Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
October 2, 2013
Media Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150

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Attorney General Pam Bondi Announces New Procedures Banks Must Follow to Help Distressed Homeowners Seeking Relief Under National Mortgage Settlement

~The Banks Are Implementing New Procedures to Reduce Loan Modification Delays, Improve Communication with Borrowers, and Avoid Multiple Requests for Documents~


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi, along with her colleagues on the National Mortgage Settlement Monitoring Committee, today announced that Bank of America and Wells Fargo have agreed to implement new procedures designed to address possible violations of the national mortgage servicing settlement. These improvements come in response to concerns expressed by Attorney General Pam Bondi earlier this year, which were based upon complaints from distressed borrowers, housing counselors, legal aid groups, and foreclosure defense lawyers that the banks were falling short of meeting the servicing standard requirements set forth in the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement.

The two banks have agreed to implement substantial changes in their loan modification application procedures that will improve borrower communication, simplify the document collection process, provide more direct attention to loan modification applicants and housing counselors, and ensure that the banks’ foreclosure attorneys are armed with the proper information regarding the borrowers’ loss mitigation efforts.

Specifically, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have agreed to the following:

    • Implement stronger controls to prevent a borrower from going to foreclosure sale in error and to ensure that dual tracking does not occur;
    • Conduct early underwriting review for customers with complex transactions, and assign such customers specialized and appropriately trained single points of contact;
    • Ensure direct live contacts with borrowers sooner in the process to avoid miscommunications and undue delay;
    • Enhance written and oral communication procedures with borrowers to avoid multiple requests for documentation, including clear explanation of what specific information or documentation is missing or incomplete, and providing better explanations as to why loan modifications may be declined;
    • Provide letters informing borrowers of their rights to continue loss mitigation if their loans are transferred while the applications for relief are pending and continue to respond to inquiries from borrowers whose loan has been transferred;
    • Ensure that the title search is conducted early in the trial modification period to allow for a quick transition to a permanent modification if the trial is successful;
    • Develop procedures for their foreclosure attorneys to ensure that they know the specific case history for each loan and communicate early with borrowers and their representatives to fully understand the borrowers specific loss mitigation efforts so that opportunities to resolve cases short of foreclosure can be timely explored; and
    • Expand their customer service teams to add personnel who will work directly with housing counselors to respond to questions and loan escalations.
“The new procedures being implemented by Bank of America and Wells Fargo ensure that the banks will do a better job of providing Florida’s distressed homeowners the timely and effective assistance they need,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “The changes the banks are now implementing are in response to numerous homeowner complaints supplied by my office, as well as other attorneys general, demonstrating a disturbing pattern of potential noncompliance by the banks with the loss mitigation procedures required by the settlement. As we move forward, we will continue to closely monitor banks’ compliance with the settlement and take whatever action is appropriate.”

To access the letters Attorney General Bondi sent to the banks in June and the banks’ responses follow these links:

http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/1707526B92D4245185257B820074941D

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-9C5HVQ/$file/Wellsletter.pdf

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-9C4MS3/$file/Meolaletter.pdf

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-9C4MTC/$file/meolamonitoring.pdf

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-9C4MU8/$file/WellsFargoResponse.pdf

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-9C4MUV/$file/Wellsfargoletter.pdf

The $25 billion national settlement was announced last year by Attorney General Pam Bondi, 48 states and the U.S. Department of Justice with the five largest mortgage servicers—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC. The banks are reporting that Florida borrowers have, to date, received over $9 billion in relief under the settlement.