AUGUST BANKRUPTCY FILINGS INCREASE SLIGHTLY OVER LAST MONTH
Total bankruptcy filings in the United States for the month of August increased 7 percent compared to July, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc. August bankruptcy filings totaled 104,336, up from the 97,104 filings registered in July 2012. The 99,417 total noncommercial filings for August represented a 7 percent increase from the July noncommercial filing total of 92,562. Total commercial filings for August 2012 were 4,919, representing an 8 percent increase from the 4,542 filings in July. Commercial chapter 11 filings also increased in August as the 648 filings represented an 8 percent increase over the 600 filings in July.
The 104,336 total bankruptcy filings in August represented a 14 percent decrease from the 120,905 filings registered in August 2011. The 4,919 commercial filings for August 2012 represented a 24 percent decrease from the 6,434 filings during the same period in 2011. The August commercial chapter 11 filing total of 648 represented a 9 percent decrease from August 2011’s total of 710. The 99,417 total noncommercial filings for August represented a 13 percent drop from the August 2011 noncommercial filing total of 114,471. Click here for the full ABI press release.
REPORT: DEBT-PROTECTION PLANS UNDER SCRUTINY
Several consumer advocates lump credit-protection plans in the category of an expensive type of insurance that most consumers do not really need, according to a report in today's Detroit Free Press. Credit card protection plans are under fire for deceptive marketing practices, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has put all institutions on notice. One concern is that the third-parties that often pitch these products mislead consumers. Under a settlement with regulators, Capital One Bank will refund about $150 million to 2.5 million customers and pay $60 million in penalties. Capital One said it believes that the average refund will be less than $100. Federal regulators charged that Capital One engaged in deceptive marketing tactics to pressure or mislead some consumers into buying payment-protection plans and credit-monitoring services when they activated their credit cards. Here is a look at what other card issuers are doing:
• Bank of America quit pitching its Credit Protection Plus and Credit Protection Deluxe products in August and no longer offers the credit-protection plans to new customers.
• American Express stopped offering its Account Protector program -- a debt-cancellation product -- earlier this year and will discontinue the plan on Dec. 31.
• Chase said that it stopped offering its Chase Payment Protector plans to new enrollments in October 2011, but it is continuing to serve customers who already purchased the service.
• Discover declined to comment this week but was still offering its payment-protection plan at that time.
• Citi Cards recently paused telephone sales for its debt-protection products and said it would fully complete reviews already under way, in line with new guidance recently issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research for CreditCards.com, said that one troubling issue with the credit-protection product involved hard-sell, fear-driven phone pitches. Click here to read the full report.
ANALYSIS: PREPAID PLASTIC IS CREEPING INTO CREDIT
Prepaid cards are among the fastest-growing types of plastic, according to payment-industry researcher Mercator Advisory Group, as U.S. consumers loaded $83.3 billion onto prepaid cards in 2011, a 34 percent increase over the prior year, the Wall Street Journal reported today. While the cards were designed to help the less-affluent have better control their finances, overdraft and other credit-like features have been added to these cards in recent years. Some consumers are outspending their means and racking up big debts from the cards, say consumer advocates, who are lobbying regulators to ban the practice. Several nonbank prepaid card providers and large banks that recently started offering prepaid cards, including Green Dot Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., have steered clear of overdraft or other credit-like features. But a number of players, including Netspend Holdings Inc., the second-largest prepaid card provider behind Green Dot, allow users to take on debt, which can add to the fees they must pay. The National Consumer Law Center, the Center for Responsible Lending and the Consumer Federation of America have joined forces to lobby the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to prohibit prepaid cards from offering any type of credit. The CFPB is evaluating the consumer advocates' proposal as part of a broader effort to more closely regulate prepaid cards. Read more. (Subscription required.)
COMMENTARY: PRUNING HEDGE FUND REGULATION WITHOUT CULTIVATING BETTER RULES
Fresh from having declined to constrain money market funds, the Securities and Exchange Commission has moved to loosen marketing constraints on hedge funds, according to a commentary yesterday in the New York Times DealBook blog. Two weeks ago, the agency said that it would not be able to defend millions of investors from money market funds that do things like invest in European bank bonds, but portend to be perfectly safe. While hedge funds should be able to promote themselves to investors with data about their returns and methods, the SEC does not have any new resources and has not put in place any policies to police these promotions. Even professionals have a problem in evaluating hedge fund performance, according to the commentary, because distinguishing skill from luck and excessive risk-taking is extremely difficult. Read the full commentary.
ABI MEMBERS WELCOME TO ATTEND ACB'S FREE HALF-DAY "BANKRUPTCY: BACK TO THE FUTURE" PROGRAM IN SEPTEMBER
The American College of Bankruptcy invites you to attend a free half-day program on Sept. 28 in Chicago for a discussion of many of the challenging topics facing current bankruptcy and reorganization professionals. Topics to be addressed include recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, important work of the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules, and developments in the field of bankruptcy ethics. The nation’s leading judges, academics and bankruptcy professionals are among the speakers for the program. While there is no cost to attend, seating is limited, so early reservation is suggested. For more information and to register, please click here.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: CARDWELL V. GURLEY (IN RE CARDWELL; 5TH CIR.)
Summarized by Eric Lockridge of Kean Miller LLP
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment affirming the bankruptcy court's determination that the creditor's state-court judgment against the debtor was not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The state court's findings of fact and conclusions of law established the elements of actual fraud that support a determination that the judgment debt is non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A).
There are more than 600 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: JUDICIAL CONFERENCE PROPOSES AMENDED BANKRUPTCY RULES IN RESPONSE TO SUPREME COURT'S RULING IN STERN V. MARSHALL
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post details how the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States has proposed amendments to Bankruptcy Rules 7008, 7012, 7016, 9027 and 9033 in an attempt to address some of the inefficiencies that the Supreme Court’s Stern v. Marshall decision has introduced into bankruptcy proceedings. The proposed amendments were published in the Federal Register on Aug. 17, 2012, for public comment. Public hearings on the proposed amendments will be held in Chicago on Jan. 18, 2013, and Washington, D.C., on Feb. 1, 2013. The public comment period ends Feb. 15, 2013.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
Bankruptcy courts should have unfettered discretion in adjusting fee applications, even when no party-in-interest has raised objections.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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