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Steps You Can Take to Reduce the Risk of Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage-Fraud

When you’re buying a house or refinancing, you want to get the best deal possible, but you also need to be careful to avoid fraudulent mortgage lending practices. Here are some basic guidelines to reduce the risk that you’ll be taken in by a mortgage lending scam.

Work with Someone You Know or Trust

The best way to steer around potential mortgage fraud is to do business with someone that you know, who you’ve worked with before. If this is the first time you’ve used a mortgage banker, get referrals from people you trust, including family, friends and professional advisors.

Only Work with Someone You Can Meet in Person

It’s been possible to apply for and obtain a mortgage loan online for years, but you always want to know that the mortgage lender has a bricks and mortar office somewhere. If it’s just an e-mail address and a cell phone number, there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate.

Check Out the Lender

There are organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, who track companies and can tell you if they’ve had complaints filed against them. Don’t be surprised, though, if there’s been at least one complaint filed against the lender—that’s not unusual. But if there are dozens or more, look elsewhere. Furthermore, find out how long the mortgage lender has been in business. If the company is relatively new, find out where their owners were previously, and what they were doing professionally. As a general rule, there’s greater risk in a newer company, but there are always exceptions.

Don’t Sign Anything Unless You Know What It Is

The lender may put a stack of documents in front of you and tell you they’re a “formality.” Take the time to carefully review every document. If you don’t know what it is or what it means, don’t sign it. If necessary, contact an attorney to explain the document to you.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Don’t Be a Victim of Appraisal Fraud

Appraisal-Fraud

Your House May Be Overvalued and You Might Pay for It

Whether you’re looking to buy a house or refinance, at some point you’ll need to have the property appraised, so that you know how much can be financed using the property as collateral. There can be a tendency, when the appraisal comes in higher than you expected, to decide to finance more, so that you can do some remodeling or pay off some other bills. You need to be careful, though, that the appraisal doesn’t misstate the value of your property, putting you underwater when it comes time to sell.

Appraisal fraud is not uncommon in the mortgage industry. Unfortunately, because of the way the mortgage business works, there’s an incentive for appraisers to “tweak” the numbers, almost always up. Here’s how it works:

  • When you contact a lender to finance or refinance your home, you’ll typically get a “good faith” estimate for the amount of the loan, based on purchase price or what you plan to do with the refinance proceeds
  • Your lender will hire an appraiser to estimate a fair market value for the property
  • Because there are many appraisers competing for work with lenders, there’s an incentive for the appraiser to find a way to meet or exceed the good faith estimate.

Of course, there is a down side for lenders as well. If the appraisal overstates the value of the property and the lender makes a larger loan, the lender could end up on the short side of the deal if the property goes into foreclosure. However, most mortgage lenders sell their mortgages, so they don’t end up facing those types of problems.

As a practical matter, it may be in your best interests to get an independent appraisal, so that you have a realistic sense of what the property is worth.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Truck Driver Log Violations

Truck Driver Log Violations

According to statistics gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were more than 325,000 reported instances in 2015 where truck drivers had failed to log, update or provide correct information in their log books. In addition, roadside inspections led to more than 136,000 documented violations for hours-of-service regulations.

Under federal law, over-the-road truckers and trucking companies are required to maintain log books to ensure that maintenance is properly conducted and the drivers are not on the road without adequate rest. Under those rules, a truck driver may not be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours after any 10 hour period off duty. In addition, the driver cannot be on the road beyond the 14th consecutive hour after a 10-hour rest. There’s also a limit of 60 hours on the road over a given 7 consecutive day period and 70 hours over a given 8 day consecutive period.

Unfortunately, with the pressure to maximize profits, many drivers find ways to circumvent these rules, either failing to log information or, on some occasions, maintaining two sets of log books. Fortunately, for accident victims, the FMSCA has regulations that require all commercial trucks and buses to have an electronic logging dev ice (ELD) installed. The ELD logs the number of hour a driver is operating the vehicle.

