Sallie Mae Sells Out Students’ Safety and American Jobs

March 31, 2009

By Jim Ross:

Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, is quietly processing student loans in India and the Philippines.  These are student loans, subsidized by American taxpayers to help keep college education affordable.

Sallie Mae routes payments, complaints and applications for these government-subsidized loans — containing sensitive personal and financial information — to processing centers in Bangalore and Pune, India.  Calls about collections and loan originations are also passed to centers in India, as well as Baguio, Philippines, prompting complaints like this from student borrowers:

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FOX News Interviews CWN Founder on “Produce The Note”

March 30, 2009

Consumer Warning Network Founder Chris Hoyer was interviewed by Fox News Anchor Brian Wilson on the “Produce the Note” strategy to fight foreclosure.  CWN launched a grassroots campaign, in June 2008,  to educate homeowners trying to save their homes about this little used technique.  Since then, it’s caught on like wild-fire giving people facing foreclosure time and leverage.  Click on the video above to watch the interview.

Time for Action: CWN Notifies AG’s of Foreclosure Fraud

March 27, 2009

39 State Prosecutors Alerted to Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud

The Consumer Warning Network is giving voice to the email complaints readers have been sending to us.  We’ve compiled the emails and will deliver an alert regarding these concerns to the Attorneys General in 39 states – from Maine to California, from Florida to Hawaii.  For each AG, we’re including the citizen complaints of mortgage fraud from each of their respective states and asking them to take action.

It’s time the fraudulent mortgage lenders be held responsible for the pain and tragedy caused by their deceptive and dishonest lending practices.  These practices not only lured homeowners into bad loans, but then magnified the problems by their callous lack of response to pleas for help. Apparently, the lines of bail-out communication are open between the banks and the government, but consumers only get a busy signal.

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Homeowner Stops Foreclosure after filing “Produce the Note”

March 26, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

The “Produce the Note” strategy is giving hope to a Pennsylvania homeowner facing foreclosure.  Mark Strohecker, of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, was successful in getting a judge to stop the foreclosure of his home, after filing a “produce the note” request with the court.

The 42-year-old former firefighter and father of two faced the Sheriff’s Sale of his home on March 11th.  Two weeks earlier, he printed the document template for a “Produce the Note” request from the CWN website, filled it out, and filed it in Lawrence County Court.  At a hearing the day before the scheduled Sheriff’s Sale, Honorable Judge J. Craig Cox, granted Strohecker a motion to stay the Sheriff’s Sale.

Strohecker says he was so overwhelmed by the Judge’s decision he broke down in tears.  Click the audio-cast above to hear Angie Moreschi’s interview with Strohecker about his efforts to save his home. Click here to read more.

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Is Grandmom Still Renting Her Old Telephone?

March 25, 2009

Some of us remember when telephones were clunky black objects with long cords and a big rotary dial face. Our monthly Ma Bell bill contained a small charge for renting the telephone equipment.

Incredibly, some people are still paying that monthly rental charge, with lifetime payments high enough to have bought hundreds of telephones. Some no longer even have the telephones they are “renting.” Who? Mostly elderly customers who may have no idea they are still paying to rent their old telephones.

A few months ago a Staten Island woman who had lost her job and had plenty of free time decided to carefully examine her monthly bills. She discovered that the quarterly $21.55 AT&T telephone bill she been faithfully paying for years included a rental fee for a “Trimline” telephone she had thrown away years ago. She also noticed that the AT&T logo at the top of the bill had changed to “QLT Consumer Lease Services.” When she called and informed the company that she no longer had the telephone, she was told she would get a refund. A refund check arrived shortly thereafter. The amount? $2.16.

In 1982 AT&T agreed in an anti-trust settlement with the government to break up into regional telephone companies, thereby instituting competition with new companies and ending its monopoly on the production and leasing of telephones. Telephone equipment became cheap and easily available. Today, more and more people (almost 20%) are even leaving their landlines behind and relying exclusively on cell telephones.

But many people, oblivious of quickly advancing telephone technology, continued to pay their monthly telephone bills, unaware that included in the bill was a lease payment for their phone.

A class action was eventually filed against AT&T for overcharging people for rental payments that vastly exceeded the actual cost of the equipment. A settlement in 2002 set aside a $350 million fund to compensate almost 30 million class members, but only 92,000 claims were filed, with payouts ranging between $15 and $80.

