September 20, 2019

History of Labor Day

Labor Day 2019

On September 2, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor celebrates and honors the greatest worker in the world – the American worker. Labor Day 2019 is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day being celebrated as a national holiday.

Labor Day: What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation

The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During 1887, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Founder of Labor Day

More than a century after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.

A Nationwide Holiday

Women's Auxiliary Typographical Union

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has changed in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics, and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor

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The F Word

No.  Not that F Word.

The word I am talking about is Forgiveness.

In particular, Debt Forgiveness.

Let go...or be dragged. -Zen Proverb

Let go…or be dragged.
-Zen Proverb

This can be achieved through Bankruptcy or Bankruptcy Alternatives.

I talk a lot about Bankruptcy, but it’s not for everyone.

So, what are the alternatives? Here are the top three:

  • Repayment with Workouts

(aka Debt Negotiation)

  • Debt Management with Strict Budgeting

(read our budgeting blog here)

  • Claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Don’t let your debt drag you down.

Let it go.

For more information, contact me here.

Sincerely,

Theresa Rose DeGray

Attorney at Law

PS: Debt Forgiveness may result in tax consequences; whereas Bankruptcy does not.

SCRA: Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act applies in bankruptcy cases. It provides protection to members of the military against the entry of default judgments and gives the court the ability to stay proceedings against military debtors.

Background

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) is found at 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 501 et seq. The purpose of the SCRA is strengthen and expedite national defense by giving servicemembers certain protections in civil actions. By providing for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect servicemembers during their military service, the SCRA enables servicemembers to focus their energy on the defense of the United States. Among other things, the SCRA allows for forbearance and reduced interest on certain obligations incurred prior to military service, and it restricts default judgments against servicemembers and rental evictions of servicemembers and all their dependents. The SCRA applies to all members of the United States military on active duty, and to U.S. citizens serving in the military of United States allies in the prosecution of a war or military action. The provisions of the SCRA generally end when a servicemember is discharged from active duty or within 90 days of discharge, or when the servicemember dies. Portions of the SCRA also apply to reservists and inductees who have received orders but not yet reported to active duty or induction into the military service.

General Provisions

There are three primary areas of coverage under the SCRA: (1) protection against the entry of default judgments; (2) stay of proceedings where the servicemember has notice of the proceeding; and (3) stay or vacation of execution of judgments, attachments and garnishments. 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 521, 522 and 524.

Protection Against Default Judgements

Section 521 of the SCRA establishes certain procedures that must be followed in all civil proceedings in order to protect servicemember defendants against the entry of default judgements. These procedures are outlined below:

  • If a defendant is in default for failure to appear in the action filed by the plaintiff, the plaintiff must file an affidavit (1) with the court before a default judgment may be entered. The affidavit must state whether the defendant is in the military, or that the plaintiff was unable to determine whether the defendant is in the military.
  • If, based on the filed affidavits, the court cannot determine whether the defendant is in the military, it may condition entry of judgment against the defendant upon the plaintiff’s filing of a bond. The bond would indemnify the defendant against any loss or damage incurred because of the judgment if the judgment is later set aside in whole or in part.
  • The court may not order entry of judgment against the defendant if the defendant is in the military until after the court appoints an attorney to represent the defendant.
  • If requested by counsel for a servicemember defendant, or upon the court’s own motion, the court will grant a stay of proceedings for no less than 90 days if it determines that (1) there may be a defense and the defense cannot be presented without the defendant’s presence; or (2) after due diligence the defendant’s attorney has not been able to contact the defendant or otherwise determine if a meritorious defense exists.
  • The court may, in its discretion, make further orders or enter further judgments to protect the rights of the defendant under the SCRA.
  • If a judgment is entered against the defendant while he or she is in military service or within 60 days of discharge from military service, and the defendant was prejudiced in making his or her defense because of his or her military service, the judgment may, upon application by the defendant, be opened by the court and the defendant may then provide a defense. Before the judgment may be opened, however, the defendant must show that he or she has a meritorious or legal defense to some or all of the action.

    Stay of Proceedings Where Servicemember Has Notice

    Outside the default context, and at any time before final judgement in a civil action, a person covered by the SCRA who has received notice of a proceeding may ask the court to stay the proceeding. 50 U.S.C. app. § 522. The court may also order a stay on its own motion. Id. The court will grant the servicemember’s stay application and will stay the proceeding for at least 90 days if the application includes: (1) a letter or other communication setting forth facts demonstrating that the individual’s current military duty requirements materially affect the servicemember’s ability to appear along with a date when the servicemember will be able to appear; and (2) a letter or other communication from the servicemember’s commanding officer stating that the servicemember’s current military duty prevents his or her appearance and that military leave is not authorized for the servicemember at the time of the letter. The court has discretion to grant additional stays upon further application.

