PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Consumer protection attorney Bruce Jacobs explains what you should and should not expect from the attorney or law firm you hire to handle your foreclosure case.
"What I want people to understand is that if you get involved and you have an aggressive lawyer there's lots that you can do, there's lots of help out there, the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau regulations have given us all kinds of leverage to fight and force banks to do things to help you save your home. I can't guarantee any of it will work but I guarantee you if you take a phone call from someone who is calling you up from some boiler room operation and they give you a quick song and dance about they are going to save your house and they can guarantee it you are in trouble."
In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission's Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule took effect. It was designed to protect homeowners from mortgage relief scams. It included a ban on upfront fees until a homeowner has received and accepted an offer. There is an attorney exemption: "Attorneys are generally exempt from the rule if they provide mortgage assistance relief services as part of the practice of law, are licensed in the state where the consumer or dwelling is located, and comply with state laws and regulations governing attorney conduct related to the rule. To be exempt from the advance fee ban, attorneys must also place any advance fees they collect in a client trust account and abide by state laws and regulations covering such accounts."
According to Jacobs:
1) A lawyer will never call you and ask to work on your case. It is unethical, it is improper. If you ever get a phone from anyone saying 'hey I can help you with your foreclosure run.'
2) A lawyer should never guarantee you anything, especially in foreclosure court because things are not really up to you as the defense lawyer. If you know the system and you know what you are doing you might get a good result but anyone who guarantees you a good result run from because they are lying to you they can't do that.
3) Read your paperwork. Lawyers should be charging proper fees in order to do proper work
"I think the idea behind MARS was to protect people from scam artists and unfortunately the law does allow lawyers, because they are willing to put their license at risk, to play a little fast and loose. Our recommendation when we have clients come in is we don't apply for loan mods we look to sue banks under the new federal regulations that came down."
"So when a bank does a loan mod improperly, when they take too long, when they lie and cheat about the way that the loan modification process is supposed to work you can sue them and that's how you get yourself a modification, at least give yourself leverage so you get a modification. I think what a lot of these companies what they are doing is simply submitting paperwork and simply waiting, and waiting and letting you know, 'Hey sorry you didn't get it' and the banks make more money when they foreclose."
"Any lawyer that is going to help you is going to tell you the truth and make sure you understand that there are risks and rewards and there's a chance that none of it will work and if that person is not telling you that, run."
"I think it is hard to see there are lots of people who are being abused in the world of foreclosure. We've seen these banks pay billions and billions and billions of dollars in settlements and not a single person has been to jail for all the crimes they've committed. We are watching the middle class disappear, that's why we fight, that's why we are doing what we do because we know these banks are doing things wrong and if you bring it the right way you can get much better results you just need to get there early."
"Do your investigation, ask around, look for good lawyers who are willing to fight for you and then cross your fingers and hope for the best and pray for good things."