New CFPB Study on Reverse Mortgage Ads find Many Contain Confusing, Incomplete, and Inaccurate Statements

Fred Thompson vs. new CFPB study

Picture of former Senator Fred Thompson in reverse mortgage advertisement

“When it’s a former Congressman endorsing it, it makes it sound like a good idea.” -consumer discussing reverse mortgage advertisements and celebrity spokespeople.

Earlier today, the CFPB released a study that examined advertisements for reverse mortgages.

They found:

Among the advertisements we collected, on their face, many contained confusing, incomplete, and inaccurate statements regarding borrower requirements, government insurance, and borrower risks. Furthermore, after viewing ads in our focus groups, many consumers were confused or had misconceptions about important features and terms of reverse mortgage loans. For example, some consumers struggled to understand that reverse mortgages are loans that must be repaid with interest. Consumers also often misinterpreted the role of the federal government in the reverse mortgage market as providing consumer protections that are not actually offered.

If you’re a regular follower of CRC, you know that we’re opposing the CIT Group and OneWest merger, and one of the issues that has come to light is the reverse mortgage servicing subsidiary of OneWest bank, innocuously named “Financial Freedom.”

At a Federal Reserve hearing held in February 2015 in Los Angeles, dozens of people and organizations testified against the merger.  A number of the people who either spoke or submitted testimony cited their incredibly difficult times trying to work with Financial Freedom, especially after the death of a loved one.

The issue of surviving spouses facing foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage that was originated solely with their deceased spouse has come to light thanks to a class action lawsuit by AARP against HUD for turning a blind eye to reverse mortgage brokers and companies originating these loans to only one spouse, with the implicit suggest that the often younger, often female spouse, wouldn’t face foreclosure and/or could be added to the loan later.  Now, these widowed homeowners are facing foreclosure.

HUD released a policy in January 2015 to address this issue, but most experts predicted it would be useless for the very people it was supposed to help.  In April, HUD rescinded the policy, but what about the homeowners who are potentially facing foreclosure?

Take a look at the testimony by Karen Hunziker, who is a surviving spouse, facing foreclosure.  Does this sound like a helpful loan servicing department, especially if you’re a grieving spouse?

Additionally OWB has failed to provide a Single Point of Contact. This creates a communication maze impossible to navigate for the consumer to get customer support or guidance.

One day, I called 5 times to verify I received the 90 day extension OWB promised in writing. I spoke to 5 different people all with a different story. In part, I was told:

• OWB didn’t receive the documents faxed multiple times,
• The documents needed to be reviewed by their legal department,
• I had to call back in 5 days
• I used up all my extensions.
• I didn’t get the documents in on time,
• The last person told me my property was scheduled for auction in 30 days.

At all times OWB refused to put any phone conversation in writing.

For more background on this issue, read these two articles.

Will grandma get run over by HUD’s reverse mortgage policy?

New Reverse Mortgage Policy Leaves Widows and Widowers Homeless

If you’re an attorney working with a surviving spouse facing foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage, or if you’re a surviving spouse facing foreclosure, please contact CRC if you’d like to join in advocacy on this issue. We are NOT able to represent you as an attorney, but we would like to have you join in our advocacy to bring greater attention to this problem and how it is affecting widowed homeowners.

 

 

How Californians Are Working to #StopTheDebtTrap created by Payday and other High Cost Loans

Editor’s note: The CFPB, a federal agency, has proposed new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment lenders.

 

BUT, they need to hear from consumers- that means you! We have an easy-to-use page where you can weigh in- it only takes a minute and will help bring about important consumer protections with these loans. Please share a line or two in the comments box about why you care about this issue and want to see strong federal reforms.

PS: You do NOT have to be a payday, car title, or installment borrower to sign the petition.

 

Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced  new federal rules under consideration for payday, car title and other high cost consumer installment loans.

Paulina Gonzalez, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition attended the CFPB’s field hearing in Richmond, Virginia, where the draft proposal was unveiled. Gonzalez testified on the consumer panel about the need for federal reforms.

Back in California, CRC members and our allies have been busy organizing to support rules with strong consumer protections that must require lenders to assess borrowers’ “ability to repay” before extending them a loan. If you are an organization that’s interested in getting involved, please contact CRC’s payday organizer, Liana Molina: liana@calreinvest.org.

If you’re a consumer, please consider sharing your story with payday loans in our short survey.  Sharing your story can be an important way to help clean up this industry!

Some pictures from our work during the past few months are included below.

In October, community advocates sponsored and organized a Southern California Payday Reform Strategy Convening in Los Angeles to discuss the current state of payday lending, the proposed CFPB rules, and the impasse for consumer protection legislation in Sacramento. The picture below is Representative Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee along with Hernan Vera, who was president of Public Counsel at the time of the convening.

Payday Loan convening

In December, the Coalition Against Payday Predators, a coalition CRC belongs to, held a rally at a payday loan store in San Jose.  Representative Zoe Lofgren spoke at the rally, as did Dr. Emmett Carson, the founding CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren speakout against payday loans

In April, CRC partnered with CRL-California and California LULAC to organize the first ever California Consumer Leadership Academy.  Eight courageous women participated in this day-long training, shared their experiences, and crafted strategies on how to stop predatory lending practices in our communities.

California Consumer Leadership Academy

LA and Bay Area Trainings on CFPB proposed rules and filing complaints. In April and May, CRC organized two trainings, titled: “”Winning and Defending Strong CFPB Rules to End High-Cost Debt Traps” where we worked with local service providers to explain the CFPB proposal, the importance of it, and how to file CFPB complaints with or on behalf of the consumers they work with.

April Training in San Francisco at Mission Economic Development Agency

Stop The Debt Trap

May Training at the Community Center at Sol Y Luna Apartments, in partnership with the Center for Asset Building Opportunities and the East LA Community Corporation

Stop the Debt Trap LA

The picture below is of CRC, CRL-California and National Council of La Raza staff  at the NCLR Latino Policy Summit, where we presented on the status of payday lending in California and the current CFPB rule making process. CRC also presented at the Housing Rights Center Summit in Los Angeles and Housing California’s conference in Sacramento.

Stop the Debt Trap NCLR

Finally, CRC has been leading the charge in organizing our members and partners in outreach, education and advocacy work with members of Congress representing various congressional districts across the state. The CFPB will need strong political support to propose, enact and defend strong consumer protections.