COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
FORECLOSURE LAWYERS IN FORT LAUDERDALE – SERVING SOUTH FLORIDA
IF I AM STRUGGLING TO MAKE MY MORTGAGE PAYMENTS SHOULD I ASK THE BANK FOR HELP?
Unfortunately in our experience, despite how nice they may sound, the bank that owns your mortgage and the institution that services your mortgage are not your friends and are not really out to help you. We have had countless homeowners come to our office in tears after their homes have been taken by banks that promised they were going to help them. Even worse, banks often tell people they don’t need to hire an attorney.
If you are struggling with paying your mortgage, it’s highly recommended that you speak with a local, experienced, and knowledgeable foreclosure defense and consumer litigation lawyer who can properly advise you to what the best options are for your specific situation.
I WAS SERVED WITH A FORECLOSURE LAWSUIT, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit in Florida, you have 20 days to file a proper legal response in court. You must admit or deny the allegations, raise affirmative defenses, and file whatever counterclaims you may have against the foreclosing bank. Failure to file a legally adequate response could result in a default being entered against you and the loss of your ability to fight the foreclosure. It is highly recommended that you do not try to do this on your own. Schedule an appointment with a local, experienced foreclosure defense lawyer who can help you with this process.
HOW LONG DOES THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS TAKE?
The answer depends on many factors. If you ignore the foreclosure and don’t hire an experienced attorney to fight for your rights, the bank may be able to complete the process and sell your home in as little as a few months. By hiring an experienced attorney, the foreclosure process could take years. On average, a defended foreclosure usually takes anywhere from 2-3 years or longer.
DO I NEED TO PAY MY MORTGAGE DURING THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS?
No. In fact, once you have defaulted on the mortgage payments and the loan has been accelerated, the bank will no longer accept the mortgage payments. We have had clients that have been living in their homes without paying their mortgage while we have been fighting their foreclosures for 3, 4, or 5 years or longer.
IF I CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY MY MORTGAGE HOW CAN I AFFORD TO HIRE A LAWYER?
The truth is that it is often substantially cheaper to fight the foreclosure then to let the bank take the home away. By doing nothing, the bank may be able to take the home in a few months leaving you with moving costs and rent, often at a substantially less attractive living situation than you are currently experiencing. Not only that, but by walking away from the home, you may be subject to the bank suing you further on down the road for a deficiency judgment if you owe more than what your house is worth.
We have not only kept thousands of homeowners in their homes for years without paying their mortgages, but also have helped them procure substantial principal reductions enabling them to have significantly lower mortgage payments that they can afford. In addition, we sue banks for many violations under TILA, RESPA, FDCPA, FCCPA, FDUTPA, and other statutes, and have frequently recovered homeowners more money than what they have to pay us in legal fees. Furthermore we offer reduced legal fees and payment plans, charging homeowners in South Florida a fraction of what rent would cost.
HOW COME THE BANK THAT IS SUING ME IS NOT THE SAME BANK THAT I HAVE BEEN MAKING MY MORTGAGE PAYMENTS TO?
The good old days where a bank knew its customers by first name and kept their mortgages in house as portfolio loans are long gone. Mortgage loans are now flipped, bought, sold, and packaged into giant investment trusts with thousands of other mortgages that are sold on Wall Street. In fact one of the legal defenses often used to fight these foreclosure actions is that the bank that is purporting to foreclose doesn’t have proper legal standing or authority to do so.
IF I HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING MY MORTGAGE, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY WIN MY FORECLOSURE CASE?
Banks are greedy. Due to that greed, they often rush through or ignore the proper legal process of closing, servicing, selling, and foreclosing on mortgage loans. The result is often numerous violations of various state and federal laws that are designed to protect homeowners. It is not uncommon to uncover negligence and intentional fraud committed by the banks that an experienced foreclosure lawyer can use to stop and win foreclosure cases.
CAN I RENT MY HOME WHILE IT’S IN FORECLOSURE?