    Stay or Vacation of Execution of Judgements, Attachments and Garnishments

    In addition to the court’s ability to regulate default judgments and stay proceedings, the court may on its own motion and must upon application: (1) stay the execution of any judgment or order entered against a servicemember; and (2) vacate or stay any attachment or garnishment of the servicemember’s property or assets, whether before or after judgment if it finds that the servicemember’s ability to comply with the judgment or garnishment is materially affected by military service. 50 U.S.C. app. § 524. The stay of execution may be ordered for any part of the servicemember’s military service plus 90 days after discharge from the service. The court may also order the servicemember to make installment payments during any stay ordered.

    Additional Protections

    Several additional rights are available under the SCRA. For example, when an action for compliance with a contract is stayed under the SCRA, contractual penalties do not accrue during the period of the stay. 50 U.S.C. app. § 523. The SCRA also provides in most instances that a landlord cannot evict a servicemember or dependants from a primary residence without a court order. In an eviction proceeding, the court may also adjust the lease obligations to protect the interests of the parties. 50 U.S.C. app. § 531. If the court stay the eviction proceeding, it may provide equitable relief to the landlord by ordering garnishment of a portion of the servicemember’s pay. Id. Under the SCRA a servicemember may terminate residential and automotive leases if he or she is transferred after the lease is made. 50 U.S.C. app. § 535. A court may also extend some of the protections afforded a servicemember under the SCRA to persons co-liable or secondarily liable on the servicemember’s obligation. 50 U.S.C. app. § 513.

Applicability to Bankruptcy Proceedings

The language of the SCRA states that it is generally applicable in any action or proceeding commenced in any court. 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 521, 522 and 524. Therefore, absent contravening language with respect to bankruptcy proceedings, the SCRA applies to all actions or proceedings before a bankruptcy court.

The applicability of the SCRA in bankruptcy proceedings is also evident in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. For example, the advisory committee note to Federal Rule for default judgments, Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b), states that it is directly affected by the SCRA. (2) Under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7055 and 9014 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Fed. R. Civ. P. 55 is applicable in bankruptcy adversary proceedings and contested matters. Thus, the default judgment protections of the SCRA clearly apply in bankruptcy cases.

The bankruptcy court clerk’s office is aware of the requirement that the plaintiff must provide an affidavit stating whether the defendant is in the military before default may be entered against the defendant. Bankruptcy Procedural Forms B260, B261A, and B261B, and their accompanying instructions, provide additional guidance concerning the applicability of the SCRA to default judgments and related procedural requirements.

SOURCE: SCRA. Servicemembers’ Civil Relief, Federal Courts Bankruptcy Basics Page

Secured Debt vs. Unsecured Debt

When it comes to debt there are two main types, secured and unsecured. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy knowing the difference between both is very important so you can implement a proper plan. Even if you aren’t filing bankruptcy it is still good to know what the differences are between the debts.

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First, what is secured debt? Secured debt is when something of value is used as collateral for a loan. If you fall behind on your loan payments the lender has the right to place a lien on what you used as collateral. This means they have the right to take ownership of it. Usually the lender will liquidate the asset and use that money to pay off what is due. However, if the selling price isn’t enough to pay off the debt completely the lender may then attempt to collect the difference from you, which is called a “deficiency.”

Examples of secured debt:

  • Mortgages – The loan is attached to the home and the home is the asset. If payments aren’t made the bank may take the home, known as a foreclosure
  • Car loans – The loan is attached to the car and if payments are not made the bank has the right to repossession
  • Auto loans and cash loans secured by a car title or other property
  • Boat loans
  • Furniture

So what do you do? You can obtain legal protection from creditors by filing bankruptcy. When you file Chapter 7 you have to decide if you will retain or surrender the property. You can only discharge secured debt if you surrender the property used as collateral. If you want to keep the property, you must continue making the payments. When you file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy it’s common that you will create a payment plan to make up the payments over a certain period of time while staying current on your regular monthly payments. For example, if you have a foreclosure on your house, filling a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop the foreclosure and implement a plan whereby you pay back the debt in increments until it is complete. To make the plan work you need to demonstrate that you will have enough income in the future to support the payment plan. If there were no legal proceedings or lawsuits brought against you before you file, filing bankruptcy sets forth a law that prevents the lender from bringing any lawsuits or legal proceedings, such as a foreclosure, against you. Additionally, you can sometimes use Chapter 13 bankruptcy to reduce debt to the replacement value of the property securing it, then pay off that debt through a plan. Therefore you are only paying what the asset is actually worth.

Next, what is unsecured debt? Unsecured debt is not tied to collateral and doesn’t result in repossession of the asset if you fall behind on payments. There is still an agreement to repay the lender but there is no asset. Therefore the debt isn’t attached to something that the lender can just take back. Instead lenders may take other actions in order to get you to pay. These actions may include the lender hiring a collection agency or taking you to court in order to get you to pay.

