Episode 10 – Bank Denial of HAMP loans against TARP’s Purpose for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

July 31st, 2015 by

Josh Denbeaux, Partner at the law firm of Denbeaux and Denbeaux, makes his inaugural guest appearance on the Financial Consumer Rights Talk program. Today they discuss the latest news relating to the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) calling for further investigation of servicers it claims may be denying too many Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) applications.

Data from SIGTARP and Treasury show denials on average fell sharply to 69% in 2013 after peaking in 2012 at 82%. The average as of April was 63%. Other statistics show cumulative HAMP denials have climbed significantly over time, increasing by 1 million since 2012. The top reasons applications get denied are incomplete applications and insufficient income, according to SIGTARP.

Josh Denbeaux questions why banks have provided only $11 billion out of $29.8 billion in loans since any reduction in principal as part of the HAMP program will reimburse the banks so they are not actually taking a loss?

Another issue discussed in the program is Treasury’s role in the program, given that SIGTARP made 176 recommendations designed to protect TARP programs and dollars, but can only provide protection if Treasury implements those suggestions.  What is Treasury’s reason for failure to implement 104 of those recommendations made by SIGTARP?

Further into the program, Josh makes the point that Congress has created a private right of action that homeowners who are cheated out of their rights whether it was through HAMP or other loss mitigation options as it was part of the TARP agreement.

“TARP is not supposed to be just a bailout of the largest financial firms, but was always supposed to include a bailout of homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Congress rejected Treasury’s initial proposal TARP just be a bailout of some of the largest financial fir, instead in recognition of the foreclosure crisis, Congress made foreclosure mitigation an express part of the law authorizing TARP. Among other things preserving home ownership is an explicit purpose of the law, and that the need to help families keep their homes is one of the considerations the Secretary of Treasury is required by law to consider in exercising  his authorities under TART.” Page 99 of the SIGTARP report

Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Christy Romero

CFPB Takes Action Against Mortgage Payment Company and Servicer for Deceptive Ads

July 30th, 2015 by

CFPB Takes Action Against Mortgage Payment Company and Servicer for Deceptive Ads

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has charged two companies related to Western Union and Fidelity National approximately $38 million in total fines for allegedly guiding consumers into home mortgage payment plans that caused extra fees.

At issue is was the promise made to consumers of  “tens of thousands of dollars of interest savings” to homeowners if they made more frequent mortgage payments. According to the CFPB, 125,000 consumers paid approximately $33 million in fees since July 2011.

“Deceptive advertising has no place in the financial marketplace,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release. “Today’s action is delivering relief for consumers deceived by Paymap and LoanCare, and sending a clear message that these practices will not be tolerated.”

Below is the entire press release from the CFPB.

CFPB Takes Action Against Mortgage Payment Company And Servicer For Deceptive Ads

Consumers Deceived by “Equity Accelerator” Claims to Receive $33.4 Million

Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action today against Paymap Inc. and LoanCare, LLC for deceiving consumers with advertisements for a mortgage payment program that promised tens of thousands of dollars in interest savings from more frequent mortgage payments. Under the terms of the orders announced today, Paymap will return $33.4 million in fees to consumers and pay a $5 million civil penalty to the CFPB, and LoanCare will pay a $100,000 civil penalty.

“Deceptive advertising has no place in the financial marketplace,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s action is delivering relief for consumers deceived by Paymap and LoanCare, and sending a clear message that these practices will not be tolerated.”

Paymap Inc. is a Colorado-based payment processing company, and LoanCare Servicing is a Virginia-based residential mortgage servicer. Together, they marketed and provided the “Equity Accelerator Program” – an electronic payment system that enables consumers to make automatic mortgage payments via electronic debits from their bank accounts. Consumers are typically charged an enrollment fee of $295 when signing up for the Equity Accelerator Program, and a transaction fee for each automatic debit that Paymap makes, typically $2.50. Since July 21, 2011, approximately 125,000 consumers enrolled in the Equity Accelerator Program and paid Paymap $33.4 million in fees.

