May Is National Moving Month – Don’t Get Scammed!

May is National Moving Month – the busiest time of the year for people changing residences.  It’s also a busy time of the year for unlicensed movers and scammers.  For tips on how to spot con-artists and avoid scams, check out this video by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

 

 
If you have been scammed by an unscrupulous moving company, contact the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association for a referral to a licensed and insured attorney who represents consumers.  Call (603) 229-0002 or request an online referral.

 
 

Mortgage Settlement Fund Applications to be Mailed

PRESS RELEASE

Released by: Michael A. Delaney, Attorney General
Subject: Mortgage Settlement Fund applications to be mailed soon to New Hampshire residents
Date: September 19, 2012
Release Time: Immediate
Contact: James T. Boffetti, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
(603) 271-0302

Attorney General Michael A. Delaney announces that approximately 7,600 New Hampshire residents who lost their primary residence due an improper foreclosure process between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 should expect to receive notice by mail with important information about how to file a claim for funds under the National Mortgage Settlement. Attorney General Delaney encourages every eligible New Hampshire citizen to apply.

These funds are part of national mortgage settlement between 49 states and the five largest national banks. The amount of individual payments will depend on the number of people who file a claim and payments are likely to be in the range of $1,200 and $1,500 per borrower.

The foreclosure must involve one of the following five banks:

- Bank of America
– Citi
– Wells Fargo
– JP Morgan Chase
– Ally/GMAC

The deadline for filing a claim is January 18, 2013.

Notices are scheduled to be mailed beginning September 24, 2012.

If you think you might qualify and did not receive a form in the mail, please call 1-866-430-8358. For more information, go to www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

You can also call the Attorney General’s Mortgage Hotline at 1-866-522-4450.

This settlement is in addition to a separate Independent Mortgage Foreclosure Review Program being conducted by federal authorities. That program involves many more banks and a shorter time period [2009-2010]. If that review finds financial injury occurred as a result of bank misconduct, the borrower may receive remediation such as lump-sum payments, suspension or rescission of a foreclosure, a loan modification or other loss mitigation assistance, correction of credit reports, or correction of deficiency amounts and records. Lump-sum payments under that program can range from $500 to, in the most egregious cases, $125,000 plus equity.

The Request for Review Form for the federal program can be completed online at www.independentforeclosurereview.com.

Those forms must be submitted by December 31, 2012.

New Hampshire homeowners are encouraged to explore both of these options. For more information, please call the Attorney General’s Mortgage Hotline at 1-866-522-4450.

Foreclosure Sign

Consumer Alert: Deed Retrieval Services Solicitations

NEWS RELEASE

Released By      Michael A. Delaney, Attorney General

Subject:              Consumer Advisory About Deed Retrieval Services Solicitations

                     

Date:                      August 3, 2012

Release Time:       Immediate

Contact:        Senior Assistant Attorney General James T. Boffetti

                            Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau

                            (603) 271-0302

                            james.boffetti@doj.nh.gov   

CONSUMER ALERT

Attorney General Michael A. Delaney issued the following consumer alert to all New Hampshire property owners:

Consumers should be aware of mailings being sent to property owners throughout the state from companies using the names:

 SECURED DOCUMENT SERVICES, and DEED RETRIEVAL SERVICES

The mailings appear to be official government notices recommending, “that all United States [or New Hampshire] homeowners obtain a copy of their current grant deed” and further indicate that, for a fee of $86.00 or $87.00, these companies will provide the property owner with a copy of their Grant Deed and a Property Profile.

The Attorney General advises that these companies are providing a service of questionable value and the information advertised in these solicitations can be obtained from any of the State’s Registers of Deeds for significantly less money. With deeds so easily and inexpensively attainable, the existence of these companies depends greatly on the public’s unfamiliarity with the county registers of deeds offices.

 Attorney General Delaney stated, “The real lesson for an educated consumer is to know what you are paying for, which in the case of these deed retrieval companies is virtually nothing more than a homeowner can acquire for far less cost.  Don’t be fooled by a company whose name sounds ‘official’ or by an ‘official’ looking notice designed to confuse and mislead you.  If you would like a copy of your deed, you can obtain it yourself for nominal cost and time, or contact your county’s Register of Deeds, who would be glad to assist you.”