Examples of unsecured debt:

  • Credit card bills
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Utility bills
  • Pay day loans

How can bankruptcy help unsecured debt? Once you file bankruptcy collection actions will be suspended and you may be allowed to temporarily or permanently avoid paying any debts. These debts may be eliminated or a plan can be formulated so you can repay creditors while remaining under the protection of bankruptcy. Under chapter 7 bankruptcy some debts may be completely discharged while others mat not. If some debts aren’t discharged there may be a plan created to help pay it back over a period of time. Filing bankruptcy sets forth a law which generates an automatic stay on the debt. This means the creditors or debt collectors cannot push for the collection of debt. Once you file bankruptcy the creditors can’t harass you to pay the debt. Filing bankruptcy prevents that and buys you time to negotiate a plan to pay back the debt you owe.

Overall, bankruptcy is a powerful tool for debtors and a lot can be done to help out if you are facing financial hardships. Debt is a serious issue and knowing the differences between the kids of debt and what can be done about each is very important. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact Attorney Theresa DeGray at 203-713-8877.

Does it make sense to save my home?

Whenever someone comes to see me about issues with their mortgage, the first question I ask is always: “Do you want to keep your home?”  And I always expect a very long answer because there are a lot of considerations when making that decision.  Factors include but are not limited to:

  • Can I really afford it?
  • Is it underwater?
  • Does it need a lot of work?
  • Will this disrupt my family?

Depending on the whole answer, sometimes it simply does not make sense to keep your home.

Does it make sense to save your home? | Consumer Legal Services, LLC

If you come to the conclusion that it is best for you to let your home go, you then have many options, such as:

  • Sale or Short-Sale
  • Bankruptcy
  • Deed in Lieu

Making this decision is hard and you should have as much information as you can get before coming to your final answer.  You should also have a solid exit strategy, should you decide it does not make sense to save your home.

We offer free and confidential consultations, and can help you decide if saving your home makes sense for you, and help you put together a plan for your next steps in whatever direction you choose.

If you choose to let your home go, we can help you exit gracefully.  Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your options. Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray can we reached directly at 203-713-8877.

Got Mold? (A Guest Post by Elizabeth Cote from Schaefer Inspection)

Perhaps mold is a concern because you are purchasing a home and your inspection is soon, or maybe you suspect the presence of mold in your current home. Mold spores are present everywhere we live and breathe.  Mold spores enter our homes through open windows, our shoes from outside, or items we bring inside. It is likely that most homes will test positive for mold spores in the air. The real concern should be mold that is growing in homes due to moisture that is not well-controlled. Should you test for mold? Consider your reason to test. Are there health, allergy, or respiratory issues that are creating concern? Some people will react to mold in their environment and others will not. The Connecticut Department of Public Health does not strongly recommend testing the air or contaminated surfaces to find out how much or what kind of mold is present. All reliable sources recommend cleaning and removal, after stemming the source of moisture. There are inconclusive findings from air testing in most home and work place environments:

  • Mold is everywhere– if you test the air, you will find some mold.
  • There are no standards for “acceptable levels” of mold in indoor environments, because different types of mold vary in ability to produce allergy or illness, and, people vary in individual susceptibility/resistance.
  • There is poor correlation between airborne concentrations of mold and health outcomes.
  • Knowing air test results will not change the abatement outcome – controlling moisture and removal of the moldy source is still the recommended course of action.

The most important tests are the eyeball and nose tests – can you see or smell mold or mildew, and/or, do you see evidence of water damage? If you can see or smell fungal growth, the next step is to identify the source and then remove it, using appropriate methods. If you smell a musty odor but cannot see visible growth, mold may be hidden behind wallpaper, paint, inside of wall cavities, etc. If necessary contact a local professional to discuss and price abatement. It is always important to get several opinions and prices. Schaefer Inspection Service has a list of mold abatement contacts and we can help connect you with a specialist.

The good news is you can take some simple and easy steps to prevent mold in your home. These include:

  • When water leaks occur, act quickly!
  • Remove wet carpet or furniture that cannot be dried within 24 – 48 hours.
  • Do not install carpet in areas of water usage such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, act fast to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture or water source.
  • Use air conditioners or dehumidifiers to keep humidity low.
  • Use a bathroom exhaust fan or open a window when showering.
  • Dry shower walls after use.
  • When cooking or using the dishwasher, use an exhaust fan or open the window.
  • Keep furniture and rugs from blocking air returns and vents.
  • Clean and repair gutters regularly to ensure good drainage.
  • Keep the crawlspace and basement well ventilated.
  • Ensure that your attic is properly ventilated and insulated.

