Governor Quinn has made it a priority for the Department to protect vulnerable consumers. We are enforcing new laws to protect the elderly from financial exploitation, to protect consumers who take out installment loans, to protect families when burying a loved one, and to protect consumers from predatory companies that offer to settle your debts but only intend to prey on your already precarious financial situation. In August, we issued a $314,000 fine against an unlicensed debt settlement company.
Consumers who are in need of a modification to their home mortgage are inherently vulnerable. They are threatened with the loss of their most significant asset: their home. Unfortunately, the abuse of homeowners in this type of situation is not limited to fly-by-night scam artists. We’ve seen that even licensed professionals, like attorneys, who are bound to maintain high ethical standards, are sometimes reduced to trying to make a quick buck off a family’s misfortune.
Since December 2009, the Department has investigated almost 200 companies that are in the business of modifying loans. One of the things we look for is whether the company and its employees have the necessary licenses. Being an attorney does not necessarily give you license to modify mortgages. An attorney is exempt from obtaining a license from the Department only if the loan modification activities are ancillary to the attorney’s representation of the client. If not, the attorney is required to obtain a license from the Department as a mortgage loan originator.
For consumers, the general rule is to proceed with extreme caution when hiring a loan modification specialist. Normally, your available resources should be devoted to paying your mortgage, not to paying a third-party whose ability to help you is speculative. Moreover, free assistance is readily available from HUD-approved housing counselors. A list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can be easily accessed via the Department’s website.
Finally, I would thank Attorney General Madigan and her staff for their long-standing leadership on this issue. We truly value our strong partnership in working together to protect homeowners.
The press release was issued by the office of the Attorney General
Click here to view the press release.