In addition, most semis and big rigs have what is known as an Event Data Recorder, similar to the black boxes installed in commercial airliners. The EDR gathers a wide array of information, from the number of hours on the road to average speed, use of cruise control, seatbelt usage, whether the driver exceeded speed limits and instances of hard braking or sudden stops.

Contact Our Office Today

Don’t wait another day—evidence may be lost! Your first consultation is free of charge. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

We handle all truck accident injury claims on a contingency basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Third Party Actions for Construction Site Injuries

Construction Site Injuries

When you’ve been hurt on a construction site, your first course of action will often be to file a workers’ compensation claim. In many instances, that will be your “exclusive remedy,” which means that your only recourse to recover monetary damages for your losses is through the New Jersey workers’ compensation system.

There are, however, situations where you are not limited by the workers’ compensation laws, where you may file what is known as a “third party claim” in a civil court. Here’s how it works.

The workers’ compensation laws are in place to cover situations where there was negligence or carelessness by your employer or a fellow employee. If your injuries were caused entirely by wrongful acts by your employer or a co-worker, then you may only seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim. However, if any unrelated party contributed to or caused your injuries, you may bring a legal action against that unrelated party in a court of law. Some examples of third party liability include:

  • Injuries caused by the careless design or manufacture of tools or equipment on the jobsite
  • Injuries caused in a motor vehicle accident involving a person who is not your employer or a co-employee
  • Injuries caused by workers or vendors at an adjoining work site

There are circumstances, where the injury was caused in part by your employer or a co-employee and in part by a third party, where you can file a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously with a civil suit. However, you cannot recover twice for the same loss—if you recover for medical expenses in a workers’ compensation claim, you can’t recover for those same expenses in a court of law.

Contact Us Now

Don’t run the risk that evidence will be lost— contact us online or call our office today at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We are available evenings and weekends upon request. We’ll also travel to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Filing a Claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

Filing a Claim

Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), citizens can bring legal action against entities or individuals who sell goods, services or real estate alleging deceptive marketing practices. There are three general requirements to qualify for relief under the CFA:

  • You must prove that the defendant engaged in an "unlawful act"
  • You must show that you have sustained a tangible or identifiable financial loss
  • You must show a causal connection between the defendant’s unlawful act and your loss

It’s important to understand that that Consumer Fraud Act does not require any direct contact between the perpetrator of a fraud and the victim—you only have to show that the wrongful conduct caused or contributed to the loss.

In addition, the wrongful or unlawful act can take a variety of forms. A false or misleading statement of fact or any “affirmative act” can constitute an unlawful act, but so can a knowing or intentional omission of material fact or information. Furthermore, if you can show that the defendant violation a specific law or regulation, that will be sufficient.

It’s not enough that the defendant engaged in an unlawful act, if you can’t show that you suffered any measurable loss. For example, if you opted not to buy goods or retain services, you won’t have a claim, even if the defendant’s action violated consumer product regulations or other laws.

One caveat—there’s an exception to the Consumer Fraud Act, known as the “learned professional” exception, which exempts doctors, attorneys and other similarly licensed professionals for any services within the scope of their licenses.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

Beware of Potential Mortgage Loan Modification Scams

Consumers Should be Wary of Unauthorized Practices

Beware of Potential Mortgage Loan Modification Scams

According to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, consumers need to be careful when responding to advertisements or solicitations regarding loan modifications to avoid foreclosure. The state reports that a number of businesses have offered services to the public, and have frequently targeted attorneys, mortgage bankers and brokers to obtain referrals. They say that many of these companies may be operating without proper licensing from the state, and may take substantial up-front fees without providing any real benefit to the consumer.

The services can be marketed under a variety of terms, from “foreclosure prevention” to “loss mitigation consulting. The “loan modifications” offered by many of these companies are not second mortgages or loan refinances, but are considered under New Jersey law to be “debt adjustment.”

