hardship, increased earnings and have maintained other credit obligations for a period of 12 months following foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu.

Credit Requirements:

When evaluating a borrower for the “Back to Work” initiative following a foreclosure, the lender may deem the borrower eligible if:

1.)  The borrower’s credit report is free of any late housing payments within the last 12 months;

2.)  All other mortgage accounts must be current for the last 12 months, even if the loan was previously modified to avoid a foreclosure action;

3.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

4.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records.  This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

Bankruptcy Filings: 

1.)  Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:  One year must have elapsed since the bankruptcy discharge.  Proof must also be shown that the bankruptcy filing was the result of an “Economic Event” covered within the FHA program guidelines.

2.)  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most lenders will require that the bankruptcy filing be discharged with all payments required under the agreement having been made on time.  For borrowers currently in bankruptcy, written approval from the court allowing them to enter a new mortgage contract is required.

Housing Counseling Requirement:

For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit following an “Economic Event,” mortgage borrowers’ under the “Back to Work” initiative must:

1.)  Receive homeownership counseling or a combination of homeownership education and counseling, at a minimum, one hour of one-on-one counseling from HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, as defined at 24 C.F.R. §214.100.  The counseling must address the cause of the ‘Economic Event” and the actions taken to overcome it as well as reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence; and

2.)  Be completed a minimum of thirty (30) days but no more than six (6) months prior to submitting a loan application to a lender, as application is defined in Regulation X, implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 24 C.F.R. §3500.2(b).

The housing education may be provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, state housing finance agencies, approved intermediaries or their sub-grantees, or through an online course.  It may be conducted in person, via telephone, via internet, or other methods approved by HUD, and mutually agreed upon by the borrower and housing counseling agency.

Rules for Renters:

Under certain circumstances, renters may qualify under the “Back to Work” initiative.  For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit, mortgage borrowers must:

1.)  The borrower’s credit report is free of any late rental payments within the last 12 months;

2.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and

3.)  The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records.  This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.

Prior to the proposal of new mortgage guidelines, the FHA had considerably shorter waiting periods for borrowers who had gone through foreclosure or bankruptcy than for conventional mortgages.  In the past, borrowers could be approved for a new FHA mortgage in as little as three years after a foreclosure or two years following a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

A foreclosure, short-sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or deed-in-lieu will continue to plague a borrower’s credit report at the EquifaxExperian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies for a period of seven years.  A discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for a period of ten years.

“As a result of the recession many homeowners experienced unemployment or unforeseen circumstances and were not able to make their monthly mortgage payments,” Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, told Examiner. “I’m glad to see that the FHA has recognized the financial hardship faced by many borrowers and is allowing them to once again attain the American Dream through homeownership.”

The new guidelines take effect immediately and will be in force through at least September, 2016.

Mortgage foreclosure relief available for distressed homeowners


foreclosure

I recently reported on important relief available to homeowners facing foreclosure, paying more than their house is worth or those who have been foreclosed upon and lost their home.

As crucial deadlines are fast approaching, I am providing an updated summary of assistance available for struggling homeowners and other victims of unfair lending practices — and what you need to do to access it.

Remember, these programs matter but unless you take advantage of them, help is not available. A proactive approach is required.

Thousands of Floridians qualify for help. Below is a list of settlements and reviews that were created to help struggling borrowers. In some cases, application deadlines are coming up. If you miss the deadline, you will not qualify for relief.

Independent Foreclosure Review vs. National Mortgage Settlement:

If you believe your home mortgage foreclosure was conducted unfairly or mistakes were made, relief is available in several forms:

Independent Foreclosure Review

In April 2011, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency took action against over 20 large mortgage servicers. If your primary home was involved in a foreclosure between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you may qualify for a free independent foreclosure review.

Independent fact-checkers will determine whether you were harmed by mortgage foreclosure errors or other problems and should be paid to make up for that harm. Borrowers seeking a review must apply by December 31, 2012.

Help with the form and answers to questions about the process are available on the Independent Foreclosure Review website or by calling 888-952-9105.

The following mortgage servicers are participating in the Independent Foreclosure Review process:

“Homeowners who believe they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010, should request a review,” stated Bryan Hubbard, an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency spokesman. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”

In effort to assist with the application process, the Federal Reserve has put together a short “Independent Foreclosure Review PSA” video. The video provides program details in English and in Spanish.

For in-depth information on how to spread the word to your local area, please visit the community partner toolkit.

National Mortgage Settlement

Last February, the U.S. Department of Justice and 49 state attorneys general announced a $25 billion settlement with five major banks over so-called “robo-signing,” in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly verifying their accuracy.

