Posts Categorized: News

NCSLT to pay over $15 million for illegal collection practices

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the infamous entity known as National Collegiate Student Loan Trust. The lawsuit points to three main allegations against NCSLT: (1) it sued people for debts that it couldn’t prove were owed; (2) it filed false and misleading affidavits in court; and (3) it brought nearly 500 lawsuits after the time limit to sue had expired.

On the same day the suit was filed, the CFPB also filed a proposed settlement with NCSLT. This surely means that the CFPB had been investigating the trusts for some time and only filed the lawsuit after NCSLT had agreed to the CFPB’s proposed settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, the National Collegiate Trusts have agreed to:

*Not start a lawsuit unless NCSLT has a copy of the signed promissory note and documentation that it owns the loan

*Not file suit in a case where NCSLT knows that the time limit to sue has passed or has other information that leads it to believe that the loan would be unenforceable

*Stop filing false and misleading affidavits and withdraw any false or misleading affidavits that have been filed in pending cases

*Stop all wage levies, bank garnishments, and other post-judgment collection efforts if NCSLT had filed a false or misleading affidavit in the case

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust has also agreed to allow an independent audit of all the loans in its portfolio and has agreed to pay over $15 million in penalties to the CFPB. Further, NCSLT has 120 days from the day the settlement is approved to identify the consumers affected by its illegal practices and refund up to $3.5 million to those consumers.

This settlement is not final until it is approved by the court. Once the settlement is approved, I’ll update this post with more information, including next steps for affected consumers.

FDCPA amendment could roll back consumer rights

Last week, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that proposes to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If passed, the bill will exempt attorneys from the FDCPA if they are: “serving, filing, or conveying formal legal pleadings, discovery requests, or other documents pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure” or “communicating in, or at the direction of, a court of law or in depositions or settlement conferences, in connection with a pending legal action to collect a debt on behalf of a client.” In other words, the bill would provide a safe-harbor from the FDCPA for attorneys engaged in litigation. The text of the bill can be found here. (more…)

Friedman Iverson gallery opening “Someplace Else” October 19

EVENT DETAILS:
Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012: Opening reception featuring artists Jonathan Hamilton and Steven Lang

Location: 2609 Aldrich Ave. S. Suite 102, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (We’re pretty much in the CC Club’s backyard)
Time: 6 pm -10 pm

Featuring: complimentary food + booze, music from DJ Jake Luck (Yeti Records), and Instagram Photo Contest!

JONATHAN HAMILTON: Jonathan is is an artist who has lived in Northeast’s Audubon and Windom Park neighborhoods for the last 6 years. He has been designing and leading creative workshops in schools, Park and Rec. programs, and community organizations such as the Walker Art Center, VSA, and Opportunity Resources over the course of his career. After earning his BFA and K-12 Art Education Certification from the University of Montana, Jonathan came to Minneapolis to work as the Director of Visual Arts at Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts from 2001-2006. He is now an Exhibition Technician for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

STEVEN LANG: Artist and writer Steven Lang received his B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  In 2012, he was a resident artist at Elsewhere, a living museum set in a former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC, and was a participant in the 4th season of CSA — Community Supported Art, sponsored by mnartists.org and springboardforthearts.org. He has recently exhibited at Rosalux Gallery, Soo Visual Arts Center, and the Walker Art Center’s Walker Shop. His short story, “Tandem,” was included in the recent Milkweed Editions anthology Fiction on a Stick. His short-short story, “The Scarecrow,” was published in 2011 as finalist in the mnLIT series on mnartists.org.

INSTAGRAM PHOTO CONTEST!
Parties with a purpose are always more fun. Winning a fabulous prize is a great purpose.  With that, we’re excited to announce our first Instagram Photo Contest.  During Friday night’s party, we’ll challenge you to take pictures in and around our office with your smart phone and submit them via Instagram with the tag #hipsterlawfirm.  The photos will be displayed on a screen in the office.  At the end of the night we will pick a winner and award a prize.  The theme will be: “Things You Wouldn’t Expect to See at a Law Office”.  Let your imagination run wild!

