2021 Midwest Road, Suite 200, Oak Brook, IL 60523


We're all aware that one of the biggest problems of today and hindrances to economic recovery is DEBT. How did this happen? Are people these days less fiscally responsible? Is it consumerism? I'm in the middle of reading Elizabeth Warren's The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke and it really sheds light on how we got to the predicament we're in today. Though she covers many factors of the economic downturn, she goes over two myths: the over-consumption myth and the evil debtor myth. The bottom line is that our perception that our society consumes itself into debt then tries to get away with paying that debt off is incorrect.

What is rarely discussed is how banks have changed over the past few decades - namely that they have been deregulated. Also, in 1978, the Supreme Court in Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp., 439 U.S. 299 (1978), held that state anti-usury laws are unconstitutional because they violate the interstate commerce clause. Now, people are struggling to pay interest that simply continues to mound. No wonder we can't get out of debt — our debt grows exponentially. And banks profit on that. In her book, and in the documentary Maxed Out, Ms. Warren discusses how CitiBank hired her as a consultant and demonstrate to the bank how they can minimize their losses and decrease defaults. When she suggested that banks not lend to debtors who are in obvious financial trouble, ...
On July 21, 2011, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was officially signed into law. So, as a consumer, what should you know? What are your rights? A recent Fox Business article outlines 'seven hidden gems' of this new financial reform:

  1. Office of Financial Education (Sec. 1013) This new law creates a new Office of Financial Education to 'improve the financial literacy of consumers' through financial counseling and education programs. It will provide information regarding handling savings accounts and other mainstream financial transactions to financial aid applications for students.
  2. Six Months' Notice to Reset Hybrid ARMs (Sec. 1418) As you know ARM loans allow borrowers to keep monthly payments low for a set period of time, after which monthly payments essentially shoot up. Consequently, many borrowers are caught up surprise. Under this new law lenders must inform homeowners at least six months ahead of time of an introductory mortgage-rate reset. Along with the notice, lenders will have to include an explanation of how the new mortgage rate will be set, a good faith estimate of the monthly payment, a list of alternative financial options and contact information for credit counseling agencies.
  3. Consumer Hot Line (Sec. 1013) That's right... a Hot Line. When you've been burned, you now can call a toll-free telephone number in case you encounter unfair or deceptive lending practices. Complaints will be routed to the appropriate federal or state agency and must be responded to in a 'timely' fashion, according to

Hide Your Children…

That's right. Adults are not the only victims of ID theft... kids are too. In fact, ID Analytics, a company that monitors consumer transactions in real-time, has issued a press release on a studying that found that more than 140,000 children in the United States are victims of identity theft every year. That's right, minors- people under 18 years of age. This can lead to a young child with a bankruptcy on his record or a 17-year straddled in $750,000 in debt.

The statistics are based on ID Analytic's Consumer Notification Service (CNS) that alerts consumers of potential privacy compromises under their names. ID Analytics found that most of the fraudulent transactions occurred in the credit card and cell phone/wireless industries. The reason why children are more vulnerable is because of the recency of their social security numbers (SSN) hence making it more difficult to verify the birth dates attached to children's SSNs.

It's possible that children won't notice the fraud until they become adults and want to use their credit only to find their name being tied to a criminal record or being denied financing or credit cards because of a bad credit history that was attained as a result of ID theft.

Other than organized crimes groups, it is often parents who are the perpetrators of identity theft. In an effort not to smudge his or her own record, a parent sometimes uses their kid's information when asked for identity. Ouch. ...

The Business of Law

The American Bar Association has published an article making the case that the legal profession was headed towards a stagnation even before the 'Great Recession.' This is due a 'paradigm shift' in the way legal services are provided. The premise of the article rests on statistics regarding legal services as a part of our GDP versus law jobs being available. The former has stayed the same whereas the latter has dropped. This indicates that legal services are still needed in these economic times, but consumers are finding alternative methods of getting those services. Additionally, the article points out that most people can not afford a lawyer (which is probably correct).

One section of the article discusses 'e-law.' E-law is finding resources online, namely templates and boilerplates, for legal documents such as contracts, wills, trusts, or even legal filings. I have had my reservations about e-law for awhile. My main contention is that boilerplates and templates often do not take into consideration the caselaw. For whatever reason, I find many contract templates that have clauses that are not upheld by courts or even have clauses that violate the law. One example of such a boilerplate is a 'no-oral-modification' clause. The clause essentially states that the contract can not be modified orally and that parties must, in writing, modify the terms. Well, this clause is not recognized in Illinois courts (as well as other jurisdictions). See Tadros v. Kuzmak, 277 Ill. App.3d 301, 312 (1st Dist. 1995). This mistake could ...
Two big announcements:

1. Shakfeh Law has moved to its own office in Oak Book. Check out the Contact Us page for the details.

2. Shakfeh Law now is accepting credit cards. Now it's easier to pay. I hope everyone had a great weekend and Father's Day.