While not a perfect deal, the settlement offers meaningful relief for some homeowners in the form of principal or interest reductions, in addition to other relief.

The National Mortgage Settlement administrator recently mailed Notice Letters and Claim Forms to those borrowers who lost their home due to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 whose loans were serviced by one of the five servicers: Ally/GMACBank of AmericaCitiJPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

Impacted homeowners can now submit their claim form online. The deadline to file is January 18, 2013.

If you think you may be eligible, you can contact your bank directly for additional information:

Ally/GMAC: 800-766-4622

Bank of America: 877-488-7814 (Available M-F 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central Time.)

Citi: 866-272-4749

JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901

Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212 (Available M-F 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Central Time)

For more information, please visit the National Mortgage Settlement website or call them at 888-995-HOPE (4673).

To learn whether your loan is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, visit their website and complete the convenient online form for an instant determination.

“Whether it be through the Independent Foreclosure Review or the National Foreclosure Settlement, homeowners faced with a foreclosure should take advantage of this review,” stated Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes. “The process is free and totally without fee. Don’t let someone charge you for completing an application that you can complete yourself online in less than 30 minutes.”

Political talk and morning drive on AM 740 WSBR


 

 

William E. Lewis

As Christmas is approaching and Bill Lewis prepares to announce his New Years resolutions for 2013, interesting guests and timely topics will be on AM 740 WSBR and AM 1470 WWNN the weekend of December 17th and The Credit Report with Bill Lewis.

As a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis can be found on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida. Hosted by Bill Lewis, the show broadcasts live weekdays at 7am.

Originally launched on AM 1400 WFTL in 2004, as the “Credit Restoration Consultants Hour,” Bill Lewis provided self-help tips and advice regarding credit repair, finances, and related topics. Throughout the years, Bill’s show strayed from the original concept of providing financial awareness to his listeners.

In an effort to strengthen his listener base and to broaden the topics hosted, Bill launched The Credit Report with Bill Lewis upon moving to AM 1470 WWNN within the Beasley Broadcasting group.

Listeners were searching for help regarding a myriad of topics from credit repairextreme coupon shopping, and foreclosure matters, but welcomed the political format that Bill introduced locally to a south Florida audience.

Since the show’s inception, Bill Lewis has interviewed some of the country’s leading politicians, including: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Allen West, Rick Scott, George LeMieux, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, Marco Rubio, Sharon Day, Alex Sink, Adam Putnam, Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, Jennifer Carroll, Christine O’Donnell, among others.

In addition, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis has hosted a number of politicians as well as attorneys and financial experts in the south Florida area. Among the dozens that have appeared on the show are Carlos Reyes, Al Lamberti, Chip LaMarca, Adam Hasner, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Tom Rooney, Roger Stone, Bob Davids, Lori Parrish, Richard Denapoli, Rico Petrocelli, Jamie McDonnell, Jim Lewis, Tom Lauder, and John Contini.

The Credit Report with Bill Lewis airs live, Monday through Friday from 7am-8am Eastern Time with an encore presentation Saturday’s at 3pm on AM 740 WSBR. Streaming audio is available at http://www.wsbrradio.com and on air participation is welcome at (888) 721-0074.

If you miss the early broadcast, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is still available weeknights at 9pm Eastern Time, Saturday’s at 6pm and Sunday’s at 8pm on AM 1470 WWNN by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.

Going head-to-head against Steve Kane and Jimmy Cefalo, Bill Lewis promises more “talk” and fewer commercials.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 21,950 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.

Time running out for a free mortgage foreclosure review


 

Were you involved in a mortgage foreclosure action in 2009 or 2010? If so, you may be eligible for relief through a widely ignored governmental program targeting homeowners that have lost the place they call home.

According to RealtyTrac, there were 26,412 Florida homes in some stage of foreclosure in May. That included 14,768 new filings, an 83 percent increase over last year.

Last year, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of Thrift Supervision announced enforcement action against 14 large residential mortgage servicers and two third-party vendors for unsafe and unsound practices related to residential mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing.

Among the sanctions received by mortgage servicers was an obligation to independently review problematic foreclosures. In an effort to reach as many Americans as possible, the government has extended the “Independent Foreclosure Review” program through September 30.

Homeowners who lost their home to foreclosure are not eligible to have it returned but may be eligible for a cash payment of up to $2,000. Affected homeowners may also be eligible to have most, if not all, of any deficiency balance waived.

There were more that 6.6 million foreclosures nationwide between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, according to RealtyTrac. A consulting firm acting on this information and on behalf of federal bank regulators mailed almost 4.4 million letters to homeowners who may be eligible to have their foreclosures reviewed for mistakes.

