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Due to heavy demand, the CPAAcadmy is doing a video rebroadcast today at 10:00 of a Webinar course I did for them last month for those who help others try to reduce or get rid of student loan debt.

I also have a link to this on my website available anytime (audio only unfortunately).

So if you have an hour, your might want to tune it at 10:00 for the rebroadcast today!

 

 

 

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CPAacademy-logoWrapping up another busy week with student loan discharges in bankruptcy and forgiveness under the disability program.  Hosted an excellent presentation for Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association attorneys on the new procedures for small business reorganizations by Amy Denton Harris, a shareholder with Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Postler, P.A. and Guy Van Baalen, an Assistant U.S. Trustee with the Tampa U.S. Trustee’s office.

The highlight of the week was a webinar presentation I did for CPAacademy titled “Helping Your Clients Take Their Lives Back From Their Student Loans“.  I’d like to thank the 580 people who signed up even during the busy tax season with extensions expiring in just a few days.

I just have to share a few of the testimonials (all five stars except one four star who would have liked to seen a bit longer presentation!) to encourage you to watch and learn (or reach out to us to finally do something about your student loan debt):

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Credit-ReportWhat are the most common errors on a credit report that lead to FCRA claims — and resulting damages?

  1. Status Disputes – error/inaccuracy standards which give rise to valid disputes:
  • these are things that are factually inaccurate such as:
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facemask-mortgage-relief-covidSome creditors and loan servicers are jumping the gun in pursuing foreclosures, HOA liens, COA liens.  The federal government is also taking the position that it’s okay to pursue cases already in litigation.  We had to file a motion to abate arguing that the moratorium preventing involuntary collection activity includes cases already in litigation — which is well supported by case law.

None of these things should happening while the moratoriums are still in place.  For mortgages and tenant evictions in Florida, that means we are in a holding pattern until July 2 when the foreclosure and eviction moratorium is set to expire.  This includes actions on other liens as well.  Florida Statute Section 702.09 defines mortgages to include HOA and COA liens so they have to put things in park, same as other traditional mortgages.

It also appears that certain banks are not honoring mandatory forbearance requirements — if you have received any messages, letters or phone calls re: SPECIAL FORBEARANCE options, please reach out to us asap to help make sure that this goes smoothly.

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pslfThe American Prospect published an article yesterday about our Lawson-Ross Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”) success in the 11th Circuit – which was very persuasively argued by Dan Zibel of National National Student Loan Defense Network.

Two quotes that should give student loan borrowers comfort and should give pause to servicers spewing false promises:

Yet, too often the loan servicers have every incentive to put their financial needs ahead of borrowers’ best interests. Servicers are paid a flat fee per loan in their portfolio, leading to chronic underinvestment in customer service. This dynamic leads the loan servicers to shunt students into less affordable plans or botch simple paperwork rather than take the time to get consumers into the right plans that best match their individual situations.

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Covid-CARES-ActThe CARES Act was designed to help protect consumers’ credit reports from the massive job loss and economic harm caused by COVID-19 business shutdowns.  The idea is to ensure that someone’s credit is not impacted by a temporary inability to pay bills.  While the CARES Act is helpful for this, there are a couple gaping holes as explained below that will not protect everyone’s credit during these times.

Basically, this Act added a new subparagraph (F) to 15 U.S.C. Section 1681s-2(a)(1) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).  This applies for anything that is a credit obligation including credit cards, auto debt, medical debt, home mortgages etc.

These temporary protections are only in effect for 120 days from March 27, 2020.  A couple areas of concern are in bold below:

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heroes-actWe’ve been advocating for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”) to be fixed for a few years now.  Our class action lawsuit against Navient went nowhere, but the one against Great Lakes has been commended for a ruling last month by the 11th Circuit to help hold federal student loan servicers accountable when they talk to their borrowers:  like how their loans would be impacted by various programs for instance.  Something you’d expect a servicer to get right.  So when a servicer tells someone that their payments count toward PSLF, you can rely on that.

It’s now possible that Congress may work to fix the very serious problem where not all federal loans are treated the same.  Fixing this via legislation will impact a whole lot more borrowers than individual or even class action lawsuits.

Enter the proposed HEROES Act which would address problems with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which allows qualifying public servants to get their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of repayment. Currently, only Direct federal student loans are eligible for forgiveness under the PSLF program. Borrowers who have commercially-held FFEL-program federal student loans and Perkins loans do not qualify unless they consolidate those loans via the federal Direct consolidation program. By consolidating, however, they would erase any progress towards the 10 year repayment period and would effectively be starting over. The HEROES Act would allow payments made prior to consolidation to count towards PSLF.

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this-way-that-wayIt can be risky to reaffirm a mortgage in a bankruptcy, particularly when the property is underwater (worth less than what is owed), or you may need to move and sell quickly.  A reaffirmation agreement puts you back on the hook to pay for the full amount of the mortgage, including interest, taxes, insurance, foreclosure fees and costs after a bankruptcy, if you elect to keep the home.  Why would someone ever sign one of these?  Well, most mortgage companies do not report payments being made on a non-reaffirmed mortgage.  So how do you avoid the risk, while at the same time, benefit from timely payments being made which rebuilds credit?

SELF REPORTING MORTGAGE PAYMENTS

WHEN YOUR LOAN WAS NOT REAFFIRMED

The bankruptcy code does not require that you reaffirm, or sign a court order agreeing to continue the payments on your mortgage. But unless you are surrendering your house, you will want to continue paying because the house will eventually be foreclosed if you do not.

Mortgage companies will not report your payments to the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) if you have not reaffirmed. It is possible, nonetheless, to still get your payment history included in your credit report, as follows:

  1. Request a payment history from the mortgage company. (The mortgage company is required by law to provide one every year free of charge.) There is no special form – just call your mortgage company and be persistent.
  2. File a dispute with the three credit reporting agencies, attaching a copy of the payment history.
  3. The credit reporting agency is required to verify the accuracy of the debt with the mortgage company within 30 days.
  4. At that point, the mortgage company can either:
  • Remain silent – the credit reporting agency must accept the information you provided; or
  • Accurately report information. The mortgage company would be hard pressed to explain how a payment history it prepared was inaccurate.
  • Repeat this process on a regular basis, to update the information.

Additionally, you should keep the payment history, since that can be provided to anyone you’re applying to for new credit.

To Schedule a Consultation
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bank-drowningDespite early applications and full financial documentation (sometimes submitted within hours of portals opening), some banks, who will remain nameless for now, dropped the ball and did not timely process PPP applications on behalf of scores of small businesses who had been loyal customers for years.  I am one of these such businesses in Tampa Bay, Florida.

So I’m beginning to ask myself, what did these banks who failed their customers have to gain – while they strung the little guys along?  If I had known my application would sit untouched for two weeks, I could have gone elsewhere, I have several banking relationships.  But I chose to stay with the one application I filed with my primary banker.  I counted on that bank.  I was let down.  Many more share my story.

I will soon have to draw down my line of credit at approximately 8% interest.  That money goes to my bank – those funds will help their bottom line.  These banks have profited by “dropping the ball”.  Many small businesses will fail.  Local businesses.  Mom and pops.  Despite filing an early application with a trusted banker.

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