Under New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act, N.H. RSA 358-A, it is unlawful for any person to use any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce within this state. Anyone who feels they have been the victim of any unfair or deceptive act should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau hotline at (603) 271-3641 or 1-888-468-4454.  For more information on consumer fraud you can also visit the Bureau’s website at www.doj.nh.gov/consumer.

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to licensed and insured attorneys who handle consumer protection matters in your area.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Couple Accused of Abusing 80 Year Old Woman

As reported by WMUR:

A pair of Ossipee residents were arrested and accused of abusing an 80-year-old woman Monday.

Darin Brown, 43, and his wife, Sharon Giordano, 38, were accused of hiding Brown’s mother and abusing her.

The victim had been reported missing from Massachusetts. On Monday morning, police searched Brown’s Ossipee home and found his mother. Authorities said the woman showed signs of abuse and neglect, and was immediately hospitalized.

Read More on the WMUR website.

RSA 161-F:46 requires any person that has a reason to believe that an elderly incapacitated adult has been subjected to physical abuse, neglect, or exploitation or is living in hazardous conditions to notify the Department of Health and Human Services or their local law enforcement agency.

Any person (other than the alleged perpetrator) who makes a report of an alleged incident of abuse, neglect or exploitation in good faith shall have immunity from any criminal or civil liability.

To make a report, contact the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services at 1-800-949-0470. Calls are confidential.  If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.
 
 
by Patrick Doheny

 

 

Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight Created

For immediate release:  April 5, 2012
Contact:  Laura Brewer – 919-508-7821

Mortgage Settlement Monitor Begins Work
Joseph Smith appointed to oversee 49-state, five-bank pact; opens office in Raleigh
RALEIGH, N.C. – Joseph A. Smith, Jr. today officially assumed his position as the monitor of the mortgage servicing settlement among 49 states, the federal government and five major banks. In this role, Smith will work to ensure that the banks follow the requirements outlined in the settlement agreement. Today also marks the formal creation of the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight (OMSO), the body Smith has set up to facilitate his work.

Participants in the settlement unofficially named Smith as their choice in early February when news of the agreement became public, but both the settlement and Smith’s appointment became official when the United States District Court for the District of Columbia made final consent judgments affecting each of the banks.

In response to the agreement, Smith said, “Today, in keeping with the charge I’ve received from the Court and the parties to the settlement, I have opened the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight and begun to carry out my duties as Monitor.

“The mortgage settlement is a bipartisan achievement that holds promise for millions of people. Our nation depends on its home financing system not only to function properly, but also to inspire confidence in the people who use it. By itself, this settlement will not remedy every problem that system faces. But trust in our mortgage system can move forward if we use this opportunity to show fairness, transparency and accountability. This is a responsibility I take seriously.”

Smith will receive periodic reports from the settlement participants and oversee bank compliance with the agreement. The Monitor will then report his findings, determinations and actions to the Court and a Monitoring Committee of state and federal government representatives. The Monitor is empowered to work with noncompliant institutions to establish corrective plans, or, if necessary, to recommend penalties or to seek injunctive relief to enforce the settlement.

“Since the settlement was announced last month, people have understandably paid a great deal of attention to the specifics of the consent judgment – who will pay, who will receive, and how much,” Smith said. “Those are important matters to determine. But this settlement also serves those who do not participate in the transfer of money: the neighbors of distressed borrowers whose property values stand at risk because of foreclosed properties in their midst, the communities in which they live, the people saving now toward the goal of home ownership, and everyone whose living depends on a robust housing and home finance industry.”

More information about the mortgage settlement.

More information about the Office of Mortgage Settlement.

If you believe your home was illegally foreclosed on and you have not been contacted by a settlement administrator, the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association may be able to help with a referral to an attorney who can review your situation.  A consultation with a competent attorney can make all the difference!  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

How Will the Mortgage Settlement Affect Distressed Homeowners?