Today it is hard to gauge how many people still rent their telephones. The entity that was in charge of leasing, AT&T Customer Lease Services, changed its name in October, 2008, to QLT Customer Lease Services. Who are QLT’s primary customers? That’s not hard to figure out, since QLT also offers a “Lease Reward Card” that helps save money on vision and hearing aids and prescription drugs.

Echo Media, a print media advertising service that allows advertisers to include their inserts into monthly billing services, includes QLT Customer Lease Services as one of the available monthly billers that advertisers can take advantage of. Echo Media states that this “mature audience is comprised of long-standing Consumer Lease customers,” and has a yearly circulation of 1,554,000.

QLT charges $5.95 per month, or $71.40 per year, to rent a standard telephone. You can buy a standard phone for about $20.

So check and see if Grandma is still paying to rent a telephone she could have bought hundreds of times over.

The End Is Coming

March 23, 2009

By: John Newcomer

You think things are bad now, just wait. The world is running out of oil.

In 1956, American geophysicist M. King Hubbert, created a method of modeling oil production that bears close watching. In his model, oil production peaks and then starts to decline due to resource depletion. It is called Hubbert’s Peak Theory. The scary part is that he correctly predicted the United States would reach its peak production in 1970. He hit the nail on the head. American oil production peaked in 1970 and has been declining ever since.

For the world, Hubbert predicted that oil production would peak somewhere between 2006 and 2016. In other words, we’re in the window of when he believed we will begin using more oil each year than we find.

If he’s right, we’ll soon be on the down hill side of the bell curve. The question is, at this moment, where are we on the bell curve? On March 18th, Shell Oil may have given us the answer, and it is not good.

For the first time, Shell’s ability to replace its oil reserves fell to 97%. That’s right one of the largest oil companies on the planet may have just gone past Hubbert’s peak. We are officially running out of oil.

The optimistic prediction is that we will not reach Peak until 2020, and that investments in alternative fuel will prove fruitful before any major lifestyle changes are required.

The pessimistic prediction is that we are already past “peak” or are very close to it, and that proactive mitigation may no longer be an option. Global depression could follow, which might stimulate a collapse of the global industrial civilization, leading to large population declines. Pretty scary stuff since we are already in one of the worst recessions in U.S. history.  But wait.

Thanks to President Taft, the United States has more time than any other country to develop alternative energies. In 1910, Congress passed the Pickett Act, which allowed President Taft to set aside shale oil rich land in California and Wyoming, as a source of fuel for the Navy. Since shale oil has always been difficult to refine, it has been sitting there just as God made it.

Want some good news? Technology is catching up and innovative ways to economically refine the shale oil have been developed. Want more good news? The shale oil reserves in Wyoming and Colorado are 5 times the sizes of the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia! Here is the best news yet. The shale oil reserves are not owned by big business, but by the United States of America.

Yes, we the taxpayer may be sitting on the last and largest oil reserves in the world. That gives us something no other country has – TIME.

How a $35 Dollar Mistake Could Help Fight Foreclosure

March 19, 2009

Seminars are popping up around the country teaching homeowners how to fight foreclosure.  NBC reporter Kerry Sanders reported on the “Today Show” about the latest efforts to help people save their homes.  He looked at one fascinating loophole that could help.  It has to do with mistakes on your mortgage documents that amount to $35 or more.  Click on the video above to learn more.

Lenders are Fooling Washington Again

March 19, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

When exactly are we going to wake up?  Or perhaps more accurately, when are the, oh, so outraged lawmakers in Washington going to wake up?  With all due respect, we’ve been had, we know it, and we’re letting it happen again.

A lot of unscrupulous people have made a lot of money off of the foreclosure crisis we’re in today.  In particular, let’s take a look at the banks our lawmakers are working so hard to keep from failing.  Not only are they not failing now, they’re back on the gravy train.  But guess who’s still suffering?  Yes, it’s us.  The taxpayers, powerless to effect change, as we sit back and scream into the wind.

What Happened to all the Housing Rescue Help?

Here’s the real deal that President Obama and Congress don’t seem to want to pay attention to.  The banks are NOT helping like they said they would.  This, in the face of all the big gestures like President Obama’s Housing Rescue Plan, full page ads taken out by many of the banks professing they want to help homeowners and are beefing up their loan modification programs.

The reality home-owners face is a deaf ear and a cold shoulder when they call to ask for help.    And it’s coming from all the biggies who’ve taken billions in bailout dollars, from JP Morgan Chase to Wells Fargo to Citigroup.  Most of whom, happily reported they made money in the first quarter.  We’re happy for them.  Really.  But it’s time they return the favor.