Yes. Unless the bank successfully wins the foreclosure case by getting a judgment against you and selling your house at auction, the home belongs to you and you are within your legal rights to live in, rent or use your home for any lawful purpose you choose.
THERE ARE CHARGES ON MY MORTGAGE STATEMENT I DON’T RECOGNIZE. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT?
Yes, based on the new CFPB mortgage servicing rules, you can send an RFI (Request for Information) to your mortgage servicer asking them to explain any charges you feel are inaccurate or improper. They have 5 business days to acknowledge the request and 30 business days to correct your account, or after conducting a reasonable investigation, provide you with a written explanation as to why the servicer believes the account is correct.
WHAT IS HAMP?
HAMP is the Home Affordable Modification Program, a government sponsored program to assist homeowners that qualify in lowering their monthly mortgage payments. Not every lending institution participates in HAMP, and not everyone qualifies for it. In addition to HAMP, many lenders also offer in-house private modifications.
MY BANK TOLD ME THAT I’M NOT ELIGIBLE FOR HAMP AND I DON’T QUALIFY FOR A LOAN MODIFICATION. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
To qualify for HAMP or other modifications, there is a very specific formula that is used. If your income or expenses are too high or too low, or a myriad of other factors, the bank will simply reject the application. Unfortunately, when homeowners are told they don’t qualify for a modification, the bank offers little or no assistance to help them.
At Loan Lawyers, we have helped thousands of South Florida homeowners procure HAMP and private in-house modifications, resulting in significant reductions in their mortgage payments. Many of the homeowners that we have helped get modifications have previously been denied by their banks, through NACA, or through other law firms or modification centers. In addition, we often appeal modification denials many times until we are successful. While there is no guarantee that every homeowner will get a modification, we tell our clients that if there is a way to get a modification, then we call help you get it.
DO I NEED A LAWYER IF I WANT TO DO A SHORT SALE?
Yes, it is highly recommended that you hire a qualified attorney to help guide you through the short sale process. A general rule of thumb is that if you are ever given a contract of any kind to sign the chances are that contract was created by a lawyer who was looking out for the best interest of the person that is handing that contract to you.
The majority of time unsuspecting homeowners are told by realtors, mortgage brokers, or other entities that are subject to making commissions or otherwise profiting from the short sale process, that they will not have any financial responsibility if they short sale their homes. This is often not true. While a short sale may release a homeowner from their obligations under the mortgage, the underlying debt from the promissory note may still remain, resulting in the homeowner being sued later on down the road for a deficiency judgment for the difference in the amount of what they owe the bank and what the property was short sold for.
WILL FILING A BANKRUPTCY STOP THE SALE OF OR FORECLOSURE ON MY HOME?
Yes. Once a bankruptcy is filed, a stay order will be issued resulting in the halting of underlying foreclosure procedures. It is important to speak to an attorney knowledgeable in both bankruptcy and foreclosure law prior to doing so, as there are many different situations that may affect your legal rights, and you want to make sure that you make an educated decision first.
SHOULD I FILE A BANKRUPTCY IF A FORECLOSURE LAWSUIT IS FILED AGAINST ME?
The answer to this question really depends. It is highly advisable that you speak to an attorney that is experienced in both foreclosure defense as well as bankruptcy. Oftentimes, South Florida homeowners are given whatever legal strategy the lawyer they speak to practices within, often resulting in a less than desirable or horrific outcome. While a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good strategic tool to use to ensure the maximum benefit for the homeowner, it shouldn’t be implemented to stop a foreclosure unless it is the right situation and at the right strategic time.
If you’re contemplating filing bankruptcy or you’ve been told by a bankruptcy lawyer to file bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure,contact Loan Lawyers for a free consultation to make sure that the correct combination of legal strategies are used for your situation.
IF I FILE BANKRUPTCY, WILL MY CREDIT BE RUINED?