Thousands of Floridians have been deemed eligible for an Independent Foreclosure Review, but have yet to make an application for relief under the program. 

The three-month extension provides not only the 14 sanctioned mortgage servicers who may have harmed homeowners more time to notify them of the federal enforcement action, but also the 13 additional mortgage servicers — who joined the program in an effort to identify impacted borrowers — an opportunity for independent foreclosure review as well.

So far, the response has been extremely disappointing.

As of May 31, the independent consultants have received 193,630 requests for review. The servicers themselves, through their own sampling, selected an additional 144,817 cases, for a total of 338,447.

Although the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency believes the number of applications will dramatically increase by the end of July, just 7.7 percent of the estimated 4.4 million homeowners believed eligible have applied for review.

“If a homeowner believes they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010, they should request a review,” stated Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”

To be eligible for relief, affected mortgages must have been for a homeowner’s primary residence and in active foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.

The following mortgage servicers are participating in the Independent Foreclosure Review process:

America’s Servicing Company , Aurora Loan Services, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Bank of America, Beneficial, Chase, Citibank, CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, EMC, EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company, Financial Freedom, GMAC Mortgage, HFC, HSBC, IndyMac Mortgage Services, MetLife Bank, National City Mortgage, PNC Mortgage, Sovereign Bank, SunTrust Mortgage, U.S. Bank, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Wilshire Credit Corporation.

The Independent Foreclosure Review should not be confused with the $25 billion national mortgage settlement recently negotiated between most of the states’ attorneys general and the big five mortgage servicers: Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC). Every state in the nation but Oklahoma is participating.

According to the government-mandated oversight website IndependentForeclosureReview.com, some primary examples of mortgage servicer mistakes that may have resulted in financial injury are:

— The mortgage balance was overstated or miscalculated at the time of foreclosure

— Foreclosure proceedings were initiated despite the fact that the homeowner was in bankruptcy, waiting to hear about a request for mortgage modification or abiding by terms of a mortgage modification

— The foreclosure proceedings coincided with active military service.

The Independent Foreclosure Review process is free and can be completed online at www.independentforeclosurereview.com or through the mail. Applications must be processed by September 30 to be eligible for review.

Homeowners in need of assistance should call 888-952-9105. In an effort to assist with the application process, the Federal Reserve has put together a short “Independent Foreclosure Review PSA” video. The video provides program details in English and in Spanish.

Foreclosures nationwide rose to over 200,000 for the first time in two months.  Georgia has the highest rate of foreclosures in the country with one in every 300 housing units, followed by Arizona, Nevada, California, Illinois and Florida.

 “Homeowners faced with a foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 should take advantage of this review,” stated Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes. “The process is free and totally without fee. Don’t let someone charge you for completing an application you can complete online in less than 30 minutes.”

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 740 WSBR.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 35,950 plus fans on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis

Judge denies O.J. Simpson’s request to dismiss foreclosure case


Acquitted murderer, convicted felon, former actor, former sportscaster and former All-Star football player O.J. Simpson is one step closer to losing his south Florida home to foreclosure.

Attorneys for the imprisoned Simpson appeared before Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely lat week on a contested motion to dismiss.  In denying relief, the court ruled that JP Morgan Chase may proceed with plans to retake the home.

In September, a JP Morgan Chase process server attempted to serve foreclosure papers at the Miami home of Simpson, located at 9450 SW 112 Street, Miami, Fla. 33176.  At that time, the process server advised the court that Simpson could not be located for personal service of process.

Having been convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery, Simpson is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. He is not eligible for parole until 2017.

First reported by Jose Lambiet at GossipExtra.com, JP Morgan Chase initiated the foreclosure process after Simpson accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage debt on his former suburban Miami home.

The now imprisoned felon purchased the one-story house in September, 2000 taking out a $575,000 mortgage for the $522,000 home.

The 4,233 square foot home south of Miami has four bedrooms, four baths, a pool, and a guest house set on a two acre plot. In 2010, it was assessed by the Miami-Dade County property appraiser at $478,953.

According to court pleadings, Simpson now owes $724,354.15, including principal, interest, attorney’s fees and penalties.  Originated through Washington Mutual Bank, the imprisoned Simpson stopped making mortgage payments in 2010.

Though Simpson was found not guilty in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in a Los Angeles courtroom, he was found liable in a civil action brought by the deceased’s families in 2007.

“O. J. Simpson still has options to save his home,” said Carlos Reyes, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney.  “Although he is securely locked away in a Nevada prison, Simpson still receives a large pension and could conceivably modify the mortgage loan.”

