Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Is the New Household Debt Record Cause for Concern?

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Laura Lam

Last month, the New York Federal Reserve reported that household debt across the nation has hit a dubious milestone in the first quarter: It surpassed the peak debt level of 2008 at $12.7 trillion. Household debt — including mortgages, auto and student loans, and credit cards — rose $149 billion compared with the last quarter of 2016, with nearly all the gain coming from mortgages. Reaching the peak raises questions about whether the backdrop exists again for another financial meltdown.  But the data show the current structure of debt is substantially different from 2008. According to a research officer at…

Electronic Communications: A Growing Compliance Risk

Posted on June 01, 2017 by Laura Lam

The 7th annual Electronic Communications Compliance Survey from Smarsh reveals that finaical firms are struggling to keep up with the multitude of electronic communications channels.  More than half of respondents (52%) cited text messages as their current No. 1 source of non-email content compliance risk. About 33% of respondents cited social media communications as the greatest compliance risk, and 8% cited instant messaging. The survey also found that almost half of firms have no oversight or retention of text messages.  “Firms need to leverage new and emerging channels to communicate with their customers and stay competitive, but they’re failing to manage the risk,”…

Millions of Homes Still ‘Seriously Underwater’

Posted on May 16, 2017 by Laura Lam

Since the housing recovery began a few years ago, millions of homeowners have gotten their heads back above water due to rising home prices.  That said, there are still millions who are still underwater. In its latest report, ATTOM Data Solutions found nearly 5.5 million homes in the “seriously underwater” category at the end of the first quarter. Homes in that grouping have mortgages that are at least 25% more than the homes’ current value.  The report says the number of homes seriously underwater actually rose from the number at the end of the fourth quarter, suggesting a worsening of…

Foreclosure Process Can Take 5 Years in Some States

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Laura Lam

A decade ago, a home in Connecticut could be sold to another party about 12 months after a borrower stopped paying a mortgage.  These days, it’s more like 5 years.  The national average for liquidation timelines in 2016 reached 48 months. In many Northeastern states, including Connecticut, that timeline reached or surpassed the 55-month mark last year, according to data from Fitch Ratings. Sean Nelson, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, said the increase began as a direct result of the mortgage crisis. Loan servicers were not used to dealing with thousands of delinquent borrowers at one time which created…

Foreclosures Continue Descent but Some Cities Still Struggle

Posted on May 03, 2017 by Laura Lam

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released its Q1 and March 2017 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows first quarter foreclosure activity was below pre-recession levels nationwide and in 102 out of 216 metropolitan statistical areas (47%). Nationwide the report shows foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were reported on 234,508 U.S. properties in the first quarter of 2017, down 11% from the previous quarter and down 19% from a year ago to the lowest level since Q3 2006. The first-quarter foreclosure activity total was 16% below the pre-recession average of 278,912 properties with foreclosure filings each quarter…

Over 40% Students Don’t Make School Loan Payments

Posted on April 26, 2017 by Laura Lam

More than 40% of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are behind on more than $200 billion owed, raising worries that millions of them may never repay.  The new figures represent the fallout of a decade-long borrowing boom as record numbers of students enrolled in trade schools, universities and graduate schools. While most have since left school and joined the workforce, 43% of the roughly 22 million Americans with federal student loans weren’t making payments as of Jan. 1, according to a quarterly snapshot of the Education Department’s $1.2 trillion student-loan portfolio. About 1…

1.4 Billion Data Records Compromised in 2016

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Laura Lam

Cyber attackers launched 1,792 data breaches in 2016, which led to almost 1.4 billion data records being compromised worldwide, according to the newly released Breach Level Index (BLI) report from security provider Gemalto.  Identity theft was the leading type of data breach last year, accounting for 59% of all data breaches, the report said. More than half of the data breaches (52%) in 2016 did not disclose the number of compromised records at the time they were reported. The BLI is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple factors such as the number…

Banks Rethink Credit Scores as Changes Take Effect

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Laura Lam

Come July, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax will no longer include information about tax liens and civil judgments on a consumer’s record if the data doesn’t include the person’s name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. Many liens and most judgments don’t include all that data, in part because Social Security numbers are often redacted for security reasons. Some consumers could see their credit scores rise with the removal of such black marks. Whether this change is a good thing depends on whom you ask.  Some observers note that tax lien and civil judgment information is sometimes attached to…

Justice Department Declares CFPB ‘Unconstitutional’

Posted on March 23, 2017 by Laura Lam

The case of of PHH Corporation vs. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just took a turn that is simultaneously shocking and completely expected at the same time.  In a major reversal, the Justice Department filed a brief last Friday in a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, arguing that the consumer watchdog agency’s structure is unconstitutional.  In the lawsuit, PHH argues that the CFPB’s structure gives it too much power. In its brief, the Justice Department argued that the president should be able to remove the CFPB director at will. Currently the head of the CFPB can only be removed in cases of “inefficiency, neglect of duty…