I write this from Brockton, where hundreds of people have already shown up for today’s foreclosure prevention workshop. Few communities in Massachusetts have been as hard hit by foreclosure as Brockton, as evidenced by today’s turnout as homeowners take advantage of the opportunity to meet one-on-one with their lenders. (In the photo right, homeowners line up for registration at the Massasoit Center in Brockton this afternoon.)
One homeowner who met his lender today left optimistic that he will finally have a solution to his problem. He told us he has owned his house in Fall River since 2000, but has been on disability since 2003. A death in his family put him “behind the eight ball” with respect to his mortgage. For over a year he has been trying to work things out with his lender, to no avail. Today, he met a representative from his company and afterward said he is hopeful he will get a modification that will save him $600 a month and allow him to stay in his home on his fixed income.
This isn’t a success story yet – and won’t be until this homeowner gets a workout and can stay at home. But we know that recent state and federal changes, along with workshops like these, are having an impact on foreclosure here in Massachusetts.
Earlier this month, Governor Patrick signed legislation that extends the right-to-cure period from 90 days to 150, makes fraud a criminal offense, and creates new consumer protections on reverse mortgages. These provisions follow the Governor’s 2007 law, which created the original right-to-cure timeframe, and set the stage for these workshops and funding initiatives that have put more than $60 million into neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosure.
Additionally, the federal government has improved the Home Affordable Mortgage Program to provide new opportunities for unemployed homeowners, who have become a significant part of the foreclosed population.
With these state and federal initiatives in place, there are more tools than ever for homeowners to stave off foreclosure. But there is no easy cure, and it takes work on the homeowner’s part. We have another workshop scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 26, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, from 2-8 p.m., and we hope as many people attend as possible. In the meantime, we will continue to work for people like the Fall River man we met today, trying our best to keep them in their homes.
How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25
Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.
Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22
The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.
Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities posted on Jul 20
The Massachusetts Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to stop receiving certain telephone solicitations simply by signing-up and providing their telephone number. Established in 2003, the law requires telephone solicitors, list-brokers, and telemarketers to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, subscribe to the Do-Not-Call Registry, and remove registered telephone numbers of consumers from their call lists.