Paymap partnered with many mortgage servicers, including LoanCare, to market the Equity Accelerator to the mortgage servicers’ customers. LoanCare and Paymap marketed the Equity Accelerator to LoanCare’s customers in 2012 by sending them solicitations on LoanCare’s letterhead. Like the other servicers it partnered with, Paymap shared a portion of consumers’ fees with LoanCare.

Paymap and LoanCare advertised that consumers who enrolled in the Equity Accelerator Program would have a new, biweekly payoff schedule that would lead to significant interest savings because of the more frequent payments. In fact, the Equity Accelerator Program did not make more frequent payments on consumers’ mortgages, and, Paymap’s prominent claims of tens of thousands of dollars in interest savings were made without any supporting evidence.

The CFPB found that Paymap and LoanCare violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts and practices. Specifically, the Bureau found that consumers were:

  • Lured with deceptive promises of savings: Paymap made claims on its website such as, “The average customer will achieve over $33,000 in interest savings” using the Equity Accelerator Program. However, Paymap had no factual basis to support this claim. Moreover, only a tiny percentage, if any, of its customers achieved that amount of interest savings.
  • Misled about when their payments would be applied: Paymap and LoanCare told consumers in their direct mail solicitations that enrolling in the Equity Accelerator Program would change the consumers’ payoff schedule to “every 2 weeks.” Although Paymap makes more frequent withdrawals from consumers’ accounts in the Equity Accelerator Program, it does not actually make more frequent payments on consumers’ mortgages. Instead, Paymap holds the collected payments in custodial accounts, and then pays consumers’ mortgages on their original monthly schedule. Consumers are charged a transaction fee with every withdrawal. Any interest savings that consumers may achieve through the Equity Accelerator Program is because they make a higher annual mortgage payment in the Program, using the same payment schedule as before enrollment.

Enforcement Actions

Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against companies engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices in the consumer financial marketplace.

Under the terms of the consent order filed today, Paymap is required to:

  • Pay $33.4 million to consumers: Paymap will return $33.4 million to consumers, which represents all fees paid by every consumer who enrolled in the Equity Accelerator Program since July 21, 2011. Approximately 125,000 consumers will receive refunds.
  • Cease its unlawful advertising and marketing practices: Paymap must ensure that its marketing practices comply with federal law. Paymap is prohibited from advertising any benefits of the Equity Accelerator Program without credible evidence to support its claims, and from implying that the program will change a consumer’s regular mortgage payment schedule. Paymap must disclose that the source of any projected interest savings through the program is the higher annual mortgage payment a consumer will make in such a program.
  • Pay a $5 million civil penalty: Paymap will pay $5 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

Under the terms of the consent order filed today, LoanCare is required to:

  • Cease its unlawful advertising and marketing practices: LoanCare must ensure that its marketing practices comply with federal law. LoanCare is prohibited from advertising any benefits of the Equity Accelerator Program without credible evidence to support its claims, and from implying that the program will change a consumer’s regular mortgage payment schedule. LoanCare must disclose that the source of any projected interest savings is the higher annual mortgage payment a consumer will make in such a program.
  • Pay a $100,000 civil penalty: LoanCare will pay $100,000 to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

A copy of the consent order for Paymap filed today is available at:

A copy of the consent order for LoanCare filed today is available at:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit

Fuller impact of home foreclosure debacle hits N.J.

July 19th, 2015 by
JULY 19, 2015    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015, 10:55 AM

The number of New Jersey home repossessions by lenders has soared in the past two years and is on track to increase again in 2015, in sharp divergence to the national trend.

Completed foreclosures, where banks and mortgage companies have taken the homes, climbed 34 percent in the state last year, to about 5,780, after an 11 percent surge in 2013, according to The Record’s analysis of RealtyTrac data. By contrast, on the national level, completed foreclosures fell by double digits in each of the past three years.

In the first three months of this year, Bergen County was on pace to nearly double last year’s total of sheriff’s auction sales with 201 properties sold.