New web site explains student loan default options

student loan

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/students/repay/

It’s only once in a while that the federal government finds a way to actually help consumers (Zing!). With so many student loan borrowers struggling with debt, it’s about time there was some effective help out there. The Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have teamed up to publish the (poorly-named) Student Loan Debt Collection Assistant.

The Q-&-A-style assistant takes you through all the different possibilities of being behind on student loans, for public and  private loans, loans deep in default, and loans where you’ve just missed a payment or two. It provides tips on dealing with collectors, eligibility charts for helpful programs such as Income-Based Repayment for federal loans, and provides links to more help. This information is provided in an easy-to-use, Choose Your Own Adventure-style format. The Assistant is a great starting point for figuring out your options when you’re in trouble with student loan collectors.

 

Friedman Iverson featured in Pollen!

Blake and Dave talk about helping creative business in the latest issue of Pollen, the newsletter that connects creative and civic-minded professionals in the Twin Cities. Writer Regan Smith nails our approach to law for creatives:

The plaid-wearing duo display local band posters in their conference room, frequently dole out legal advice free of charge, and would rather hold meetings over a beer at the CC Club than across a desk at the office. Despite this unconventional approach to law—or, more appropriately, because of it—Friedman Iverson is quickly becoming a household name throughout the Twin Cities creative community.

Read the whole article.

Repeat! We’re a Minnesota Top 25 legal blog for 2011

For the second year in a row, we were named one of the Top 25 legal blogs in Minnesota by the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Practice Blawg. Here’s how they boost our egos:

The Friedman Iverson Consumer Law Blog is a repeat winner. The blog is both informative and entertaining, providing solid information to consumers on financial issues (tagged “News”) but then going on an occasional refreshing ramble about record albums (tagged “Swap Bin”). Check it out.

Obviously, I don’t need to plug the blog since you’re already here. But come back and see us again sometime.

Our most popular blog posts of 2011

As consumer lawyers we like to know what kinds of issues are on our clients’ minds. So we took a look at our blog to see which posts got the most action. Below we run down the top five of 2011.

Can a second mortgage company sue after foreclosure? This was (by far) our most visited post of 2011. In the post we describe how second mortgage companies often wait a couple of years after foreclosure before they go after the homeowner for a deficiency judgment. They probably figure that there’s no point in trying to collect money from people who are in such dire straits. So it was no surprise, since the foreclosure crisis peaked around 2008-2009, that people were dealing with second mortgage companies two years later.

Can I run up my credit cards before filing bankruptcy? This was a popular question on the blog and in the office. And I know people don’t really mean that they want to go on spending sprees and then wipe the debt out in bankruptcy. The questions were more from people who had been living off their credit cards before coming to see us, and wanted to know whether they’d be cut off from credit right away. We advised clients to wean themselves off plastic, and to definitely avoid buying luxury goods and services before filing bankruptcy.

A debt collector is taking my paycheck–what do I do? Garnishment was a killer in 2011. You wanted to know how to get your money back from debt collectors who had taken money out of your paycheck or bank account. We told you about the garnishment exemptions. We told you about the new rule that protects federal benefits. And then we reminded you that if you file bankruptcy, any funds taken from you within the 90 days before filing had to be returned.

How much will my Chapter 13 payments be? One of our biggest trends in 2011 was a big uptick in Chapter 13 filers. A lot were people wh0 had used up every other option, and wanted to use Chapter 13 to catch up on mortgage payments. Others had heard about the magic of lien stripping and wanted to know if we could wipe out their second mortgage (for the most part, we could). But a big part of deciding whether to file Chapter 13 is to know whether the payments would be affordable. We spoke. You clicked.

The payday loan scam Finally, we told you about debt collectors who use nasty practices to collect payday loans that you probably don’t owe. We reminded you never to pay a debt collector without having the deal in writing. We also reminded you that debt collectors (even the ones collecting fake debts) need to follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and gave you some tips for stopping debt harassment.

The best part was when clients told us that they used our blog to figure out how to get out of a jam. What other topics should we be writing about in 2012? Leave your ideas in the comments.