49 state attorney’s general have reached a landmark agreement with 5 of the nation’s top loan servicers (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Ally/GMAC).  The settlement will provide up to 25 billion dollars in relief to distressed borrowers and direct payments to states and the federal government.

The agreement settles state and federal investigations finding that the loan servicers routinely signed foreclosure related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts they contained were correct.  Both of these practices violate the law.

The settlement provides benefits to borrowers in the signing states whose loans are owned by the settling banks as well as to many of the borrowers whose loans they service.

Homeowners whose primary residence was part of a foreclosure action between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, and whose home loan was serviced by a participating servicer, may be eligible for an Independent Foreclosure Review.  

To find out more information regarding how this settlement may affect borrowers or how to find out if you qualify for assistance, check out the new National Mortgage Settlement website, and/or read the press release from the NH Attorney General’s office.

If your home is in foreclosure, an attorney may be able to assist you.  Call the Lawyer Referral Service today at 603-229-0002 for a referral to a competent lawyer who specifically handles foreclosure matters in New Hampshire, or request an online referral.   A consultation with an attorney could make all the difference!

 

NH to Join Settlement Over Foreclosure Abuses

New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney and Commissioner Ronald A. Wilbur of the New Hampshire Banking Department will be holding a press briefing this afternoon at 1:00 p.m.,  regarding the recently announced $25 billion state/federal mortgage servicing settlement.  The briefing will include a detailed explanation of the proposed terms of the settlement and New Hampshire’s decision to join.

The nationwide settlement stems from abuses that occurred after the housing bubble burst. Many companies that process foreclosures failed to verify documents. Some employees signed papers they hadn’t read or used fake signatures to speed foreclosures — an action known as robo-signing.

The deal would be the biggest involving a single industry since a 1998 multistate tobacco deal. It would force the five largest mortgage lenders to reduce loans for about 1 million households.

Read the entire story by Julie Smidt, in USA Today

If you believe your home was illegally foreclosed on, the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can help by referring you to a competent attorney who specifically handles this type of legal matter.  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

American Central Lending Services – Consumer ALERT

Released December 14, 2011 by Michael A. Delaney, New Hampshire Attorney General

NEWS RELEASE

    
Attorney General Michael A. Delaney has issued a consumer alert to warn consumers about a fraudulent Internet lending operation using the name American Central Lending Services and falsely representing that they are located in Portsmouth, NH.  Investigators have determined that this company does not do business in New Hampshire, has no ties to New Hampshire and is engaging in false and deceptive practices in attempts to steal money from consumers.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau warns consumers to exercise extreme caution when applying for a loan through the Internet and to not provide sensitive and confidential information on any on-line application, such as address, date of birth, social security information or banking/credit card information without having particular guarantees that the company is legitimate and the website is secure.  Consumers are also cautioned that any request to wire money, especially out of the country, is a red flag indicating a potential consumer scam.  Consumers should only wire money when they have personal knowledge and familiarity with the recipient.  Often scam artists operate outside of the United States and are skilled at concealing their true identities and location.

Consumers may obtain other information about consumer protection issues, or report consumer complaints, on the Consumer Protection Bureau’s website at <http://www.doj.nh.gov/consumer>.  

If you  have been victimized by an internet scam, the Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to competent attorneys who are trained to handle this type of legal matter.  Call LRS today at (603) 229-0002 or request a referral online at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.

Guidance for Charitable Giving

Press Release by Michael Delaney, NH Attorney General

The holiday season is a time when New Hampshire citizens receive dozens of solicitations in the mail, over the telephone, and through social media for contributions to charitable and charitable-sounding organizations.  While the vast majority of these organizations are legitimate, the Attorney General’s Office receives numerous reports of charitable solicitation scams seeking donations to nonprofit-sounding entities which either do not exist or are not legitimate.

In order to better protect the generous donors in New Hampshire from false or fraudulent solicitations, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney offers the following guidance to help insure your donation is used for a legitimate charitable purpose.

