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Mortgage relief schemes increase foreclosure risk

The Federal Trade Commission is going after six more companies that claim to help you avoid foreclosure.  This brings the total count to 48 in the crackdown against alleged phony foreclosure rescue operations. In separate actions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought charges against additional mortgage relief operations. If you’re dealing with a mortgage relief company that contacted you first and charged a big fee up front, stop everything and contact your lender.

We don’t hear about it as much as we used to, but people of all income levels are still struggling to keep the place they call home from going to the bank. Dave Mahoney was seduced by a professional sounding company that called him on the phone offering the mortgage relief he so desperately needed.

“I felt relief. I felt like there was somebody there that was ‘gonna help me out,” said Mahoney. “And I filled out all the paperwork and they said, we’ll need a first installment of fifteen hundred to get going on this.”

In all, he paid $2,600 dollars believing the legit-sounding company was working with his bank.  

Did they help get his mortgage modified or his payments reduced? 

“No. Nothing. Nothing happened,” Mahoney said, explaining how he was instructed to stop paying his mortgage, and wait.

By the time his actual lender called about delinquent payments, the scammers were making themselves scarce. His money was gone. Foreclosure was near.

Mortgage relief operations target homeowners who’ll do almost anything to avoid becoming a foreclosure statistic.   Attorneys at the Northwest Consumer Law Center warn that these people are very convincing. Mahoney’s attorney Katy Box says he contacted her in the nick of time. She was able to get a mediation started on his behalf, and halt the foreclosure proceedings against Mahoney’s mortgage loan.

In a new version of the foreclosure relief scam, Box says the phony promoters actually fake an approved loan modification.

“They approve the borrower for a modification. They tell them,  ‘Okay if you make these monthly payments to us, if you make three of them, your loan will be permanently modified and you can’t be foreclosed on.’  So the client will make the payments to the scam company, not the mortgage company- thinking their loan is modified,” Box said.

Box says some of the bogus loan mod approval documents look so real it’s frightening. The scammers even mimic the official government logo and terminology. 

“To me, I can see how someone would get fooled. The documents look so legitimate. It’s scary.”  said Box.

Now that Dave has a truly legitimate local attorney working with his bank,  he knows he’s very lucky. Because in most cases, giving money to strangers who contact you first and promise mortgage relief almost guarantees you’ll end up losing your home.

In yet another new scheme, scammers are calling the same loan mod scam victims posing as refund specialists.  They promise to get back the money consumers lost in the loan modification scam — for an up front fee.

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Community Organizations Work to Prevent Foreclosure

Increasingly, community organizations are getting more involved in ensuring that their citizens are able to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. The motivation is simple, fewer foreclosures make for more stable communities. More stable communities reduce crime and protect property values.

To that end, Boston Community Capital (BCC) created the Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) program to allow borrowers to remain in their homes, while still achieving principal reduction and lowering their monthly payment.

The program boasts in the simplicity of the process. First, potential borrowers go through the qualifying process by having their finances and employment situations carefully analyzed for repayment likelihood.

The organization then negotiates a short sale with the lender’s representative to buy a foreclosed home at the current, distressed market value. The market value for these homes is typically substantially less than the amount originally paid by the homeowner.

Finally BCC resells the home, typically at current fair market value, to its existing occupants with a new, fixed-rate 30-year mortgage that fits within their budget.

BCC says that SUN has provided more than $71 million in mortgage financing to help more than 500 families remain in their homes. On average SUN borrowers receive a 38 percent reduction in principal to their loans, which are generally funded by private investors and foundations.

Although the principal is reduced, the interest rate on the loans is slightly higher than traditional banks. BCC contends that the delinquency rate on these new loans is extremely low.

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Judge dismisses foreclosure suit against Severna Park delegate

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Funding runs out for foreclosure assistance program

WARREN, Ohio -

Thursday will mark the official end to the government funded home foreclosure assistance program known as “Save The Dream”.

Since the program started in 2010, it has helped more than 200 homeowners in the Youngstown-Warren area avoid foreclosure. Even though Save The Dream funding has run out, the local office of Empowering And Strengthening Ohio People will remain open and is expanding it’s services to include counseling on how the elderly can avoid financial scams.

“Just really give them the power and knowledge to know what to look for, because they are the biggest growing population, and therefore the biggest one targeted right now,” said Sonya Edwards, ESOP Senior Financial Counselor.

