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Inside Washington (02/10/2012)
  • WASHINGTON (2/13/12)--U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on housing, transportation and community development, last week introduced a bill that would give financial institutions equity in homes in exchange for principal reductions on loans. The Preserving American Homeownership Act is specifically aimed at homeowners who owe more than their house is worth. Introducing his bill, Menendez said that more and more people are choosing to walk away from underwater mortgages, seeing it as their only viable option. He added that situation exacerbates the problems and his bill aims to break this cycle and give homeowners the relief they are looking for by working with lenders to find solutions acceptable to everyone. Under the program proposed by Menendez, lenders would, in effect, invest in homes so they would not carry bad debt on their books. The principal balance of the loan would be reduced to 95% of the re-assessed value of the home and over a three-year period, provided the homeowner is able to make reduced payments, the principal balance would be reduced in one-third increments per year. In exchange, the financial institution would receive a fixed share (at most 50%) of the increase in the home's value when the home is sold or later refinanced. The share depends on how much the financial institution initially reduced the principal …
  • WASHINGTON (2/13/12)--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week issued a warning to marketers of six mobile applications used for background screening that they may be violating the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is intended to protect the privacy of consumer report information and ensure that the information supplied by consumer reporting agencies is accurate. According to the FTC, some apps include criminal record histories, which "bear on an individual's character and general reputation and are precisely the type of information that is typically used in employment and tenant screening." In its warning letters, the FTC reports it said, "If you have reason to believe that your background reports are being used for employment or other FCRA purposes, you and your customers who are using your reports for such purposes must comply with the FCRA." However, according to the letters, the FTC has made no determination whether the companies are violating the FCRA. The contacted companies are encouraged to review their apps, policies and procedures to be sure they comply with the FCRA …


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