Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Illegal Mortgage Servicing Results in $1.5 Million Fine

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been busy in the last few months. The watchdog agency was created to monitor and enforce laws that protect consumers, and it appears that it is working to do just that. According to a recent article from HousingWire, the CFPB has levied a fine of $1.5 million against Residential Credit Solutions, a mortgage servicer that didn’t abide by the law.
Illegal Mortgage Servicing Allegations Against Residential Credit Solutions
Why did Residential Credit Solutions receive a whopping $1.5 million fine? The company was fined for illegally servicing of thousands of loans it acquired from other servicers. According to the article, the mortgage servicer broke the law in a number of ways, including:
  • Failing “to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers”;
  • Providing false information to consumers about unpaid loan balances, payment due dates, required payment amounts, and delinquency statuses;
  • Treating “consumers as if they were in default when they weren’t”;
  • Misrepresenting the amount of escrow surplus due to consumers; and
  • Forcing consumers “to waive their rights in order to get a repayment plan.”
The mortgage servicer is based out of Fort Worth, Texas, but it has consumers across the country. Residential Credit Solutions is known as a company that “specializes in servicing delinquent or default loans and so-called ‘credit-sensitive’ residential mortgage loans, where the borrower is at high risk for default.” The CFPB estimates that the mortgage servicer has assets totaling about $95 million. And since 2009, around 75,000 homeowners have seen their mortgage loans transferred to the Texas-based company.
Details of Mortgage Servicer’s Violations
One of the biggest problems, according to the CFPB, is the way in which Residential Credit Solutions handled loans that had already undergone modifications from other servicers. A number of its customers are said to have had trial loan modifications with their previous servicers, but when Residential Credit Solutions acquired those mortgages, it failed to honor the modifications.
Instead, the CFPB alleges that the Texas mortgage servicer “insisted that the consumer re-prove that he or she was qualified.” And if the CFPB is correct, then Residential Credit Solutions “effectively set consumers back as though they had not received a trial modification.” The CFPB described the position into which the mortgage servicer placed these consumers as a “trial period purgatory.” In connection to the issues surrounding loan modifications and other violations, the CFPB alleged that the Texas-based mortgage servicer effectively prevented consumers from saving or selling their homes through confusion and misrepresentation.
In addition to the fine, will the CFPB require any additional steps from Residential Credit Solutions? The article emphasizes that the mortgage servicer won’t be able to simply pay the $1.5 million and forget about the accusations against it. Rather, it will have to take some of the following steps to repair the harms it is alleged to have caused:
  • Engaging in outreach campaigns to help borrowers save their homes;
  • Honoring loss mitigation agreements entered into with prior servicers;
  • Creating a rigorous program to ensure accurate information in mortgage transfers; and
  • Making loss mitigation applications available to consumers electronically and at no cost.
If you believe you were treated unfairly by a lender or a mortgage servicer, it is important to discuss your case with an Oak Park consumer protection attorney. Contact the Emerson Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you with your claim.
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