Other services that will be offered include fixed income budgeting, credit repair and mortgage modification assistance.


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Report: Lake County foreclosure activity showing downward trend

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – In another indicator of an improving economy, new data released this month show that foreclosures are continuing to edge down in Lake County, California and across the nation.

Irvine-based RealtyTrac issued its midyear foreclosure report, which showed that there were 613,874 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – in the first half of 2014, which the company said is a 19-percent decrease from the previous six months and down 23 percent from the first half of 2013.

One of the report’s key findings: June had 107,194 foreclosures, down 2 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from a year ago. That’s the lowest level since July 2006, before the housing price bubble burst.

“Nationwide foreclosure activity in June reached an important milestone, dropping to levels not seen since before the housing price bubble burst in August 2006,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Over the next six to nine months nationwide foreclosure numbers should start to flat line at consistent historically normal levels.

Blomquist said that there are still “concerning trends” in some states and local markets that indicate those areas are still facing impacts from the lingering foreclosure problem.

However, he added that foreclosures “are no longer a widespread contagion threatening to derail the housing market’s return to full health.”

In Lake County, the high foreclosure activity of the last several years has given way to lower numbers with fewer spikes.

Going back to July 2006, Lake County had an eight-year low of three foreclosure actions in December 2006, and a peak of 386 in April 2009, according to data provided to Lake County News by RealtyTrac.

Last month, foreclosures in Lake County numbered 75, down from 136 the previous June and an improvement compared to this year’s peak of 120 in March.

The lowest foreclosure numbers in Lake County since the housing bubble burst were recorded in January 2013, when 43 foreclosure actions were reported, according to the statistics.

Lake County’s numbers continue to slowly trend downward, but are still averaging more than three times the foreclosures reported monthly in 2006, the data showed.

Regarding foreclosures across California, RealtyTrac’s report showed that bank repossessions were up by 18 percent over the previous June. Eleven other states also showed an increase in the year-over comparison for bank repossessions.

At the same time, California was among 17 states where the average time to foreclose decreased from a year ago. Among that group, Minnesota was down by 20 percent; Texas and Maryland both declined by 17 percent; Georgia, 11 percent; New York, 10 percent; and California, 7 percent.

RealtyTrac reported that nine states recorded overall foreclosure activity increases in the first half of 2014 compared to a year ago, including New Jersey, up 54 percent; Maryland, 18 percent; Iowa, 10 percent; Massachusetts, 4 percent; and Connecticut, 4 percent.

States with the highest foreclosure rates in the first half of 2014 were Florida, with one in 74 housing units with a foreclosure filing; Maryland, one in 107; Illinois, one in 123; New Jersey, one in 134; and Nevada, one in 138, RealtyTrac’s report showed.

RealtyTrac also reported that the foreclosure process has continued to lengthen nationwide. Those properties foreclosed on in the second quarter of this year were in the process an average of 577 days, up 10 percent from 526 days in the second quarter of 2013.

More details about nationwide foreclosure statistics and trends are available at .

Email Elizabeth Larson at . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.

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The FTC Stops Six Fraudulent Loan Modification Companies

The FTC announced this past week a joint federal and state enforcement sweep, with additional federal entities such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 15 state Attorney Generals and state agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested that a series of six mortgage relief operations have their assets frozen and stop their illegal operations of misrepresenting their services and charging unlawful upfront fees. The six individual cases that had been announced last Wednesday marked the forty-eighth action that the FTC has made against illegal mortgage assistance companies since 2008.

The announcement by the FTC revealed that the defendants were all being charged with violating the FTC Act and the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule, now known as Regulation O. Regulation O essentially bans any and all mortgage, foreclosure and loan modification assistance services from charging fees until the homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they deem acceptable.

The accusations brought against the defendants of Danielson Law Group allege that the Utah-based defendants advertised a 90% success rate and charged vulnerable homeowners advance fees of $500 to $3,900 after they were drawn in. The return of these fees was supposed to be an honest lawyer negotiation with the party’s lender for a loan modification and reduced mortgage payment plan. The investigation by the FTC however has found that the defendants encouraged borrowers to stop paying their lenders (a common sign of a scam) and also promised full refunds if the loan modification attempt was unsuccessful. Over $35 million was reportedly taken from the distressed homeowners in the form of these fees.