CoreLogic report released Tuesday showed that in May 4.9 percent of mortgaged homes in New Jersey were completed foreclosures, the top rate in the country. The percentage of homes where the mortgages are seriously delinquent also was the highest at 8.4 percent.

The statistics indicate the foreclosure debacle, which has eased in other states following the housing meltdown that began in 2007, may only now be peaking in New Jersey, where foreclosures had been crawling through the system.

The reasons for the slow processing include a state judiciary that has tried harder than other states to hold banks accountable for illegal and improper paperwork. Also, New Jersey’s non-profit housing groups, which have support in the state Legislature, have worked to help keep homeowners in their homes. It has taken debt collectors about two years and 10 months on average from the time an initial notice is delivered until the property is repossessed, according to real estate information company RealtyTrac. Only Hawaii’s process is longer.

Now repossessions are moving faster. According to housing activists and lawyers who defend homeowners faced with foreclosure, the acceleration has coincided with a pickup in the real estate market. Although bankers deny it, homeowner advocates say that uptick seems to have made banks more eager to complete foreclosures, cash out and recover what they can from their losses.

“There have been secondary-market buyers coming in as a reaction to the housing market starting to rebound a bit,” said Adam Deutsch, a lawyer with Denbeaux & Denbeaux in Westwood, which has defended hundreds of New Jersey homeowners in contested foreclosures.

Other contributing factors underscore the complexity of the situation:

  • Much of a backlog caused by large banks delaying new filings in 2011, while the state judiciary reviewed their foreclosure practices during the “robo-signing” scandal, has finally passed through the system. The same is true of the thousands of delayed cases that resulted from lenders’ not complying with homeowner notification requirements in the state’s 1995 Fair Foreclosure Act.
  • Homeowner assistance and mediation programs, which kept debt collectors at bay for years in some cases, have ended or have been winding down. More than 4,000 of the 6,000 New Jersey homeowners who participated in the $300 million federally funded Homekeeper program are no longer receiving funds.
  • Questions about whether a plaintiff debt collector has the legal right to foreclose in cases where the chain of title is murky have largely been set aside. State Superior Court judges, who have been instructed to complete these cases within a year, are generally handling them with greater efficiency, lawyers say.

New Jersey has throughout the foreclosure debacle had a lower home-repossession rate than most states when measured as a percentage of the total number of homes. Last year, for example, the state ranked 30th, with about one in 350 homes going all the way through the repossession process, according to an analysis of RealtyTrac data. Nationwide, the rate in 2014 was about one in 225 homes.

Bankers tend to blame the courts, lawmakers and housing activists for the state’s inability to clean up its foreclosure mess in a timely fashion. They say homeowner assistance programs have delayed the inevitable.

“This [surge in repossessions] represents the ones that should have been completed years ago,” said Michael Affuso, director of government relations for the New Jersey Bankers Association.

But consumer advocates and lawyers who defend homeowners say banks and mortgage servicers are mostly responsible for the slow process and the case backlog. They say debt collectors often seem in no hurry to take possession of homes worth less than what is owed on the mortgages.

In addition, they say lenders have been reluctant to follow through with their foreclosure filings because the banks do not want to pay property taxes, home insurance and maintenance costs on repossessed homes.

According to Montclair lawyer Margaret Lambe Jurow, it should take “roughly 270 days,” or about nine months, for a lender to complete an uncontested foreclosure. “All the lenders have to do is tell the truth and comply with court rules,” she said.

Data from the Office of Foreclosure in Trenton show that about 90 percent of foreclosures are uncontested.

Affuso said he agrees that some lenders have delayed the process with shoddy legal work by “incompetent in-house counsel.” But he disagrees with those who suspect banks have intentionally avoided seeking final judgments for financial reasons.

“They are not sitting on a house in Bogota waiting for the market to return,” he said.

Homeowners facing foreclosure often stay in their homes without making any mortgage payments for years as the process drags on, partly because lenders refuse to accept partial payments once a loan is in default.