Below you will find links to the Connecticut Department of Public Health website for more information about mold, mold assessment, and abatement. Schaefer Inspection Service can connect you with a mold abatement specialist in Connecticut. Call our office for more information: 800-345-2776.

https://portal.ct.gov/search-results/?q=mold#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=mold&gsc.page=1

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Departments-and-Agencies/DPH/dph/environmental_health/eoha/pdf/MoldGuidanceInsurancepdf.pdf?la=en

This guest post is brought to you by Elizabeth Cote from Schaefer Inspection Service, Inc.  Contact Ms. Cote directly by email at ecote@schaeferinspectionct.com or by phone at 203-387-2131 for all your inspection needs!

800-345-2776

New Case Law Regarding Acceleration

DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY,TRUSTEE v.JOSEPH R. PONGER ET AL.(AC 41014) DiPentima, C. J., and Moll and Sullivan, Js.

Syllabus

The plaintiff bank sought to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property owned by the defendant T and her former spouse, P. T and P had executed a mortgage deed, and P had executed a note in favor of a predecessor in interest of the plaintiff. The note was later assigned to the plaintiff. After P failed to make payments pursuant to the note, the plaintiff advised him that the note and mortgage were in default, and mailed notice of the default addressed to him, but not to T, at the address of the property at issue, at which P no longer lived at the time that the plaintiff mailed the notice to him there. In the absence of a cure of the default, the plaintiff thereafter elected to accelerate the amount due under the note. T claimed that the plaintiff had failed to provide herewith proper notice of the default and acceleration of the note when it sent notice to the property that was addressed to P. The trial court rendered judgment of strict foreclosure for the plaintiff, concluding,inter alia, that the notice of default and acceleration was sent to T as a joint tenant of the mortgaged property and a joint obligor on the mortgage deed. On T’s appeal to this court,held that the trial court properly rendered judgment of strict foreclosure for the plaintiff, as that court correctly concluded that the notice requirement under the mortgage was satisfied because notice to one joint tenant or joint obligor constitutes notice to the other; because T conceded that, at all relevant times, she and P were joint tenants with respect to the subject property,it was not in dispute that T and P continued as joint obligors under the mortgage, and T did not dispute that her signature was on the mortgage,notice to P constituted notice to T.Argued November 29, 2018—officially released July 2, 2019Procedural History Action to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property of the named defendant et al., and for other relief,brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk, where the court,Mintz, J., granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as to liability as against the named defendant; thereafter, the court,Hon. A. William Mottolese, judge trial referee,accepted the parties’ stipulation of facts, and the matter was tried to the court,Hon. A. William Mottolese, judge trial referee; judgment of strict foreclosure, from which the defendant Theresa Ponger appealed to this court.Affirmed.Colin B. Connor, for the appellant (defendant Theresa Ponger). Christopher J. Picard, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Opinion

