Got mortgage servicing abuses?
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Got gut wrenching run-around?
Got a modification yanked out from under you?
Got misapplied payments?
Got bogus, unexplained fees on your mortgage statement?
The new consumer regulatory agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is up against tremendous vitriol from Wall Street and bank-puppet politicians. Unfortunately, the attacks were successful in preventing Elizabeth Warren from heading the agency. The financial services industry celebrated that win with further attempts to weaken the agency’s power structure, funding mechanism, independence from Congress, and it’s rule making regulatory capacity. Every step of the way is a fight for this agency which was proposed, by Warren, and enacted, in Dodd-Frank, as a “cop-on-the-beat” to protect the American people from the predatory acts of the banking industry.
All attempts to prevent banks from abusing Americans are seen as an act of war by Big Finance. It’s important this agency has the information and the tools and the back-up to dispute the well paid Wall Street lobbying machine that has drawn the battle lines and is in full combat gear.
The CFPB is asking for comments on their proposed rules. All ideas are worthy of consideration. To get an idea of how a simple suggestion can be the basis for a great comment, read this article on bank force placed homeowners’ insurance and how it is a leading cause of foreclosure. A whistle-blower proposes changes to the envelopes in which notices to homeowners are mailed to avoid the intentional mimicking of junk mail.
Please take a few minutes to inform the CFBP of your comments and suggestions that will help stop more families from being preyed upon as have millions across our nation.
The first set of CFPB’s proposed rules would provide consumers with clear and timely information about their mortgages so they can avoid costly surprises. They would bring greater transparency to the market. The proposed rules would do this with:
- Clear Monthly Mortgage Statements: Servicers would be required to provide regular statements which would include: a breakdown of payments by principal, interest, fees, and escrow; the amount of and due date of the next payment; recent transaction activity; and warnings about fees.
- Warning Before Interest Rate Adjusts: Servicers would have to provide earlier disclosures before the interest rate adjusts for most adjustable-rate mortgages. This disclosure would include information about alternatives and counseling resources if the new payment is unaffordable. This requirement would provide greater clarity to borrowers about the impact of interest rate changes. Existing disclosures for interest rate adjustments that cause a change in mortgage payments would be amended to include improved information and arrive earlier so that borrowers can anticipate consequences of payment changes.
- Options for Avoiding Costly “Force-Placed” Insurance: Servicers have the responsibility to ensure that borrowers maintain property insurance. If the borrower does not maintain this insurance, however, the servicer has the right to purchase insurance to protect the lender’s interest in the property. This is called “force-placed” insurance and is typically more expensive than insurance the borrower could privately purchase. The CFPB is proposing a rule that would provide more transparency in this process, including requiring servicers to give advance notice and pricing information before charging consumers for this insurance. The servicer would also be required to terminate the insurance within 15 days if it receives evidence that the borrower has the necessary insurance and the insurer would refund the force-placed insurance premiums.
- Early Information and Options for Avoiding Foreclosure: Servicers would be required to make good faith efforts to contact delinquent borrowers and inform them of their options to avoid foreclosure.
The second set of proposed rules would impose common-sense requirements for handling consumer accounts, correcting errors, and evaluating borrowers for options to avoid foreclosure. These “no-runaround” rules would include:
- Payments Promptly Credited: Servicers generally would have to credit a consumer’s account as of the date a payment is received.
- Maintain Accurate and Accessible Documents and Information: Servicers would be required to establish reasonable policies and procedures to provide accurate and current information to borrowers and minimize errors. They would have to submit accurate legal documents that comply with applicable law, help borrowers on options to avoid foreclosure, and provide oversight of their contractors and foreclosure attorneys.
- Errors Corrected Quickly: If a consumer notifies the servicer that she thinks there has been an error, the servicer would be required to acknowledge receiving the notification, conduct a reasonable investigation, and, in a timely manner, inform the consumer about the resolution.
- Direct and Ongoing Access to Servicer Personnel To Assist Delinquent Borrowers: Servicers would be required to provide delinquent borrowers with direct, easy, ongoing access to employees who are dedicated and empowered to help delinquent borrowers.
- Evaluate Borrowers For Options To Avoid Foreclosure: Servicers that offer options to borrowers to avoid foreclosure, such as loan modifications or other payment plans, would be required to promptly review applications for those options. Servicers would be prohibited from proceeding with a foreclosure sale until the review of the borrower’s application is complete. Servicers would also be required to let borrowers know when applications are incomplete and to allow borrowers to appeal certain servicer decisions.
CFPB is working with the Cornell University e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) to make it easier for the public to comment on the proposed rules through a pilot project called Regulation Room (www.regulationroom.org). Regulation Room provides an online environment for people and groups to learn about, discuss, and react to selected rules proposed by federal agencies. Individual contributions to Regulation Room will not become formal public comments on the CFPB’s docket, but CFPB expects contributions will be incorporated into a public report prepared by CeRI researchers and submitted to the CFPB’s docket for use in preparation of a final rule.
Read more on the proposed rules CFPB page on the proposed rules here.
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