But it’s not a free ride for the homeowner. Missed interest payments and late fees, as well as arrears in taxes and insurance, typically are added to what is owed.

Bankers are reluctant to speak on the record about their foreclosure practices. “It is a politically sensitive and customer-sensitive issue,” one industry veteran said. But regulatory filings by publicly traded lenders offer some insight into the effect the surge in homeowner defaults has had on these companies.

Paramus-based Hudson City Savings Bank, the largest mortgage lender among New Jersey-based banks, told investors in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it increased the dollar amount of repossessed homes on its balance sheet by nearly $10 million since the end of 2014, to $88.4 million as of March 31. The upscale housing lender sold 241 repossessed properties last year, up from 207 in 2013.

Valley National Bancorp, the Wayne-based holding company for one of the largest commercial banks in the state, has intimated to its investors in an SEC filing that a slow foreclosure process in New Jersey may be hurting the company’s relative standing in the investment community, as compared to banks of a similar size in other states. The length of time it takes to foreclose in New Jersey “negatively impacts the level of our non-performing assets,” the lender said.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data show that in the past decade, the amount of repossessed one- to four-family homes owned by New Jersey-based banks, by market value, skyrocketed from $3.9 million at the end of 2005 to $156.1 million at the end of last year. The number has climbed in the first three months of this year to $161.3 million.

These properties represent only a small portion of the total of New Jersey homes repossessed by mortgage companies, as most of the mortgage loans are owned by large companies based in other states.

Homes in foreclosure continue to be a drag on New Jersey’s housing recovery, and the sooner they are sold to buyers who want to live in them, or to investors who want to resell them or rent them, the better, said the New Jersey Bankers Association’s Affuso.

“This is a nightmare for a bank,” Affuso said. “They’ve already written the loans down and they want to get rid of them.”

Meanwhile, homeowners who have faced foreclosure say it’s also been a nightmare for them.

Eric, a software engineer who wanted to be identified only by his first name, was moving with his spouse last month into an apartment in Hackensack after losing the 2½-bedroom house he had lived in for nearly 30 years in Englewood.

The house went to a sheriff’s auction in May. Then last month, the new owner stuck a notice with black electric tape to his front door, saying eviction proceedings would begin in five days, signaling the end of a six-year ordeal, during which time Eric had made no mortgage payments.

“My friends think I was living rent-free, but you are not really living. You don’t know if you’re leaving next year or next month,” he said. Eric said he had gotten into financial trouble after losing his job at an Internet company in 2008.

He said the house is now worth $350,000 because of a big drop in real estate values since 2008, but the lender has insisted that he repay $550,000, which includes penalties and fees added on while his attempts to get the bank to lower the principal amount failed.

Lawyers who defend homeowners say foreclosures typically follow the loss of a job, an unanticipated medical expense or a divorce, and that most of the loans were made between 2003 and 2007, when prices were inflated during the housing bubble that preceded the global financial meltdown in 2008. Many of these homes are still worth less than the amounts owed on the loans. The homeowner typically is not evicted until months after the sheriff’s auction has been held and the property is sold.

While completed foreclosures continue to rise in New Jersey, the numbers of new filings may be starting to taper off. In the first two months of this year, the latest figures available, there were 6,575 new filings, down from 6,603 in the same period in 2014.

Even so, there were nearly 49,000 new foreclosure complaints filed statewide last year, the most since 2010, according to data from the Office of Foreclosure. The counties with the highest numbers last year were Essex, Camden, Ocean, Middlesex and Bergen, in that order.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Affuso said. “We are closer to the next recession than we are from the last recession and there are still about 85,000 properties in foreclosure, and probably 40 percent are older than 2013.”

In states like New Jersey where it takes more than two years on average to complete foreclosures, consumers should expect higher borrowing costs down the road, he said.

“When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who buy the vast majority of the mortgages, say New York, New Jersey and Connecticut take too long to complete foreclosures, they will say consumers will have to pay more for a mortgage in those states,” he said.

