California AG announces settlement with mortgage servicer
On September 1, California Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta announced a settlement with a mortgage servicer for its alleged failure to properly process and grant mortgage deferment requests from California military reservists called to active duty. California’s Military and Veterans Code, which includes the California Military Families Financial Relief Act, allows reservists to delay paying mortgages, credit cards, property taxes, car loans, utility bills, and student loans. To defer payment, they must submit a written request and their military orders to the entity to which their payments are due. The AG noted that the California Department of Justice investigated the mortgage servicer’s processes for handling mortgage deferment requests and found that the servicer delayed granting the deferment requests, requested information for eligibility review outside of the 30-day timeframe to do so, and improperly denied deferment requests, on at least 10 occasions. Furthermore, the servicer allegedly attempted to collect payment from some borrowers during the requested deferral period by making calls and sending notices that warned that the servicer would foreclose on the borrowers’ properties if they failed to pay. The servicer also allegedly incorrectly charged some borrowers late fees and other charges for nonpayment of payments that should have been deferred. Finally, the servicer allegedly provided incorrect negative credit information to credit reporting agencies.
Under the terms of the settlement, the servicer agreed to, among other things, (i) pay $58,000 in civil money penalties; (ii) “remediate consumer harm”; (iii) disclose deferment request status to borrowers; and (iv) provide annual reports to the AG documenting compliance with the injunctive terms.