Consider this.  CWN continues to receive phone calls and emails everyday from homeowners who tell us nothing has changed.  This was supposed to be a week of hope for homeowners facing foreclosure, as President Obama’s plan to help homeowners is put into action. But unfortunately, several homeowners who clearly should qualify under the housing help continue to get the blow off from their mortgage servicer.

Tampa homeowner Marlene Mendoza says her mortgage servicer, Century 21 PHH, owned by Wells Fargo, flat out told her, “Wells Fargo is not participating in President Obama’s stimulus plan.”

Pittsburgh area homeowner Mark Strohecker repeatedly called his servicer, EMC, owned by JP Morgan Chase, to ask about qualifying for help.  Ultimately, they made an offer, but not a very good one.  It’s what we call an unworkable work-out.

Essentially, they told him to pay them a big, lump sum fee to stop the foreclosure, then, make six monthly payments at a slightly reduced rate, and then after that, they’ll “consider” him for a loan modification.   Desperate to save his home, Mark is now considering it, but can’t get EMC to fax him the paperwork.

It’s a classic ruse used by lenders and servicers to get more money out of a desperate homeowner before they drop the ax and take the home anyway.

Lenders Gaming the System

So what happened to the President’s housing rescue plan?  What happened to those ads promising to do more loan modifications than ever?  Well, it is becoming clear these lenders are once again looking to game the system.

First, they were smack in the middle of creating the toxic loans that tanked the housing market.  Now, they’re using tax-payer bailout dollars to tread water and keep afloat through the hard times. And ultimately, they’ll cash in again on their inventory of foreclosed homes, when the market begins to recover.

That’s right, the predatory, subprime lenders and the companies who’ve since bought them up, profited on the front end, are profiting off of the taxpayer rescue and will profit again on the back end, by selling the properties they essentially stole for profit.

Toxic Assets & the AIG Pay-off

We’ve all heard about the toxic assets.  You know, all the loans going into default and foreclosure, which are on the books of all these banks, dragging down profits.  Well, enter good old AIG.  You know, the insurance company which has become the ultimate poster child for arrogance in the financial meltdown, after receiving of $180 billion in taxpayer dollars and then having the gall to give $165 million in bonuses to the very employees who destroyed its company.

In many cases, when a loan on the bank’s books goes back, it is cushioned by insurance that was bought from AIG.  So, with the help of our money, we learned this week that AIG has paid billions of the money it received to the likes of Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, among others, for all those bad loans.

So, there is no incentive for these banks to work with homeowners to save their homes as everyone would like you to believe.  They’ve already been made whole by AIG.  Now, it’s a matter of sitting back and waiting for the market to turn, so they can sell your foreclosed home and profit even more.

Foreclosure Help Myth

In the meantime, if they can just keep the lawmakers THINKING they’re actually trying to help, it’ll be too late to go back and FORCE the banks to actually do it.  Sound familiar.  Just like all those hefty AIG bonuses.  Oops, sorry.  It’s too late.  We already sent them out. It’s not too late, yet.

We still have time. So, wake up Washington!  Don’t be fooled, anymore. Make the banks actually help homeowners to stay in their homes. Hold them accountable for the billions in taxpayer dollars they’ve received.  It’s the right thing to do.

Learn how to use “Produce the Note” to Save Your Home

March 19, 2009

By Angie Moreschi:

Fight Foreclosure: Make ‘Em Produce The Note!

Using the “produce the note” strategy is something all homeowners facing foreclosure can do. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, fight back. We have created templates for a legal request, a letter to your lender and a motion to compel to help you through the process.  Read the step by step “how to” under the videos.

Special note:  In some states, a lender can foreclose on your home without going to court.  These are called non-judicial foreclosure states.  You can still use the “Produce the Note” strategy in these states, but it takes a few more steps on your part.

Produce the Note – Steps To Follow:

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Robbing the Unemployed the Benefits They’re Due

March 19, 2009

By Jonathan Cohen:

Despite the fact that millions of unemployed citizens are barely able to make ends meet each month, banks are nickel and diming their already-meager unemployment benefits.  What’s worse, it’s the states that are letting them do it.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate rose to 12.5 million last month.  More than 5 million of these individuals have filed for some form of unemployment benefits.

So why then, with unemployment figures still skyrocketing and analysts pledging that we still haven’t seen the worst of it, are banks charging unemployed citizens for the right to access their unemployment benefits?  Read more

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