Staff Writer Dave Sheingold contributed to this article. Email: [email protected]

NJ Court Revives Homeowner’s Suit with PennyMac Over Late Sandy Check

July 17th, 2015 by

“Their decision recognizes the spirit of the Consumer Fraud Act and reflects the intent of the Legislature to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices,” Stratton said.

NJ Court Revives Homeowner’s Suit Over Late Sandy Check

–Editing by Brian Baresch.

Law360, New York (July 16, 2015, 6:28 PM ET) —  A New Jersey appeals court revived a homeowner’s claims that PennyMac Corp. took too long to pay for damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, ruling Thursday that the mortgage lender can’t escape liability even though it paid up before it received his complaint.

The court sided with Medhat Abbas, finding that he suffered an ascertainable loss under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act when he was forced to spend $9,000 of his own money on repairs because PennyMac waited nearly seven months to release his funds.

“The evidence shows defendant failed to forward the insurance proceeds to plaintiff in a timely fashion, without having a good-faith basis for such a prolonged delay,” the court said.

Abbas’ North Bergen home was damaged during the storm in October 2012, and insurance appraisers assessed the damage at $12,277, according to the opinion.

The insurers sent a check in that amount to PennyMac, which owned Abbas’ promissory note and mortgage, the court said.

Abbas claimed that PennyMac repeatedly ignored his requests for the money and that he had to pay contractors out of his own pocket for repair work, the court said.

He sued PennyMac on May 10, 2013, and received a check from PennyMac 10 days later that was dated May 14, according to the court. Records from a process server showed that PennyMac didn’t get Abbas’ complaint until June 4.

Abbas returned the check on June 13, treating it as a rejected settlement offer.

PennyMac moved for summary judgment in January 2014, which a trial judge granted on the grounds that Abbas couldn’t show that he had suffered any loss.

On Thursday, the appeals court said the $12,277 became Abbas’ ascertainable loss as soon as PennyMac wrongly withheld it.

“Under the circumstances presented here, defendant cannot escape liability by releasing the insurance proceeds at a time when plaintiff had already assumed the burden of financing the cost of rebuilding his home,” the opinion said. “Here, defendant was not entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff’s evidence showed an ascertainable loss at the time he filed his complaint.”

Nicholas Stratton of Denbeaux & Denbeaux, an attorney for Abbas, said the ruling was a good one for consumers.

“Their decision recognizes the spirit of the Consumer Fraud Act and reflects the intent of the Legislature to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices,” Stratton said.

Representatives for PennyMac didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Abbas is represented by Nicholas A. Stratton and Joshua W. Denbeaux of Denbeaux & Denbeaux.

PennyMac is represented by Kevin C. Rakowski of Blank Rome LLP and Louis A. Greenfield.

The case is Medhat Abbas v. PennyMac Corp., case no. A-3466-13T2, in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

–Editing by Brian Baresch.

BOOT CAMP: Foreclosure and Loan Workout Procedures “…not for the faint of heart.”

July 15th, 2015 by

July 14th 2015

Program Description

Guide Your Clients Through the Best Solution for Their Situation

Not for the faint of heart, this fast-paced course is designed to provide a comprehensive procedural orientation to the foreclosure process and alternatives to foreclosure. Expert faculty

will identify all of the options available for loan defaults and guide you through their mechanics – from forbearance agreements and loan modifications to short sales and the foreclosure process itself. Along with this engaging seminar, you’ll receive a reference manual filled with in-depth, detailed information on each of the options discussed, so you can dig into specific laws as you need them. Get the most bang for your buck – enroll today!

  • Learn what loss mitigation solutions are available in residential situations and how to put them in place for your clients.
  • Walk through the foreclosure process and sale to avoid legal missteps when you’re guiding clients through them.
  • Ensure your forbearance agreements include crucial provisions to protect collateral.
  • Be prepared to handle the entire short sale process.
  • Understand the lender liability surrounding loss mitigation options.
  • Maintain an ethical practice by understanding what conflicts of interest may exist when dealing with troubled real estate loans.