Defendants of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based FMC Counseling Services, Inc. are being charged with making false claims of being affiliated with the Making Home Affordable assistance program and being able to reduce borrower’s mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars since February 2011. With titles such as the “Federal Debt Commission,” the “Federal Mortgage Marketplace,” and the “Federal Assistance Program,” the defendants didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s logo to trick consumers.

The defendant told their customers to stop all communication with their lenders, and to give their mortgage payments to the company. Over $600,000 was reportedly taken from consumers, and in the end none of the defendant’s customers had a single completed promise. Because none of the refunds were ever made, many of the victims have lost their homes. A preliminary injunction with an asset freeze and been ordered against Jonathan L. Herbert due to the work done by the FTC.

From at least 2011, the Jacksonville, Florida based Lanier Law company convinced homeowners that for upfront fees of $1,000 to $4,000, or monthly fees of $500, that they would get them a loan modification due to a prediction that their chances were 85% to 100%. According to information from the FTC investigation, the defendants also instructed their victims that by defaulting on their mortgage payments while their loan modifications were pending, there was the possibility of an audit to be done on their mortgage documents to detect predatory lending practices. Another violation that the FTC is charging the company with is violating the Do Not Call Rule by calling consumers who were on the Do Not Call list and by failing to buy the Do Not Call Registry in any state where they operated.

A U.S. district judge has ordered these defendants to stop all loan modification misrepresentations, and has also froze their assets in order to possibly save consumers from any further harm.

The FTC’s investigation has found that from at least August 2010, the California based Mortgage Relief Advocates sold malicious homeowner assistance services on websites through telemarketing. The advertisements claimed that the defendants had good relationships with lenders, and also falsely claimed that their forensic loan audits had an 80% success rate of uncovering violations in the Truth in Lending Act. For upfront fees of $1,000 to $3,200, these services were promised to bring them the proper relief they needed. The FTC has requested that a temporary restraining order be placed on the company.

From approximately October 2010 to December 2013, the Austin, Texas- based operation known as Home Relief Foundation allegedly drew in homeowners suffering from financial hardships all across the nation by making false promises to lower interest rates and mortgage payments using resources such as their affiliations with lenders, attorneys and federal entities.

These borrowers were also instructed to halt on their mortgage payments. The fees of $500 to $4,000 got the homeowners nothing, but racked in $500,000 for the defendants. Websites that they used to lure in victims included domains like,, and At the request of the FTC, the defendants have been ordered to stop conducted their illegal loan modification business and have also had their assets frozen.

The final company on the FTC’s list comes to the Southern California-based company known as CD Capital Investments. From mid-2011, they promised consumers mortgage relief within two to four months for upfront fees of $495 and claims to be apart of the Making Home Affordable Program. Their trick was telling consumers that they could get them lower fixed-interest rates and overall reductions in their monthly loan payments, or a reduction on their principle balances.

They too promoted an anti lender lifestyle and not only instructed customers to stay away from lenders and servicers, but also told them that by doing so did not mean that they would lose their homes to foreclosure because of the influence of the pending loan modification process. Over $1 million in revenues was collected through this scheme.

It was not uncommon for the victims to find out that the defendants never even submitted a loan modification on their behalf. Because many of them faced foreclosure and other financial consequences as a result of this scheme, the FTC is currently seeking a preliminary injunction to halt defendants’ practices during the pendency of the litigation.

If you are a victim of any of these schemes or of another one that has possibly not been brought to justice, call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Or visit their online complaint center.


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Steamtown mall management chaning – Scranton Times

Control of the foreclosed Mall at Steamtown will change hands on Friday.

Zamias Services Inc., a Johnstown property management and development firm, will become the receiver and run the mall’s operations, legal work indicates.

When foreclosure action against the downtown retail complex was filed in March after Steamtown Mall Partners defaulted on a $37.1 million mortgage payment in July 2013, court papers identified Zamias as the receiver.

Ownership of the mall changed hands two weeks ago when the property’s mortgage holder took possession of the retail complex at Lackawanna County sheriff’s sale after no bidders emerged to meet the asking price of $37.3 million.

The unidentified lender filed paperwork last week in county court exercising the option to appoint a receiver, which will operate the complex under the mortgage holder’s ownership.

Efforts to reach Joseph Anthony, president of Zamias, were unsuccessful.