There are specific laws in New Jersey regarding what types of businesses can legally provide “debt adjustment” services through loan modification.” The lender or mortgage servicing company may legally do so, as may the owner of the loan. Any other party seeking to engage in debt adjustment through a loan modification must either be licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance as a debt adjuster, or must be exempt under New Jersey’s Debt Adjuster Act. The following parties are generally exempt:

  • A lawyer licensed in New Jersey
  • An employee of the debtor whose duties include adjusting the employer’s debts
  • Anyone acting pursuant to an order or judgment from a court of law
  • A creditor of the debtor who makes debt adjustments without cost to the debtor
  • Any person who makes a debt adjustment for the debtor at the debtor’s request and without cost to the debtor

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

Warning Signs of an Online Loan Scam

Online-Loan-Scam

If you are looking to borrow money, either for a mortgage or other purchase, you may have considered filing your application online. There’s no shortage of websites offering you the opportunity to apply online and you can often get “approval” within moments. Many are legitimate, but, as will most things, there are many fraudsters lurking in the shadows, looking to separate you from your money. Here are some of the warning signs that an online provider of capital may not be legitimate:

No Credit—No Problem!!

If the lender assures you that you’ll qualify, regardless of your credit history, don’t take the hook. In the best case scenario, you may actually be able to borrow money, but you’ll probably pay exorbitant rates of interest. Some “payday” loans carry interest rates in excess of 300% compounded annually. In the worst case scenario, you could end up giving the fraudster unlimited access to your bank account.

Application Fees

Processing fees are not unusual, but legitimate lenders can tell you whether you’ll qualify without charging a fee. You shouldn’t have to pay any type of fee unless your application has been approved and you are moving forward with the processing of the loan. Don’t ever wire funds or make payment to a specific person. That’s not how bona fide lenders operate.

Hidden Fees

All potential fees should be disclosed up front and should be prominently displayed. If you learn about fees for the first time at the closing, don’t sign anything and back out of the deal.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Bogus Motor Vehicles for Sale on Craigslist

Bogus Motor Vehicles

The internet has made many things in life much easier…including consumer fraud schemes. Often, what appear to be legitimate offers or transactions are designed only to separate you from your hard-earned money.

Phony Car Ads on Craigslist

A scam that seems to be increasing rapidly involves phony offers to sell goods or services. As a general rule, the goods tend to be bigger ticket items, such as motor vehicles, vacation rentals or high-end electronics, but can involve just about anything. You may find the offers on very legitimate websites, such as Craigslist or eBay, and the “seller” may send you documents or e-mails that appear to be bona fide.

A scam that’s popular right now involves the sale of cars on Craigslist. When you inquire about the vehicle, the “seller” will tell you that the transaction must be run through “eBay Motors” and that you need to make payment with prepaid debit cards or some other alternative method. Don’t ever buy anything that requires you to purchase a prepaid debit card or deliver instant access to cash without simultaneously receiving possession of the goods or services. It’s probably a scam. You should never have to leave eBay or Craigslist or any other website to complete the transaction.

Here are some other red flags related to the bogus online motor vehicle sales scam:

  • The price asked for the vehicle is nowhere near its real value—If the deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Expect that the “seller” will have a good story to tell you—the car belonged to a family member who died or has been in storage for a number years.
  • The seller is in a different state than you are—Craigslist does not give you the option to advertise nationally, as many car websites do. So ask yourself why someone in California would advertise a car for sale on the Craigslist page in Harrisonburg, Virginia. If it’s such a great car and the price is so unbelievable, the seller should have no problem selling it in California.
  • The seller offers to deliver the car at no additional cost to you—As a general rule, the buyer pays for the cost of delivery. Again, you may get good stories about why the seller can easily deliver to you at no cost…they travel for business is a popular one. But how will they get back home after they deliver the vehicle to you? Are they going to drive out of their way to deliver a vehicle to you at less than market value?
  • The seller pressures you to “close the deal quickly”—this simply indicates that the seller doesn’t want you to take the time to ask the questions above.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

A Personal Injury Lawsuit—Part Three

Jury Selection and Jury Instructions

A Personal Injury Lawsuit Part ThreeThe complaint is filed and answered, and discovery is complete. You’ve argued all dispositive motions and evidentiary disputes. There are still a couple very important steps before opening arguments can be made.