Simpson’s lawyer contested JP Morgan Chase’s foreclosure action calling their filing “ambiguous and vague.”  Also party to the foreclosure lawsuit was the estate of Ronald Goldman and satellite television provider DirecTv.

A spokeswoman for the Gray Robinson P.A. law firm in Miami advised that it was against their policy to comment on pending cases.

Attempts to reach Vincent McManus of Albertelli Law on behalf of J.P. Morgan Chase were unsuccessful despite two messages requesting a return call.

According to court records, Simpson recently failed to participate in a Florida Supreme Court mandated Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program aimed at saving homes to foreclosure.

The FICO credit score and strategic default


Syzmbark, Poland, features a truly upside-down house. More typical is homeowners with upside-down mortgages. Many of these owners are walking away from their homes with "strategic foreclosures."
Considered a viable strategy for managing troubled assets in an era of high unemployment, record foreclosures and government bailouts, millions of Americans are considering strategic defaults.

With almost 12 million mortgages underwater, a growing number of homeowners are simply walking away from the places they call home.

Strategic defaults, also known as strategic foreclosures, often take mortgage lenders by surprise because homeowners generally have had excellent credit histories and have previously met all their other financial obligations.

One of the distinguishing factors between a strategic default and other mortgage defaults is that the strategic default is a deliberate business decision. The homeowner has the ability to make payments but simply decides not to because the property value is less than the balance owed on the mortgage.

According to a recent Experian-Oliver Wyman Market Intelligence Report, strategic mortgage defaults rose 53 percent to 355,000 foreclosures in the first half of 2009. Prior studies found that 588,000 strategic defaults occurred in 2008, double the number that took place in 2007.

The number of strategic defaults is predicted to double again by the first quarter of 2013.

With more and more homeowners contemplating strategic default, mortgage lenders have sought out predictive indicators to discourage and prevent them by utilizing advanced credit scoring technologies.

A dynamic three-digit number reflecting an individual’s ability to repay debt, credit scores are assigned by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Credit scores play a crucial role in determining whether a borrower is eligible for a loan, the loan amount, interest rates and repayment terms.

Fair Isaac — the creator of the widely-used FICO credit score — recently introduced an enhanced version of its popular scoring model, the FICO 8 Mortgage Score. This enhanced model has made it more difficult for most consumers to secure mortgage loans.

Enhanced to better anticipate consumer behavior amid the foreclosure crisis, the FICO 8 Mortgage Score has been fine-tuned with predictive powers to assist lenders in determining which borrowers are most likely to strategically default.

Predicted to save over $1 billion by preventing 115,000 foreclosures, FICO officials claim their new model is 15- to 25-percent more accurate in predicting strategic defaults than its predecessor.

“The FICO 8 Mortgage Score’s broad availability means that all U.S. lenders and servicers can now easily access scores that are fine-tuned for mortgage performance,” said Jordan Graham, executive VP of Scores and president of Consumer Services at FICO. “By combining this superior predictive performance with the FICO Economic Impact Service, lenders are able to adjust policies and strategies quickly based upon forward-looking economic modeling.

“This is what we mean by the FICO analytic advantage: the ability to use the most advanced predictive analytics to compete and win in this highly challenging environment.”

In addition to having drastically reduced home values on an underwater mortgage, researchers have found other distinct character traits that identify potential strategic defaulters making this decision. Strategic defaulters typically have higher FICO scores, lower revolving balances, fewer instances of exceeding limits on credit cards and lower overall retail credit card usage.

In fact, their behavior is almost opposite to those of distressed defaulters. Strategic defaulters default “because they believe it is in their best financial interest, and because they believe the consequences will be minimal,” said FICO labs head and FICO chief analytics officer Dr. Andrew Jennings. Homeowners plan ahead for the credit hit they will take upon default by purchasing a car, new house and opening new credit cards before they “do the math and walk.”

“Many homeowners are being told to stop paying their mortgages,” said Carlos Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale. “Homeowners should consider their rights and contemplate the long-ranging consequences of such an action. Making the decision to simply walk away may not be in their best interest.”

Strategic default may make “walking away” from a bad debt seem like a good thing, but it can have long-ranging consequences. Absent a deficiency judgment, homeowners will certainly suffer with lower credit scores and a drastically reduced ability to secure future credit. Higher interest rates and unfavorable terms could end up costing more in the long run than continuing to pay on an upside-down mortgage.

“Homeowners should explore all their options before strategically defaulting,” said Reyes.

This Week on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis


Interesting guests and timely topics will be on the air this Labor Day week on AM 1470 WWNN and The Credit Report with Bill Lewis.