Who Should Attend

This practical, basic-to-intermediate level course is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Real Estate Professionals
  • Title Insurance Professionals
  • Lenders
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. The Foreclosure Process
  2. Troubled Debt Restructuring (TDR) Transactions
  3. Loan Modifications
  4. Rent Attachment – Cash Management Agreements
  5. Short Sale Procedures
  6. Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
  7. Forbearance Agreements – Structure and Important Provisions
  8. Receivership
  9. Lender Liability Issues
  10. Ethical Considerations When Dealing with Distressed Property

Continuing Education Credit


Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 7.20 –  NJ*
CLE 7.00 –  NY*
CLE 6.00 –  PA*

Institute of Certified Bankers – ICB: 7.25 *

* denotes specialty credits


Agenda / Content Covered

  1. The Foreclosure Process
    9:00 – 9:45, Christopher J. Balala

    1. Curing Title Problems Prior to Commencing the Action
    2. Foreclosure Timeline
    3. Demand Letter
    4. The Foreclosure Action – Lis Pendens, Parties Named, Summons, Complaint
    5. Foreclosure/Sheriff’s Sale – Notice Requirements, Bidding Process, Closing, Etc.
    6. Pursuit of Guarantors
      1. Before Foreclosure Sale?
      2. Checking Percentage Guarantees
    7. Deficiency Judgment Issues
  2. Troubled Debt Restructuring (TDR) Transactions 
    9:45 – 10:15, Christopher J. Balala
  3. Loan Modifications
    10:30 – 11:00, Christopher J. Balala

    1. Programs and Incentives Available
    2. Submitting a Loan Modification Request
    3. Handling Your Client’s Case
    4. Negotiating the Best Possible Loan Modification
  4. Rent Attachment – Cash Management Agreements
    11:00 – 11:30, Christopher J. Balala

    1. Advantages and Disadvantages
    2. Interference of a Contract
    3. Collection
  5. Short Sale Procedures
    11:30 – 12:15, Kevin Uniglicht

    1. What is a Short Sale and When can it be Done?
    2. Benefits of Short Sales
    3. Parties Involved
    4. Navigating the Process
    5. Short Sale Request
    6. Short Sale Package – Review of Documents Included
    7. Implications of a Short Sale
  6. Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
    1:15 – 1:45, Kevin Uniglicht

    1. What is a Deed-in-Lieu and When Should You Use it?
    2. Liabilities Associated with Deeds-in-Lieu
    3. Junior Liens and Non-Merger Provisions
  7. Forbearance Agreements – Structure and Important Provisions
    1:45 – 2:15, Todd M. Galante

    1. Forbearance Agreement Overview and Variations
    2. Review of Existing Loan Documentation
    3. Debtor Provisions – What the Debtor Wants to Avoid
    4. Creditor Provisions – What the Creditor Wants to Include
  8. Receivership
    2:30 – 3:00, Todd M. Galante

    1. Types of Receivers (and Reasons to Appoint Them)
    2. Rights Involved in Appointing a Receiver
    3. Procedures for Appointing a Receiver
    4. Interplay of Bankruptcy
    5. Title Insurance Considerations
    6. Receiver Sale – What You Need to Know
  9. Lender Liability Issues
    3:00 – 3:30

    1. Circumstances with the Most Risk of Lender Liability
    2. Breach of Oral Agreement
    3. Breach of Contract
    4. Breach of Obligation of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
    5. Fraud
    6. Negligent Misrepresentation
    7. Best Practices for Avoiding Lender Liability
  10. Ethical Considerations When Dealing with Distressed Property
    3:30 – 4:30, Todd M. Galante

    1. Client-Lawyer Relationship – Scope of Representation
    2. Conflicts of Interest
    3. Lender Liability Issues
    4. Mortgage Foreclosure Defense
    5. Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses

CHRISTOPHER J. BALALA is an attorney with Scura, Wigfield, Heyer & Stevens, LLP. His areas of practice include personal injury, bankruptcy/insolvency, foreclosure, and general litigation. Mr. Balala is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He is a member of the Bergen County Bar Association, Passaic County Bar Association, and the New Jersey State Bar Association. Mr. Balala earned his B.A. degree, cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst; and his J.D. degree, cum laude, from Widener University School of Law.