Steamtown Mall Partners, which owned the complex before the foreclosure, will stop managing the mall on Thursday, said Scott Esterbrook, a lawyer who represents Al Boscov, the department store magnet who had an ownership stake in the facility.

Boscov’s is an anchor at the mall and Mr. Boscov has voiced interest in reacquiring the retail complex.

“It is what we expected,” Mr. Esterbrook said of the transition. “This is just part of the process. They will manage it.”

Mr. Esterbrook, who is counsel to Mr. Boscov in the foreclosure, said discussions are continuing with LNR Partners, a Florida real estate company that managed the mall’s loan account for the mortgage holder.

“We are continuing to talk to LNR, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress,” he said. “We are optimistic at some point that we will reach a deal.”

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Gregg Calls on Iowa Attorney General Miller to Stop Raising Campaign …

Tom Miller“Raising money from the targets of open investigations creates the perception that justice is for sale.”

DES MOINES—Johnston attorney and Republican Attorney General nominee Adam Gregg today called on Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to stop the practice of raising money from the targets of his investigations.

Numerous reports after Miller’s 2010 campaign called into question his practice of accepting large, out of state campaign contributions from firms and individuals directly associated with the targets of his mortgage settlement negotiations:

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

Campaign Contributions Rise When Foreclosure Investigation Begins

Even more interesting is that it was the lawyers and donors from the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector from outside of Iowa who were largely responsible for this reversal. Out-of-state lawyers and lobbyists gave Miller $261,445 in 2010, which is 88 times more than they gave over the previous decade. Out-of-state donors from the FIRE sector gave Miller $56,150 in 2010, compared to $3,500 in 2006 and $1,000 in 2002.

The out-of-state lawyers who suddenly took a strong interest in Miller’s reelection last fall are among the most prominent litigators and partners from some of the largest and most famous corporate and class action firms in the country, which is not surprising given the numerous high-stakes court cases filed in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008 that could be impacted by the pending settlement.11

Foreclosure-Probe Chief Asked Bank Lawyers for Money

Now, in response to queries from TIME, Miller says he initiated fundraising calls to several national firms that represent big banks after he had announced his intention to investigate the foreclosure mess. “In September and October, I tried to reach out to people that I’d worked with and I thought had respect for me and potential support for me and tried to raise money from them,” Miller says. “And a number of them were from national firms.”

Miller declined to say how many lawyers he contacted who regularly represent big banks and said he “didn’t know until after the election which firms were representing the banks in the foreclosure” case.

Best Way to Raise Campaign Money? Investigate Banks

A hilarious report has come out courtesy of the National Institute of Money in State Politics, showing that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller – who is coordinating the investigation into the banks’ improper mortgage dealings – increased his campaign contributions from the finance sector this year by a factor of 88! He has raised $261,445 from finance, insurance and real estate contributors since he announced that he was going to be coordinating the investigation into improper foreclosure practices. That is 88 times as much as they gave him not over last year, but over the previous decade.

This is about as perfect an example of how American politics works as you’ll ever see.

Gregg stated, “I find nothing ‘hilarious’ or remotely funny about these reports. What Tom Miller has done is not the Iowa way of campaigning, and certainly below the expectation of the Attorney General. Raising money from the targets of open investigations creates the perception that justice is for sale.”

“Tom Miller should either return all $261,445 to the donors identified in this independent report, or he should donate the equivalent from his campaign to a local charity such as Habitat for Humanity or Iowa Legal Aid,” Gregg stated. “Further, I’m calling on Tom Miller to immediately stop the practice of soliciting campaign funds from the targets of his open investigations.”

“Iowans demand fierce independence from their Attorney General.  Taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very targets of his investigation is unseemly and gives the appearance that his judgment is colored.”

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Daily Digest

Centennial Crossing Parcels Sell for $3.4 Million

Two parcels in the Centennial Crossing shopping center in Southeast Shelby County have sold for $3.4 million following foreclosure.

An entity called 7915 Winchester Road Holdings LLC, which is an affiliate of CWCapital Asset Management LLC, bought 7915 Winchester Road and an outparcel of the center in a July 25 substitute trustee’s deed from R. Spencer Clift III of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell Berkowitz PC.