For Labor Day, Republican National Committee co-chair Sharon Day will appear and discuss the recent resignation of RPOF chairman Dave Bitner as well as Presidency 5 later this month in Orlando.

Following Sharon, we will have appearances by Commander Michael Calderin of Broward County Crimestoppers, Tom Lauder of RedBroward where “Making Broward See Red” is not such a hard job, and Florida’s 34th U.S. Senator George LeMieux.

The rest of the week will feature:

Foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes will appear and discuss the latest developments in the “robo-signing” controversy and investigations started by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti will appear and discuss CyberVisor, the agency’s version of Twitter, and other initiatives of the largest fully accredited law enforcement agency in America.

Talk show host and attorney Lisa Macci will appear and discuss her recent move to AM 1470 WWNN and “The Justice Hour with Lisa Macci.”

Chairman Richard Denapoli of the Broward Republican Party will appear and discuss Presidency 5 and his endorsement of Republican Party of Florida vice-chair Lenny Curry to succeed the outgoing Dave Bitner.

Cooper City Commissioner John Sims will appear and discuss the David Nall libel litigation against the city as well as other local business.

Criminal defense attorney John Contini will appear and discuss the importance of criminal history records sealing or expungement when seeking employment in tough economic times.

Republican Party of Broward County Executive Director Rico Petrocelli will appear and discuss initiatives to grow the local party and upcoming events.

The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.  Bill can be heard weekday’s at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN in south Florida or by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.  Phone lines are open at (888) 565-1470. 

Foreclosure Fraud Case Settled at the Florida Supreme Court


In a matter of “great public importance” that has gone largely ignored this week, the high-profile foreclosure fraud case of Roman Pino versus The Bank of New York has been settled.  According to the Florida Supreme Court, the matter was dismissed upon Pino’s “Notice –Dismiss (Voluntary Stipulation)” on July 25th.

The opportunity for a precedent setting opinion for attorney Thomas Ice, of Ice Legal, whose boutique litigation firm specializes in uncovering forged and fraudulent foreclosure documents, must mean outright success for Pino. 

Although details of the settlement were not provided in the brief stipulation before the high court, one can only speculate whether Pino received a mortgage modification, principal reduction, right to short-sale, waiver of deficiency balance, or his home free and clear. 

One thing is clear, though.  Any settlement agreement between the parties would contain a confidentiality agreement.

Neither Ice, nor Enrique Nieves – Pino’s attorney of record – were available for comment despite several messages left at Ice Legal and on their cell phone voicemail.

An appeals court in February requested that the Florida Supreme Court consider the case of Greenacres homeowner Roman Pino as a matter of “great public importance.” The decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach was unusual as neither the bank nor the homeowner had requested such a review.

“We conclude that this is a question of great public importance, as many, many mortgage foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents,” the appeals court wrote in certification to the Supreme Court.

Had the matter been adjudicated on its merits and a decision rendered in favor of Pino, thousands of foreclosure cases could have been impacted as allegations of document fraud and robo-signing run rampant throughout the nation.

According to land records, Pino purchased his Greenacres home in July, 2006 for $203,000 by securing a $162,400 mortgage with Silver State Financial Systems. After falling behind on the mortgage, the Bank of New York moved to foreclose in October, 2008.

In their foreclosure complaint, the Bank of New York alleged that it was the owner of Pino’s mortgage note through an assignment from another lender, but did not include said assignment as part of its original complaint.

Pino retained Ice, who in moving to dismiss the complaint, argued that the bank needed an assignment in order to have standing to foreclose.

Attorneys from the Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation filed an amended complaint and attached an unrecorded mortgage assignment “which happened to be dated just before the original pleading was filed,” the appeals court wrote.

Stern’s now defunct law firm is one of several foreclosure mills throughout Florida that are under investigation by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Just as Pino’s attorneys were set to take depositions of Stern employees to determine how the assignment was created, the Bank of New York dismissed its foreclosure action.  Ice had wanted an opportunity to prove that Pino was the victim of fraud but was unable to do so because of the voluntary dismissal. The bank refiled the foreclosure in August 2009, and that case is pending.

In its written opinion, the Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court’s ruling about the dismissal but because of its importance on similar foreclosure matters, sent the case to the state’s highest court in Tallahassee. One appellate judge, Gary Farmer, dissented saying he thought the trial judge could have kept the case open to litigate Pino’s claim of fraud.

“I’m not surprised at a settlement of this matter considering the allegations of forged or fraudulent documents and the risk of substantial loss to the bank,” said Carlos J. Reyes, of the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale.  “As a foreclosure defense attorney, my preference would have been for a written opinion from the Florida Supreme Court, but the client is the ultimate decision maker in any settlement discussions.”