TODD M. GALANTE, Esq. is a shareholder at the national law firm LeClairRyan, where he heads up the bankruptcy and creditors’ rights team at the firm’s Newark office. He practices in the areas of commercial litigation; commercial and residential real estate and other foreclosures; bankruptcy (Chapters 7, 13 and 11); state court insolvency/assignment for the benefit of creditors; loan workouts; lender liability; fraud; franchise law and litigation; trademark and unfair trade practices; general equity matter; partnership, corporate, limited liability company, closely held corporate and family business litigation; certain labor and employment litigation; white collar crime defense; municipal law; and attorney ethics. Mr. Galante is a certified arbitrator, mediator and mediator mentor, handling both private and court appointed civil matters through the Superior Court of New Jersey’s arbitration and mediation programs. He is a frequent speaker who has been repeatedly listed in Best Lawyers in AmericaNew Jersey Monthly Magazine Super Lawyers, New York Magazine – New York Area’s Top Lawyers, and Corporate Counsel – Top Lawyers. Mr. Galante is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University. He earned his B.A. degree, cum laude, from Rutgers University, and his J.D. degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. Mr. Galante is a member of the American and New Jersey State bar associations, the American Trial Lawyers Association, American Bankruptcy Institute, and local bar associations. He is a member in good standing of the bars of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey; the Southern, Eastern and Northern districts of New York; and the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

KEVIN UNIGLICHT is an attorney with Uniglicht Legal Group, where his main areas of practice include complex litigation, personal injury, insurance defense, land use and zoning, and real estate. Mr. Uniglicht is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, the Federal District courts and Washington D.C. He attended law school at the Syracuse University College of Law.


Please refer to Continuing Education Credit FAQ for general information about seeking credit for your participation in one of our continuing education programs.Additionally, our team of credit specialists are here to answer your specific credit-related questions weekdays 7am – 5pm Central:Phone: 866-240-1890Email: [email protected]
Accreditation Details

Continuing Legal Education

NJ CLE: 7.20 Including – Ethics: 1.20
This program has been approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of New Jersey for 7.2 hours of total CLE credit. Of these, 1.2 qualify as hours of credit for ethics/professionalism.

NY CLE: 7.00 Including – Areas of Professional Practice: 6.00, Ethics: 1.00
This course has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board for a maximum of 7.0 credit hours, of which 6.0 hours can be applied to the areas of professional practice requirement and 1.0 hour can be applied toward the ethics and professionalism requirement. This live format program is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

PA CLE: 6.00 Including – Ethics: 1.00
This program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for a total of 6.0 hours, including 5.0 hours of substantive law, practice and procedure CLE credit and 1.0 hour of ethics, professionalism or substance abuse CLE credit.

Institute of Certified Bankers


N ICB: 7.25 Including – CLBB: 7.25
NBI, Inc. is an Accredited Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) of the Institute of Certified Bankers™ (ICB). The ICB is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of performance and ethics within the financial services industry. BOOT CAMP: Foreclosure and Loan Workout Procedures has been approved for 7.25 CLBB credits. This statement should not be viewed as an endorsement of this program or its sponsor.

Episode 9 – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issues new ruling on the (FDCPA) Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Least Sophisticated Consumer Standard.

July 6th, 2015 by

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issues new ruling on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Least Sophisticated Consumer Standard.

In episode 9 of the FCRT we discuss the June 30, 2015 Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Jensen v. Pressler & Pressler.  The Court adopted a “materiality” test for determining when a debt collection communication is false, deceptive and/or misleading under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, (FDCPA).  The ruling is narrow and does not change the existing least sophisticated consumer standard in any significant way, however it does leave some questions unanswered.