The possibility of losing your home to foreclosure can be terrifying. The reality that scam artists are preying on desperate homeowners is equally frightening. Many companies say they can get a change to your loan that will reduce your monthly mortgage payment or take other steps to save your home. Some claim that nearly all their customers get successful results and even offer a money-back guarantee. Others say they're affiliated with the government or your lender and still others promise the help of attorneys or real estate experts.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that when you’re shopping for a home loan, it’s important to understand all the terms and conditions of a proposed loan. Start with what is in the ad itself. Read what’s between the lines as well as what’s in front of your eyes.
You could lose your home and your money if you borrow from unscrupulous lenders who offer you a high-cost loan based on the equity you have in your home. Certain lenders target homeowners who are elderly or who have low incomes or credit problems — and then try to take advantage of them by using deceptive practices.
Some U.S. homes built between 2003 and 2008 contain imported drywall, known in the press as Chinese drywall. Some consumers who live in these homes have reported problems, including a strong sulfur smell, like rotten eggs; health issues, like irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, a persistent cough and headaches; and premature corrosion or deterioration of certain metal components in their homes, like air conditioner coils and wiring behind electrical outlets and inside electrical panel boxes.
Across the nation, identity thieves are using legitimate information to scam honest taxpayers, and frequently posing as the IRS to do so. The IRS is taking this seriously, and has created the IRS Identity Theft Protection Unit to address the growing problem.
Life insurance companies offer retained asset accounts (RAAs) as a convenience to beneficiaries upon the death of an insured. However, this past summer, RAAs drew controversy after the publication Bloomberg Markets raised questions about the interest rates paid, whether beneficiaries truly understood their options, and the guarantees that apply to policy proceeds. Since then, state regulators have begun to issue guidelines, while the National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC) has begun drafting a model law.
Compliance software should play a greater role in practice management, according to a new report from the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The recent compliance edition of the FPA-ActiFi 2010 Advisor Technology Reports suggests advisors should think holistically about compliance rather than view it as an ancillary practice activity. To that end, they should use the same tools, processes, and people to manage compliance as they do to manage other practice functions.
Resident and non-resident agents licensed to do business in New York must begin disclosing to clients information about the compensation they receive from carriers. Regulation 194 is slated to take effect on January 1, 2011.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) have issued a joint report that outlines practices used by financial services firms to better serve senior investors as they approach and begin retirement.
If you’re a registered investment advisor, get ready to disclose more information on your Form ADV, Part 2 and to use plain English. That’s because the Securities and Exchange Commission recently voted to adopt changes to the principal disclosure document that advisors provide to clients and prospective clients.