CFPB and State of Maryland Take Action Against “Pay-to-Play” Mortgage Kickback Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2015 CONTACT: Office of Communications Tel: (202) 435-7170 CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU AND STATE OF MARYLAND TAKE ACTION AGAINST “PAY-TO-PLAY” MORTGAGE KICKBACK SCHEME Loan Officers and Former Title Company Executives Who Traded Cash and Marketing Services for Illegal Referrals Will Be Banned, Pay Redress and Penalties   WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Maryland Attorney General took action against the participants in a mortgage-kickback scheme. In a complaint filed in federal court, the CFPB and Maryland allege that the Maryland-based title company’s executives and the named loan officers traded cash and marketing services in exchange for mortgage referrals. Under proposed consent orders filed today, if entered by the court, five of the six individual defendants would be banned from the mortgage industry and required to pay a total of $662,500 in redress and penalties. The action will proceed against the remaining defendant. The announcement follows enforcement actions in January against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase for their role in the scheme. “Paying kickbacks for mortgage referrals is illegal, and it has been illegal for decades,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Secret and unlawful payments keep consumers in the dark and put honest businesses at a disadvantage, and the Consumer Bureau will continue to take action against them.” Genuine Title was a Maryland-based title company that offered real estate closing services from 2005 until it went out of business in April 2014. The CFPB and Maryland Attorney General’s complaint names Genuine Title, LLC; Jay Zukerberg; Brandon Glickstein; Gary Klopp; Adam Mandelberg; William Peterson; Angela Pobletts; and a number of limited-liability...

CFPB Fines Regions Bank $7.5 Million for Unlawful Overdraft Practices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 28, 2015 CONTACT: Office of Communications Tel: (202) 435-7170 CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU FINES REGIONS BANK $7.5 MILLION FOR UNLAWFUL OVERDRAFT PRACTICES Bank Refunds $49 Million in Illegal Fees to Consumers Who Did Not Opt-In to Overdraft   WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Regions Bank for charging overdraft fees to consumers who had not opted-in for overdraft coverage. The bank also charged overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees on its deposit advance product despite claims that it would not. Regions has already refunded hundreds of thousands of consumers approximately $49 million in fees, and the consent order requires the bank to fully refund all remaining consumers. The Bureau also fined the company $7.5 million for its illegal actions. “Today the CFPB is taking its first enforcement action under the rules that protect consumers against illegal overdraft fees by their banks,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Regions Bank failed to ask consumers if they wanted overdraft service before charging them fees. In the end, hundreds of thousands of consumers paid at least $49 million in illegal charges. We take the issue of overdraft fees very seriously and will be vigilant about making sure that consumers receive the protections they deserve.” Regions Bank, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, operates approximately 1,700 retail branches and 2,000 ATMs across 16 states. It is one of the country’s biggest banks with more than $119 billion in assets. Among its various products and services, it has checking accounts and offers loans known as deposit advance products. With deposit advance products, the borrower authorizes the bank to...

Public Service Announcement – Cell Phone Numbers go public this month

REMEMBER – Cell Phone Numbers go public this month.   All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.   It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.   It blocks your number for five (5)...

CFPB and Federal Trade Commission Take Action Against Green Tree Servicing for Mistreating Borrowers Trying to Save Their Homes

  Green Tree to Pay $48 Million in Borrower Restitution and $15 Million Fine for Servicing Failures WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action against Green Tree Servicing, LLC, for mistreating mortgage borrowers who were trying to save their homes from foreclosure. The mortgage servicer failed to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers, demanded payments before providing loss mitigation options, delayed decisions on short sales, and harassed and threatened overdue borrowers. Green Tree has agreed to pay $48 million in restitution to victims, and a $15 million civil money penalty for its illegal actions. “Green Tree failed consumers who were struggling by prioritizing collecting payments over helping homeowners,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “When homeowners in distress had their mortgages transferred to Green Tree, their previous foreclosure relief plans were not maintained. We are holding Green Tree accountable for its unlawful conduct.” Green Tree, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., is a national mortgage servicing company. It has rapidly expanded into the residential mortgage market and services loans for millions of homeowners. Green Tree specializes in servicing delinquent loans and markets itself as a “high touch” servicer that makes frequent collection calls to consumers. As a servicer, Green Tree is responsible for, among other things, creating and sending monthly statements to borrowers, collecting payments, and processing payments. For troubled borrowers, it administers short sale and foreclosure relief programs provided by the owner of the loan. These “loss mitigation” programs provide alternatives to foreclosure. Green Tree is responsible for soliciting borrowers for these programs, collecting their applications, determining eligibility,...

CFPB Announces New ‘Know Before You Owe’ Mortgage Shopping Toolkit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 31, 2015 CONTACT: Office of Communications Tel: (202) 435-7170 CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU ANNOUNCES NEW ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU OWE’ MORTGAGE SHOPPING TOOLKIT “Your Home Loan Toolkit” Will Help Consumers Be Informed Mortgage Shoppers   Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today released a new toolkit that guides consumers through the process of shopping for a mortgage and buying a house. Developed as part of the CFPB’s “Know Before You Owe” mortgage initiative, the toolkit will help consumers take full advantage of the new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms that lenders are required to begin providing in August. “This toolkit is a great resource for consumers navigating the home-buying process, and will help consumers make well-informed decisions about the biggest financial transaction of their life,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The new mortgage disclosure forms coming in August will help consumers comparison shop for mortgages and avoid surprises at the closing table. We are releasing this toolkit well in advance of the effective date to help the mortgage industry come into compliance with the new rules.” Your Home Loan Toolkit (designed for web posting and interactivity) is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201503_cfpb_your-home-loan-toolkit-web.pdf The toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to help consumers understand the nature and costs of real estate settlement services, define what affordable means to them, and find their best mortgage. The toolkit features interactive worksheets and checklists, conversation starters for discussions between consumers and lenders, and research tips to help consumers seek out and find important information. The toolkit is designed to replace an existing booklet that creditors currently must provide to mortgage...

CFPB Report Finds Nearly Half of Borrowers Do Not Shop for a Mortgage

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2015 CONTACT: Office of Communications Tel: (202) 435-7170 CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU REPORT FINDS NEARLY HALF OF BORROWERS DO NOT SHOP FOR A MORTGAGE CFPB Releases “Owning a Home” Toolkit to Help Consumers Shopping for a Mortgage   WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report finding that almost half of consumers do not shop around for a mortgage when purchasing a home. The report also found that informed consumers are more likely to shop, especially if they are familiar with available mortgage rates. As part of its Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative, the CFPB is releasing “Owning a Home,” an interactive, online toolkit designed to help consumers as they shop for a mortgage. The suite of tools gives consumers the information and confidence they need to get the best deal. “Our study found that many consumers are not shopping for a mortgage. Consumers put great thought into the choice of a home, but the mortgage process continues to be intimidating,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Know Before You Owe Owning a Home toolkit makes it easy to see how shopping for a mortgage can translate into big dollars saved in the long run. We want to enable consumers to be more savvy shoppers.” The report can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201501_cfpb_consumers-mortgage-shopping-experience.pdf While many risky features of mortgages are now restricted or unavailable in the marketplace since the financial crisis, mortgages still have different terms and features. Key components include the loan term, loan type, and interest rate. Loan terms typically vary between 15 and 30 years. Loan...