Tuesday, September 21, 2004

And so it begins

In the process of exploding myths on at least a weekly basis, there will be companies and people identified in this blog. Some of them may squirm a little if it shows up in a search about them or their company. Some of them may get really bent out of shape. Some of them will call their attorneys. Some will have their PR firm write rebuttals and get articles placed in major newspapers to keep the myth of their good citizenship going.

But none of them will take steps to fix the problems they are creating for millions of consumer victims of their loan sharking. When it comes to profits in comparison to ethics, accountability or responsibility, profits will win every time.

Creditoris Squaliformes is the broad definition of a class of sharks who engage in all manner of businesses surrounding the process of lending and collecting money. There are literally hundreds of different businesses involved and even more sub-specialties, some of which you never even knew existed until one of them came after you.

The cross-ownerships and interlocking relationships create a web through which our entire economy moves. This web is where capital moves and consumers load themselves up with debt as they keep the machine oiled. But there are firewalls between the various parts that serve to not only keep prying investigative eyes away, but also serve to protect players from potential litigation or prosecution.

The mortgage-related portion of the industry alone is measured in TRILLIONS of dollars. It's no wonder Washington is incapable as well as unwilling to take steps to protect consumers. The task is simply too daunting, particularly when large amounts of money are provided to those who are supposed to take legislative action to protect victims.

The nature of the industry is to prey on just enough of a selected part of the consumer base to leave others unaware of the danger and still willing to do business with them. A certain amount of this financial collateral damage to consumers is acceptable in Washington; after all, it's not their neighborhood or their relatives being fed into the wood chipper in what has become known as "predatory lending" and "mortgage servicing fraud."

Most of the victims of these squaliformes are in the part of the bay marked off as "sub-prime," where their allegedly higher-risk credit scores isolate them from the kinds of offers for those who are seemingly more responsible. We used to call it "redlining." Now it's just "credit scoring." If you map it, guess where the lines are drawn?

But, sharks need a food supply. And the credit information industry works hand in glove with lenders and other credit providers to effectively keep the food chain full.

And there are all kinds of smaller predators with some equally large appetites for other people's money; they are popping up all over the net, even on radio and television with "save your home" offers, most of which are simply multi-level-marketing schemes to sell "secrets" about things you and I don't know about doing away with debt. Many take on the guise of "credit repair" or "loss mitigation" but usually end up making the victim pay even more.

Along with exploding myths, I will be relaying stories about victims and the people and companies who participate in that victimization. Without this kind of publicity, these companies will simply continue to operate as usual.

Consider what they call "the poster child" for predatory mortgage servicing, Fairbanks Capital (now "Select Portfolio Servicing"). Without a web site (the contifairbanks site is no longer operating) frequented by thousands of victims, the news media may not have picked up on the story. Without the TV stations running their investigative reports, the two Maryland Senators would not have publicly demanded that the FTC finally get off their asses and investigate. Without that investigation and negative publicity, Fairbanks would have only had to keep fighting the myriad of class-action suits and would have kept growing. Now it appears the victims got pennies on the dollar, but SPS is tiny compared to what it used to be so the number of its potential victims is smaller as well.

There are literally hundreds of lawsuits, maybe thousands, representing a modest fight against these industry giants and their henchmen. Every once in a while a victim will have the resources to fight back, but most don't, especially those cast out into the sub-prime wasteland. To expose these crooks, I intend to track as many as I can and report here on decisions that affect consumers, especially when the courts continue to dance to the tune of the companies involved.

Here, the playing field is actually tiltable toward the victim.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

1 comment:

SPSFairbanksVictim said...

Judge Bean,

Your commentary on Fairbanks Capital Corp. (n/k/a Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc.) is right on point. I am currently fighting this company and the former parent company (PMI Group). I believe that they are attempting to manipulate the court proceedings illegally.

It is particularly disturbing to see this company and its new owner (Credit Suisse First Boston) violate the settlement agreement signed by the FTC. The level of lawlessness is palpable in this case. I can not understand how this company is allowed to violate the best practices standards detailed in their settlement (injunctive relief). The victims of Fairbanks Capital Corp. (Select Portfolio Servicing) accepted pennies on the dollar in exchange for improved servicing practices. Luckily, I opted out of the settlement, so that I could pursue my matter in State Court via consumer fraud laws. While I thought it was possible for the company to improve its servicing performance, I was not certain that this would happen.

I now need to shore up the PMI Fairbanks connection in an answer to a motion for summary judgement (that would let PMI off of the hook). Likewise, I am now forced to defend against a motion to enforce settlement (with Fairbanks/SPS) that I never consented to. They are trying awfully hard to get me to sign a written settlement that does not match the settlement discussed. Of course this settlement includes a non-disclosure agreement.

The reprisal (in my case) for filing a lawsuit against Fairbanks, PMI Group and others includes incorrect reporting to the credit bureaus (post Curry Settlement), inflated payoff quotes resulting in a substantial overpayment when the Fairbanks/SPS loan was satisfied (post Curry Settlement), failure to refund overpayment (post Curry Settlement), failure to post payment in a timely way (post Curry Settlement).

Who will defend against this abuse?