Under the right circumstances, bankruptcy is an excellent tool that can and should be used to help homeowners. Fear of the ability to get credit should not be a determining factor in stopping someone from filing for bankruptcy. Nothing impacts a credit score more than missing mortgage payments, and after several missed mortgage payments the credit is already significantly reduced. In fact, most people that are in the position to file bankruptcy have already had their credit lowered to about as bad as it will get. On the contrary, after filing for bankruptcy you can then start fresh and begin rebuilding credit again.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO REESTABLISH MY CREDIT AFTER FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY?
While there is no exact amount of time, remember that credit card companies and other entities that issue credit make their money by extending credit, and thus are eager to put people back into the borrowing chain. We have had clients receive offers from credit card companies in as little as a year after filing for bankruptcy.
WILL MY SPOUSE BE AFFECTED BY MY INDIVIDUAL BANKRUPTCY FILING?
A spouse is not affected by a bankruptcy if they did not sign an agreement for the debt. The answer to this question really depends on how the debt is held and who is responsible for it. It is not uncommon for only one spouse to file for bankruptcy. Prior to either spouse filing for bankruptcy, a consultation should be made with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can go through all of the debt issues with you and give you the proper legal advice.
CAN I BE FIRED FROM MY JOB IF I FILE BANKRUPTCY?
No. Under U.S.C. Section 525, an employer cannot discriminate against you due to you filing for bankruptcy.
IF A DEBT COLLECTION OR CREDIT CARD COMPANY SUES ME, CAN I JUST IGNORE IT?
Absolutely not. Even if it’s for a small amount of money, by ignoring the lawsuit, a judgment will usually be entered against you. In addition to this judgment, interest will continue to compile, resulting in a small amount of money continually growing into a bigger and bigger debt. Furthermore, as a result of the judgment, money could be taken from your bank account or your wages could be garnished.
If you have a credit card or other debt that is piling up or you have been sued, call Loan Lawyers for a free consultation to find out how we can help.
A DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY SUED ME FOR AN UNPAID CREDIT CARD BILL. SHOULD I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
It depends. While bankruptcy may be a good solution to get rid of debts, there may be more effective ways to help without the need for filing bankruptcy. We often use various bankruptcy strategies to help consumers, but also advise them on creative ways to get out of their debt situation without the need to do so. As a general rule, we advise people that bankruptcy should be used as a last resort. We have been very successful in fighting and beating credit card and debt collection companies in court and getting our clients’ debts discharged without the need for bankruptcy. In addition, we frequently recover money on our clients’ behalf due to the violation of multiple state and federal laws by credit card and debt collection companies.
CAN A DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY CALL MY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES ABOUT MY DEBT?
No. The FDCPA ( Fair Debt Collection Practice Act) strictly prohibits debt collectors from contacting anyone else regarding your debt. You may be entitled to $1,000 per violation, plus actual damages and attorney’s fees.
DEBT COLLECTORS ARE CALLING ME ALL THE TIME, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practice Act) prohibits debt collectors from harassing you, and whether you owe the debt or not is irrelevant. If you are receiving calls from debt collectors, call us today for a free consultation so we can properly advise you as to what your legal rights are and how you can make money due to debt collector abuse.
CAN DEBT COLLECTORS CALL ME AT WORK?
No. Debt collectors are prohibited from calling you at work. If you have a debt collector calling you at work, call us to find out more about how we can help recover money on your behalf due to violations of the FDCPA.
IF I AM RECEIVING CALLS FROM DEBT COLLECTORS, IS IT EASIER TO JUST IGNORE THEM?
If you are receiving calls from debt collectors for any reason, you should contact Loan Lawyers right away. Often, people feel embarrassed when they owe money and try to avoid the situation by ignoring the phone calls or changing their cellular phones. While this may seem like an easy solution, it may wind up costing you tens of thousands of dollars or more that you could have made due to debt collectors violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practice Act) or the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).