Be an informed donor:

The Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General’s Office posts a list of all charities registered with the Attorney General as well as a list of all registered professional fundraisers on its website: http://www.doj.nh.gov/site-map/charities.htm.  All professional fundraisers soliciting donations on behalf of nonprofit organizations are required to obtain a permit from the Attorney General before the solicitation campaign is commenced and a listing of all approved campaigns are on the website. 

Follow these 10 Tips for Making Smart Donations:

1. Ask the solicitor for some identification before giving out any personal information.  By law, paid solicitors must identify the charity for which they solicit and their status as a paid solicitor. Do not be afraid to ask and if they refuse, do not hesitate to hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency.

2. Ask for printed or electronic materials from the charity.  Any legitimate charity can provide printed materials for you to study in order to better understand the charity and the charity’s purpose. Ask for materials that clearly state: (1) the name, address and telephone number of the charity; (2) a description of how and where charitable funds will be used; and (3) the name, address and telephone number of the paid solicitor.

3. Ask how much of your contribution actually goes to the charity. Professional fundraisers retain a portion of your donation as payment for the service provided to the charity.  According to New Hampshire law, solicitors and the charities for which they solicit are required to file an accounting of the fundraising campaign, which must include a copy of the terms of the fundraising agreement. This filing should indicate how much of the proceeds actually go to the charity and should be available for the solicitor to disclose to all potential donors.

4. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics and abusive behavior by solicitors.  No legitimate charitable fundraiser will refuse to take the time to explain the purpose of fundraising and the objectives of the charity in a courteous manner.  If you encounter abusive solicitation you should end the communication and contact your local law enforcement agency.

5. Keep records of all donations, including receipts and cancelled checks.  This information is especially important for tax deduction purposes and in case you have a complaint in the future.

6. Beware of solicitors “soliciting” for organizations that may have deceptively similar names to legitimate charities.  Many for-profit organizations style their names after charitable organizations.  Do not be deceived by these copy-cat businesses whose titles may differ by such minor terms as “association,” “federation,” “national,” “American,” “incorporated,” and “foundation.”  Do not hesitate to ask for more information and contact your local law enforcement agency if you are unsure of the legitimacy of any campaigns.

7. NEVER pay by cash and NEVER give out your credit card number over the phone.  When making a donation, simply make a check out to the charity itself, not to the paid solicitor, and use the charity’s full name. That way you have a record of the contribution and the money goes directly to the charity.

8. Call the charities that are the beneficiaries of the charitable fundraising campaign and ask if they are aware of the solicitation.  If the charities are unaware of the solicitation campaign on their behalf do not donate any money and contact the Charitable Trusts Unit or your local law enforcement agency immediately.

9. Don’t be deceived by solicitation gimmicks.  Use caution when purchasing products or tickets, or when receiving free merchandise in exchange for a donation. These methods may be legitimate but they add costs to the fundraising campaigns which are ultimately deducted from your donation. Also use caution when dealing with sweepstakes which may request donations worth more than the prize awarded, or which do not provide a prize at all.

10. Take time to verify all information before making a donation.  All charities and paid solicitors are required to register with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office prior to solicitation.  If you have any questions or problems, write to OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CHARITABLE TRUSTS UNIT, 33 CAPITOL STREET, CONCORD, NH 03301-6397.

If in doubt, check it out:

While it is generally preferable to donate to charities that you are familiar with, please do not hesitate to call the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Unit before giving to any charity, especially one you are unfamiliar with.  The Unit’s telephone number is (603) 271-3591.  Most information filed by nonprofit organizations with the Charitable Trusts Unit, including annual reports and fundraising contracts, is open to the public under the State’s Right to Know Law and is available upon request. 

The holidays are a wonderful time for supporting charitable organizations and causes and this information is designed to assist New Hampshire citizens in selecting the best recipients of their charitable giving by providing donors with the information needed to make informed giving decisions.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a scam, contact the Lawyer Referral Service now at 603-229-0002 for a referral to an attorney who handles fraud related legal matters or request a referral online at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.