Chicago–(ENEWSPF)–October 13, 2010. Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced her role in a multi-state investigation into all major loan servicers across the country and their foreclosure filings over deepening concerns that foreclosures were handled improperly. Madigan said these potential errors in Illinois could equal violations of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.
A task force of 49 state attorneys general and 37 state bank and mortgage regulators will look into all major servicers and whether filings had procedural errors or were signed off without proper oversight. The investigation comes days after GMAC, the lender now known as Ally, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase – some of the nation’s largest loan servicers – admitted their employees signed off on thousands of foreclosure affidavits without having personal knowledge of the facts involved and without verifying the underlying loan information.
Today’s announcement follows Madigan’s letters to GMAC/Ally, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase demanding a halt to all pending foreclosures in Illinois, including post-foreclosure sales and evictions, in the wake of this growing dilemma.
Last week Madigan also demanded 23 additional loan servicers provide her office details on the fairness and accuracy of their foreclosure procedures and immediately suspend pending foreclosure actions in Illinois unless they can demonstrate the filings are accurate.
The Attorney General has also proposed legislation to ensure the integrity of documents filed in foreclosures. Her bill would ensure each homeowner know the amount they owe, who owns their loan, the terms of their original loan and whom they can contact. Specifically, the proposed legislation would require servicers to:
- Provide borrowers with a verified and accurate amount owed and a payment history to ensure borrowers are given proper credit for all payments;
- Detail the steps taken to verify the accuracy of the information contained in the affidavit to prevent the filing of false affidavits not based on personal knowledge;
- File a copy of the original note with the foreclosure complaint so that borrowers clearly know the terms of their contract with their lender; and
- Ensure that the named plaintiff is the legal owner of the loan and has the right to foreclose on the homeowner.
Madigan has additionally asked Washington lawmakers to support the re-introduction of legislation drafted by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., to permit bankruptcy court judges to reduce principal amounts on mortgages and thereby save homes.
Attorney General Madigan has been at the forefront of protecting Illinois homeowners during the mortgage foreclosure crisis and holding Wall Street banks accountable. In 2008, she led a nationwide $8.7 billion settlement with Countrywide over its predatory lending practices. The Attorney General has also filed suit against both Wells Fargo and Countrywide alleging widespread discrimination against African American and Latino borrowers and causing them to pay disproportionately more for their mortgages than other borrowers.
Madigan urged homeowners to visit her Web site, www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov, for resources available to assist homeowners in crisis. Included on the site is her Illinois Mortgage Lending Guide, a resource manual containing step-by-step instructions for those struggling to make their loan payments and a list of HUD-certified counseling agencies that offer default counseling services. Homeowners who do not have easy access to the Internet should call the Attorney General’s Homeowner Helpline at 1-866-544-7151 to quickly receive the guide or the brochure by mail.