The properties went into foreclosure when their three owners – MLC Investors LLC (56.08 percent interest), EJP Investors LLC (38.71 percent) and EK Investors LLC (5.21 percent interest) – defaulted on a $5.8 million loan through IXIS Real Estate Capital Inc. dated Nov. 17, 2006, according to a first-run foreclosure notice in the Tuesday, July 1, edition of The Daily News.

The companies paid $8.1 million for the properties at the same time from Belz/Southbluffs Inc., Belz Investco GP, Belz/HC Partnership, Michael A. Lightman.

Built in 2002 at the southwest corner of Winchester and Hacks Cross roads, the larger parcel is at 7915 Winchester Road in Centennial Crossing. It sits on 4.3 acres and had a 2013 appraised value of $4.1 million, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

The other property is a 0.9-acre outparcel on Winchester Road that includes a Starbucks, a dry cleaners and a Verizon Wireless store. Its 2013 appraisal was $953,100.

Source: The Daily News Online Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

UTHSC Honors Four With Alumnus Awards

Four physicians will receive the 2014 Outstanding Alumnus Awards from the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center on Aug. 14.

The doctors are being honored for their work in clinical practice, teaching and community service. Two internal medicine specialists, a pediatric allergist/immunologist and a pediatrician, the outstanding physicians will be honored when graduates of the UTHSC College of Medicine gather in Memphis for the annual College of Medicine Alumni Weekend Aug. 14-16.

The College of Medicine Alumni Council will bestow its highest honor on James D. Link, a pediatrician; Dana V. Wallace, a pediatric allergist/immunologist; Jesse J. Cannon, Jr., an internal medicine physician; and Jack B. Alperin, a specialist in internal medicine and hematology. The awards are presented annually to give special recognition to graduates of the UTHSC College of Medicine.

The physicians will be honored during an Alumni Awards Dinner at The Peabody, which begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception. Some 100 UTHSC friends, alumni and team members are expected to attend, including UT System President Joe DiPietro and UTHSC Chancellor Dr. Steve J. Schwab, who will welcome the guests. Other events during the College of Medicine Alumni Weekend include class reunions, continuing medical education, campus tours and a networking reception for alumni and students.

– Don Wade

Lewis Funeral Home Honored With Marker

The R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home at 374 Vance Ave. has a historical marker to note the 100th anniversary of one of the city’s longest-running African-American owned businesses.

The marker by the Tennessee Historical Marker Society, unveiled Sunday, July 27, notes the Lewis family’s history in the local civil rights movement as well as the business’ role in preparing the body of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. following King’s assassination in Memphis in 1968.

The funeral home was founded in 1914 and is currently owned by Tyrone Burroughs, the CEO of First Choice Sales and Marketing.

– Bill Dries

Latino Memphis Features Bush at Leadership Luncheon

George P. Bush, grandson of President George H. W. Bush, will be the featured speaker at the Latino Memphis Leadership Luncheon Sept. 9.

Bush will share during the first Leadership Luncheon his thoughts on the role Latinos play in the country and will touch on topics including education reform, immigration and increased civic and political participation by Latinos.

The event will take place at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn, 3700 Central Ave, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

– Andy Meek

Medtronic Wins Approval for Cervical Disc Product

Medtronic, Inc. has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market the Prestige LP Cervical Disc System for the treatment of single-level cervical disc disease (radiculopathy and/or myelopathy).

The Prestige LP Cervical Disc is the third clinically proven artificial cervical disc in the Medtronic portfolio and builds upon the same design principles as the original Prestige Cervical Disc introduced in 2007.

Instead of utilizing bone screws to attach to the vertebral bodies as in the original Prestige design, the LP design incorporates two rails positioned off midline that press-fit into two pre-drilled holes created during the surgical procedure. In addition, the Prestige LP Disc is composed of a proprietary titanium-ceramic composite that has been shown to have a lower wear rate and produce less scatter on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) than stainless steel (MR Conditional at 3 Tesla).

“Our goal was to maintain the same ball-and-trough articulation as in the original design, but to find a way to decrease the profile and use a material with improved postoperative MRI visualization,” said Dr. Vincent Traynelis, director of Neurosurgery Spine Services and vice chairperson and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “To address these issues, the Prestige LP Disc incorporates a dual-rail fixation mechanism instead of bone screws and is made of a titanium-ceramic composite instead of stainless steel.”

The Prestige LP Cervical Disc has been available outside the United States since 2004 and has been studied in a prospective, multicenter, historical-controlled U.S. IDE trial for a single-level indication, according to Medtronic.