SULLIVAN, J. The defendant Theresa Ponger appeals from a judgment of strict foreclosure rendered by thetrial court.1On appeal, the defendant’s principal claim isthat the court erred when it concluded that the plaintiff, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee, in Trust, for Registered Holders of Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-WL3, Asset-Backed Certificates, Series2006-WL3, had provided notice of default and acceleration to her when it sent notice to the subject property addressed to her former spouse, Joseph R. Pongern (Ponger), who no longer resided at the property.Because the court correctly held that the notice requirement under the mortgage was satisfied because notice to one joint tenant or joint obligor constitutes noticeto the others, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.The parties stipulated to the following relevant facts.On September 7, 2005, Ponger executed a note in favor of Long Beach Mortgage Company in the principalamount of $420,000. The note was endorsed in blankand supplied to the plaintiff prior to the commencement of this action. Also on September 7, 2005, Ponger andthe defendant executed a mortgage deed in favor ofLong Beach Mortgage Company on property located at23 Macintosh Road, Norwalk. The mortgage was recorded in the Norwalk land records on September13, 2005.2The plaintiff is the present holder of the note.On or about December 6, 2013, by letter addressed to Ponger at 23 Macintosh Road, Norwalk, Connecticut06857, the plaintiff advised him that the note and mort-gage were in default due to his failure to make therequired monthly payments.3Notice of the aforemen-tioned default was not addressed to the defendant.4Inthe absence of a cure of the default, the plaintiff electedto accelerate the amount due under the note. On April15, 2014, the plaintiff provided Ponger and the defen-dant notice of their rights under the General Statutes as they relate to the Emergency Mortgage AssistanceProgram. See General Statutes § 8-265cc et seq. Therecord further indicates that Ponger failed to make pay-ments pursuant to the note from July 1, 2013, to thedate of the joint stipulation, May 9, 2017.The present action was commenced on October 13,2015, approximately eighteen months after the Emer-gency Mortgage Assistance Program notice was mailedto the subject property. On May 5, 2016, after the expira-tion of the court approved foreclosure mediation period, the defendant filed a timely answer asserting,as a special defense, that the plaintiff had failed toprovide her with proper notice of default and accelera-tion. Thereafter, on June 2, 2016, the plaintiff filed amotion for summary judgment as to both Ponger and the defendant. The court granted the motion with respect to Ponger but denied the motion with respect to the defendant. On May 16, 2017, the parties filed a joint stipulation of facts with the court as to the remaining issues in dispute. On September 6, 2017, the court issued its memorandum of decision finding in favor of the plaintiff. The court determined that ‘‘[r]esolution of this issue is controlled squarely byCiticorp Mortgage,Inc.v.Porto, 41 Conn. App. 598, 600–604, 677 A.2d 10(1996),’’5and, thus, concluded in relevant part that the‘‘notice of default and acceleration was sent to [the defendant] as a joint tenant of the mortgaged property and a joint obligor on the mortgage deed.’’ Thereafter,the court rendered judgment of strict foreclosure against both Ponger and the defendant, and set thelaw day for January 16, 2018. This appeal followed.Additional facts and procedural history will be set forthas necessary.The defendant’s principal claim on appeal is that the court erred when it concluded that the notice require-ment provision of the subject mortgage had been satis-fied as to the defendant when the plaintiff provided notice addressed exclusively to Ponger.6Specifically,the defendant claims that, because she is a ‘‘[b]orrower’’under the terms of the mortgage, and because the noticeprovision of the mortgage requires notice of defaultand acceleration to be given to the ‘‘[b]orrower,’’ the plaintiff was required to provide her individually withnotice. The defendant further claims that the courtimproperly applied the legal principles set forth inCiti-corp Mortgage, Inc. v.Porto, supra, 41 Conn. App. 600,because the present case is distinguishable, and, as aresult of the improper application ofCiticorp Mortgage,Inc., a necessary condition precedent to the foreclosure action was not met.7We disagree.As an initial matter, we note that the defendant’sclaim presents a mixed question of law and fact. ‘‘Wherethe question whether proper notice was given depends upon the construction of a written instrument or the circumstances are such as lead to only one reasonable conclusion, it will be one of law, but where the conclu-sion involves the effect of various circumstances capa-ble of diverse interpretation, it is necessarily one offact for the trier.’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.)Sunset Mortgagev.Agolio, 109 Conn. App. 198, 202,952 A.2d 65 (2008). Because the plaintiff claims ‘‘thatthe facts found were insufficient to support the court’slegal conclusion, this issue presents a mixed question of law and fact to which we apply plenary review.’’Winchesterv.McCue, 91 Conn. App. 721, 726, 882 A.2d143, cert. denied, 276 Conn. 922, 888 A.2d 91 (2005).We begin by addressing the defendant’s claim thatthe court erred when it applied the legal principles setforth inCiticorp Mortgage, Inc., to the present case. InCiticorp Mortgage, Inc., this court addressed whether notice to one joint tenant constituted notice to the oth-ers under similar, but not identical, circumstances.

