Second Liens and Mortgage Modifications

Vicki Been of NYU, Howell E. Jackson of Harvard, and Mark A. Willis of NYU have written Essay: Sticky Seconds – The Problems Second Liens Pose to the Resolution of Distressed Mortgages.  Here's the abstract:  Almost five years into the foreclosure crisis, policymakers, the mortgage industry, consumers and taxpayers all express disappointment over the slow […]

Microsoft Adds Class-Action Ban to Service Agreements

Another company reacts to AT&T v. Concepcion. A Forbes article yesterday notes that Microsoft is now including forced arbitration and class-action bans in its customer agreements. The article explains: Recently, [Microsoft] made changes to the Services Agreement governing Hotmail, SkyDrive, Bing, Windows Live Messenger and other online services. The key provision in the Agreement requires […]

Defaulted Student Loans Are Lucrative Business for Debt Collectors

Of course, debt collectors always make money because people's loans are in default. But student loan debt appears to be especially attractive for debt collectors, as explained in this article by Andrew Martin. Why? Among other reasons, the government helps debt collectors track down many of the debtors, and it is very hard to discharge […]

Why is Elizabeth Warren Against Part of the Affordable Care Act?

Here's an explanation: U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is a superstar within the Democratic Party and a lightning rod for Republican outrage over the issue of tax fairness. But there is one tax that Warren doesn't like and it's part of Obamacare. The 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices is a little-known provision in […]

State Highway Safety Officials Want to Ban Hand-Held Cell by Drivers

This Washington Post article from last Friday explains that a coalition of the top state highway safety officers want to ban hand-held cell phone use by drivers. But their ultimate goal is probably a ban on all cell-phone use by drivers — hand-held or hands-free — because, as we've explained earlier, studies show that hands-free cell […]

The Limits on “Agreements” to Arbitrate

One of things that bothers opponents of binding pre-dispute mandatory agreements in consumer contracts is that often they don't seem like agreements at all. In most cases, the arbitration clauses are buried in take-or-leave-it contracts that the consumer doesn't read (and sometimes has little opportunity to read). Arbitration opponents sometimes say that contracts of adhesion […]

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty and Consumer Protection

by Jeff Sovern I have been listening to the audio version of Dan Areily's book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, and it may shed some light on consumer protection.  Ariely explores the causes and limits of dishonesty.  He reports on a series of experiments that suggest that many people cheat a little, but not so […]

A Comment on Eric Grover’s Essay on the CFPB in the Washington Times

by Jeff Sovern A fellow named Eric Grover had a piece atacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Washington Times this week titled "CFPB’s unchecked power."   A line at the end of the essay explains "Eric Grover is a principal at Intrepid Ventures."  I had never heard of Intrepid Ventures, but their web site […]