– Don Wade

Tennessee Urges Residents to Vote Early by Aug. 2

With an especially long primary ballot, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is recommending that voters cast their ballots early.

Hargett told WPLN-FM that early voting accounted for 47 percent of ballots in August 2010, but they are hoping to increase that to 60 percent this year.

Hargett said that is the only way to avoid long lines and late returns on Election Day, Aug. 7. Even with heavy early voting, Hargett says some results won’t be returned until after midnight.

The ballot includes primaries for governor, U.S. senate, and congressional and state legislative seats; county races, judgeships and school board positions; and retention elections for state appellate judges. Early voting ends Aug. 2.

– The Associated Press

M Club Golf Tournament Slated for Aug. 29

The M Club, the letter winners association at the University of Memphis, will play host to the 2014 “Clash of the Tigers” Golf Tournament on Friday, Aug 29, at Windyke Country Club.

The tournament will take place on the eve of the Tigers kicking off the 2014 football season. Memphis will take on Austin Peay the following evening in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Pre-registration has begun for the event and individuals as well as teams interested in playing may contact M Club Director Dwight Boyd by calling 678-4878 or email Boyd at Registration runs through Aug. 22.

Several corporate and individual hole sponsorships as well as team sponsorships are currently available.

The All-American sponsorship level is $2,000 and includes playing slots for three teams in the four-man scramble tournament as well as premier signage, special recognition, hole sponsorship and 16 football tickets to the Austin Peay game. The All-Conference sponsorship package is $1,500 and includes playing slots for two teams, premier signage, special recognition, hole sponsorship and eight football tickets to the Austin Peay game. The Honorable Mention package includes slots for one team, hole sponsorship and four tickets to the Austin Peay game.

Corporate and individual hole sponsorships are available for $200. Individual player registration is $125.

Registration on the day of the tournament will begin at 7 a.m. at Windyke Country Club with a shotgun start at 8.

– Don Wade

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Avoid paths to credit troubles

Aaron Ely

Aaron Ely

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 9:49 am

Avoid paths to credit troubles

By Aaron Ely
Special to AFN

Ahwatukee Foothills News

Failure to repay the credit extended as agreed, paying only the minimum payment due and assuming they have great credit is where most people get in trouble.

Late payments affect your credit history. It doesn’t matter that the credit card balance is only $5, or that the payment is only one day late, or that you pay the late fee. Failure to pay on time will put a black mark on your credit history, one that will last for a year or more.

Minimum payments are another trouble spot. While making the minimum payment is acceptable, it does very little to reduce your outstanding debt.

Don’t assume you have a great credit history just because of the continuous offers for revolving credit you receive in the mail. Make sure that you have credit when you need it for a mortgage or a personal loan. You don’t want to be denied due to poor history or overextension of credit cards.

Getting help

If you do experience unexpected financial difficulty or need to clean up your credit, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you fall behind on payments, the worst thing you can do is to wait until you are so far behind that your creditors resort to collection agencies. By contacting your creditors right away, you may be able to make lower payments temporarily, until you get back on your feet. Be sure to get all agreements in writing.

If you are unable to make your monthly mortgage payment, the best thing you can do is to contact your lender immediately. Doing so just may help you avoid foreclosure. Many lenders will work with borrowers who have a good payment history to arrange a temporarily reduced payment plan. Some lenders may reduce or suspend your payments for a short time. Others may agree to change the terms of the mortgage by extending the repayment period to reduce the monthly debt. But the only way they can help you is if you tell them you need help.

If your credit standing is less than stellar, there is good news. It may take some time, but it can be fixed. If you work to reduce your debt by making regular, on-time payments for at least a year, your credit history will be much better looking to future creditors. You can also contact a professional financial counselor or a credit- and budget-counseling agency, if you need help developing a budget/debt reduction plan:

National Foundation for Consumer Credit

2000 M. St. NW, Suite 505

Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 677-4300


Another good resource on credit is You can also get help from a credit service, where you can review, protect and learn what steps you need to improve your credit.

Although establishing or regaining good credit may take time, once you start making on-time payments, your credit history begins to improve.

• Aaron Ely is a senior mortgage banker from Ahwatukee. Reach him at (480) 636-6207 or

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Monday, July 28, 2014 9:49 am.

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