There, the defendant and his spouse were living apart,and neither the defendant nor the spouse resided at the subject property at the time notice was delivered.Similar to the notice provision in the present case, the relevant notice provision provided: ‘‘Unless applicable law requires a different method, any notice that must be given to me under this note will be given by deliveringit or by mailing it first class to me at the property address above or at a different address if I give thenote holder notice of my different address.’’ (Internalquotation marks omitted.)Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. v.Porto, supra, 41 Conn. App. 600 n.4. Unlike like thepresent case, in which the defendant is a signatoryonly on the subject mortgage, the defendant inCiticorpMortgage, Inc., was both a signatory on the note anda signatory on the corresponding mortgage.This court concluded that, although ‘‘proper noticeof acceleration is a necessary condition precedent toan action for foreclosure . . . the plaintiff provided thedefendant with proper notice by mailing the notice ofacceleration to [a joint tenant of the defendant].’’ Id.,603. This court further concluded that, ‘‘[w]hile itappears that service of a notice upon one tenant incommon is not usually regarded as binding upon theothers, unless they are engaged in a common enterprise,the rule is different where the relation is that of a joint tenancy. In such a case, it is said that notice to one ofthem is binding upon all. 20 Am. Jur. 2d, Cotenancyand Joint Ownership § 113 (1995).’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.)Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. v.Porto, supra,41 Conn. App. 603.Largely informed by our Supreme Court’s decisioninKatzv.West Hartford, 191 Conn. 594, 600, 469 A.2d410 (1983), which reaffirmed long-standing precedent that ‘‘[i]n the case of cofiduciaries [and joint tenants]notice to one is deemed to be notice to the other,’’this court’s decision inCiticorp Mortgage, Inc., alsorestated the long-standing principle that ‘‘[n]otice toone of twojoint obligorsconveys notice to the otherwith respect to matters affecting the joint obligation.United Statesv. Fleisher Engineering & ConstructionCo., 107 F.2d 925, 929 (2d Cir. 1939).’’ (Emphasis added.)Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. v. Porto, supra, 41 Conn. App.603–604. Despite the foregoing, the defendant claimsthat the trial court misapplied the aforementioned stan-dards because, unlike the defendant inCiticorp Mort-gage, Inc., who was both a signatory on the note and corresponding mortgage, she was not a signatory onthe subject note. We find the defendant’s claim unper-suasive.In a recent decision, this court addressed a similarclaim. SeeCitibank, N.A. v. Stein, 186 Conn. App. 224,199 A.3d 57 (2018), cert. denied, 331 Conn. 903, 202A.3d 373 (2019).8InCitibank, N.A., the defendant argued that, because he was a signatory on the subject mortgage but not a signatory on the corresponding note,notice to his former spouse, who was the sole signatory on the note, was not effective as to him. Id., 250 n.21.This court held that, because the defendant signed the mortgage instrument, thereby pledging the property as security for the debt obligation created by the note,which was signed by the former spouse, the defendantwas a joint obligor as to the mortgage and that the notice provided to his former spouse, despite their contrasting endorsements, satisfied the notice requirements under the mortgage. Id., 249–50, 250 n.21.Critically, at oral argument before this court, the defendant conceded that, at all relevant times, she andPonger were joint tenants with respect to the subjectproperty. 9SeeKatzv. West Hartford, supra, 191 Conn.600. Furthermore, it is not in dispute that the defendant and Ponger continued as joint obligors under the sub-ject mortgage. SeevCiticorp Mortgage, Inc. v.Porto,supra, 41 Conn. App. 603–604. Further still, the defen-dant has not challenged the stipulation or otherwise disputed that her signature is on the mortgage. Accord-ingly, we conclude that the present case falls squarely within the ambit of this court’s decision inCiticorpMortgage, Inc., and, therefore,the notice to Pongerconstituted notice to the defendant.The judgment is affirmed and the case is remanded for the purpose of setting new law days.In this opinion the other judges concurred.1Joseph R. Ponger was also a defendant at trial but does not appeal fromthe judgment of strict foreclosure. In this opinion, we refer to Theresa Pongeras the defendant and to Joseph R. Ponger as Ponger. Several encumbrances also were named as defendants, but they are not parties to this appeal.2By virtue of assignments of the mortgage from Long Beach Mortgage Company to Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Trust 2006-WL3, dated April 7, 2010, and recorded June 11,2010, in volume 7200 at page 113 of the Norwalk land records, and thereafter from Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Trust 2006-WL3 to the plaintiff, dated August 20, 2015, and recordedOctober 9, 2015, in volume 8244 at page 101 of the Norwalk land records,the plaintiff became the mortgagee of record.3The notice provision of the subject mortgage provides in relevant part:‘‘Any notice to Borrower provided for in this Security Instrument shall be given by delivering it or by mailing it by first class mail unless applicablelaw requires use of another method. The notice shall be directed to the Property Address or any other address Borrower designates by notice toLender.’’ The subject mortgage defines the ‘‘[b]orrower’’ as ‘‘Joseph Pongerand Theresa Ponger.’’4Relatedly, the defendant claims that the court erred when it concluded that the plaintiff’s admission that notice was not individually addressed tothe defendant did not preclude judgment of strict foreclosure. Because the plaintiffs admission is not legally significant as to the defendant’s claim onappeal, we decline to address it.5The principal issue before the trial court essentially was identical to the issue now presented on appeal, namely, whether the plaintiff was required to provide the defendant with individual notice of default and acceleration pursuant to the notice provision in the subject mortgage.6In addition, the defendant claims that, even assuming arguendo that she received the notice sent by the plaintiff to Ponger, the notice failed to comply with certain requirements set forth in the mortgage deed and, thus, was deficient. The defendant failed to raise this distinct claim before the trial court and, therefore, we decline to review it. See DiMiceliv.Cheshire, 162

Conn. App. 216, 229–30, 131 A.3d 771 (2016) (‘‘Our appellate courts, as a general practice, will not review claims made for the first time on appeal.We repeatedly have held that [a] party cannot present a case to the trial court on one theory and then seek appellate relief on a different one . . . .[A]n appellate court is under no obligation to consider a claim that is not distinctly raised at the trial level. . . . [B]ecause our review is limited to matters in the record, we [also] will not address issues not decided by the trial court.’’ [Internal quotation marks omitted.]).7Additionally, in her brief the defendant argues that the court erred when it concluded that she and Ponger were joint tenants as to the subject prop-erty. At oral argument, however, the defendant conceded that, at all relevant times, she remained a joint tenant to the subject property.8Citibank, N.A. v. Stein, supra, 186 Conn. App. 224, was officially released two days prior to oral argument. We note that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant chose to submit invited post argument memoranda to address its relevancy. See Practice Book § 67-10.9See footnote 7 of this opinion.

June 2019 Bankruptcy Filings Fall 0.3 Percent

Bankruptcy filings fell 0.3 percent for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2019, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Annual bankruptcy filings totaled 773,361, compared with 775,578 cases in the year ending June 2018.

