California-based Premier Legal Advocates charged illegal advance fees for loan modification services it subsequently failed to perform
Attorney General John Kroger today announced a settlement that prohibits a Los Angeles County company from doing loan modification work in Oregon.
"This office will not tolerate companies that attempt to exploit Oregon homeowners who are facing foreclosure," said Deputy Attorney General Mary Williams.
The Oregon Department of Justice began investigating Bank Modification Experts of Woodland Hills, California, after receiving consumer complaints that suggested the company was violating Oregon's Mortgage Rescue Fraud Protection Act by collecting advance fees for loan modification work aimed at preventing foreclosure. The company refunded several Oregon consumers. Bank Modification Experts eventually began doing business from Agoura Hills, California as Premier Legal Advocates.
Under the settlement filed today Premier Legal Advocates paid $4,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice, refunded an Oregon consumer $2400 and must refund any other Oregon consumers who paid illegal advance fees. The company is also prohibited from doing any further foreclosure consulting or loan modification work in Oregon. The settlement does not admit wrongdoing.
Today's agreement is part of a concerted effort by the Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services to protect Oregonians from widespread mortgage rescue fraud and abuses that have materialized in the recent economic downturn.
In June, the Department of Justice banned two other California loan modification companies -- Noah Savings Mortgage, Inc. and Liberty Law Firm, Inc. – from doing business in Oregon.
Mortgage rescue fraud is a continuing problem that Oregonians can avoid. Consumers should be aware advance fees for loan modification and foreclosure consulting work are generally illegal in Oregon. Consumers should always make sure that the companies they work with are properly registered with the Department of Consumer and Business Services through the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.
"Homeowners should be wary of any company offering to help them modify a loan or avoid foreclosure," said David Tatman, administrator of the Department of Consumer and Business Services' Division of Finance and Corporate Securities. "Contact our department to make sure loan modification specialists are licensed – or consider calling a HUD-certified foreclosure counselor for free assistance."
For help with a loan modification problem, contact the Department of Justice through the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline: 1-877-877-9392 or online at: www.doj.state.or.us. To verify whether a loan modifier is properly registered, check with the Department of Consumer and Business Services Division of Finance and Corporate Securities at www.cbs.state.or.us/dfcs.
Oregonians can also call 1-800-SAFENET to find a nonprofit foreclosure consultant who will provide help at no charge.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Thomas K. Elden handled the case for the Oregon Department of Justice.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org