The FDCPA has a long list of violations that are made by debt collectors on a regular basis, with each claim being worth at least $1,000. Furthermore, the TCPA expressly prohibits collectors from contacting you on your cellular phone without prior consent, with every call resulting in between $500-$1,500 in damages. If you are getting calls from debt collectors, we want to hear from you. These annoying calls could amount to you being entitled to some serious money.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M RECEIVING TEXT MESSAGES ON MY CELLULAR PHONE TELLING ABOUT SOME BUSINESS SPECIALS OR OTHER MARKETING ISSUES?
If you are receiving unsolicited text messages from a business or corporation that is trying to market their products or services, you may be entitled to $500-$1,500 in damages for each message due to violations of the TCPA. Call Loan Lawyers today to find out more.
WHAT DO I DO IF I CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO PAY MY STUDENT LOANS?
You have many rights available to you and we can help you figure out what the best solution may be. In addition to illegal and improper collection activity connected to student loan debt, student loans are often securitized (bulk packaged and sold to investors on Wall Street), and the entity that is suing you may not have proper legal standing to do so. Furthermore, there may be various repayment and deferment options available depending on your specific situation. If you are struggling with payment of student loans, have debt collectors calling you, or have been sued for not paying student loans, contact Loan Lawyers for a free consultation.
I’VE BEEN SUED DUE TO NON-PAYMENT OF MY STUDENT LOANS, IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO?
Yes, there are multiple legal defenses available to you if you’ve been sued as a result of falling behind on paying your student loans. It’s important that you meet with a qualified consumer litigation lawyer that can advise you as to what legal defenses are applicable to your case. Like any lawsuit, once you’ve been served with a legal complaint, time is of the essence as you only have 20 days to respond.
To find out more about what your legal rights are, contact Loan Lawyers for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THERE HAS BEEN A REPORTING ERROR ON MY CREDIT REPORT?
As a general rule, any consumer that has borrowed money, used a credit card, or has entered into any kind of credit agreement should go online and check their credit report to make sure that it is accurate. The only website that has been approved by the FTC for access to your free credit report is annualcreditreport.com. At a minimum, you should check your credit report once a year, if not more.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE FOUND ERRORS ON MY CREDIT REPORT?
The first step is to contact both the credit reporting company, as well as the company that provided the information to them and let them know. It’s highly recommended to do so in writing via certified mail so you can document that they received your dispute letter. In addition to your name, address, and phone number, the dispute letter should also include the specific items in your report that you dispute, with a short factual explanation as to why you are disputing the information, as well as a clear request that the information be removed or corrected. They have 30 days to investigate the matter, and if it’s determined that the reported information was inaccurate, then it must be corrected on your file.
The credit reporting companies must give you a response in writing as soon as the investigation is complete. Additionally, if it’s determined that there was an error on your report, you can request that the credit reporting company send notices of any corrections to anyone who has requested your credit report in the past six months (or up to two years it was for employment purposes). Unfortunately, even if your credit report has been corrected, the incorrect information may be put on there again, so make sure to check your credit report on a regular basis.
I APPLIED FOR CREDIT AND WAS DENIED DUE TO SOMETHING ON MY CREDIT REPORT. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO?
Statistically, a large percentage of credit reports have errors. If you have been denied credit or given credit at a high rate of interest due to your past credit history, the first step is to get a copy of your credit report to check it for accuracy. If there are errors, then immediately file a dispute letter with the credit reporting agency and the company that provided the information. If they refuse to correct the error, you should consult an experienced consumer litigation attorney for help.
I WORK AT A BANK OR LOAN SERVICER AND I SUSPECT THAT THEY ARE DEFRAUDING THEIR CUSTOMERS. I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING BUT I’M AFRAID I WILL LOSE MY JOB. WHAT CAN I DO?
You have rights that protect you under the Florida Whistleblower Act. These rights vary depending on whether or not you are a private or public employee. Furthermore, you may be entitled up to all the money that is recovered based on the fraudulent acts of your employer. There are various time limits as to when you can assert a claim, so it’s important that you present your case as soon as possible.