Business filings rose by 1.1 percent, just the third time since 2010 that business bankruptcies increased over a 12-month period. Non-business bankruptcy filings fell by 0.3 percent, the smallest percentage change since March 2011.

The following bankruptcy filings statistics tables are available:

SOURCE: https://www.uscourts.gov/news/2019/07/26/june-2019-bankruptcy-filings-fall-03-percent?utm_medium=email&utm_name=usc-news&utm_source=govdelivery

Passwords: 6 Best Practices (Guest Blog by Scott Gombar)

Passwords – Hate Them or Love Them, You’re Stuck with Them

Passwords are the bane of every person who uses multiple social media and email platforms.  At your job many people (including you maybe?) hate them and do their best to circumvent best practices.

Meanwhile people like me can’t fathom why anyone would use password123 as a password.  I wholeheartedly believe in a strong password policy, and practice what I preach.  I often run into computer users with very lax passwords (and in some cases none).

A lot of people simply don’t understand the consequences of an easy password.  Using a one word, all lowercase passwords, often a word associated with them, is extremely easy to crack.

The password 123456 is still one of the most commonly used passwords.  I run dark web breach assessments for business owners all the time and find their very simple passwords have been cracked and are added to lists on the dark web.

I have had clients tell me that they know their password is not strong, and then half-jokingly say “Why would anyone want my password?”

Then there’s the dreaded sticky note or notepad right next to their computer, with all their passwords.

There’s laptop and iPad owners who have no password on their device.  I can easily pick it up, walk away and likely have access to their entire life in a matter of minutes.

I get it.  Passwords are a pain in the…..

Unfortunately, they’re not going anywhere.

There have been some cool advances in authentication.  Biometrics, RFID cards, tokens, and QR codes to name a few.

If you have purchased a smart phone in the last few years you know that facial recognition and/or fingerprint scanning are now standard on most phones.

But ultimately passwords are here to stay.  Have you ever tried unlocking your phone with a wet thumbprint?  And my son was able to bypass the facial recognition on my phone.  Most people say he looks like my wife but not according to my Samsung phone.

The Great Password Debate

In the Infosec world we usually get our guidelines and best practices from NIST.  NIST recently published a study on whether recycling passwords worked.

Many businesses require you to change your password every 30 or 45 days and won’t allow you to reuse a password for 12-18 months.  Many security experts recommend changing your social media and email passwords every few months.  Some sites even prompt you to do this.

It has been determined that this practice is not effective, meaning it does nothing to improve account compromise.

What it does do is ensure that any unauthorized individual who has gained access with a compromised account will no longer have access once that password is changed.  But by then the damage is done.

There have been lots of debates on what makes a secure password.  Random letters/numbers/special characters are great but who can remember them?

Using something you can remember makes it easier to crack or even guess the password.  I have successfully guessed a network password for a major cable provider’s supposedly secured modem/router.  Meaning I did not use specialized tools to crack the password.  I simply used information available to me to make an educated guess.

Things to consider include length, complexity, time until expiration, and account lockout rules.

Password Best Practices for Your Business

Despite the introduction of alternative authentication methods passwords are still necessary.  The alternative methods should be used as multifactor authentication (MFA).  Meaning you should use a password and another method.

I will get to those methods in a few paragraphs.

Password Best Practices:

  1. Use Passwords of at Least 8 Characters – The more the better. For each additional character the time it takes to brute force the password increases exponentially.  A password of 8 lowercase letters can take 5 hours to brute force.  By comparison a password of 12 lowercase characters can take 200 years.
  2. Use a combination of UPPERCASE, lowercase, numbers and special characters. Above I mentioned that a password of 8 lowercase characters can be cracked in 5 hours. If you add UPPERCASE, numbers and special characters it will take a lot longer.
  3. Force Yourself to Use Complex Password Policies – Doing this will also greatly decrease the likelihood of a compromise.  Complex passwords mean in addition to requiring UPPERCASE, lowercase, numbers and special characters you also avoid dictionary words and variations, proper names, using the account name in the password, and reusing the same or similar passwords across different platforms.
  4. Use MFA – This is also referred to 2FA or TFA (Two-Factor Authentication). There are a few different methods for multifactor authentication available. The most common is the use of a token.  It is becoming more popular to use a soft token.  Using an app on your smartphone that generates a time-based code is easy to set up in most cases, and almost always free.  Microsoft and Google offer apps to manage the codes for you.  There is also an app called Authy that works great.  This means you need to make sure your phone has a lock on it, preferably a biometric lock such as facial recognition or thumb print.  Other methods of MFA (depending on what you’re logging in to) include text message, biometrics (retina scanner, fingerprint, facial recognition) and RFID cards.
  5. Password Manager – I use LastPass and Keepass. Both tools store my complex passwords so that I don’t need to remember them all.  They’re both available for free.
    If you put a gun to my head and ask for my Facebook password, I can’t give it to you because I don’t know it.  Even better is if you do somehow get it, I still need to approve the log in on my phone.  LastPass is a website that works with your browser, computer and smartphone.  Once you log in to LastPass your passwords can automatically fill in wherever you need it.  Keepass is a tool you can download to your computer if you’re not comfortable with a website knowing all your passwords.  There are plenty of other tools out there.  I have personally used these two for years without any problems.
  6. Stop Sharing so Much Information – We’ve all seen them, and many of us are guilty of participating in them. 20 questions about you that you share (often publicly) on the internet.  This can be used to social engineer you.  Social engineering makes it easier to make an educated guess as to what your password might be, or perform further social engineering.  I’ve done it to prove a point on multiple occasions.  It’s not hard to gain access to someone’s info given enough information, and if a less than secure personal password policy is in use.