Jury Selection

Opening statements are made to the jury, so a jury must be seated before you can commence a trial. The jury selection process, also known as “voir dire,” can differ in minor respects from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but typically follows a common pattern:

  • Potential jurors are selected from voter rolls or drivers license lists
  • A certain number of potential jurors are notified that they may be called for jury duty during a specific period. Often, the jurors must either call in or receive to call to learn if they need to show up at the court.
  • Jurors are typically gathered in a separate room and are called into the court in small groups
  • Once in the courtroom, the prospective jurors are individually called to the witness stand, where they may be questioned by the judge, and by attorneys for all parties. The questions are designed to determine whether the jurors can render an impartial decision based on the facts of the case.
  • The judge may excuse a potential juror at his or her discretion. Attorneys for each side have two ways to challenge a potential juror—peremptory challenges and challenges for cause. A peremptory challenge allows an attorney to excuse a juror for any reason, but each side has a limited number of peremptory challenges. A challenge for cause must be based on the belief (gathered from the potential juror’s statements) that the juror cannot be impartial. There are no limits on the number of challenges for cause, but the decision is ultimately made by the judge.

Jury Instructions

In the American civil justice system, the judge makes determinations of law and the jury makes determinations of fact. However, juries must apply the law to the facts when rendering a verdict. Because the jury cannot be expected to know the law, they are given instructions, which essentially tell them what legal conclusions they must make based on their determination of facts. Typically, the judge will ask attorneys for both sides to prepare prospective jury instructions and will rule on what directives are ultimately given to the jury. Some judges prefer to wait to rule on jury instructions until it’s clear that the case will go to the jury. Others complete this as part of the pre-trial process.

Contact Us Now

Don’t run the risk that evidence will be lost— contact us online or call our office today at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We are available evenings and weekends upon request. We’ll also travel to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all product liability claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

A Personal Injury Lawsuit—Part Two

Evidentiary and Dispositive Motions

A Personal Injury Lawsuit Part TwoIn this series, we’re looking at the timeline for a personal injury lawsuit, so that you know what to expect and can work more effectively with counsel.

So, you’ve filed your complaint and the defendants have all answered in a timely manner. Settlement efforts were unsuccessful, so you conducted depositions, obtained copies of all relevant documents, examined any physical evidence and submitted and responded to all interrogatories. There’s still much that needs to be done before you’re ready to go to trial.

It’s important to understand that court dockets are full, trials can be time consuming, and judges have a vested interest in streamlining the process, should a case actually go before a jury. With that objective in mind, the next phase of a personal injury lawsuit involves proceedings in court designed to either eliminate the need for a trial, pare down the issues that need to be addressed at trial, or resolve issues that are best taken care of outside of the hearing of the jury. This is done through the use of two types of motions—dispositive motions and evidentiary motions.

Dispositive Motions

The purpose of a dispositive motion is to either resolve a claim or eliminate the need to resolve an issue. Dispositive motions may be filed by either party. An injured party may contend that, based on all the evidence gathered during the discovery process, the defendant has asserted no valid defense, and the plaintiff should be granted relief without the need for a trial. A defendant, on the other hand, may allege that the injured party has not produced evidence to support one or all of the claims made in the complaint.

Evidentiary Motions

During the discovery process, the rules of evidence are somewhat more lax than they are at trial. Evidence that would be inadmissible at trial—perhaps as opinion or hearsay—may be allowed during a deposition. If there’s a dispute as to the admissibility of any evidence obtained during discovery, those disputes are best resolved outside the earshot of the jury. Accordingly, any evidence objected to during discovery can be reviewed by the court before trial and ruled admissible or inadmissible. If the court concludes that certain evidence is not appropriate and a party introduces it anyway, it can be the basis for contempt of court and a potential mistrial.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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