Get Comfortable with Passwords

Passwords are a necessary evil that are not going away anytime soon. It’s best to get comfortable with having to use them in a secure manner.

One last note.  There are websites on the internet dedicated to hosting dictionary files filled with passwords that have been used, Security professionals and not so ethical people can purchase these lists to use for brute force attacks.  They don’t even cost that much money…pennies on the dollar for tens of thousands of passwords.

I recently discovered that a password I was using was on this list.  I don’t normally use the same password in multiple places (call me paranoid) but this password was used in a couple of applications.  The password consisted of a nickname of someone I know (that most people would not know) random numbers and a special character.

Needless to say, I do not use this password anymore.  Using the exclamation point as your one and only special character seems to be the default for a lot of people.  Don’t do it.

I should also note these password suggestions can (and should) be used on most internet applications today (Google, Facebook, PayPal, Banking, etc.)   They all have multi-factor authentication options but don’t always make it easy to find that option (PayPal!).

Bottom line, make peace with using a more complex personal password policy.  They’re not going anywhere.

 

THANK YOU to Scott Gombar for this Guest Post.  To get a FREE RISK ASSESSMENT click HERE!

Contact Scott: web: support@nwaj.tech, phone: 203.680.8151.

The Confirmation Hearing

The next step in your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process will be to attend your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan Confirmation Hearing.  Do not be alarmed!  You will likely not have to testify at this Hearing at all.  But I will explain below the process leading up to and including your Conformation Hearing, so you can have a preview of events and can ask me questions well in advance so you are fully prepared for this step in your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process.

After we sign and file your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Petition and Plan, your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee will review your plan and may suggest changes to the Plan.  These changes may adjust the amount paid to your Creditors, the period of the Plan or the Plan payment.  Once I make the suggested changes to your Plan, I will have you review them and sign an Amended Plan.  This is common, and amendments to Plans usually occur at least once or twice in each typical Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case.

Once your Chapter 13 Trustee believes that your Plan is “confirmable” (or feasible) and has no further changes to suggest, a date for your Confirmation Hearing will be scheduled by the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court.  I will inform you of that date as soon as it is available to me so that you can arrange to take time off from work or other commitments, if need be, to attend the Hearing with me.

Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan Confirmation Hearing is not like your Chapter 13 Section 341 Meeting in any way.  The Confirmation Hearing will be held in a Federal Courtroom and there will be a Judge present to make an Order of the Court as to whether your Plan is Confirmed or not.  You will likely not even have to stand with me or speak at all.

This is usually a very simple procedural Hearing as we usually know in advance if the Chapter 13 Trustee will support your Plan or not, and most times the Plans are Confirmed as Amended.

At the conclusion of the Confirmation Hearing the Judge will make his or her Order and a copy of the Order will be emailed to my office.  We will send you a copy for your records.

Once the Plan is confirmed the Trustee usually requests that payments be made by way of wage garnishment (or income deduction) if you have a regular salary or wages (not if you are self-employed or retired collecting social security and/or a pension).  This may also be made a Court Order.  This takes the worry and hassle of making the monthly payments away from you.  Again, do not be alarmed, your employer will understand and will not be allowed to discriminate against you for having the wage garnishment.

At this point in your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy process your work is nearly done.  The Plan will now run for 3 or 5 years and there should be no changes unless there is a substantial change in your circumstances, like an illness or loss of income.  You will be responsible for reporting any major changes to me and/or the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee.

You will also be responsible for delivering a copy of your filed tax returns to me each year.

If there are no major changes in circumstances, you will have to complete one last step (a Debtor Education Course) sometime before your last payment is due to the Trustee.

I will send you a gentle reminder to take the Debtor Education Course sooner rather than later so you don’t forget in the up to five year period it takes to reach the end of the Plan.  In the following blog of this Chapter 13 Series, I will explain what Debtor Education is and how it will assist you in rebuilding your credit.

For more information on this and other Bankruptcy topics, contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at 203-713-8877.

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.